Singer/songwriter Maggie Schneider started 2018 with a bang as she released her EP, Tinted Glasses. I got the chance to talk with Schneider, who is as sweet as she is talented. We talked about how she balances her up-and-coming music career with her studies, what it was like to work with Rian Dawson, from All Time Low, on her EP, the story behind her single, “Chuck Bass” and so much more. Keep reading to see what she had to say!
What age did you take the step into making and performing music?
I have been into music since a really young age. I was in theatre and started out with that. When I was four, I was in Annie. That was my first experience performing. I started performing more seriously around 15/16. Even before that I was in an acoustic duo and a ton of different bands. But early mid-teens is when I thought to myself, “No, I really want to do this and try and make some dreams come true.”
Going off of that, when you were 15/16, was there something or someone that pushed you into realizing then was the time to start making your dreams come true?
It is funny because it kind of happened in a spontaneous way. There is this venue called The Masquerade. They were looking for an opener for Allison Weiss, who is a great singer/songwriter from California. I had been listening to her for a little while and thought, “Huh. Well, maybe I should submit my stuff and see if maybe I could open for her.” I sent them my information, and they took a chance on me. That was kind of my first transition into playing more serious shows.
In general, though, what gave me the inspiration to play music and everything, definitely starting at a young age, the Jonas Brothers [laughs], Demi Lovato, all of the Disney Channel stars, and all of the music coming out there. All Time Low was a really, really big influence on me, they kind of brought me into the world of pop-punk and rock music. Once I heard them I was like, “Okay, I really want to make music like this.”
If I was reading correctly, you’re still in school right?
Yeah, I am. I am a sophomore at Savannah College of Art and Design.
Oh cool! What do you study?
I’m studying writing. I love writing about music, that’s like another passion of mine. It’s really helped with song-writing, putting myself out there as a musician and being more creative, because it is an arts school and its a super creative environment anyway. At SCAD I have the chance to take visual arts classes, then I take journalism classes and fiction classes. All of that stuff really helps me as an artist. I love my school.
Have you found it challenging trying to balance your up-and-coming music career and school?
Luckily, I love staying busy. When I have a day to myself, not doing anything, I find myself thinking, “Huh. I’m a little bored.” It hasn’t been too overwhelming. I try to do my school work early, then on the weekends I can play shows, publicize my music and all of that stuff. It really adds more to my music, because I feel like its really influenced me as an artist, doing visual art and learning how to write in all different styles. It’s super great to go to school everyday, its so colorful, there is art everywhere…to be inspired in that environment.
Moving on to talk about your music. You just released your new EP, Tinted Glasses. How would you describe the EP’s sound?
I think it’s on kind of the singer-songwriter side but also with a little bit of a pop-rock edge. I went to the studio with Rian Dawson [All Time Low], that was a great experience. I gave him 12 songs before I went into the studio. He really encouraged me to branch out of the pop-punk scene just a tad and get a broader audience with more pop/singer-songwriter songs. Frank Turner, I always say he’s kind of an influence of these new songs, then also Paramore and a lot of the female-fronted pop bands.
Talking about Rian, what was it like to work with him and how did that relationship come about?
It was really, really special. I went up there for a weekend to track another song, for another band who was working with Rian. I went up there for a couple of days, and on the last day he said, “You know, you should come up and record your own stuff.” Immediately I was like, “Really? That’s an option? You would like to work with me again?” Because I’ve looked up to them since middle school, so singing and playing piano for one of my middle school heroes was a huge deal. He was like, “No, come back.” A few months later I scheduled it with him, and I came back and recorded the tracks with him in the summer. I think in late June we did all four songs. It was great. It was such a cool experience. His studio is in Nashville. I love Nashville so automatically it was super fun and inspiring. He was just so supportive the whole way, he still is. I keep him updated on what I’m doing, and he’s super happy to be part of the EP.
You just talked a little bit about recording, but talk a little bit about the writing process. You mentioned how you gave Rian 12 songs before you started recording, so a) what was your process like for writing those and b) how did you pick the four that were going to be on the EP?
I started writing all of these songs last winter. I was feeling inspired. A lot of things were going on in my life. I tend to write songs in spurts. I don’t write when I’m not inspired, because I want the songs to be honest, real and relatable to me. I wrote all of the songs in a 2-3 month period. I really liked all of them, and I demo’d them out. I thought that Rian would really help choose the ones that were the most cohesive and had the strongest writing, because obviously All Time Low are fantastic song writers. I sent him all 12 demos in an email and told him to let me know his thoughts, because I really trust his judgement. He got back to me a few days before I went in. We talked about the ones he thought were the strongest. We agreed, so that was good. He was really helpful in choosing them. Luckily they were all cohesive, because at first we thought, “Well, should we just put one out now?” All of them really mesh well together.
Talk a little bit about your single, “Chuck Bass.” What was the inspiration behind it? I’m assuming that the title comes from Gossip Girl.
I wanted to write a positive anthem about the strength we have as women, and the importance of valuing honesty in relationships, because I’ve had my own experience with dishonesty in relationships. I wanted to write a more positive song to empower women and help them move past those things, because obviously we’re in a time now where there is a lot of stuff going on in the world. I think it’s important to highlight the negative things, but also find positivity in it. Find our voices, and find our confidence to say something.
Of course the name “Chuck Bass” is after the Gossip Girl character, because I’m a fan of the show. I thought his character is kind of the antithesis of honesty, no matter how charming he can be. In a lot of ways he’s the opposite of what we deserve as women, which is loyalty, honesty and integrity over wealth and someone’s social status.
I’ve been listening to your EP all week and I my favorite, hands down, is “Break” featuring Alex Crain.
Thank you so much!
I was just curious: how did that collaboration with Alex come about and what’s the story behind this song?
Alex Crain is one of my best friends, and we started writing songs together last winter as well. We became really, really close friends. He brought the chorus to me and said, “Hey, would you like to finish this with me?” because he had had the chorus for over a year and just didn’t really know how to finish it. We both love duets and musical theatre and wanted to make something really powerful and kind of intense in a way production-wise. We sat down and wrote the song in a night. I think it was the first song that we wrote together. It was a really special song to us. It’s really about the highs and lows of relationships, wanting to hold on to someone so tightly and wanting to make it work, but there is distance between two people and how to deal with that, move past that. He’s fantastic, and he’s playing a lot more shows with me right now. Its fun to collaborate with him.
Is there a track, whether it’s one you have already released on this EP or one you have yet to release, that you feel best represents you and who you are and who you are as an artist?
It’s always so hard, because they’re all my babies. But I’ll say “695 North Avenue,” which is on the EP and has a lot to do with The Masquerade, which is the venue in Atlanta that I started playing shows at. That place is really my musical home, so that song really has to do with all the memories I’ve made there. I even met Alex Crain at The Masquerade. I’ve had a lot of memories there, met a lot of friends there and had some great experiences. I think that really highlights who I am as an artist, my optimistic view and also that I’m super thankful for all of the experiences that I’ve had.
On the more personal side, I would have to say “Tinted Glasses” is the most personal song on the EP for me. Once again, like “Break,” it has to do with the ups and downs of a relationship, wanting to stay, wanting to fix something, but unfortunately it doesn’t work out. I think those two specifically were the most fun to write and show who I am.
I just have a few quick questions left. Who would be your dream tour mate and why?
It’s between two. All Time Low, definitely, because I think that would be super fun. Their set is incredible and every song, I would dance to all of them every night. Also DNCE, just because I love them. I love their stage show and they have such high energy. Not to mention, Joe Jonas has been my crush since elementary school.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not making music or studying?
I love getting coffee [laughs], which is a really small thing, but there are so many cute local coffee shops in and around Atlanta that I love going to. I love meeting friends there, going to record stores and hanging out with friends. Obviously going to concerts, because I’m a concert junkie. [laughs]
What is your go-to coffee order?
Right now it’s been a vanilla latte. It kind of depends on where I go, but right now I love my vanilla latte. I’m sad that Starbucks doesn’t keep the eggnog latte year round. I would drink it all year long. But yeah, vanilla latte for my warm order and a cold brew with cream for my cold order.
Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us — what do you nerd out over?
I love John Hughes movies.
Which one is your favorite?
Oh, yeah. I can practically quote the whole thing. [sighs] So good. I just love those coming-of-age movies. Whenever I’m sick I’ll just put on Ferris Bueller or The Breakfast Club or something and quote the whole movie and feel comforted. I know what’s going to happen, and I know there is going to be a happy ending.
Last question: 2018 has already seen the release of your EP. What else can we expect from you music-wise this year?
I’m definitely playing a ton more shows. I like to play once-a-month or so in Atlanta. I’m playing a show in New York City in March, which is super exciting. It’s my first show in New York. It’s at The Bitter End, which is the oldest rock-and-roll club in the city. I’ve always wanted to play there, because Lady Gaga got her start there. I’m just going to continue to write songs, keep collaborating with Alex and hopefully record some more stuff with Rian over the summer.
Schneider’s EP, Tinted Glasses, is available now on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.