Not all artists are brave enough to be ferociously opinionated – but not all artists are Madelin.
The emerging NYC based singer released her first EP earlier this year, which was fronted by the provocative “Good List”. Celebrating the drop of the Madelin EP, I got Madelin’s views on female empowerment and feminism, as well as her “alien creature” look on Madelin’s artwork. As an empowered woman, the singer also had some precise, extremely tough critiques of the music industry… read on!
The imagery on the Madelin EP artwork is quite striking. Why have you presented yourself like this? What are you trying to say with this EP?
I wanted to look androgynous and other worldly. I love the color pink. It’s a color that’s typically thought of as hyper feminine. I used it to show something more in between, or at least another version of femininity. The body paint helped me achieve the look of an alien creature. My hope is that the viewer will decide how the image makes them feel. My palms are facing the camera to show vulnerability. One is painted and one is not, representing my duality. I wanted this EP to be whatever the listener needs it to be for them. I wanted it to be sonically exciting and unpredictable, and for the lyrics to be well crafted and honest.
What inspired the female empowerment imagery of the “Good List” music video?
I was inspired by how outlandishly offensive popular music videos by male artists are, and how normalized these images are when the traditional gender roles of a dominant man and submissive woman are being presented. I wanted to show how intense those images that women are expected to consume and accept really are by swapping the gender roles our society is used to seeing. Judging by how mad the video made the Alt Right, I think I succeeded.
How would you feel if Trump saw your depiction of him in the “Good List” video?
I would feel glad.
Please reveal who “Roxelana” is and why you “wanna be like her”?
Roxelana was a concubine to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in the 1500’s. Using her intelligence, charm and cleverness she rose through the ranks and ultimately married the Sultan, becoming Queen of the Ottoman Empire. She had a major influence on the political happenings of the time. I admire her ability to turn a powerless situation into a powerful one. I want to emulate her drive, intellect, grace, and perseverance.
“Even if I’m unsure, if I want it then I must create it” from “High School Boys” is a great lyric. Which is your favorite lyric from the EP, and why?
My favorite is probably a line from “Roxelana”:
“Start all over? I’ve already tried. / But I’m so guilty. / It’s what’s left of my pride / I’ll sing a swan song. / ‘Fore I press rewind. / My truest colors are yet to shine.”
This lyric came into light the other day when I was playing this song at band practice. Sometimes writing a song is like your deeper consciousness sending little notes to your future self. I don’t always fully grasp the personal meaning of my words until much later on after I’ve written them. In this case I understood that although some of the process of making this EP was tumultuous and not the way I pictured it being, it was still necessary for my personal growth. In a lot of ways I feel this EP was a collage of my leftover pride I had as a very young person. It’s the swan song of my early twenties. A time I spent wishing I was different or things were different. Now at 25 years old I don’t want to rewind. I want to be here now and create the art that I believe in and love. I know that I’m just beginning to know myself fully. I think that’s something that really young people do sometimes. They expect themselves to know exactly who they are and exactly what to do all before they hit 24. I think I’m learning that knowing yourself is a lifelong process that I’m just beginning.
I feel like “Pinnacle” would be really fun to perform live; it has great energy despite its nostalgic lyrics. Which song do you particularly enjoy performing?
I made a joke on stage the other night that when people ask me what I do for cardio I just say I perform “Pinnacle”. That song is a freakin’ work out. I think lately my favorite song to perform has been a new song we just added to the set called “Picture”. It’s one of the songs that will be in the next wave of music I put out. It’s a special one for me because I started producing it myself before collaborating with my partner Matt Speno. The song is about the struggles of being a Gemini. I love the synth riff I play on it.
How did you get working with Dem Jointz (Sevyn Streeter, Brandy, Christina Aguilera)?
I met him through my old publishing company. I had a session with him in my hometown of LA. When I arrived at the session I was shocked to see his studio was in the same building I spent hours and hours practicing in with my high school band. It felt very cosmic.
Definitions of feminism seem to vary, depending on who you’re talking to. How do you define feminism?
I define feminism as believing in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.
As a woman, is there anything about the music industry that frustrates you?
Everything. But more specifically the ageism directed at the females of the music industry. The idea that as a woman you expire at age 27 is so forcefully perpetuated in this industry. Men love imposing fake time limits on women. Not only do we have the idea of a biological clock hanging over our heads, but we have a vocational clock as well. I plan to aggressively dismantle that concept. I have first-hand experience with the music industry wanting a piece of you at 19, only to try and change you, realize that’s not working and then dump you. The industry treats women like rapidly deteriorating fruit. It sees us, our voices and ideas as expendable. It’s an idea that makes up the walls of an outdated institution. I believe that women’s art is important and necessary and beautiful at every age and season of life.
Who are some interesting female musicians you’re into, or would love to make a hot track with?
I love Tove Lo, Bjork, Nicki Minaj, Allie X, Lizzo, M.I.A., Caroline Polachek, Grimes, Fever Ray, St. Vincent, TT the Artist, Babeo Baggins, Citris… I could go on forever. I would collaborate with any and all of those women.
Do you think musicians still need major labels?
I honestly don’t know. I hope not.
When I spoke with electronic producer Dominique, also from NYC, she said that in NYC you’re “surrounded by people chasing their dream.” Would you agree with that?
Yes, I definitely agree. It can be very motivating but also very discouraging. It kind of makes you think of where you stand in all of it. If you’re not where you want to be, it can feel like you’re a million miles behind everyone else; but at the same time, that feeling is motivation to get your shit together and get closer to your authentic creative self.
It seems like you have quite a few LGBT fans. In what ways do you identify with the LGBT community?
I identify as female however, inside, I feel very fluid – almost anti gender. I feel like a naked soul with the body of a woman which I am more than happy to inhabit. I also identify with being misunderstood and held down. It’s also fairly difficult not to identify with a culture of people I live with, work with and play with every day.
Do you have a special message for your LGBT audience in particular?
I love you. You inspire me. Get your life and live your truth!
Where do you hope your music will ultimately take you?
I don’t know where my music will take me but I hope it takes me to a place of happiness within myself. That’s what it has always done for me. I hope I will be able to share that happiness with more and more people as I continue evolving.