There aren't many summer camp romances that have staying power. But when Katy DuBois and Alaina Stacey, now known as Maybe April, fell in love with each other's songwriting at a 2012 Grammy songwriting camp for high school students, it stuck.
And now the duo is prepping for the release of a debut album whose "Need You Now" and title track, "The Other Side," are premiering exclusively below.
"They asked us who some of our favorite songwriters were, and we both mentioned a lot of the same songwriters that we loved so much," Stacey tells Billboard. "Automatically, we were both like, 'I need to talk to that girl!' We became best friends. We were both going through teenage heartbreak stuff as well. That and our love for songwriting brought us together and we really clicked."
Even then, Dubois says, "we didn't know if (the group) was going to go past that week, so the (band) name was like, 'Let's make this name up for this week'." She and Stacey were both born in April, while a third camper who was working with them wasn't — which led to the 'maybe' part of the name. "When she decided to go and do her own music the joke was that she kept the Maybe," DuBois says. "We had a lot of people say 'Are you guys just April now…?'"
There have been "a lot of ups and downs" for the duo, which moved to Nashville from their homes in Chicago (Stacey) and Arkansas (DuBois) in order to pursue their careers. The struggles and adventures, including opening for Brandy Clark and Sarah Jarosz, are chronicled on The Other Side's title track — "The whole concept of coming out on the other side and growing in general as a person, as well as just the career," Dubois says. But Stacey notes that "it's mostly been good, I think. It just feels so scary because there's so many other people trying to do the same thing. It's been a long time in the city trying to be successful and also create something we're proud of."
"Need You Now," meanwhile, strikes a lighter tone. "It was born more out of vibe of the music more than a specific story," DuBois explains. "We came up with the melody and the vibe, so we wanted to make sure the rest of the song fit that — realizing you can have your adventures and be independent and share that with somebody else. If it's the right person, it even enhances those experiences."
Despite being ensconced in Nashville, Maybe April made The Other Side, due out Aug. 9, at Gravity Studios Chicago with Stacey's brother Julian — a move both feel worked to the album's benefit. "As many studios and incredible musicians and producers and everything as there are in Nashville, we wanted to work with Julian and get his take and takeaway to create our version of American/country music," Stacey explains. "It was kind of cool because it was a process of transforming it into something really organically. It wasn't a set-out thing to make it what it is; It was all of us working together, playing around with the songs and making it more us." Maybe April will give the world an earful of that on June 6, when it performs at CMA Fest, with plans to start touring in earnest during the summer.
"We're hoping to take this (music) all across the country," Stacey says. "We're just excited to be doing something. We've always struggled with our genre and had to start to hone in on where we are now and where we've come. We describe it as country/American roots with pop influences. It's a little mix. We can't wait for people to hear it."