Margo Price On The Mysterious Process Of Album-Making And Motherhood

Jul 13, 2020

The day Margo Price walked into the studio to start recording her new album, That's How Rumors Get Started, she had butterflies in her stomach, a mixture of excitement, trepidation — and morning sickness.

"I definitely was not expecting to be pregnant," she says. "I had planned to go into the studio regardless of what was happening in my personal life."

Her daughter Ramona was born last June — and her new album is now out in the world, too. Price says that the two processes, making an album and having a baby, were eerily similar.

"I think when you're making art and you're creating something, you have this feeling of protection," she says. "You keep it to yourself at first, and it's evolving and growing and changing. And the same [can be said] when you're carrying a baby. It's such a process that it's really hard to describe either one. I think they're both kind of mysterious in their own way. It's something that's just so personal."

NPR's Ailsa Chang spoke to Margo Price about staying positive in quarantine and being present for her daughter's developmental milestones, how the challenges of her life so far have made her the musician she is today and how she wants to prove to her children with her career that they can't give up on their dreams. Listen in the audio player above.

Noah Caldwell and Patrick Jarenwattananon produced and edited the audio of this interview.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARGO PRICE SONG, "TWINKLE TWINKLE")

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The day Margo Price walked into the studio to start recording her new album, she had butterflies in her stomach - you know, a mixture of excitement, trepidation and morning sickness.

MARGO PRICE: I definitely was not expecting to be pregnant. And, you know, I had planned to go into the studio regardless of what was happening in my personal life.

CHANG: Her daughter, Ramona, was born last June. And now that album is out in the world, too. It's called "That's How Rumors Get Started."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TWINKLE TWINKLE")

PRICE: (Singing) Mother Mary, geez Louise, I was havin' a ball until I threw it too far, playin' dives, trying to stay alive, twinkle, twinkle, little star, twinkle, twinkle, little star.

CHANG: When we talked the other day, Price said that the two experiences, making an album and having a baby, had so much in common.

PRICE: I think they're both kind of mysterious. And you kind of keep it to yourself at first. And it's like - it's evolving and growing and changing. You have this, like, feeling of protection.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARGO PRICE SONG, "GONE TO STAY")

CHANG: You know, there are times on his album that feels like you're speaking directly to your children. Like on the song "Gone To Stay," you sing, baby, when I'm gone, you know I think about you. You're growing up so fast, and I'm getting older, too. I mean, it sounds like there are times where you're really missing your kids. And I want to ask you about that. I mean, how has being a mom redirected the way you throw yourself into your music? Has it?

PRICE: You know, sometimes I do feel the strain of - that motherhood puts on your career. But I think that it's really important to show your children that you have to follow your dreams no matter what. And I hope that they see that, you know, when I'm playing music and when I'm doing what I love that I'm happy and that I also do it for them.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GONE TO STAY")

PRICE: (Singing) And I've been doubting it these days. The river, it runs only one way.

CHANG: Well, your daughter, Ramona, entered the world, and then this album was about to enter the world, too. But, of course, a pandemic hit, the album got delayed, and right now, there's no touring on the horizon for you. Can I just ask, like, how has lockdown been for you so far?

PRICE: Well, you know, I think that comforting thing about this isolation and quarantine and lockdown is that everybody's in it together. And, of course, I have, you know, days where I feel depressed or, like, hopeless and I just am keeping faith that things will start to turn around. And I'm also just enjoying the time that I've had with my children and that I've had in my garden this year and really being able to, like, reconnect to nature and, you know, keep my feet on the ground because that's - you know, if you let things like fame or money or any of those things cloud your mind and, like, poison your spirit, I think that your art will really suffer. So I'm just, you know, going to be writing about unemployment and everyday struggles again. It's really just more fodder for songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARGO PRICE SONG, "WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR LOVE?")

CHANG: Because, as you were saying, you're someone who has felt this inner conflict between being a mom and making room for your art, for your music, has the pandemic kind of given you some release from that struggle - at least for this time because you can't be out and touring all the time and you can be more focused on home life right now.

PRICE: Oh, I know.

CHANG: Has that been a relief in a way?

PRICE: It really has been because, you know, with my son, who's now just turned 10, I did miss so many little milestones with him. And it's been so wonderful to see Ramona grow and to just go through motherhood in a more relaxed state than I did with, you know, my son. He was he was a twin. And his brother passed - actually, today is the 10-year anniversary of losing my son, Ezra.

CHANG: Oh.

PRICE: And...

CHANG: Wow.

PRICE: You know, I just - I didn't get to have a normal chance at motherhood the first time. I was just - I was grieving so much, and I had so many mistakes that I made that I wish I could do it again. And, you know, this time around, it's been really good to just watch her develop her language and see her getting ready to be able to walk. I was worried I was going to miss her first steps. So I know for sure I'm going to be home for that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR LOVE?")

PRICE: (Singing) What is this life and what does it mean? Time, it runs out and rips at the seams.

CHANG: When I hear you reflect on, you know, the kind of mother you were during, you know, your earlier touring, your earlier albums, I kind of just want to visit this moment right now. I mean, this is your third album. You're now a known quantity in Nashville. You've been nominated for a Grammy. But I know that it has not been easy for you to get where you are. Like, money was often very tight. And you had to sell possessions to buy studio time. You spent a few days in jail during a particularly painful time, you know, shortly after your son Ezra had passed away. And I guess, you know, what I am wondering about is when you look back, how would you describe where you are right now in this moment compared to back then?

PRICE: I feel much more at peace with everything that's happened. I mean, I still grieve the loss of my son, and I still wish I would have done things differently, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. And I've been trained to, like, take that wisdom and apply it to what's going on now because I think that - I've struggled with depression even prior to losing my son. You know, it was something that I struggled with as a teenager and in my early 20s. And I know a lot of people have got to be feeling really lonely right now. And I know that a lot of people out there...

CHANG: Yes.

PRICE: ...Are battling depression. And, you know, my heart goes out to them. And I just hope that everybody out there can keep themselves in a positive state because I know it's got to be really tough.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARGO PRICE SONG, "I'D DIE FOR YOU")

CHANG: Well, I wish you the best of luck as you're sending this light out into the world during this pandemic, releasing this new music. And I hope you do continue to enjoy some of the solitude with being a mom during this time and getting to focus on that, too.

PRICE: Thank you so much. Yeah, it's been a wild few months. But, you know, I think that there's also something really exciting about the Black Lives Matter movement and, you know, just this kind of revolution that's going on. And I think that if there wasn't a pause, then, you know, maybe we wouldn't have the drastic change that we need to get back to the Earth and, you know, get back to taking care of the environment and our people and health care and child care and all the things that everybody needs so badly.

CHANG: Margo Price's new album is called "That's How Rumors Get Started."

It was such a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much.

PRICE: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'D DIE FOR YOU")

PRICE: (Singing) Some go low, some get high. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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