The daughter of actor Brandon Maggart, Apple was born in New York City, and raised between there and her father's home in Los Angeles. Classically trained on piano as a child, she began composing her own songs when she was eight years old. Her debut album, Tidal, written when Apple was 17, was released in 1996 and received a Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Rock Performance for the single "Criminal". She followed with When the Pawn. . . (1999), produced by Jon Brion, which was also critically and commercially successful and was certified platinum.