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Madeline. - MNZ Interview: Background Noise 005: Madeline

23 Mar 2023 // An interview by Gaby Ivanov-Giraldo

In March 2023 Gaby from Muzic.net.nz talked to Madeline for Background Noise; a new solo artist from Tamaki Makaurau. Former front girl for local band She Loves You, and now emerging into her own territory, Madeline answers some questions about her recent time in Australia and her influences starting her own project in music. She’s inventing new styles, writing new stories and bringing fresh content to our ears after a long-haul of work and reprise. 

Hi Madeline! Pleased to talk with you. I’ve been interested in your music and would love to hear what you’re up to. Can you tell us a bit about what is keeping you busy these days? 

Hello, it’s a pleasure to talk to you too. I’m flattered you’ve been following along, that means a lot - thank you! My day to day is mainly just trying to juggle being an artist and having a “regular” job, (or in my case 3). I’m working really hard to save for leaving NZ in June for some music-related adventures and I’ve just finished the tracks for my upcoming EP which I am hoping will be out in a month or so. So yeah, I have lots keeping me busy but I love it all and I’m very lucky to have so many people in my corner to get me through it. 

What inspired the shift towards becoming a solo artist?

That’s a good question. I don’t think there was anything in particular that “inspired” it per se. It was more that during Covid and my time in Australia, I had a lot of time to think and create and everything I was writing really shifted. It just felt right to release it as a solo artist. It was much more personal in a way that meant I knew I couldn’t hide behind the “character” I see myself as, as a front- person. I knew that this was something I had to do to heal, to challenge myself to face things I don’t like about myself and to hopefully inspire people to do the same in the process. 

Can you tell us a bit about your time in Australia, and what motivated the lyrics behind The Illawarra

Australia was genuinely the greatest 3 months I’ve ever had. I went over there when NZ boarders were still shut so that was scary, not knowing when I’d be back. But I was living with someone very important to me and I met the most amazing people that have such a big part of my heart. 

The Illawarra was inspired by a night I had out at a pub in Wollongong (where I was living), that goes by the same name. It was my friend’s birthday, and we were there on silent disco night. I went to use the bathroom and I found a girl bawling her eyes out because her boyfriend had left her there with nothing but his jacket in the middle of a rainstorm. I tried to comfort her and proceeded to witness her getting more and more drunk to forget her feelings for the rest of the night. The song is for her and anyone else that has been in that position. I added rain sounds to emulate that night and an audio recording of me and all my friends from the same night to make it feel like you’re really there. Lyrically I had fun, because I normally write very personal things with lots of sweeping metaphors and hard truths - but this was just me observing and commentating so that was a nice change. 

What would you say constitutes alt-pop, and why are you drawn to the genre?

I find the concept of genres really interesting. I guess it’s just another reflection of how badly society needs to put labels on things. However, I’d say that smart and playful lyrics, and melodies that play with different modes and instrumentation for me is what alt-pop is. As a listener, nothing is more satisfying than pop music that is clever and really looking at pushing the envelope. It’s why I love Gaga so much! I’m drawn to this genre because I love the creative freedom I am seeing from artists that identify with this genre. And I love the freedom it gives me as an artist too.

Are there any stories you’d like to share regarding your upcoming journey in music? For example, what has been supporting you lately, and what are you looking forward to? 

What’s been supporting me most in this is sharing it with people I love, and making new friendships. I’m lucky to come from a family that’s quite musical so sharing this with them has been the best part. For example, my brother George is an amazing musician, and is the drummer/singer in The Butlers. One of my favourite parts of doing this, is sharing new songs with him and vice versa. It’s something we’ve always done, and I really value that.

My cousin Amelia is also an incredible opera singer and she came into the studio during the recording of Consume and sang some beautiful harmonies that I think just added so much depth that I never could have done. It was her first time in a studio too and I loved sharing that experience with her. Working alongside my friends in this has been such a blessing too. From my long-time friend Jake Stokes doing the production, to my best friend Grace doing the artwork for both the releases so far; It’s just been really special. 

Christchurch also has an amazing group of female solo artists that are doing phenomenal things. That’s been one of the greatest gifts this experience has given me so far. I love supporting them in what they do, and I feel so much stronger with them behind me too. I’m really looking forward to collaborating with some of them more in the near future!!

Which artists influenced you most growing up? 

The first artist that comes to mind when I think “growing up” is My Chemical Romance. And after their show recently, I’ve really seen just how much they have influenced me - particularly lyrically. Everything is very poetic and often quite conceptual, which I really see in my writing. I love everything about how Gerard Way is as a front person too. It’s animalistic, but also very relatable and warm too. He makes you feel safe. I also absolutely couldn’t go without mentioning Amy Winehouse, she’s my anchor really, in all I do. Along with Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey. 

Is there anything in music that you haven’t tried yet that you really want to try?

I have been saying that I want to learn bass guitar for about 5 years now - and I will!! I start to pick it up and then just fall off the wagon. But yeah, I love bass, it’s so hypnotic, especially when a woman is playing it. I dunno, I just think it’s badass and I want to be that badass - haha! 

What would you say are the quirks of going solo, versus playing in a band? 

Solo is scarier, much scarier. Contrary to what a lot of people who know me, or have met me may think, I’m a very sensitive person and I really have a lot of anxiety. This can make being a solo artist really hard because you don’t always feel like you have someone to turn to that’s in the exact moment as you are. It’s all you - Your face, and your thoughts and feelings that the world is hearing. And you don’t have someone to delegate to which makes it overwhelming. It’s such a unique way of living, and it’s hard to understand unless you do it yourself. I certainly didn’t get it till I did it. You kind of live in a whole different reality to everyone else, which is amazing and creative and gives you a unique perspective but it’s also a little isolating sometimes. You don’t have that in a band so much. 

In saying that, the women from She Loves You are still my backbone in everything I do, whether they know it or not. If I’m having a moment it’s always them I can lean on. While they may not be there to help with admin like they would be with anything related to that project, this is just as important - maybe even more so. We’ve been through a lot together, and I’m just forever grateful that I have them and I am so lucky to be counted as someone important and worthy in their lives too.


About Madeline.

Fearlessly stepping into her solo spotlight, Aotearoa singer-songwriter Madeline. is honest, seductive and thoughtful. Her heady brand of soulful neo-pop, inspired by classic art and literature, questions timelines and runs from tradition.

As a founding member of the Auckland all-girl rockers, She Loves You (lead vocals and songwriting); Madeline. is a well seasoned performer and a familiar face from the local scene.

Conjured through her love of Amy Winehouse, Arctic Monkeys and Lady Gaga; in her individual pursuit, Madeline. combines hypnotic lounge vocals and tantalising trap beats. This is topped off with thumping bass lines to create a sound that is uniquely her own. All the while she still brandishes her front-woman confidence.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Madeline.


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