THERE aren’t many artists who arrest…
the senses the same way as Madelin does. I have been speaking with the Brooklyn-based artist about the forthcoming E.P., The Peachmixes (officially released on 13th April). Madelin discusses the video for the High School Boys remix and featuring celebrated drag artists; what comes next in terms of gigs and material; if we can see Madelin in the U.K. – some of the artists who have inspired the music we hear on Madelin (the debut E.P.).
Madelin explains the reaction to her previous E.P. and why the material being put out now is more personal and pleasing; some advice new artists can adhere to – and whether sexual identity and gender equality are issues we need to tackle and explore in music.
Hi, Madelin. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m good, but I’m really tired. I’m going on my third week without a day off - so I feel like a zombie.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Madelin. I grew up in Venice Beach California but I live in Brooklyn now. I call myself an experimental Pop artist. My music style is a cross between Björk, St. Vincent; Regina Spektor and Tove Lo. I like mixing different genres to the point of being uncategorizable. I’m inspired by intuitive melodies, found sounds and phat synths.
The High School Boys remix video is out. The video draws together Brooklyn drag performers. How did the concept come together? How important was it ensuring the visuals and messages were right?
When my collaborator, Jose Dao, and I first started conceptualizing the video we knew we wanted to work with the Brooklyn drag performers that we know and admire - and showcase them in the video. Since the song talks about a “high school boy” - whose name I can’t remember - we wanted to play with gender expectations and offer a full spectrum of gender expression. In that way; we honed in on the message of the video - which is that our memories of our experiences are fluid and always changing. We worked incredibly hard at nailing down the details of every single shot in the video.
Representing the Brooklyn artist scene properly was monumentally important to us.
It features ten-year-old, Desmond Is Amazing. Was it a lot of fun putting it all together?
Desmond was so much fun to have on set. He completely lit up the room with his fabulous energy and made everybody laugh. The experience of being on set and seeing it all come together was so rewarding. It felt like one of those cosmic moments when you’re surrounded by everyone you love and it’s like the universe is telling you you’re moving in the right direction.
The track is from the E.P., The Peachmixes. What can you reveal about the remixes that will appear? What was the reason for releasing a remix E.P.?
You can expect a very dynamic exciting E.P. with expertly-produced songs by some of my best friends who I went to college with. It spans genres, from Hip-Hop and Pop to Dancehall and Indie, but still has a cohesiveness to it. I wanted to put out this E.P. as a way to claim my power and independence as an artist. In 2017, I detached myself from my publishing company - because I felt like I was being manipulated and lead in the wrong direction musically.
As much as I love my previous Madelin E.P.; it was too influenced by people who were trying to change who I was to try and make me more marketable. The Peachmixes is all me: no one else’s advice was taken. It’s more of a redo E.P. than a remix E.P. to me. This is the start of the rest of my life in music - and it’s something I’m really proud of.
The Madelin E.P. featured stunning cuts like High School Boys. What sort of themes and stories were influencing you around the time you wrote the E.P.?
The Madelin E.P. was written right before a really transformative time in my life. I was feeling kind of lost and like my destiny was out of my control. The feeling of people and things slipping through my fingers was a strong theme of the writing process for that E.P., as well as the feeling of moving away from your youth and being in that middle-ground of not quite knowing who you are yet...
A bit uncomfortable, but necessary for personal growth.
Do you think sexuality and identity are still awkward subjects to raise in music? Do you think there are obstacles for those who want to declare and emancipate?
I think now is the time for freedom of gender identity and sexual orientation to be in the forefront of music and art in general. Everyone should feel free to express themselves in a way that feels right to them. I, personally, consider myself genderless but still feel comfortable with ‘she’/’her’ pronouns. It’s difficult to feel comfortable expressing your gender or sexual identity when you’re still in the midst of exploring it...but I encourage everyone to give themselves the space to find what feels right to them - and to know that it’s ok if what feels right changes over time.
Never put yourself in a box or worry too much about what others will think of you. I truly believe that our souls have masculine energy, feminine energy and everything in-between. It makes sense for us to evolve in how we express our gender throughout our lives.
You are from Bushwick, Brooklyn. It is a working-class neighbourhood. How important is the vibe and people regards your music and approach to songwriting?
I’ve lived in Bushwick for five years. It definitely influences me, musically. I feel a sense of comradery with all the artists who live here. It encourages me to stay on top of my sh*t.
What comes after the E.P.? Do you think you’ll bring any new material out before the end of this year?
Yes indeed. Expect more from me in 2018…
Did music come into your life early? What got you hooked on it?
I’ve been singing ever since I can remember. I started writing songs at age eight. I never stopped. Music got me hooked on music. I’m inspired by artists I admire. That is as true now for me as it ever was. I’m also addicted to the satisfaction I get from creating a song. It feels like the most authentic way for me to express my inner-world.
Which musicians did you grow up on? Can you remember the first album you ever bought?
I grew up listening to Motown, Pop music and classic singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon.
The first record I ever received was NSYNC’s first album - which I became obsessed with. The first one I ever bought myself was Return of Saturn by No Doubt. That’s still one of my all-time favorite records.
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
I’m taking a little time off from gigs to focus on recording new music. I’m planning on playing more shows this summer - so keep an eye on my Instagram for updates.
Do you get out to the U.K. much? Will we see you play over here?
I’ve never been to the U.K. but cross your fingers for me - that life leads me there at some point.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I hope to get a ton of music recorded and to start releasing it. I want to build momentum and make a lot of art. I also want to keep enjoying living here in Brooklyn at the heart of the drag-scene here.
There’s nothing better than BK drag.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Making my very first E.P. in college, Cloud. It’s not on Spotify right now but you can find it on SoundCloud and BandCamp under my full name, Madeline Mondrala. The process was so organic. I’m using it as a model for how I want to record music this year.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Work harder than you think you need to, trust your intuition; don’t let anybody try and change you, do it because you love it not because you want money or fame…oh…and don’t take anyone’s advice….except for this advice I’m giving you right now.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Honestly, not a whole lot...
Between working to pay my rent and keeping up with my music hustle, it leaves very little free time. What free time I do have is spent at drag shows and queer parties, if I feel like popping off, or in my bed with my cat watching documentaries and hitting the vape pen if I feel like being a hermit.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Polymorphing by Chairlift