Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Madison Cunningham grew up performing alongside along with her 4 sisters in church, the place her father was a worship pastor. She began taking part in guitar at age seven and fashioned her first band whereas in highschool in Orange County, but it surely wasn’t till after graduating that she found influences such because the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan. She minimize her first EP with producer and longtime collaborator Tyler Chester, who went on to work on her 2019 debut Who Are You Now, the 2020 covers EP Wednesday, and her newest LP, Revealer. Following its launch final September, Cunningham toured extensively in assist of the album – which earned her the Grammy for Finest People Album – and lately shared a brand new model of the observe ‘Hospital’ that includes Remi Wolf. Cunningham’s songwriting naturally lends itself to thriller, notably on Revealer, whose looking out, wildly imaginative preparations reward repeated listens and whose emotional resonance has deepened over time. Ιts 11 tracks usually focus on and bend concepts of private freedom and development in methods that may be darkish, playful, and defiant, however Cunningham all the time manages to land someplace earnest.
Forward of her present at London’s Barbican on March 8 for Worldwide Ladies’s Day, we caught up with Madison Cunningham for our Artist Highlight collection to speak about Revealer, her relationship to the songs, dwell efficiency, and extra.
It’s virtually been half a yr since Revealer got here out, and also you’ve had the house to actually sit with the songs and absorb individuals’s response. Do you’re feeling just like the months have flown by?
Yeah, it’s so unusual. Making the file took about two years in complete, after which to simply have it’s out for everyone to listen to and digest and make opinions of – it’s unusual and it’s liberating. I all the time overlook that there’s all the time nonetheless extra work to be performed for it. It’s simple get caught in celebration of it or the grind of touring it, after which I’m reminded, “Oh yeah, that is this complete physique of labor that I spent years pouring myself into.” I personally am not prepared to maneuver on but, however mentally, I believe I’ve simply been making an attempt to making an attempt to place each ft on the bottom by way of writing and opening up my thoughts to new concepts once more. And that feels nice, too, as a result of it seems like I’m capable of flip the web page, in a method. It has been loads of work, to not solely make file however then advertise and all of the issues following.
I’m certain you get requested quite a bit about your course of, which is one thing that includes stringing many various concepts collectively. At this stage, are there nonetheless components of those songs whose which means continues to disclose itself to you?
That’s the fantastic thing about songs and what they have a tendency to do in the event you step out of the way in which – in the event you’re not too heavy-handed with the the songwriting course of. I believe that enables some room for individuals to create different narratives within it, and in addition for the narratives to vary to you. I really feel like loads of the songs have performed that in hindsight, taken on totally different colours and shapes. ‘In from Japan’ is a kind of tunes for me, as a result of it takes on totally different angles for me relying on how I sing it, how I really feel it. Generally it feels very determined to me and different instances it feels extremely liberated, and I really like having the ability to sing that tune from both place. I don’t have many songs the place I’m like, “I’ve received to actually placed on a smile for this one.” I believe more often than not, not less than on this physique of labor, these songs exist the place my feelings often are resting at. They’re often fairly true to who I’m and the place I’m at in an emotional sense.
Folks speak about songwriting as one thing that’s usually aspirational, and the factor that loads of performers try towards, particularly songwriters who’ve an advanced relationship with performing, is larger confidence. What I like a few tune like ‘In From Japan’ is that you could interpret the road “Nobody’s holding you again now” in numerous methods, and also you stated that you could sing it from totally different angles. Having come out the opposite aspect, do you end up leaning extra on one aspect whenever you’re performing it now?
It’s one among my favourite songs to carry out dwell, and I believe the way in which that it type of leans musically brings out a confidence and pleasure in me. So simply from a purely musical standpoint, I actually really feel like I can get behind that that tune, and I actually take pleasure in taking part in it. I really feel like that line specifically, “Nobody’s holding you again now,” relying on the place I’m at – my confidence or insecurity – generally that line can learn as passive aggressive to me, in phrases, “That is all yours, what are you gonna do with it? Nobody’s telling you what to do, so make it good.” Or it’s extremely simply, “You bought this. Don’t freak out.” Any time that tune comes up within the set record, I get excited as a result of I typically really feel prefer it’s true for me, it doesn’t matter what angle, what temper I’m in or coming from. Possibly in ten years I’ll have a special perspective on it.
Generally the songs tackle new life in a extra literal sense, and you lately received to remodel ‘Hospital’ with Remi Wolf and Ethan Gruska. How did the collaboration come about, and what did it imply so that you can revisit the observe?
That tune already had so many various variations, and the the one which made it on the album was the third iteration of it. I really feel like there’s this type of insanity that’s brewing within the tune, after which it form of reels itself in, which was a purposeful creative determination. After which I felt like I actually need to make just like the type of loopy hospital model of it, the place mainly in my thoughts the affected person begins operating the hospital, and there’s like a “no docs” form of vibe. I used to be considering who may assist this come to life and that concept come throughout, and Ethan was somebody I considered as a result of I really like his manufacturing. After which I considered Remi. We have been latest on-line buddies, we have been speaking a bit forwards and backwards and we received espresso. I used to be obvious to me, I used to be like, “I believe we’re going to be a match.” Our second time ever hanging out was was making that tune and hanging out. It simply was so free-flowing and thrilling and enjoyable, and we laughed quite a bit. That, to me, is a recipe for fulfillment.
Are there any songs that also stay a little bit of a thriller to you?
I believe ‘Collider Particles’ is a kind of spacey, mystical tunes to me that, I do know the angle that I used to be singing from, however generally the remainder of it stays a little bit bit ambiguous, which I really like. And I nonetheless imagine it, as a result of I relate to the sensation that it’s portraying, but it surely’s undoubtedly me singing from a spot of being a little bit bit within myself and naturally melancholic. It’s type of me simply having a dialog with a buddy – I’m singing from the angle of the buddy speaking to me, if that is smart. It was a enjoyable world to create for that tune.
We speak about songs feeling like intimate conversations, however is this concept of taking part in with the angle of who’s doing the speaking one thing you end up an increasing number of drawn to?
Yeah, the enjoyment of it’s getting to sit down in numerous seats and attending to to view this stage, if you’ll, from totally different angles. And even attending to play totally different characters – the facility of additionally it is attending to inhabit different individuals’s views. In speaking to my buddies quite a bit and being observant, that tends to to occur, and in the event you’re an empathetic particular person, it’s quite a bit simpler to place your self in any person’s select and into any person’s perspective which may differ from your individual. I believe that’s the place nice and fascinating songwriting comes from, is having the ability to sympathize and empathize with others.
There’s a line on ‘All I’ve Ever Identified’ – “I’m a daughter to the thriller however a servant to pressure” – that appears related to what we’re speaking about. It’s fascinating the way you describe your relationship to summary ideas on that tune.
I form of forgot about that line. However after I wrote it, it meant quite a bit to me as a result of I undoubtedly really feel that – this type of push-and-pull with these large overarching concepts, the place it’s like I really feel welcomed by this stuff that I don’t perceive and in addition estranged from them. That tends to be a theme on daily basis in my life [laughs] – simply form of questioning the place I stand on issues, what I’m capable of perceive, and it’s a relentless internal dialogue.
You’ve gotten an upcoming present on the Barbican on March 8 celebrating Worldwide Ladies’s Day. How are you feeling?
I’m really excited as a result of the Barbican is a phenomenal house, and I performed there as soon as again in 2019 opening for Andrew Hen. I needed to return as a result of it sounds lovely in there, and all the ladies who’re supporting – I’m so excited to listen to all these unbelievable artists. I haven’t performed an occasion to commemorate Worldwide Ladies’s Day earlier than, and I really feel like there’s going to be a weight to it due to that. I’m actually trying ahead to it.
Are there any issues you may share which can be inspiring you in the intervening time?
I’ve been doing loads of podcast listening, and to 1 podcast specifically known as You’re Fallacious About. The host is so unbelievable, I’m completely hooked. After which I’ve been listening to this file by Daniel Rossen, You Belong There, I’ve been simply consuming that up. And Sahar by Tamino, I hearken to that file on a regular basis. These are these are the three issues which were retaining me impressed.
When it comes to new music, I assume you’re nonetheless within the very early phases of the method?
Yeah, nonetheless very early phases, simply because touring is such a tough state for me to jot down in, and we did a lot of that final yr. I’m shifting gears, and it all the time takes a minute to show the entire ship round. However I’ve been excited and I’ve been studying, simply making an attempt to absorb concepts and what different individuals are as much as.
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability and size.