Wednesday, August 21, 2019

10 Questions For: Madeline Juno


Sounds European! now lands in Germany, where we had a conversation with one of the most talented (and delightful, let us add!) singers from the country. Her career was a huge success since her very first single, and you can get to know more about her path with this interview. These are our 10 questions for Madeline Juno:

Sounds European!: Let's go back to your childhood. When we talk about music, what are your first memories? How was your relationship with music at a young age? What artists did you like to listen to then? And did any of them eventually influence the artist you came to be?

Madeline Juno: Growing up, I was constantly surrounded by music, as both of my parents played in a band and therefore had rehearsals at our house, and sometimes took me and my brother along to their gigs. I first started playing piano at around six or seven, and later on taught myself to play acoustic guitar when I was about 12 – that's when I started writing songs and got more and more into music. I was a huge Miley Cyrus fan as a teen, so she definitely inspired me loads and still does today! I'm sure a lot of my way of writing songs was heavily influenced by artists such as Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, although I also loved alternative music, such as City and Colour, Paramore and Tegan and Sara, who have all absolutely made me become the writer I am today.

SE!: You grew up in an environment where music has always been present. Your father is a drummer and your mother is a pianist. In other words, music is in your blood. Do you believe that seeing your parents' relationship with music somehow helped you decide to follow the same path?

MJ: Yes and no, to be honest. My parents have always had normal day jobs and still do today, and music was their way of breaking out of their work life routine and letting loose a bit. But since I'm from a very small town in the South of Germany, where everyone and everything follows a rather strict and linear way of life and career paths, I never actually thought music was something to go for. It just happened, I was extremely lucky! But both my parents sure insipired me to start making music in the first place.

SE!: Your family was also important in your first steps with music, as your mother taught you piano in your childhood. How and when did you start showing interest in learning to play instruments and sing? And at what point did you realize that music was already going beyond a passion, but also becoming your profession?

MJ: Like I said above, I was around 12 when I picked up the guitar and started recording my first demos. I realized it was heading towards a more serious thing when one of my songs went sort of viral when I was 14 – that lead to a production team from Hamburg discovering and contacting me, which then resulted in me spending all of my holidays in a studio far from where I grew up. I was balancing school and being a teenager living her normal life and also recording an album for years, until I eventually gratuated at 18 years old, signed record deals and released my first record.

SE!: Your debut single, "Error", was the title track for the blockbuster film "Fack ju Göhte". It entered the German charts, as well as your second single, "Like lovers do", and your debut album, "The unknown". It's a wonderful start to a career! Did you expect such an instant success? And how did you deal with it? How did you feel when, within a few months, your songs started playing everywhere?

MJ: I don't think I actually took it as success at the time – everything happened all at the same time and there's hardly any time to really reflect on anything as you're doing what you're doing. I was so young and so scared and happy at the same time, it was super fun but also pretty crazy. It was a dream come true in a lot of ways, and I think it took years for me to be able to look back and see it as success.

SE!: In 2014, you took part in the National Final which selected the German entry for Eurovision, with "Error" and "Like lovers do". What made you participate in the selection? How was your experience in it? And nowadays, would you still consider competing in Eurovision?

MJ: Not to spill any beans here, but it was brought up by my record label at the time and taking part in the Eurovision National Final was considered good promotion, I guess (haha). I grew up watching Eurovision every year, so of course it was an honor getting an opportunity like that! I have to say though, I wouldn't do it again. I sure learned a lot, but looking back at it, I was too young and too inexperienced and I'm sure I'd be able to "deliver" a better performance nowadays, but then, I was simply too young.

"With every song and every album or EP, I've learned more about what I like and who I am and what I want to stand for or say in my songs" (Picture: official Facebook page)

SE!: When we listen to your latest singles, and compare them to your first ones, we can notice differences (in sound, in approach, in style). It is even a little obvious that this happens, since we all change, we all grow. When you make this comparison between your first songs and your current ones, what would you say has changed, musically?

MJ: Musically, I've quite clearly moved away from the organic and acoustic production and sound of my first record, if I may say so myself. With every song and every album or EP, I've learned more about what I like and who I am and what I want to stand for or say in my songs. I would say my lyrics have grown as I have grown and so has the production and the tone of my voice. It's a super exciting journey growing up in the music industry! 

SE!: You are about to release a new album, titled "Was bleibt". And you have already gifted us some songs from it: "Gib doch nach", "Automatisch" (which we fell completely in love with, and named it our song of the week, by the way!) and "Grund genug". What can you tell us about these songs? What feelings and messages did you want to express in them? And what can we expect from your album?

MJ: Thank you so much! A lot of songs on my next record are less about relationships or obvious heartache caused by your partner or ex-partner. I talk a lot about mental health and personal growth, self love and how all hurdles and struggles lead to yourself getting stronger and eventually learning lessons. "Automatisch" is actually about depression, where the production is meant to make you want to get on your feet and dance. "Gib doch nach" on the other hand is less storytelling, but more an insight into what a panic attack looks like and where your mind takes you when thinking straight doesn't quite work. "Grund genug" is about the realization that your worth isn't based on what others make you feel and how other people may treat you. It's a song about self discovery and healing.

SE!: In addition to the album release, what are your professional projects for the near future? What can your fans expect from you?

MJ: I'm super interested in a lot of things – I enjoy making art, such as painting, photography and videography. I'm also teaching myself to tattoo at the moment and I'm working on a new podcast. But mainly, I want to focus on my career as a songwriter for other artists and projects. That's at the top of my list!

SE!: If you could choose anyone, who would be some German and international artists you would like to collaborate with?

MJ: Oh jeez, that's hard. I have a lot of artists and songwriters in mind I'd like to write for or with. But in terms of collaborations, I could name hundreds of amazing people!
My list is endless, but I absolutely admire Bon Iver, Julia Michaels, The 1975, Lorde, Jon Bellion, Sasha Sloan, Queen, Miley Cyrus... the list goes on and on and on...

SE!: We would like to finish this interview with a song of yours. What is your favorite song by Madeline Juno, and why?

MJ: Haha... cheeky! Right now, I'm feeling super proud and excited to share this song called "Zu zweit allein" off the new album, which is pretty raw and the lyrics are insanely close to my heart. 
But in terms of releases from the past, I'm still very happy to have made "Halt mich fest", as it's so different to everything I'd ever done before, and I believe it was sort of the first beginning-to-end vocoder pop song in German.

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