Madeline Rosene on songwriting, music, gear, and album “Raised On Porn”

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You would be hard-pressed to find another musician that can walk the line between artistic expression and authenticity as gracefully as Madeline Rosene. Within the soft, playful melodies of her songs are hard-hitting lyrics that are both honest and allusive. Her debut album, Raised on Porn, is a colorful and poetic journey through relationships and self-reflection.

Growing up between two households in Cleveland and New York City, the one constant in Madeline’s life has been self-expression through writing. Her path as a singer-songwriter was solidified when her brother taught her how to play guitar at the age of ten. She used these skills to write her first song at the age of twelve and began playing shows shortly thereafter. She recently relocated to Los Angeles to be more aligned with her goals and ambitions. In addition to her album, Madeline has released a string of whimsical music videos that breathe life into her brilliant words. Keep an eye out for this indie-pop wordsmith—she has a lot left to say.

How did your musical journey begin?
Around eighteen weeks into my mother’s pregnancy, my ears heard their very first sounds—sorry. I guess it was when I was pretty little and I would spend a lot of time in nature (in rural Ohio—yikes!) making up songs about the dramatic life I pretended I had. When I went to school for the first time after being homeschooled (that’s right, I’m homeschool weird), I would make my friends play “band,” and we would pretend to play instruments and wear coordinated outfits that I told them to wear and forced their parents to buy for us.

How has your tone evolved over the years?
When I listen to old recordings from high school or middle school, I feel happy knowing that my voice is deeper and my range is better. I also think I just know my strengths and weaknesses more, so that helps. My tone isn’t perfect or anything. I definitely consider myself a better songwriter than singer but I love to do both.

What gear do you use and why?
I have a Fender acoustic-electric Malibu that their PR team sent me. I love to use it for songwriting because it’s small, portable, cheap, and it stays in tune really well. I play a Telecaster Thinline or my Gretsch at most shows. They have very different sounds, so it’s nice to switch it up.

What does your songwriting process look like?
Well, something will happen—I’ll hear an amazing song, I’ll fall in love with someone, or someone will trample all over my soul, and I’ll have a reaction to it. Usually, that reaction comes out in song. Usually, I’ll play with a chord progression and write lyrics while I do that. I was recently questioning a relationship and wrote my song, “Everyday Existential Crisis,” which will be on my next album. I think I write in response to emotions and situations. Songwriting is a way to bring balance in my life and also to be very honest. Honesty can be hard but songwriting makes it easy.

Tell us about your new album, Raised on Porn. How did it come together?
One time my boyfriend asked me, “What were you, like, raised on porn?” I don’t know. That’s kind of an intimate moment but I started to think about all the fake BS millennials have been raised on—photoshop, cosmetic surgery, internet porn—just all the aesthetically pleasing garbage (but no judgment because a little garbage never hurt anyone) that warps our perceptions of our emotions, how we feel about our bodies, and most importantly, our relationships and how we understand and relate to other people. A lot of my songs are about my relationships in Los Angeles—often the meaningless ones that hurt me the most because I was learning just how devoid of genuineness and authenticity some people are. It came together slowly. It took about two years really but I feel like I’ve been working on it my whole life because it took my whole life to have the experiences that are documented in the album. It was a group effort with a lot of amazing producers and with the help of my manager, Pedro Garduno of Musiklists.

What was the inspiration for the album’s first single, “Numb?”
Numb is about not being able to feel anything anymore because your emotional capacity is full. But it’s also sort of jeering or mocking the person or people who want you to feel something for them. It’s like, you’re so sick of feeling anything, you’ve almost purposefully made yourself incapable of it to protect yourself from further exhaustion. “You can try to shake me, but there’s nothing to shake up. Inside this empty heart of mine, there’s nothing that I love, ’cause I am Numb…”

How did the concept for the “Little Planet” music video come to fruition?
The director, Peter Hagen (French Dirty, Netflix), was thinking about gravity. The song talks about atmosphere and space, so he came up with the visual idea of balloons coming up and down. I wanted a space that felt isolated. I found a room that you could flip a switch and rain would turn on. I thought this was sort of powerful in itself, sort of like having your own planet.

What are your plans for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
(In sequential order) Avoid Covid-19, isolate, be a hero, go on tour, release another album, buy something leopard print, buy something else leopard print, start only wearing leopard print, get plastic surgery to look like a leopard—wait, no, a tiger! Start using the hashtag #TigerQueen, turn Joe Exotic straight, have baby tiger princes and princesses.

IK Multimedia's Fender Collection 2

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