Madison and I were introduced through Flavors, so after hearing their explosive new single entitled "Get It Wrong", I felt compelled to sit down and talk with Madison to gain more insight to their world.
From rocky starts, to mental illness, and the positive moments that have made the journey worth it. We cover it all here:
FCG: How long have you lived in Austin? Did the city have an impact on you wanting to perform music/ influence you to make music?
M.B:I’m originally from a little rural East Texas town called Canton. I moved to Austin in August of 2014 for college and never left, so I hit my 6 year anniversary of living here this past summer. I studied at The University of Texas at Austin and earned a degree in Communication Studies with a focus on HR, but during college I was super lost and hurt and fucked up a lot of the time. I was coping with a lot of trauma. I’m honestly still shocked that I completed my degree because I nearly dropped out numerous times. Throughout a full-time school schedule I also worked full-time in the service industry to survive and was going out to shows on a very regular basis. I would always leave them with this chip on my shoulder because performing my own music was ultimately all I wanted to be doing and I felt like I had squandered my chance. After a breaking point where I considered taking my own life, I sought help and decided to take a chance on myself to do something that made me feel like me. And I just haven’t stopped.
FCG:How/ when did you break into music?
M.B:Music has always been the most valuable thing to me since childhood, but I was incredibly unsure of myself and my ability to reach others through this medium. I lived in paralyzing fear that no one would take me or my work seriously, or be able to relate to it, or give a fuck at all. So I guess I didn’t technically break into music seriously until summer of 2017 when I wrote my first song. I was visiting some musician friends of mine who lived in Dallas at the time and were working on developing a recording studio in their apartment. They offered to help me write and produce my first song and then I just never stopped reaching out to make music with them.
FCG:Biggest struggle and biggest positive breakthrough within the music industry?
M.B:Biggest struggle, easily, is the financial stress of working independently in music. It’s always been hard but a pandemic intensifies the difficulty and stress for sure. I have no generational wealth, and while my family is incredibly emotionally supportive of me I don’t have financial help from them, or anyone for that matter. I’ve supported myself since I was 18 so this is nothing unfamiliar to me, but I am currently working two jobs during a global pandemic to pay my bills and work on my music projects. With the vanishing of live music, I’ve lost the additional flow of income that came from gigging and selling merch. You’ve gotta be creative and scrappy now more than ever. As time passes and things don’t seem to be improving, it’s hard to see an end in sight and be able to predict a time of when those opportunities will return to Austin or anywhere.
On the other hand, there is beauty in the struggle. At least I tell myself there is to keep my head above water. I’ve grown so much this year that I don’t even feel like I’m the same person or artist that I was before. I have been stretched and bent and broken in ways I never could have imagined, but I’m still here, showing up, and trying my best to remain true to my work. The most positive breakthrough in music that I have experienced is when people tell me what my music means to them. I don’t think there is a greater gift out there than being able to connect through your experiences with other people. I want to revel in the experiences that strike joy and fear and heartache because those little moments compose who we are and connect us in one way or another. I make music ultimately because it’s this essential cornerstone of who I am, but it’s a little silly to act as though I’m not anticipating someone to listen to it once it’s released. So, I guess the fact that I’m writing songs that punch people in the gut and they can be vulnerable enough to share that with me is fucking amazing and I never want to take it for granted.
FCG:What is the inspiration for your newest song "Get It Wrong?" written by you and Taylin Booth?
M.B:Ultimately, the inspiration was pulled from our ongoing struggles with mental illness. Originally, we were trying to write a completely different song with a different concept in mind but just kept hitting a wall. None of the lyrics we wrote felt genuine to what we were experiencing, it all sounded canned and forced. At one point I was about to trash the whole song and I’m pretty sure I said, “I just don’t wanna get it fucking wrong,” in reference to the outcome of the song. Then we just had this cosmic moment where it all started clicking and coming together. You can’t get it wrong if you’re honest and true to yourself and honor your experiences. We were on a time crunch because I was supposed to record the main vocals the day after and we were completely rewriting the song haha. So I think the pressure of it all, coupled with what we’ve been struggling with inside our heads fueled the creation of an incredibly honest piece of work. I’m very, deeply proud of this song.
FCG:What do you do for fun when not performing?
M.B:When I’m not performing music or workshopping songs, I love to binge TV series (currently Schitt’s Creek and reruns of The Office, among others.) I also love to cook and make drinks at home with Taylin, and take care of my many houseplants. We have two dogs and a cat who are all the cutest animals to exist, ever. So they keep me busy and constantly entertained. I like to read, too, and take pictures with my film camera. Oh, and I love getting tattooed. Hopefully I’ll be covered in tattoos sooner rather than later.
FCG:What's next for you?
M.B:I like to take things day by day. I’m a very driven, obsessive person. I see something that I want and I fixate on it until it becomes my entire purpose. So it’s easy for me to go down a rabbit hole of planning and goal-setting, which isn’t a terrible problem to have. But during this weird and unpredictable time, I’m doing what I can to protect myself and just remain as present as possible. The only expectations I held when releasing Get It Wrong were to not be blackout drunk on the release day and to just allow myself an opportunity to be proud of the work we accomplished. I will say that I’m sitting on a lot of unreleased material right now and am thrilled to share it with those who care to listen. I’m even more thrilled to keep writing and develop more as a multi-disciplinary artist. It is a privilege to grow and continue to get to know yourself, so I’m leaning into that journey as much as I can. I guess what’s next for me is tomorrow, and I’m open to whatever experiences that may hold.
FCG:How do you represent the overall "Flavors" of life? (how do you keep your open mind, be yourself, express yourself, anything of that nature?
M.B:Ultimately, I was never able to truly “see” others until I allowed myself the freedom to see who I am. That granted me the courage to live and exist unapologetically in spite of who it might piss off or confuse. I still struggle with self-doubt but I think that’s pretty normal? I spent a long time trying to be someone I just wasn’t, and being free of that mental and emotional prison unlocked a whole new perspective on authenticity. You can’t be authentic in your relationships, your life, or your art until you are authentic with yourself. I also do what I can to prioritize kindness in my interactions with others. A little goes a long way, and I believe it’s incredibly important and impactful to be honest and kind above all else. My worst nightmare is to grow old and be one of those people that hates the things or people they don’t even try to understand. I don’t want people to see me and think, “Oh, they’re so set in their ways.” Fuck that. I’m going to be open to change and do the things that scare me and practice active listening in my day-to-day as much as I can. As long as I’m alive I want to remain a student of life because there is always something to learn from someone or something else.