Under Her Spell
I’m not sure why it is, but it seems these days that people prefer artists who sound like other artists they like. Maybe an attachment to the familiar? Who knows? My first time listening to Madeline Edwards, I was immediately struck by her creativity, passion, brilliance, and incomparable sound. There is nothing cookie-cutter about this scintillating songstress. The Santa Barbara, California born, Houston, Texas resident is a self-made woman, who can belt one out with the best of them. She defines defiance, and defies definition.
To her Light Out EP, to the singles Killin Me, and Wait by the Line. To that mesmerizing voice, the soulful lyrics, the entrancing music! Listen, and know that you are experiencing something truly special! Her music is hot, elegant, and passionate, as she herself is. Madeline Edwards is love.
You have a new video out for “Tryna Make Sense” featuring your very own “mini-me”. Were you that young when you dreamed of becoming a singer, or was it earlier than that?
I was actually even younger than that... I remember hearing Ella Fitzgerald for the first time when I was about four years old and knew without a doubt that I was going to do music for the rest of my life.
Having a great voice, and being a talented singer is a wonderful thing, but being a songwriter as well puts one into a whole other category, I feel, in a sense that you’re truly expressing what you feel, rather than someone else defining these feelings. Was it always your intention to compose your own songs?
Absolutely. I feel like I have a powerful story and I knew that no one would be able to tell it the way I could if I were to let someone else write my songs. I've sang on other people's music in the past and it's so obvious that there's not as strong of a connection as there is when I write it. So, I'm usually pretty stubborn about doing my own writing and composing or at least being in the writing room, giving input if someone else were to write the song.
When did you begin to produce your music, and were you confident of your ability to do so from the start?
I started producing my own music when I was about sixteen or seventeen. My brother and I started a band in high school called Leybon, and that's where I got my first taste of what it was like to sit in the producer's seat and see a song really come to life. It's honestly exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time; The process of failure and frustration, breaking something down just to build it back up again. It's kind of like life. There's a lot of metaphors within the creating process that carry over to real life situations. I was definitely confident when I was younger, a false confidence nonetheless. I was such a cocky brat coming out of the gate, with little to no experience. It took me failing (and failing a lot) to know that I was not the greatest thing since sliced bread at that age. Now, I do have a certain confidence but it's different. I place my confidence in my experience and the time I've put into my craft, so it holds a little bit more weight and merit. Ten years of perfecting a sound and a style of producing and genuinely being happy with the outcome each time is so satisfying.
For the past decade or more, we’ve witnessed more and more recording artists who aren’t concerned with genre labels. In my Apple Music library, two of your singles are labeled “jazz”, but your EP is labeled “pop”. If I had to categorize your music, I would lean towards “soul”. I played one of your songs for the young doorman in my building, and he called your music “pop jazz”. Do you think falling into a particular genre puts an artist at a disadvantage, or does it really matter at all?
That's a freaking great question. I've never been asked that before. So personally, I would label my genre as a blend of Jazz, Pop, Soul and R&B. I think there's an advantage and disadvantage in not being able to be categorized into one specific label. A disadvantage would be that it makes the job of an independent artist a lot harder finding playlists to be featured on. It makes that list a lot longer and is twice the work. However, with that being said, that's also the major advantage, because for an independent artist, such as myself, it only expands my opportunities for exposure. For instance, I could send my music to a variety of stations and playlists to get picked up and it could really fit into any genre. It doesn't limit me to just one specific genre. I could have my music show up next to more relevant artists like Amy Winehouse or Adele or it could also be put next to more timeless artists like Etta James and Charles Bradley.
During your interview at radio station KTSU FM, you mention doing “a video with each song”, which is part of a “big project” you’re working on. It sounds super ambitious! How far along are you, if I may ask?
Yes, it's pretty ambitious... as I'm realizing with each project that approaches and each check I sign. This entire project is self-produced and self-funded. So far, we are one song and one video in, and we are a couple weeks away from the next song/video. There are seven songs total on the album and each one will be released within weeks of each other until the whole record is complete and released in the Fall.
In that same interview, you mention working with a “team of females”. In what capacity are these women involved with your project?
My favorite part of this project has been assembling the team. I've been pretty burned by labels and people I've worked with in the past, so this project has been a great opportunity to single-handedly choose the people that I know will not only work well on the project but also that I trust completely that they truly have my best interest at heart. My right hand woman is photographer and creative director Bethany Brewster. She is my secret weapon. We think very much alike, completely Type A personalities and strategic planners. She is not only a creative genius but she is extremely on point when it comes down to the logistics of putting together these projects. Then, you have my PR team, the Mad Meg Creative Group. This is an all-female run, Houston-based PR firm, and when I say this is the most badass group of women I've met, I fully mean that shit. They are the ones responsible for putting my name out there and finding opportunities. Zainob Amao and her husband Mathew were the directors on the "Tryna Make Sense" music video and I always look for to working with her. They both bring so much positivity on set and their work is beyond incredible. Obviously, I have men on my project too, but I have been really fortunate to also surround myself with a team of women who are not only really good at what they do but also believe in my music.
We talk about vulnerability in love songs, or rather the importance of expressing it in ways that enable the listener to empathize. “Tryna Make Sense” sounds like a vulnerable moment, but are all of your songs that close to your personal experiences?
One-hundred percent they are. Every single song I've written is either something I've personally experienced or something that I'm currently going through. "Tryna Make Sense" was a moment of vulnerability because it touches on me realizing love in a really complicated situation and what that looks like for me moving forward with my life. I don't like talking about my relationships or things like that, but it is what I needed in that time to help me work through it.
Speaking of personal experiences, yourself, your family, friends, and many others lost their homes when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston almost two years ago. You composed and recorded “Deep Water” not long after. You were able to get it done, and even recorded a video to accompany the song. What was it like trying to do art, while in the midst of tragedy?
Oh man, it was so fulfilling. It gave my music a new purpose. I've always believed that my music was meant to bring hope to people in really difficult situations, whether it be natural disasters, abusive relationships or even feeling lonely. That is my purpose here on earth, and any opportunity I get to channel that purpose is the most rewarding feeling you could ever ask for.