Relentlessly Driven Mademoiselle: An interview with MAAD
Music — 24.07.20
Ambitious, transparent, and diligently determined, MAAD’s light shines through assorted traits. Model, DJ, songwriter, musician, and an overall artist, she began exploring her creativity through dance while attending the Harlem School of the Arts.
Creative endeavours are often non-linear, where the process is actually the goal. The amount of precision MAAD puts into her artistic and personal growth is truly inspiring, but it is perhaps her very energy that’s the infectious force driving every idea. Obsessed with Studio 54, she might have been a disco queen in another lifetime, which would explain her playfulness and charmful grace.
The list of triumphs is wholesome, she’s accompanied Luke James on his tour, collaborated with brands like Cartier, Instagram, Samsung, Beautycon, Laura Mercier, PopSugar x Coachella, and Spotify at Cannes Lion, and worked behind-the-scenes with musicians including GRADES (Dua Lipa, NAO), The VAMP (Ne-Yo), Deputy (Rihanna, J. Cole), Ro James, Midas Hutch, and The Stereotypes (Bruno Mars, Fifth Harmony).
Following 2017’s Lè Funk and 2018’s Technicolor, today’s reason for celebration is the release of her third six-track EP Eventually Pt.1. Funky and soulful, echoing 90s R&B vibes, creates distinctive harmony that’s perfect for this summer.
How has growing up in Jersey shaped you as a person?
It allowed me the time and freedom to explore my creativity. I also really love nature and think growing up out there definitely played its part.
You might get this all the time, but is MAAD a moniker?
My mother would always call me Mademoiselle around the house and it just stuck with me. Eventually, MAAD just became my nickname.
How did you get into music?
I’ve always wanted to be a musician, I just wasnʼt sure what path to take at first. As time went on, I was able to connect with amazing songwriters and producers that really helped me start to discover myself as an artist. It definitely hasnʼt been an overnight thing for me. What youʼre seeing now is years of hard work, dedication and relentless drive.
Who were your early musical influences when coming of age?
My parents would always play Chic, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey to name a few when I was a child. I can honestly hear some of those soulful influences in my music until this day.
How do you want your music to reach people?
I want them to listen with open ears and hearts. I know thereʼs so much to take in every day, but I want people to vibe out and hear what Iʼm saying. Then share it with their friends, family and so on.
What have you learned about yourself by creating your own sound and being in the music industry?
Music has taught me so much about myself. It’s forced me to be face-to-face with my feelings, thoughts, and flaws. Thereʼs something about writing down your feelings and putting them out into the world for everyone to hear. Iʼve also learned the importance of having thick skin in this business. I think the time I spent modelling helped me with that as well. Every experience Iʼve had has made me the artist I am today.
How has “success” affected your work?
I think the success Iʼve experienced thus far has made me work even harder than before. Itʼs like getting a taste of something and you canʼt get enough. I feel myself getting closer to where I want to be with my career but I understand it takes time and tons of dedication.
I put it in inverted commas because success is individually defined I feel.
Completely. Sometimes I wonder if Iʼd ever truly be satisfied. Iʼm sure Iʼll feel it when I get there.
What have you learned from failure?
To not dwell on those moments. I think the key to growth is to set goals outside of your comfort zone. You can learn so much from missing the mark.
Are you a political person, do you care who is in office?
I pay attention to politics and do care whoʼs in office and running as I believe in expressing my right to vote. I make sure to do research on my own so Iʼm not heavily influenced by what’s thrown at us every day via media outlets. I’m looking forward to a change in the current office because the state of the world right now is mind-blowing.
How are you feeling about the current civil unrest?
Iʼm all about it and think it is necessary for our voices to be heard. It’s heartbreaking to scream out for change and not see much of a difference. I will say this though, I see a shift happening and itʼs one that needs to continue to happen. We can’t grow as a race of people if some aren’t given the same opportunities or feel like they aren’t being heard. The passion being felt across the world comes from just wanting equal rights and we deserve that.
Has living in LA inspired any new energy for you and your music?
For sure! My music has always been groovy but something about LA makes my music feel brighter. My EP Eventually PT.1 is all about the journey and enjoying the ride.
Letʼs talk about Eventually Pt.1. Itʼs filled with perfect summer feel-good tracks, and yet itʼs emotionally charged. How did it come about?
Thank you! Iʼm happy you got that from listening to it. I really wanted this project to tap into a different side of myself. Itʼs transparent, honest, confident, and speaks on the importance of self-love.
Self-love is a big theme throughout, particularly on “ILM”!
“ILM” is all about taking time for yourself. This record was birthed through a conversation in the studio with my producers Ruby Francis and Raleigh on how we live in such a fast-paced society and the importance of “me time.” Self-love is one of the most radical things you can do for yourself and this is that anthem.
I know we’re not supposed to pick favourites among our children, but which track is your dearest?
Thatʼs so hard to answer because I love them all but if I had to pick one today Iʼd say “Get By.” Itʼs my most recent single and I’m loving how many people have told me the record makes them feel good and uplifts their spirits. That’s exactly what I wanted people to feel when hearing it.
Connection to your audience is obviously supreme, how are you feeling about not being able to tour this EP?
Thereʼs nothing like being on stage and performing live but I’ve been happy to find ways to still connect with my listeners. I recently shot a performance with a company called Mobile Sessions and they made It feel like I was back on tour. I definitely think as time goes on artists will continue to find innovative ways to perform until venues open back up. For me, Iʼm using this time to really make my mark.
Talk to me a little bit about the creative process behind Eventually Pt.1.
It was pretty much done prior to the quarantine, I really just needed it mixed and mastered and Iʼm grateful to have an at-home studio to be able to get everything done. Shooting the cover art and getting visuals done for the songs was the main thing I had to sort out during the lockdown and luckily I have super resourceful people around me and we did our best to think outside the box. I shot the visual for my song “Eventually” on a camcorder that I got off eBay a few years ago and my friend built a set in his apartment for my cover art.
Has your mental atmosphere been affected during the quarantine?
To be honest, when I first found out everything was shutting down I was pressed. To have gigs lined up and then none at all was stressful as fuck but instead of me tearing myself up inside about it, I asked myself how can I make the most of this situation. Iʼm currently just taking it one day at a time and have to say Iʼm proud of myself and my team for working through it.
Do you have a dream collaborator?
I would love to work with Diana Ross one day, that would be a moment.
What’s the ultimate goal? Professionally, and also as a human.
Overall I just want to continue to grow, personally and as an artist. I want to keep reaching new levels of my artistry where Iʼm then able to help others make their dreams come to fruition as well.
Listen to Eventually Pt. 1 below:
You can check out all things MAAD on her website www.shesmaad.com.