For the first 20 seconds of Los Angeles artist Madge's debut single "Fight Or Flight Club," it sounds like a big drop is about to come and snap the song into a sweeping radio pop hit. Around 27 seconds in, that big drop comes, but it hits like a wall of sound that is at once pleasant and discordant.
Madge describes her sound as a "saccharine assault," and that's a fitting description for "Fight Or Flight Club." The breathy melodies are sweet, but there's an underlying tension that adds an element of chaos. "If it was a kitten it would bite your hand and then lick it," Madge says of her music.
She's in a band and collaborates on other projects, but as Madge, the talented singer/writer/producer is doing it all—she wrote, recorded, produced, and mixed the debut song herself. "Fight Or Flight Club" is an exciting introduction, and things should get interesting from here. "It’s a nice way to introduce Madge," the artist says of her first release. "Sweet and angry at the same time. A little less weird than some of my upcoming material. And oh boy things might get weird."
Can you give some background and introduce yourself? Who are you and where are you from?
Hi. I’m Madge. I’m from a town south of Salt Lake City called Provo. I was raised as a Mormon and as a classical musician—two things that have really shaped my worldview and my songwriting.
How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it?
My friend Gabi (of the band GABI) once described it as something that’ll break your nose and your heart. My music is a saccharine assault. If it was a kitten it would bite your hand and then lick it. Other adjectives might be ADHD, retrofuturistic, catchy, punchy, and bittersweet.
My music is a saccharine assault. If it was a kitten it would bite your hand and then lick it.
So you grew up a Mormon. What was your childhood like and how did that affect you?
It was highly regimented. Between religion and music, it was structured to say the least. But when structure is normal for you, you don’t really think about it. I didn’t start feeling the full effects of shame and self-loathing until I was a teen.
When did you decide that the Mormon lifestyle wasn't for you, or did you?
I struggled with Mormonism intensely as a teen. But as an overachiever and overall rule-follower, I never acted out at that age. Instead I just felt intense depression. I was ashamed of my own imperfections and took it out on my self. As a college student I started to question the beliefs on a more practical level and eventually stopped practicing in my early twenties. It was all very gradual. I can’t think of an “aha moment” or anything—my own beliefs were always there and they evolved to become what I am now.
What music were you exposed to as a child? Was music always important to you?
Classical music was everything. Jazz came at a close second. I remember being embarrassed to tell my mom that I LOVED the Spice Girls because even at a young age I sensed that it wasn’t as holy as classical music. Even though I truly love classical and jazz, I retain a deeeeeeeep appreciation for pop music. I think in pop hooks when I songwrite and still have many a guilty pop pleasure.
What music are you into now?
I still listen to a lot of classical and jazz but also anything that’s beat-heavy and defies genre. Liz Fraser of Cocteau Twins is a huge influence on me. I also love classic French yeye—France Gall is one of my idols. I also listen to a lot of pop. Robyn RULES. Rihanna KILLS ME. I guess most of my listening outside of classical/jazz is gal-fronted. Oh man, Girlpool is amazing. I guess I could go on endlessly here...
When did you start making music? Do you remember what inspired that first recording?
I wrote my first song in kindergarten and recorded my first song in third grade, using the “record” feature on my grandparents’ Clavinova keyboard. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. I remember watching Sesame Street as a preschooler and thinking, “I could write songs like that.” I honestly can’t remember not writing songs.
And now you're in LA right, what is your day-to-day life like now?
I wake up and practice the piano. Every day. After that I usually spend time working on commercial music projects and then my own stuff later in the day. When I get antsy about being inside I go hiking. It’s pretty idyllic. I’m lucky.
Can you tell us a little about "Fight or Flight Club"? Why did you decide to release this one as your debut?
The lyrics to "Fight or Flight Club" are kind of anthemic to me. Like, “Come at me—I can take it” mixed with the feelings of fear and trepidation I have about pursuing this as a career. It’s a nice way to introduce Madge. Sweet and angry at the same time. A little less weird than some of my upcoming material. And oh boy things might get weird.
The song is really catchy and poppy but also a little challenging. I think that's always interesting to understand an artist's goals as far as making music they like and find interesting versus making music that they think other people can easily get into. What's your goal when you're making a song?
Again, I gravitate toward hooks. At the same time, I like sounds that are unexpected and reflect the chaos that’s in my head. My hope is to find a happy balance between catchiness and chaos. I want you to notice my songs because they’re off-putting in their uniqueness and then I want you to sing it for a week. I then I want you to get mad because you can’t get it out of your head.
I heard a preview of another song of yours and it sounded wild. What's the common thread that runs through all the music you make, or is there one?
The mythology and message behind my music is consistent. It’s a big, witchy story. I also use very similar instruments on each track as well as similar mixing techniques.
It’s a nice way to introduce Madge. Sweet and angry at the same time. A little less weird than some of my upcoming material. And oh boy things might get weird.
Do you collaborate with other artists at all when you're creating? Or do you produce and record and play everything yourself?
I have and continue to on a lot of things! Obviously I collaborate when I’m writing songs for my band New Shack and I collaborate on most of my commercial writing. When it comes to Madge, it’s ME. I do have a song coming soon that I collabed on with Chance Clift—my good friend and an amazing producer. But Madge is certainly an exercise is DIY. "Fight or Flight Club" is ME through and through. I wrote, recorded, produced, and mixed this track. My next release will be the same.
What's next for you? What does 2018 and beyond look like for you?
An album! Composed of many singles and some excellent videos. I also just finished production on a film that I wrote and am currently scoring. I’d love to continue scoring. I want to try to write, produce, direct, edit, and score a film. I will. Just watch me.