A Conversation with Maggie Gently: Everything from Taco Bell, geocaching, to a Good Cry

Maggie Gently
Maggie Gently (Photo by Amayah Media)

Maggie Gently is the indie solo project of Maggie Grabmeier (she/her, formerly of The Total Bettys). This San Francisco based singer-songwriter released her first solo record, Good Cry on May 29th.

Good Cry was engineered by Grace Coleman at El Studio in San Francisco and produced by Eva Treadway (Pllush, The She’s), who also played lead guitar. Joey Grabmeier (Joy Weather, Maggie’s brother) played drums on the album, and Sinclair Riley (Pllush, The She’s) played bass. 

Miranda Roberts talked with Maggie about Good Cry, her creative process, middle school concerts, and fast-food chains.


Miranda Roberts: To start things off, how have you been doing these days?

Maggie Gently: I’ve been doing okay. All things considered, I think I’m in a pretty good spot. I’m working from home so that’s all nice. Lots of time to be creative which I don’t hate [laughs].

MR: I know you’ve been performing through live streams, how has that experience worked out so far for you?

MG: It’s definitely been a learning curve. I’m kind of settling into the reality that live streams are gonna be a big part of how I perform in the future, so I’m really starting to think about how I can make it sound and look the best that it can and trying to invest in my setup. I love doing them and I think they’re super fun and I love watching them too, but the difference in sound quality can be so huge. I’m trying to get the hang of what my setup will be like, whether to play acoustic or electric, and all of those questions.

MR: I know you had a new single out yesterday and your debut EP is coming out this month, how does all of that feel? Nervous? Exciting? All of the above?

MG: Definitely all of the above. I’ve been really excited for these songs to come out and it takes a long time for that all to happen, so I’ve been waiting a long time. I was planning for so long and then a few months before my release date I realized I can’t play a release show, I can’t go on tour, so I was just kind of realizing what it’s actually gonna look like. I’ve kinda been mourning the tour I don’t get to go on for now, but I am really excited to be sharing these songs and all things considered, I’m really happy with the response and my ability to continue to share my music!

MR: A lot of people know you from The Total Bettys, did your creative process change at all when doing a solo project?

MG: Yeah. I don’t know how much is just being in a band versus being solo or just growing and learning and doing things differently, but I definitely think that my creative process has changed. I was the primary songwriter for The Total Bettys so I did most of my writing in solitude like I’m doing now. But what changed for me this time around is that I have been trying to be a little bit more mindful about when I sit down to write. I’ve been using these creativity meditations that this really cool creativity guru Meg Hayertz puts out. She’s like a creative writing coach and also just like a life coach I guess. She encourages you to get into your body and have some purpose and direction when you sit down to write and it’s really changed the way that I’ve approached songwriting and lyric writing specifically. My song writing style has changed a little bit from my time in The Total Bettys to now, so I think you’ll be able to hear a change in the way I’ve been doing things.

MR: What is your favorite song off the record and do you want to tell us a little bit about it?

MG: That’s a hard one! I think my favorite one might be “Normal” which is track 2. It is not one of the singles so it will come out on May 29th with the EP. It is a slow song with a slow build and that’s something that I’m really not familiar with. I don’t think The Total Bettys had a single slow song. So I was expressing myself in that way felt really new and exciting. That song helps me get through a hard time. It was kind of anthemic for me — it was a motto that I had at this time when I was struggling with my mental health. The lyric is “in a little while / this will be normal” and I think to me that meant you just have to wait and sit through sad feelings and eventually the situation you’re finding yourself in will feel normal.

MR: Awesome, I can’t wait for everyone to get to hear that one! How did you first get into music and can you remember the first live concert you went to?

MG: I always really loved to sing, I was singing in school and when I was a young teen — I truly do not remember how old I was, maybe 13? maybe older? I don’t know but I started playing guitar and started writing songs. I only truly learned as much guitar as I needed to to write music so I never really considered myself a guitarist. I was a songwriter who needed an accompanying instrument. Ever since I was a teenager I was writing songs. My first concert I ever went to, I was very young, I think I was in middle school, and me and two of my friends and my mom went to see the Beach Boys at the Melody Tent on Cape Cod where my grandparents lived. We were definitely the only children in the audience. It was mostly older folks, but I was a big Beach Boys fan, so I was really excited!

MR: To bring that influence full circle, what have you been listening to lately?

MG: There’s been lots of really great music coming out in quarantine. At first in the quarantine, I only really wanted to listen to music that I already loved and music that made me feel comfortable because everything was so weird. And then eventually, once things started to settle down, and feel like normal again I was starting to get into some of the new music that’s been released. Right now, I’m really loving the new Thao & The Get Down Stay Down singles. The new Hayley Williams album, I also have been really loving that. I feel like there’s been lots of really good stuff coming out.  Also my favorite band is Tancred so I listen to her all the time!

MR: What is something you do outside of music that contributes to who you are?

MG: Hmm thats a good question. I really love geocaching, I haven’t been doing it for a very long time. But it’s basically like treasure hunting. Do you know what geocaching is?

[Geocaching is an activity that makes use of GPS software to find hidden containers, called “geocaches.” They typically consist of a small waterproof container, a logbook, a pen, and sometimes trinkets to trade. All you need to do is find some coordinates near you and begin your search!]

MR: Yeah, I’ve done it twice. It is really cool!

MG: I was aware of it, it’s been around for a really long time but then I met a new friend a little over a year ago. We were just walking somewhere and she was like, “oh there might be a geocache around here, let me check!” Ever since then, I’ve been totally hooked. We go together to geocache all the time. It’s more fun with friends. It’s like what Pokémon Go was for helping people to go outside and do stuff, that is what Geocaching is for me.

MR: That’s a great example, what app do you use for that?

MG: Just an app called Geocaching, I highly recommend it, it’s tons of fun!

MR: Before we wrap, I love to end my interviews with a quirky question, so if you had to be a popular restaurant chain which would you be?

MG: I think I would be Taco Bell. I really like Taco Bell and I feel like it would be cool to exist everywhere in the country you know. And I wouldn’t mind eating Taco Bell all the time.

You can listen to Good Cry on Bandcamp on May 29th. Follow along on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, or on Maggie Gently’s website.

Miranda Roberts is a senior studying marketing and journalism at the University of Kansas.

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