Interview with Madison

Photo Credit: Reka Nyari

Photo Credit: Reka Nyari

Hey there, Madison!  It sure is a treat to touch base with you about your latest EP, the catchy-as-all-get-out We’ve Been Nothing, which came out in early February.  It’s the 2nd of a run of 4 EPs that you’re releasing.  What’s the vibe like for you now and when are the 3rd and 4th EPs due?

 For EP #3 the vibe is very happy, very FUN FUN FUN, very creative (it’s still untitled).  The video for “Speakeasy” is out now.   I am aiming for a summer release, and I’m super psyched about it – it is very SUMMERY super super fun!!!!!!

The 4th one is also in the works… That one gets a little darker, but still poppy and maintains a dance vibe!  I also have some remixes coming and a covers EP that I’m thrilled about!!!! I cover some very cool favorite songs.

All out over 2013 and early 2014!

Just curious – Why are you releasing 4 EPs instead of a complete album?  Will the EPs be compiled into an album in the future?  What are you debut album plans?

As an independent artist, running my own label and being a creative director at a music licensing company, as well as music supervising independent films (check out, I just did all the music supervision).  I have a lot on my plate!  It’s much easier for me to ‘digest’ writing, recording, and releasing EPs versus a full length album…  It allows me wide ranging artistic freedom to explore different sounds and personalities and also lets things keep rolling – there is no cycle – it just keeps moving like a train!

 On your Facebook profile you wrote in caps “THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH POP MUSIC”.  You craft compact pop songs with supremely sticky melodies, crisp, non-stop dancefloor beats, and your alluring vocals that flash both grit and sparkle.  Your latest EP, however, feels like a marked evolution in your sound.  You incorporate vintage musical styles and varied instruments into your dance-pop format.  What spurred you to step it up like this?

 Thanks so much – that is so complimentary and I’m quite flattered!  Everything is an evolution. I am constantly evolving, and as an artist, as a person, as a writer, I’m always exploring, trying new things – that’s what’s cool about being my own label. I SAY WHAT TO DO!  And for the second EP I had some great friends and artists I wanted to work with and it naturally and quite organically evolved into something more.  Live instruments based with real drums instead of loops and live horns… and live amazing backing vocalists.

It took longer to complete than I anticipated, but such are the best laid plans of mice and men… There was a point when I was like “I think it’s done”… and then I awoke in the middle of the night going “Horns, I need horns!!!”  Then, since I was  mostly in NY, I was working on the mixes with someone in LA  (Mark Needham) and there was a lot of back and forth… and I was finally able to borrow someone’s car and listen out loud and I was like “no no no, it’s so not done”… so the process was slow, but I think so worth it.

I know it’s way different than the first EP (that was recorded in Miami), but that was the plan… to try different things and sounds and work with new people and constantly challenge myself.  I knew when I was releasing it, that it was not as instant or shiny as the first… it IS a bit deeper sonically and lyrically and that’s cool with me – that’s where I wanted to go.  For #3 I’m back on the summer fun pop tip!

To get more specific, “Sweet Life” has a throwback groove and a soulful style what with the swingin’ rhythm, pull of horns, clack of drum sticks, and accompanying female singers.  Who are your collaborators on this track?

 Oh, this was so fun to do!  I worked with a guy named Eric Spring who really helped me take this track from a very simplistic 808 club track to a grittier rock n roll track.  Here is where  I felt I NEED HORNS AND BACKING SINGERS!! I saw The Heavy perform in Prospect Park in Brooklyn and am a huge fan and loved the girls that were singing with them so I sought them out, I had my friend Zac from the band Chappo play drums because he’s awesome and my friend Jesse Nolan from Caught a Ghost add some horns and extra production… I am honored that they contributed to my work.  I think it made the track very cool and interesting. I can’t wait for a remix of it!

Photo Credit: Reka Nyari

Photo Credit: Reka Nyari

“Nobody Like Me” works in a sinuous, Middle Eastern line that is reminiscent of “Kiss Them for Me” by Siouxsie and the Banshees.  Was that song on your mind by any chance, or am I drawing parallels where there aren’t any?

Actually no, it was not on my mind but I have mad respect for the band and I have been told before that live I reminded someone of Siouxsie. I also have another song that I’m working on where someone  said it reminded them of a Siouxsie and the Banshees song, so that’s so crazy you would also say that!!!! I’m not super familiar with their whole body of work, but obviously with their contribution to the music culture as a band and as a female artist and reputation, I find the comparison/ connection quite awesome.  Maybe we are connected in the universe cosmically somehow!!!!

Speaking of other artists, which ones do you admire?  Do you feel a kinship with Little Boots, Lana Del Rey, and/or Robyn?

I have loads of respect for all of those artists, simply because I know firsthand how much courage it takes to put yourself out and up to be judged – for any artist really.  I like Robyn a lot, she seems like a fun person. I saw Little Boots a few years back at CMJ in a very small venue, so my hat goes off to her for getting to bigger places! As for Lana, I like her music a lot, whoever writes it,  and don’t care much for the haters – so what if she changed her name or got some lips…

So many artists go through so many phases of trying to find their voice. I used to paint my face and perform barefoot and my songs were much darker and I’d wear crazy costumes. I hope people wouldn’t say what I’m doing now is selling out or whatever – I mean, as an artist you have to keep pushing and get a lot of pots boiling and just keep being creative.  If you are true to yourself, the music will speak to people.  My hope is to live a creative life and that’s what I am doing.

The delightful “Ship Off Shore” also plies a retro vibe with its blips of horn and piano notes, your vocals that pack a lot of moxie, and a brisk, choppy rhythm.  What era are you channeling on this song?  Would you call it a 1920s flapper style?

 Yeah, I would def say there was some 1920’s vibage going on with both that and “Speakeasy”… I love that era of mystery and quiet sexiness, and I think those drums are so fun!  Again, the horns and backing vocalists are key in this song (to me anyways).  I think it’s a beautiful song about waiting for your love, searching, hoping… all mixed up with a fun rhythm to shake to!

While I’m partial to your new EP, all your songs keep me coming back for more, including “Lights Low”, which I think is off your 1st EP, The Noise Some People Make. I love the cosmopolitan dance-club feel, your kicky attitude and ultra-fast, hip-pop vocal flow, and the nifty lyrics like “Don’t be too smart to dance.”  How did you create that song and how difficult is it to do your vocal delivery live?

Yes!  I love that song so much. I recorded that in Miami, so I think that’s where a lot of the more clubby beachy neon feel comes from. I love doing the hip-pop lyric flow (AKA white girl rap?) delivery – it comes quite natural to me.  It’s actually where I always go first and have to stop myself sometimes,  I remember the guy recording me was like “I have no idea what you’re saying but it sounds cool”.  Ha ha, I just do a few takes (I never like to do too many takes of anything because then one can start disconnecting from the meaning, lose the emotion, trying to make things too perfect) and if I don’t get it in a few tries, then it’s not happening – so it’s either take a break or reassess the part – it has to be really natural. I haven’t done this song live yet but I’m sure I’ll do just fine!

Madison - The Noise Some People Make EP

Madison – The Noise Some People Make EP

Several of your songs have been featured in TV shows like Gossip Girl, 90210, Lost Girl, Ugly Betty, and Melrose Place.  Your 1st EP cover art was also in an Apple iPad commercial.  That’s so cool, how does that happen?  Is it advertising (or other) people who have found out about your music who promote you or do you approach a company with a plan of where you want your songs placed?

Finding a great music licensing company is key to getting my songs placed.  Whoever is on your team has to be passionate –  they have to be fans and like your material, and after they put your songs forward for a project, it’s then in someone else’s kitchen if it works to picture or not.

I have been extraordinarily lucky to have success in this area and I am incredibly grateful that my songs have been chosen for TV shows and films and even a Polish wine ad! Most recently I have even had a new song from EP #3, SHHH!!! SO EXCITING, on Grey’s Anatomy, a Nashville promo, and DALLAS!  It has helped to grow my fan base and also is the way I can take that money and keep running my label, make a video, mix and master my songs, and keep the boat afloat!!!

 I love the cover art of your EPs, with the focus on you and the flowers.  Who designs them?  Is that your handwriting on the covers?

 I have an amazing photographer friend who I work very closely with.  Her name is Reka Nyari  and we have worked together for years and had so much fun together doing this most recent shoot.  She is based in NY and is just an AWESOME female artist.  We shot the cover art at the Gramercy Park Hotel which is an amazing super NYC hotel – it has the coolest vibe and art and feel.  It’s a very creative place.

The drawings around the photo and also around my first EP are by a young (and handsome!) artist named RJ Raizk.  He does super cool work and I love collabing with him.

You’re releasing your material on your own record label, G Records?  I’m assuming you enjoy having total control over your work, but it must be a time-consuming venture.  How is that going?

TOTAL CONTROL!  It’s perfect for a control freak  – Ah ha ha… Kidding – it’s good – it has its plus and minus in that yes, I control everything, but that also means I make every final decision, so it’s a lot of work, and there’s a ton of “business hat”-wearing which isn’t the most fun part… like managing, paying people, registering songs with ASCAP, producing a music video, dealing with product, packaging, production, managing social media stats, liaising with the publicist, radio team, mailing lists, website, etc… versus being in a studio writing and recording.

There are some less glamorous things going on behind the scenes… but that’s OK because at the end of the day I stand behind my brand, my product, my ART, and I know exactly how it sounds and looks and what kind of energy is being projected. I hope the operation can get a little bigger someday because I’d love some help!  To expand, but for now I’m going to keep on the grind!!!! GRINDING

 Lastly, can you please list your official site(s)?