Meghan Trainor appears to be in a state of emotional distress.
“Bad for Me” is the first song off her upcoming fourth studio album, Takin’ It Back, which was inspired by her recent breakup with Teddy Swims (out Oct. 21).
Since becoming a mother to 16-month-old Riley with her husband, Spy Kids star Daryl Sabara, 28-year-old Trainor has been working on her first full-length album. “It’s me taking back my power and my confidence,” Trainor explains.
PEOPLE caught up with Meghan Trainor ahead of the release of her new single, “Bad for Me,” in a Zoom interview from her home, where she opened up about motherhood, the pain she channeled into the song, and how she’s going back to her “All About That Bass” origins.
You’re doing sad-girl pop on “Bad for Me.” Where did that song come from?
This is my Adele moment. I based it on incidents that actually occurred to me. When I wrote a letter to a family member and mailed it, I believed it was the appropriate thing to do, but I still didn’t hear back from them, which was sad. After that, I penned the song’s chorus right away. I didn’t expect it to be the band’s first-ever single. Because of this, I decided to start with that and also reintroduce people to Meghan, the mother—we all have feelings and they’re relevant.
It sounds like writing this song was therapeutic, too — on top of the actual therapy.
You know what I mean, don’t you? It’s also nerve-wracking for me to talk about it publicly because I didn’t want to upset them and I didn’t want to upset myself. It’s already gaining traction on TikTok, which is both exciting and a little unnerving.
Does that happen a lot? Feeling like, “Oh, did I get too personal?”
So strange for me because I’m an open book and I tell everyone what’s on my mind. This one, on the other hand, has a personal touch to it because of the additional party involved. For their benefit, I don’t generally divulge every little nuance, but in this particular instance, I feel compelled to do so.
Because I don’t wish for my admirers to come upon them on their own. As a result, treading carefully might be disconcerting. In the first few seconds that individuals heard bits of the plot, they immediately exclaimed, “Oh, it’s about Ryan.” Because it’s well-known that our relationship had its ups and downs, but no, it’s not because of him.
You’re returning to your doo-wop roots with your next album, Takin’ It Back. Why go back to the “All About That Bass” vibe now?
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When “Title” became viral, I was just getting started on the album I’m working on now. So, I was all, “The voice of the cosmos has been heard. They’re looking for doo-wop. They want it back, and they’re not going to take it lying down.” And this song, which is now seven years old, is suddenly popular! In a songwriting session for this record, Mozella asked, “What’s even crazier than that? All of these musicians are claiming, “I want to do the Meghan Trainor sound.” And I said to myself, “Wait, what?” “You’re referring to doo-wop? What on earth are you referring to? Is this my first CD? Okay. Easy. Title 2.0 is in the works.”
Every day, I read “Rehab,” the debut album by Amy Winehouse. After studying “All About That Bass,” I wondered, “How did this work?” As a songwriter, I set out to write the finest songs I could, while simultaneously making sure that my lyrics conveyed some sort of message, such as the need to rediscover a love for one’s own body following a C-section.
You wrote, “All About That Bass” almost a decade ago. What was it like studying your own songwriting?
It’s a little out there. In retrospect, it’s clear that I was a very different person back then. Life is extremely valuable to me now that I’ve been through so much and become a mother, and I want to live forever. I’m happy with where I am in my life right now, and I’m happy with where my family is as well. So my lyrics have greater depth and my singing has improved as well. I was attempting to create archival documents.
How are songwriting and your creative process different now that you’re a mom?
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Because I told everyone, “Get at my house at 11 a.m. and get out by 6 p.m.”, the timetable has changed. Then I would say, “It’s supper time, farewell,” and we would create a song. We would also be able to take baby breaks. It is possible for me to be like, “You guys better check back in soon. I have to go wash my baby.” I’m fortunate to be able to work in my own home studio. For many, working from home is anathema. Love it; I’d rather stay here than go somewhere else!
That was a huge perk, and I’m fortunate to be able to work from home and be with my son at the same time. It heightened my admiration for stay-at-home moms. He’s a blessing to me, and I’m grateful. In addition, I spoke with my therapist about the matter. As I sat there, wondering, “What is this shame and hatred I feel because I can’t see my kid?” This makes her even more awe-inspiring than before “That’s exactly what every mother experiences. Being a working mom is a title given to this type of role.” Because, “This is bull——,” I thought to myself. That said, it’s a requirement of the position.
Mom’s guilt is real.
This album involves a lot of me talking about being a mother, but I tried to make it accessible so that young adolescents might feel like they were part of the same family. However, the phrase “I’m doing my best” appears frequently.
So how is Riley doing these days?
He is a human being. He now has a distinct personality. And we just learned that he needs glasses, which is fantastic news since he’s going to be even cuter! They’ll be attached to his head like a hoodie. How he plans to keep him on is beyond me. I don’t believe it. Slamming pans on the floor is all my kid does, and it doesn’t bother him one bit. The only way he knows how to do things is via devastation. So I don’t expect it, but we’ll see.
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