With its throwback soul beat, its body-positive message couched in a cute metaphor, and its dance-filled, candy-colored video, Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” couldn’t have been better designed to go viral. Two months after it was quietly released online, “Bass” has become a straight-up pop phenomenon—racking up YouTube views, inspiring an untold number of online tributes, and rocketing up the Hot 100, where it’s currently sitting at a respectable number 28.
The genre-mashing 20-year-old songwriter—an avowed fan of Caribbean music who’s written for country megastars Rascal Flatts—talked to EW about her overnight success, the inspiring responses she’s been receiving from fans, and where she’s going from here.
EW: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into music in the first place.
MEGHAN TRAINOR: Oh, it’s a crazy story. I’m from a little island off of Massachusetts, Nantucket. It’s hard getting into the music business from there, but my parents took me to songwriting festivals because I would write and produce my own music. And then one of those songwriting places in Colorado, a publisher was there from Nashville and she found me and signed me at 18 years old. So then I was writing for two years, and I wrote this song, “All About the Bass,” and it got me a record deal at Epic Records, and now my face is the face of the songs I’m writing.
Did you originally write the song for yourself, or did you intend to give it to someone else?
It was one of the first sessions where I walked in and said, “I don’t wanna write about anyone else today. I’m sick of trying to pretend that I’m Rihanna, or pretend I’m a different human. Let’s just write a great song for the world.” And when he started making the beat I freestyled, “It’s pretty clear I ain’t no five-two,” and I was like, “Girl anthem. This is for me. Let’s do it.”
What was it like for you to make that decision to put yourself out front?
Terrifying. I didn’t know if I could or should. But once I did the music video and put myself in the artist mode I was like, “I got this. Piece of cake.”
Like a “fake it till you make it” kind of thing?
Yes, exactly. I actually wrote a song about that a couple weeks ago. Produced it in my room. “Fake it till you make it,” explaining how I’m doing this. But most of the stuff is just being myself, which is what people are eating up, because I didn’t really do media training, I just told the truth, and everyone seems to like that.
Yeah, people seem to really be relating to the song’s message. I wanted to hear about what you had to say about it.
Oh my gosh. It makes me tear up. These girls sent me, like, essays about how they hated their lives and hated themselves because of their bodies and the way people were treating them. And they said they heard my song and they said “Forget it, I’m just going to love myself.” It’s insane. They’ll send me pictures of them dancing to my song, and videos. It’s amazing.
Have you been able to be in touch with a lot of fans directly?
Yeah, man. I was up till one last night! It’s a lot. I mean it’s more every day, you know? But I’m going there, favoriting as much as I can, because even that, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, she favorited my tweet.” And it’s fun to see reactions. But I’m trying to respond to everyone, and they ask questions like who’s my favorite artist and what am I doing.
Who is your favorite artist?
Bruno [Mars]. Come on. Bruno’s a god. He’s amazing.
I saw on your Facebook that you’re really into soca music.
It’s my true love. You look at my iPod that’s all I’ve got, really. That and old jazz and old Ray Charles stuff. But soca music gets me through everything. Gets me through workouts and traveling. That’s one of my biggest…aside from the Grammys and being number one artist, whatever, I’m trying to bring soca here. Because when I was in high school I used to play it at parties, and all my friends would actually react to it, and I’d be like, “See? It’s actually amazing.”
You mentioned something earlier about not being media trained. Are you starting to get some media training?
No, no. I don’t really do it. My managers say “you’re doing great, just being yourself, and you should keep doing that.” You don’t want to memorize your answers or be a robot or nothing. I’m good at talking to humans, so I think that helps. People are like, wow you’re a real person. And I’m like, yes I am, thank you. It’s cool.
It seems like a lot of people in the music industry have a hard time retaining control over their artistic vision, and especially as a young woman I imagine that it must be extra difficult.
It is definitely hard when you’re a young girl, and you’re taking pictures, and they have a whole look for you. But now that I see the pictures and I see the music video, I’m like, oh, that’s amazing and adorable and I love that. But at first, man, I was crying. It’s hard. It’s hard to become a pop star in a week.
What’s been the most unexpected aspect of this whole experience?
I guess the fans. I’ve never been a die-hard fan, like a crazy fan for an artist. I’ve never made an edit, you know, on Instagram. And the fact that every day I get a new edit of my face and a whole background, and they take the time out of their day to do that for me, that just blows me away. I never thought I’d have a fan in my life. And now I’ve got all these young people that seem to love me. That’s the craziest part for sure.
Are you working on an album?
My album’s almost done! It’s so good. It’s pretty unique and different from anything you can hear out there. And that’s what I love about it. And it’s got the throwback in there, but I snuck some reggae in there and clever fun lyrics and catchy melodies. I think it’ll be good.
Are you working with anyone we might know?
Mmm, no. I mean yeah, Kevin Kadish, he did the single and he wrote it and produced it, so he’s doing most of the album with me. He wrote a lot of the songs on their too.
Have you heard from any other musicians, or connected with them over your single?
Totally. Oh my goodness, T-Pain called the other day and I cried for like an hour because I love T-Pain. I got to talk to John Legend on the phone once. That was amazing. I also cried for that. I cry for a lot of good things that happen. I cry a lot, okay? But T-Pain was my favorite. I love him.