Maddie Jones is no stranger to the Cardiff music scene having made a name for herself over the past 5 years with constant gigging and some excellent recordings. Her new venture is a full band experience and is radically different to her previous work. Inspired by the relationship between colour and music, MADI directs videos, designs artwork, and builds sets. Inspired by the magical otherness of ideas like Boomtown and Burning Man, MADI wants to incorporate visual, immersive elements into their shows. The audience will be part of it, not just observers. Ahead of their forthcoming extravaganza at Clwb Ifor Bach we wanted to find out more about the world of MADI.
Who and what are MADI?
I’m Maddie Jones, I write the music, locked in a room with a computer, and lots of instruments. The band are Dan Fitzgerald (guitar, pedals, modular synth), Chay Lockyer (bass things), and Richard Welsby (drum things). But, MADI is about being more than just a band, we like experimenting with film-making, live theatre, visuals and so on.
How did you team up with the other members of the band to form MADI?
I relaunched as MADI this year, after a hiatus from gigging and recording as Maddie Jones. The band members and I were already playing together, but this break and relaunch is the result of a decision to cut off from the past, time experimenting with new ways of making music (electronic production, synths etc), and a touch of self discovery.
You have had a number of previous incarnations such as Maddie Jones and working alongside some amazing musicians in Let’s Dance (A Bowie celebration). Why did you decide to set up MADI?
MADI is a new incarnation, a replacement, a new sound. Maddie Jones no longer exists, in that sense. Other projects, whilst exciting and very enjoyable, are just not the same as creating your own music and art, from your own vision.
MADI have described themselves as ‘weirdo pop’. What do you they mean by that?
I’m weird. We’re weird. The word ‘pop’ on its own is incredibly broad, but coupling it with weirdo seemed to give the right essence. It’s accessible and catchy, but it’s also experimental and alternative. I love this balance.
At your gigs you say you are aiming to make the audience part of the performance. How does that manifest itself?
The experience of being an audience member is about so much more than just the music itself. The connection with the performers, the venue, the lights, the atmosphere, what you see around you, all the things you hear in the venue, the interactions you have… Some gigs leave you feeling permanently changed, others just lead you to the bar before they’ve even finished.
You have a gig coming up at Clwb 25th October. What have you got planned for that show?
I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you… It involves a lot of visual elements, lights, projections, costume, set, as well as other (not musical) performers. I love performances that blend art-forms together, I’m very inspired by things like No Fit State Circus, the dancers in our ‘Intimate’ video (Beth Powlesland, Matt Mulligan), and recent performances I’ve seen from St Vincent and Janelle Monae.
The position of women in music has changed in the past 40 years. As a woman, how have you found things trying to establish yourself within the music industry?
The position of women in the music industry reflects the position of women in the world. We’ve moved forward, but we are still not there. We’re still in a white straight cis-gendered-male dominated landscape, and there are many injustices. My genuine wish is that one day people won’t even see people’s gender, race or sexuality in all these situations where it makes no difference, that it won’t be taken into account. Until that time, EVERYONE has to work together to equalise the playing field, and that is of benefit to everyone, not just women. I could talk about all the times where my gender has affected something, but I don’t see the benefit of focussing on it now.
MADI have released a number of tracks so far such as “Intimate” & “All Work and No Play”. How do you go about creating these tracks in the studio? Are things pretty much pre-written or do you develop ideas as you go along?
It depends entirely on the song. Intimate started as a lyric idea, about how the cliché depictions of intimacy are not everyones’ experience. Intimacy could be holding hands on a beach, or it could be sitting by someone’s hospital bed holding their hand at the end. I experimented a lot on that song, chopping things up and moving them around, for a long time. All Work and No Play came from an instrument called the OP-1, which is a crazy machine. Fitz sampled a random sound from the radio, then you can chop it and assign it to different notes, transpose it etc. Eventually, I created the tune you hear, then filled out the rest of the track as I heard it in my head. Charlie Francis (MADI’s producer) and I work together to develop my crazy home recordings into the recordings we release, expanding and evolving them.
You’ve worked a lot with Charlie Francis both as Maddie Jones and now as MADI. Why Charlie?
The reason we were first able to work together was because I won a competition in 2013, and managed to get funding to make an album with him. After that, we did 2 more EPs as Maddie Jones before I decided to step back, and cut off. We have a great relationship, which has obviously developed over that time, and we compliment each other. I would say the way that we work on MADI however, is completely fresh, new and exciting. Starting with a recording which has 10+ different parts already is much better than starting from a guitar/voice demo. It already knows what it is, and we get to experiment around that, rather than trying to work it out.
MADI seem to have big ideas and are keen to experiment. Where do you see it heading?
Experimentation and collaborating with different artists is key to what we want to do. I’m excited by the prospect of working in different worlds, not just the music world. I’ve done a few theatre productions and working with a theatre company on a show is something we’d love to do. I want to make a film too, with music all the way through.
What can we expect from MADI in the near future?
We’ve just shot another music video for our next song to come out ‘Dirty (Word)’, a sort of feminist epic. The video is directed by Pinar Ogun, who I worked with on the gig-theatre production ‘Enough is Enough’, and it’s 100% going to be absolutely amazing, I can’t wait to see it. We’re also looking into going bigger and more obscure with the live show, into non-gig spaces like warehouses. And we’re looking to take all this crazy to as many different places and festivals as we can handle next year!