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Nashville based songstress Mags Duval is making moves with a unique mix of alt-pop and smart storytelling layered over hooks that nod to 90’s hip hop. She’s a sultry singer with iconic 50’s girl-group harmonies and with the release of her fresh new track “Stay Lonely,” she most definitely needs to be on your music radar.
GroundSounds recently caught up with Mags to talk about her latest track, musical inspirations and more, check out the exclusive interview below.
For those just discovering Mags Duval, can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing and how you got started with music?
I grew up in a little beach-town called Clearwater, Florida. I have three brothers and no one in my family is musical, so my parents just figured that when you raise a daughter, listening to them sing and make up songs all the time was totally normal. I remember writing my first song when I was nine…it was called “True Friends Don’t Lie” and I didn’t play an instrument at the time, so I would have to perform it a cappella for family and friends which was so awkward. Eventually, I learned to play piano and guitar and continued to write songs every day and one day, someone in NYC heard a song I had recorded in a local studio and started sending it around to contacts in the music industry.
What do you enjoy most about Nashville? What is one thing every visitor should see or do?
Gosh, I love everything about Nashville. I started making trips here to write songs when I was thirteen and I’ve seen the city grow and change so much in that time. Obviously, with it being “Music City”, anyone visiting must check out the live music scene! I would strongly suggest trying to catch a songwriter’s round, in particular…it’s when songwriter’s are all on a stage sitting side-by-side with their guitars and they take turn telling the stories behind their songs and playing them just as they were written. You’ll hear everything from hits you’ve heard on the radio for years to future hits you’re hearing before anyone else get to hear them. It’s really a magical experience.
Awe, thank you so much! I wrote “Stay Lonely” at 3AM on a guitar I bought for $50 at a local flea market. I was feeling conflicted, at the time, about this person in my life that I knew I couldn’t be with, but I was unintentionally trying to stop him from being with anyone else. Your thoughts are sort of unfiltered at 3AM…sometimes, truth about how I’m really feeling about something or someone is revealed through my writing. It’s like the things my heart hasn’t told my head yet haha
The way the producers I got to work with brought the track to life in the studio was everything I ever could’ve dreamed it to be and more. The guitar/ vocal recording had a natural rhythm to it so I really wanted to play up the old school hip-hop/ R&B feels while keeping the guitar and vocal present.
What was it like filming the music video for “Stay Lonely?”
Oh my goodness, it was an absolute dream! I’m a sucker for anything theatrical and dramatic, so bringing the song to life in this way was such an incredible experience. We were in this really old, wonderfully creepy Antebellum style home that was built in 1790 for most of the day. I got to pick out a super handsome love-interest…I was sent a bunch of guy’s pictures to choose from; we met day-of shoot and I was like “Hi, I’m Mags! Thanks for being my beau for the day. I feel like a met you on Tinder.” The funniest part of filming was driving around downtown Nashville in the backseat of a car with a mannequin sitting next to me, I got some pretty confused looks a red lights.
What was it like working with Grammy award winning producer Luke Laird?
I worked with Luke for the first time on my first trip to Nashville when I was thirteen. I credit so much of who I’ve become as a person and an artist to him and his wife, Beth. They’ve always believed in me and pushed me to be the best that I can be and I’m so grateful for that. Working with Luke in the studio was amazing because he and I are very similar in that everything starts with a song, but we both love urban production. He was able to blend the worlds of alt-pop and my singer/songwriter roots so well.
What is it about alt-pop that attracts you to this sound?
Everything! I love the way this style of music makes me feel. Even when I’m just writing alone on guitar or piano, I’ve always heard these sort of tracks in my head. I grew up on modern pop and hip-hop music, that’s what my brothers and I were always listening to and also pop from the 70’s/80’s, because that’s what my parents were listening to. I think those different decades of pop have both influenced my style because I’m drawn to the production of today, but the super real, relatable lyrics of back then.
What bands/musicians are you currently listening to?
I am such a mixed-bag when it comes to what I listen to! The other night, I took a bubble bath and listened to old jazz music (Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald) and then today I was driving to Chance The Rapper’s “Coloring Book”…I honestly just love good music that makes me feel something.
What’s next for Mags Duval, what can fans look forward to?
I have SO many songs for you. I mean, literally hundreds of them and I look forward to a lifetime of making music for you guys. I’ve got a new single coming out this month and I hope to be playing some shows soon- I’ll keep you posted!
press photo (credit: Claire Vogel)