Over the past year I’ve learned that while life can always be better…it can also be so much worse. So why marinate in the negative when there is so much positive to hold onto? I was reminded again of that when I clicked play on “Made Up Misery” from The Foreword.
An infectious folk song that pops in all the right places done by two former theatre kids who found their way to one another. It’s one of my favorite songs of the year and I cannot wait to hear what else is in store from their EP, Coffee Cups and Second Shots, when it drops September 28th. We talked of course about the record, the single and all that damn negativity plaguing our timelines and lives out there.
Kendra: It’s not uncommon for musical theater to be a huge influence on people in any of the creative arts. For you guys, is it just how musicals come together lyrically or are you former theater kids from high school who’ve always appreciated the art form?
Maggie: It’s funny because we both have a similar background in musical theatre. We were both theatre kids in high school, and we first bonded over our shared love of musicals. It’s so fun writing music with Alex because we take great inspiration from shows like Dear Evan Hansen and The Last Five Years, both lyrically and musically.
Alex: I love writing songs in more of the theatrical style because it gives us the chance to tell a deeper story, through a narrative. In theatre, songs are from different characters’ perspectives, and it’s fun to pick unique points of view to write from.
Kendra: Each of you had your own thing before collaborating, but it’s time to get mushy and reveal what you feel the other brought out in you when recording Coffee Cups and Second Shots?
Maggie: Alex has really pushed me to become a better songwriter, as well as a critical listener in the studio. He is definitely one of the most creative people I know. So he’s helped me push myself in the writing process. He has such a big heart, and that shows in his writing, and it has allowed me to become more vulnerable with what I create.
Alex: With my previous project, I wasn’t really writing a lot of songs on my own, or in the band. Whenever I did write, I’d focus mainly on the music. Working with Maggie on this EP helped me regain my footing as a songwriter. It made me realize how much I love writing lyrics and telling stories.
Kendra: You also had a third partner in crime of sorts working with Rian Dawson on the record. His band has done everything from being on an indie label to a major, toured the world and then some. Other than crafting the record, did he give you any valuable advice to take with you from here on out about the business?
Alex: One thing that he said was that no matter how much talent you have, hard work and making connections with people in the industry are of utmost importance.
Maggie: That’s true. One thing he told me was that gaining success in the music industry takes a lot of time and dedication. It’s full of stepping stones that allow for bigger opportunities down the road. Working with him also made me realize the importance of humility and kindness in this business. Being a professional person will only help you throughout your career.
Kendra: Listening to “Made Up Misery,” it’s easy to hear why you’d name the record Coffee Cups and Second Shots. It’s got this folky, performing at a local coffee shop feel but also is lively AF thanks to all those extra shots. So if you had to compare the EP to a coffee shop menu item, what would it be and why?
Maggie: I love this question! Because the EP is balanced and layered with both happy and melancholy themes, I’d compare it to a cappuccino with Bailey’s Irish Cream, Godiva liqueur, and whipped cream on top (of course). There’s both sweetness and bitterness there, just like the stories we tell throughout each song. Plus, there are more underlying themes of hope by the end of the record, which can compare to the creamy chocolate flavors. It sounds delicious to us!
Kendra: Are there any songs you worked on that you felt just weren’t ready for this record but will definitely fit on the next?
Alex: We definitely have a few songs written that we didn’t record for this project. They’ll always be in our catalog but we always want to make sure that the projects are cohesive and more developed over time. Rather than picking and choosing random songs, we want to make sure everything fits perfectly.
Kendra: “Made Up Misery” made the cut and that’s awesome because OMG, I feel it. Often times I feel like people love to bathe in their own despair – especially on social media. People can be overly negative on the interwebs. Is that where the influence for this song came from at all?
Alex: Yes, in a way. It was more of a song written about myself. How I don’t have anything to really complain about in my life. It’s a wake-up call to myself, to keep me from wallowing in self-pity for no reason at all.
Maggie: Social media’s definitely allowed for more negativity to be spread. To me, the song’s about how it’s so much more fun to live life as an optimist, without dwelling on the little negative things we all face. It’s both introspective and influenced by what’s going on in the world right now. If we stay happy and support one another, then we can make a difference.
Kendra: Personally, fishing with negativity is one of my biggest online pet peeves. What’s one of yours?
Alex: People saying things that they know are incorrect, just with the intentions of creating drama and picking a fight. It’s never cool.
Maggie: One of my pet peeves is definitely when people post hateful comments about others online. The anonymity of the internet gives people the opportunity to say whatever they want without consequences. Cyberbullying is a real issue, and this lack of kindness and sensitivity breaks my heart. I just don’t understand it.
Kendra: With the new EP out September 28, do you guys have any plans on touring down south or heading west this fall?
Maggie: We don’t have any plans right now, but we would love to! We love playing shows together, so hitting the road would be a blast.