A New Chapter: Madison Beer In Conversation

Pop's revelatory princess on the profound honesty driving her work...

What struck me most when talking to global pop sensation, Madison Beer, was how considered she was with her answers; how diplomatic. Not that Madison’s graciousness should come as any surprise, but cynics might attribute this to effective media training. Personally, I think that does Madison a disservice. After years of having her words twisted, it would only be natural to protect herself and choose them carefully.

Out of envy, we often want to take down those who we deem as having ‘too much’. Surely, it would be unfair for one to be so talented, so kind, and so beautiful. Still to this day, women in the public eye are torn apart for no good reason at all, their narratives twisted by the roots of envy. Having been in the music industry since the age of 12, Madison Beer has experienced an extensive hand of this derision. And yet, instead of hardening her shell and becoming more private with her art, Madison continues to share herself. If anything, she has become more open, speaking publicly about her mental health struggles and the torment she endured at the hands of online bullies. Although comments on her Instagram posts are now (understandably) limited, Madison continues to lay her life bare in her work – notably in her 2021 debut album ‘Life Support’, and most recently, in her frank memoir, The Half of It. 

Now, Madison is gearing up for a new era of music. Her second LP, ‘Silence Between Songs’, is due for release on September 15th, with a taste shared in the form of sweeping ballad ‘Spinnin’ and dance-pop single, ‘Home To Another One’. Although Madison stays schtum on the album’s themes, she does reveal to Clash that it marks important moments in her life, with each song existing in its own sonic world. 

The lyrics of ‘Spinnin’ seem to capture a feeling of being trapped. What did you want to convey?

I think the lyrics convey feeling stagnant or stuck and definitely mirror some of the emotions I’ve felt throughout my life, whether that’s been depression or anxiety or both.

The song has this expansive, musical theatre quality to it; the vocals alone are a real performance. Were any musicals a reference for the track? Do you love musicals yourself?

Thank you! I do love musicals and am so honoured you say that. This song really just flourished on its own in so many ways though, there’s nothing too specific I can reference.

You said when we chatted back in June that “every song on my album is very singular. I think that they’re all individual; they all sound very different.” I’d love to dive more into how that came about. Did you create and record each song individually, then tie them together as an album with retrospect? 

Yes. Each song is different from the next of course but they truly all stand alone and mean something by themselves. Each one is an important mark in my life that I wanted to take note of.

Your recent single ‘Home to Another One’ feels like the sonic love child of Lana Del Rey and Tame Impala. Were those deliberate influences for the track?

It happened naturally, because those are artists that I love so much, they’re just running through my veins. 

I feel like it’s quite a sonic shift from your previous releases. Is the sound of ‘Home to Another One’ indicative of what we will hear on your upcoming album?

Every song on my album is very singular. I think that they’re all individual; they all sound very different. But that general different direction is what we can anticipate.

Speaking of the album, ‘Silence Between Songs’ is due for release in September. On ‘Life Support’ you traversed some deeply personal topics for art. Thematically, what can we expect on your second outing?

It’s definitely very different. It’s quite vulnerable and has a lot of my story, my serious stuff in it.

I’d love to explore the meaning behind the title itself – what does ‘Silence Between Songs’ symbolise?

I feel like it’s super symbolic of the times where I’ve been alone with myself and I’ve had to be still and not feel distracted. I’ve had those times where I’ve really had to grow and know who I am the most. 

You wrote and co-produced all the songs on the upcoming album, and directed the music video for ‘Home to Another One’, further examples of how much creative control you retain over your own work. ‘As She Pleases’ was released independently, and you creatively directed ‘Life Support’. Does this determination to retain control stem from being misunderstood and misaligned musically in your early career?

Yeah, in some capacity. I’m definitely very proud of how I’ve been able to stand my ground as an artist, especially in recent years, and I’ve been able to really find my sound and know who I am. That’s been very, very important to me. So I love having a part in everything I do.

The music video for ‘Home To Another One’ is so cinematic. What was the inspiration there?

The video specifically was very inspired by Vintage Space Age movies that have larger than life weird ideas. I was like, Okay, I want to have an alien boyfriend and then I want to be an alien at the end. The set design feels very retro. There’s a lot of movies that we were pulling inspo from. But yeah, I think it came out great. I really, really love it. I love directing my videos. I love being a part of it. And I hope that people are liking it.

A number of fan comments on the ‘Home to Another One’ music video mentioned that you’re seen as under-appreciated as an artist. What are your thoughts on this sentiment?

I think I understand where they’re coming from. I think a lot of them – a lot of people in general – deem success as how many Grammys you have and if you can sell out an arena and things like that, and I’m not the same. Not that I don’t care of course, I want my music to be as successful as possible, but that’s just not why I do it. I don’t create music to stream the most. It’s amazing when it happens, but I create music to reach people and make them feel good and spread love and whatnot. The goal is obviously to reach more and more but yeah, I feel that’s the sentiment, because I’m not a Grammy-nominated artist, and I don’t have some of these credentials that other artists do. But I think that’s okay. I have my own things that make me special, and maybe one day I will have those things. I wish that they would be sometimes more present and excited for what’s going on. But I also get it, they just want me to do the best possible. They’re just trying to look out for me.

Your memoir, The Half of It covers some of the darkest moments of your life so far, as well as your road to recovery. You’ve said that the drive to write it came from helping other people to feel less alone through their own hardships. I imagine that when you were writing the book, reliving your pain must have been a difficult experience. How have you been feeling since it has been out in the world, and people have been able to digest your story, in your own words?

The book has been a really rewarding experience, it’s been very cool. I think, again, that’s something that I wrote in hopes that I would help people and make people feel good. I think that it’s doing that for those who have read it. And it’s been really therapeutic for me. I really want the hardships that I’ve gone through to hopefully be able to help some other people out there. That’s the goal.

Do you think you might write a book in the future, be that another memoir, or potentially even delving into fiction, perhaps? 

Yeah, I mean, I’m always writing fun things. So you never know what I might do. I don’t even know what I might do [laughs].

I don’t know if I can name another artist who has been as open and honest about their mental health struggles as you have; it’s incredibly refreshing and feels necessary. Where do you feel the conversation on mental health in the music industry is at right now?

Hmm, I think that it’s definitely becoming more of an open topic. People are more willing to discuss some of the things that maybe in previous years, we were told not to. But it still is, I think, taboo. And there’s some parts where you’re told, like, ‘Oh, don’t say that, and don’t do this’. But I feel like I want to always be as truthful as I can be, and be honest about my struggles. I find it to be really rewarding when I speak freely about those things, because I love making someone feel less alone. But it can also be scary and intimidating. Because then it’s leaving a bunch of people able to do whatever with that information. But I think that if your intentions are good, it’ll probably reach the right people, or at least you gotta hope.

How does this upcoming era of music make you feel?

It makes me feel amazing. I’m excited about it. I feel proud of it. I feel really good about it.

Lastly, how do you think your fans will react to ‘Silence Between Songs’? What do you want them to take away from it?

I hope that my fans love it, firstly. Obviously connect with it and feel good when they listen to it. I hope everyone has their own personal experience with it. I hope that people connect in any way.

‘Silence Between Songs’ is out on September 15th.

Words: Aimee Phillips // @AimeePhillips
Photo Credit: Le3ay

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