Breakout Star Talks About Her Miracle Year

In the space of a year, Meghan Trainor has risen from obscurity to stardom, following her signing by Epic EVP A&R Paul Pontius. The 21-year-old singer/songwriter’s breakout single, “All About That Bass,” is already certified 5x platinum, and follow-up “Lips Are Movin” is 2x platinum, while third single “Dear Future Husband” is nearing platinum status. Trainor’s first full-length album, Title, dethroned no less than Taylor Swift’s 1989 in its first week, bowing at #1 in the U.S., making it the biggest debut by a new artist in the last decade and the third biggest January debut in that period overall. Trainor’s stratospheric ascent will culminate at the Music Biz convention in Nashville, during which she’ll be honored as Breakthrough Artist of the Year. Through it all, she remains remarkably humble—so much so that she was willing to take time out of her ridiculous schedule to jump on the phone with HITS’ resident millennial, Samantha Hissong

You’re heading back to Nashville, which must feel like you’re coming full circle, since you began your career there as an aspiring teenage songwriter. What’s going through your mind as you approach this milestone?
It’s emotional. I love that it’s in Nashville. And the only way to explain it is by saying it’s like watching an epic movie of what happened this year. It’s the craziest year I’ve ever heard about. 

It’s a damn good movie.
Yeah, right? I want to buy it and watch it. I can’t wait to get back to Nashville to see the family that I have there—my publishers, my team and Kevin [Kadish], who wrote the song with me.  

Many people see you as a seemingly overnight sensation, but you’ve been writing for a while, haven’t you?
Yeah, I’ve had family in Nashville since I was 17. Even in L.A. as a songwriter, I have a group of friends who are songwriters and producers, and they’re like, “You lived all of our dreams. You did it, kiddo.” They’re all so very supportive.

What’s it like working with Kevin? He’s such an amazing songwriter himself. 
I fangirl out over him. And I tell him all the time that I feel like I’m working with a celebrity, because as songwriters we have our own heroes that nobody even knows about. I love to watch Kevin write. When we did “Bass,” I was just trying so hard to impress him, because I knew the songs he wrote before and I was a huge fan. He’s worked with so many amazing artists, like Jason Mraz. So I was like, “All right, just do your best and show him how cool you are and want to be.” I tell him all the time, “I still get nervous in front of you.” But I watch him, and I want to write like him one day.  

Which do you find harder, writing songs or performing them? And which do you find more gratifying?
It’s definitely way scarier when you’re about to go on stage at a big awards show than if you’re about to walk into a room with Kevin Kadish to write a hit song. But my favorite feeling out of this entire career is having a brand new song and sending it to my parents—because when I was that frustrated 13-year-old girl, I would go down at dinnertime like, “Check it out. I wrote a smash.” Now I can email them and say, “Check it out. I wrote a brand new hit song and I can actually sing it for the world!” But I’m always really proud of myself when I get over new hurdles. Like at the CMAs, I never thought I could get through that duet with Miranda [Lambert]. I was like, “How am I supposed to perform in front of all these really famous successful amazing singer/songwriters and not throw up?” But I did it.

You’re in Australia on a world tour. If I’d told you that a year ago, would you have believed me?
No, not at all. I was just talking to my publisher who’s been through everything with me since I was 17. I used to tell her, “I don’t just want to be a songwriter—I want to be an artist.” And she would always say it’s a lot of work. I told her,” I’m going to show you. One day, I’m going to be an artist.” Now, she says, “You always were an artist, but now you’re just destroying the game. You’re killing it.” 

How would you describe your first world-tour experience thus far?
The plane rides are scary and long, but the best part is the shows—being on stage and the meet-and-greets. I get to meet all these people who speak different languages and try to use the little English that they have to tell me that their dreams came true because they met me. In Tokyo, this one girl was just bawling; she said, “This. Dream. Come. True. For me.” She made my year. This is why I’m here right now. It’s unbelievable. 

Many people see you as a spokesperson for body confidence and overall strength in young women. How does that make you feel, and was that something that you were aiming to be?
It feels amazing, because I wrote these songs with my experiences to help myself. I was struggling in my mind a lot, and I would look in the mirror and be like, “Nah, you’re awesome. You should feel awesome.” So I wrote these songs for me, and at the last show, last night, every single mother told me, “Thank you for what you’re doing for my daughter,” and then the daughter would come up and meet me. Now I can really see how much these three-minute songs affect people all over the world—it feels very powerful. I just tell them, “Thank you for listening, and I’m glad it’s helping.”  

And you do it all with a smile on your face. How do you manage to stay so positive in such a critical field? 
There are days where stuff around you is going wrong. It’s crazy—I’m 21 and now I’m running the biggest business anyone in my family has ever run. I have to pretend I’m 40 a lot of days and have big business meetings and calls and pretend to know what I’m talking about. I guess that’s one of the hardest parts, knowing how to run all this and how many people are working for me and working with me. Like, I don’t know what I would do if my tour manager, Britton, wasn’t here right now, and I tell him that every day. I just say, “Hi. Good morning. Please never quit.” And then I have a friend from home, and she keeps me really happy and sane. I don’t think I could do it without these guys. 

Do you have any advice for songwriters aspiring to break into the biz?
As a young songwriter, you get really discouraged. It’s frustrating when you write over 200 songs in high school and your mom loves them and you’re like, “Why doesn’t the whole world love it? How do I get my music out there?” My uncle sat me down and said, “You have to be patient,” because I was 13 at the time. He was like, “If you keep working this hard, it will pay off, I promise you.” He had no idea any of this would happen, obviously; it went over everyone’s expectations. But it’s just patience and hard work. If you continue writing every day, something great will happen.  

Thank you so much for talking to me, Meghan. Normally I listen to punk and rock music, but I saw you at the El Rey, and afterwards I was like, “I’m buying that girl’s album. She’s so cool!”
Omigod! I would have said hi! Am I going to see you at Music Biz? 

I wish. I want to go to Nashville so bad, man. Maybe you can pack me in your suitcase somehow and take me there.
I got you. I’ve got like 12 of them.

Meghan slums with HITS' Todd Hensley and the interviewer (l); L.A. Reid presents Meghan with a plaque commemorating her achievement.


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