Interview: Maggie Gently
of Maggie Gently
San Francisco based singer-songwriter Maggie Grabmeier (performing under the band name Maggie Gently) is gearing up for the release of her debut solo EP Good Cry (due out May 29, 2020) and has recently given us our first taste of it with the single “Every Night.” Grabmeier, an openly gay woman, recently took the time to chat with us about the new single, what to expect from the EP, how the breakup of her former band The Total Bettys affected her and helped shape these new tunes, the importance of using her talents to help nourish the LGBTQ community, and much much more!
1. You’ve recently released your debut solo single “Every Night.” Can you tell us a bit about the song and the lyric video you’ve made for it?
“Every Night” is about putting yourself back together after getting hurt. The song is about the search for things that might make you feel better or might help you get over a heartbreak faster. The truth behind it all though, is that of course feeling better comes from a combination of actually feeling your sadness, forgiving yourself and letting time pass.
The video is modeled after an astrology app. I have been using mystical, fortune-telling imagery throughout the EP, both in the art and the lyrics. In my life, I’d turn to things like astrology, tarot, or even an 8-ball because I didn’t trust myself and I needed some external answers or validation that I was making the right choices.
2. Why did you feel that “Every Night” was the best first representation of your solo music and your upcoming EP?
When I was choosing which “mood” words to describe the song when I uploaded it to Spotify, the two I chose for this one were “energetic” and “sad.” Now looking at the song in the context of the EP, I think those words can describe a lot of the sound I’m going for. The whole EP documents that journey I was talking about of feeling lost and then learning slowly to trust my intuition, and I think “Every Night” hits at an interesting moment of heartbreak. Not questioning anything, not trying to change anything, just wanting to feel better already.
3. Speaking of your EP; Good Cry is due out on May 29, 2020. What can people expect from it that “Every Night” doesn’t give to them?
Good Cry documents a journey of heartbreak, and each song gives you a different angle on it. The EP also has some slower, more dramatic songs which are kind of new for me! I’m not used to writing slow songs, but for this collection, it felt totally right.
4. You recorded the EP with Eva Treadway of the bands Pllush and The She’s. Why did you feel that Eva was the perfect fit for what you wanted sound wise from your debut solo EP?
Eva was absolutely perfect!! First of all, I’m a huge fan of her music. I think she has a really unique and sophisticated style. She was super open to hearing from me at every point in the process, being a sounding board for all kinds of things, helping me to tweak in the demoing stage and when we were in the studio. She and Grace Coleman (the incredible engineer who recorded, mixed, and mastered the album) work super well together, and I really felt like I was working with the dream team.
5. In what ways did Eva challenge you to stretch and bend your songwriting in ways that brought out new ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise found within yourself?
One of my favorite things about working with Eva was that I would turn to her when I felt a song needed something, but I didn’t know exactly what. She always brought such interesting and unexpected ideas to the table, and she kept things moving when I was feeling stuck or lukewarm about something. This EP was my first experience really recording my solo work, and up until I started working with Eva, I didn’t really have anyone to give me feedback or brainstorm ideas with. So, when I started talking to Eva about these songs I’d been toiling on in isolation, it was like she breathed new life into them. Also, she wrote and played all the lead guitar parts on the EP and did a phenomenal job at that.
6. People will recognize you from your time spent in the group The Total Bettys. In what ways is your solo music going to be familiar to what they already know about you, but also, how will it be different?
I think the spirit of The Total Bettys is definitely still present in the songs on Good Cry. I’d say the songs are emo-inspired, sensitive, and personal. There is one song on the EP that reminds me a lot of a Total Bettys song, with high energy, a breakdown, and a lot of angst, but there are also songs that are really quiet and thoughtful, which feels like a big departure from what I was writing before.
7. How much impact did the breaking up of The Total Bettys have on the songs you wrote for this EP?
The breakup of the band was a really tough time for me, and it happened at a point in my life where I was learning how to take care of my mental health in a new and proactive way. I think learning about myself and writing new, confessional music all alone kind of coalesced into this new EP and this new project.
8. What do you find to be the biggest challenges of being a solo act rather than being part of a group? Also, how do those new challenges encourage and motivate you the most?
It definitely has its pros and cons! I like being able to play shows solo or with a full band depending on what’s right for a venue, and I like the freedom of songwriting — being able to change things as often and as drastically as I want. I feel really lucky to have people like Eva and Grace and Sinclair and Joey who were so supportive and patient and just awesome musicians to work with on the EP. And now I feel really supported by the team at Brace Cove Records and Britt from Common Ground who has been helping me a ton. And Sinclair and Laura, my live band — they are just so fun to play shows with and hang out with. At first I worried that being a solo act would be lonely, but it really isn’t. For me, music can’t be lonely. It’s all about coming together and feeling our feelings together, and that really hasn’t changed for me.
9. You’re very open and aren’t shy (nor should you be) about your sexuality. How do you hope that your music will connect with the LGBTQ community and help give a voice to those who aren’t as open yet that tells them it’s okay to be who you are?
This is an interesting question! I know not everyone feels this way (and that’s totally fine!) but I like having my identity woven in with my music. My songs are super confessional. I want people to know me, and see me, and I think it’s important to be really vocal about the things I care about. And nourishing a queer community is something I care deeply about. I hope that people will find something in my music that makes them feel understood, or not alone. I want to be a part of a queer label, play queer shows with queer bands for my queer friends. It matters to me that communities like that exist, so I work to build them and participate in them when I can.
10. We’re all about helping the next generation at allageszine.com, so we always end all our Q&A’s with this question. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with their music today?
I love this! My advice would be to keep going! Put out music even if you think it isn’t ready or isn’t good enough. Book your first show - it’ll be fine, I promise. To me, music is about sharing something deep and important, and as long as the feeling is there, the rest will come together in its own special way.