Interview with Maggie Chapman
While many teenagers dream almost exclusively of significant others, first cars, and weekend shenanigans, singer-songwriter Maggie Chapman has her sights set out a little farther. Writing her first song while still in elementary school, Maggie tapped into something that inspired a passion for storytelling, a multi-state move, and a singular focus on her musical pursuits. As she continues to develop as a songwriter and performer, Maggie has compiled a few of her currents songs to share on The Novella Edition EP.
I recently spoke with Maggie about the songs on her new EP, her passion for writing, and her move to (currently frozen) Nashville from sunny Clearwater, FL.
NoiseTrade: Tell us a little bit about your new EP and walk us through the songs on it.
Maggie Chapman: Ever since I was little, I’ve expressed myself through writing music. Whether I wanted to remember or desperately forget something, I naturally used writing as my outlet. One of my favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once said, “You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say,” and that is the very reason why my music came into existence. The “Novella Edition” is not only a collection of songs, it is a collection of (non-fiction) stories that came straight from my unfiltered heart.
Growing up, one of my favorite songs was “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. The melody is hypnotic and the imagery throughout the song is just brilliant. I was writing with one of my very favorite co-writers and when I mentioned the title “Charlotte’s Web” the magic was there. I told him, “I want to make Charlotte my own Jolene.”
“Wannabe Rebel” began with this quirky line that I had, “I’m just a wannabe rebel stuck in these goody-two-shoes.” I wrote the song with two incredibly beautiful and talented co-writers, April and Tiffany. For me, it’s about the internal conflict between good and bad that we all face. It’s about doing things you shouldn’t do, being with someone you shouldn’t be with, trying to live on the wild side, but at the end of the day knowing that you’re good at heart.
“Pickin’ Petals” is about your stereotypical bad boy, cleverly using the perfect balance of roses and charm to cover up for everything that is wrong in the relationship. While we were writing the song, I remember my co-writer, Ben, saying “Dang, what’s up with you girls and these motorcycle guys?” It’s a phase we all go through, right?
The exclusive track, “It Should’ve Been You,” has a story behind it that is very close to my heart. It’s about one of my family members and his high-school sweetheart. They ran into each other at an event for the first time in years and she had just gotten engaged. The entire time they were talking, she way nervously playing with her ring. When he asked her if she was happy she said, “I don’t like to talk about it. It should’ve been you.”
NT: You wrote your first song at 9. What sparked that desire in you at such a young age?
Maggie: It honestly happened so naturally. I’ve always lived and breathed music and I’ve always had a fascination with words. I can’t recall how my love of music started, but my parents say that I was singing before I could talk. My love of writing began as soon as my kindergarten teacher taught me how to hold a pencil. Soon enough, I combined the two loves and I haven’t stopped writing songs since.
NT: What was the main inspiration behind your relocation from Clearwater, FL here to Nashville?
Maggie: From my first trip to Nashville when I was thirteen, Music City felt like home. No pun intended, but I definitely felt like a fish-out-of-water in Florida and being in a place where everyone shares such passion and appreciation for music was a dream-come-true. I started spending more and more time in Nashville co-writing and when I started talking to several publishers, that’s when I decided to make the move.
NT: You’ve mentioned that you love the experience of listening to an entire album, as opposed to just picking out the singles. What are some of your favorite records that stand up to that “straight through” test?
Maggie: YES! I have this morning-ritual where I’ll make a cup of coffee, flip through my record collection until I find the album I’m in the mood to listen to and then I’ll sit on the floor by my record player and listen to it straight through. My top five at the moment would have to be Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Tapestry by Carole King, Jackson Browne’s Late for the Sky, Blue by Joni Mitchell and James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James.
NT: What’s the story behind the video series you’ve been creating called “Dream Out Loud”?
Maggie: The “Dream Out Loud” series gives you an inside look at my journey through the music industry so far. There are five episodes, starting with “Meet Maggie” and ending with “The Bluebird and In The Studio.” While filming the second episode about my undying obsession with music, we had to sort through a mass of family-home-video footage (courtesy of my father) and Josh, the video guy, practically witnessed my entire childhood within a few days of us meeting each other. This was hilarious and terribly humiliating at the same time. The series has been such a neat way to tell my story and introduce myself and my music!