Meghan Trainor talks 'All About That Bass,' Beyonce, and Bieber
By now you probably know that Meghan Trainor is “All About That Bass.” The irresistible hit single, a body-positive polemic dolled up in a poodle skirt, has turned the Nashville wannabe into a pop star in four months flat: It’s notched more than 120 million views on YouTube, and has spent five weeks and counting perched atop the Billboard Hot 100. Not bad for a 20-year-old from Nantucket, Mass., who moved south to write songs. “I don’t feel like a famous pop star yet,” she tells EW. “I still get super nervous. I’m like, ‘Fake it till you make it!’ Or ‘Pretend you’re Beyoncé right now!’ That almost works.”
If she keeps this up, it won’t be long before up-and-comers are pretending they’re Meghan Trainor. But until then, the singer has a simple request: Can she please get paid now?
EW: “All About That Bass” is No. 1 in 25 countries. Have you splurged on anything yet?
MEGHAN TRAINOR: I mean, you don’t see money at first. I’m like, “Where the money is?” I still have the same exact bank account.
How did the line “I’m all about that bass, no treble” originally come about?
[Producer Kevin Kadish] had written “Bass, no treble,” and I was in my phase of saying, “I’m all about that Mexican food!” [Laughs] That was my slang. So I was like, “I’m all about that bass, no treble.” He said, “I can’t figure out what to relate it with.” And I was like, “Booty!” Once we started writing it, I remember his smile when he said “skinny bitches.” That’s when we looked at each other like, “We’ll never make a dime off this, but I’m fine with that.”
You wanted to sell it to another artist?
We pitched it as songwriters, and no one wanted it. The only one who liked it, I think, was a person on Beyoncé’s team. But it couldn’t work for her, because… obvious reasons.
What do you mean?
She’s so teeny! [Laughs]
She doesn’t have enough bass?
Yeah, I guess. And it was a different style than what she was doing.
You also have a line about how your mom told you that “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” Did your mom really say that to you?
She did not say that, per se. My dad probably said that to me. He’s super out like that. We’ll walk down the street and be like, “Damn, that booty!” But my mom will be like, “Gary!” She’s super sweet.
Your songs have such positive messages for women, but you’ve said you don’t consider yourself a feminist. How come?
I’m so scared of this question! I don’t like being labeled anything. I’m 20, and I don’t know a lot of stuff. I just know songwriting. Of course I agree with women’s rights and women’s causes. All my songs are like, “Gimme that title, treat me right.” But I’m just so young, and I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I’ll figure it out, though. Like Taylor Swift—she went back and forth, and now she knows exactly what’s up. I’ve never met her, but I covered her song [“Shake It Off”]. I hope she heard that.
Is she a role model for you? You both started out as teenagers with songwriting contracts in Nashville.
Duh. She’s amazing—she murdered the game.
You must be meeting lots of other big musicians, though. Is there one you were really excited about?
Hilary Duff. “This Is What Dreams Are Made Of”? That was my jam. When they told me she was going to intro me at the iHeartRadio Festival, I freaked out. And I sang to her! I was like, “This is what dreeeaaaams are made of.” That was my dream, to be a pop star like Lizzie McGuire.
What are the best and worst parts of being famous so far?
The worst is probably that anyone can say anything they want about you. It’s like high school but HUGE. But all you have to do is NOT read the comments. My brother is so cute. He’ll tell me, “This person just threw out the c word!” And I’m like, “Don’t tell me that! Talk to Mom about it.” I actually saw one comment this morning that was like, “Meghan Trainor, just tie me down and do dirty things to me, because I love you.” And I was like, “Whoa, okaaaaay.” [Laughs] It was intense.
Did you ever make any promises to yourself like “Someday if I’m famous, I’m gonna…”
No! But my mom was always like, “Don’t go to parties in high school and let people take your picture, because you’re gonna be famous one day!” And I was like, “No, I’m not stupid. I’m gonna take selfies with alcohol. It’s fine!” And now I’m like, “Oh, God, I should’ve listened to everything she said.” [Laughs]
When did you start writing songs?
I was 11. My aunt and uncle were getting married, and I wrote a song for them. It was adorable.
Who were your idols as songwriters?
Phil Collins. And Stevie Wonder. And what always messed me up were Frank Sinatra songs, because of the lyrics and the melodies and how catchy they are. Even if I was going in to write for Rihanna, I’d put on Frank Sinatra and hear “You may hear angels cheer/’Cause we’re together” [from “Come Fly With Me”]. No one writes like that anymore, because it’s hard.
Where does the doo-wop sound in your music come from?
Growing up, my dad played a lot of that. He said, “If you write a song, make sure it’s timeless so I can play it in 10 years.” 1990s songs are ’90s songs. But when you bring back [sings] “Why do you build me up“, everyone is like, “This is a jam!” I try to make sure my stuff will be timeless like that.
What were your favorite albums when you were young?
I grew up with the Tarzan soundtrack. It’s amazing! Phil Collins murdered it then and there. *NSYNC? Yes, bring *NSYNC on. Tarzan was my life.
Wikipedia fact-check: You played football in school?
Not in high school. I’m not that badass. [Laughs] It was, like, third to fifth grade. I was definitely a beefier girl. It’s really embarrassing, but this is so true: I played center, and my older brother, who is a year and five days older, played quarterback.
You also played in a band with your family, right?
Yeah, my uncle is from Trinidad—he was a soca star over there, and my auntie sings soca as well. We did my pop songs, and then covers of Top 40 and soca. My brother was bass, my dad was keys, and I would play piano and bongo and guitars and sing. We called it Island Fusion.
When you think of the year that’s coming up, what’s one thing you want?
I want a… I don’t want one, but I haven’t had a boyfriend in like forevah. You know what I’m saying? And my mom’s like, “You gotta date a famous person, right?” So I’m down to meet famous people.
There’s a great song on your EP, Title [out now], called “Dear Future Husband.” What do you think the future Mr. Trainor is doing right now?
He’s so chillin’ with a stupid girl right now. He’s with some horrible mistake. And he’s gonna be like, “I can’t believe I wasn’t with you!” And I’ll be like, “I know, but I was busy.”
Did you see Justin Bieber’s Instagram video where he was singing along to “All About That Bass”?
When he put that video up, I died.
Could he be your “dear future husband”?
He’s taken! I can’t compete with Selena [Gomez].
Like you said, your guy is probably hanging with the wrong girl right now.
[Laughs] You said it, not me.