Photo Credit: @jonnieface_photo
Mastering the art of tying one’s shoes is what many seven-year-olds are focused on. Not Madeleine Rauch. Instead, she was performing in a children’s choir and focusing on her piano skills. She notes it was her parentals that encouraged her early on. “My parents definitely played a part. They thought it was important to expose me to music and to offer me different types of hobbies,” she notes.
Madeleine’s also recalled the various styles her father and sister listened to around the house, her friends, and MTV opening her up to more than the classical styles she spent her time learning piano. She admits though, it was sometime in her teens where she found her own thing, “I had found a special interest in Soul and R&B singers and my father always wondered where my specific taste came from. But I guess through all these different sources or influences I was able to develop my own taste and interests.”
Fast forward to today and Madeleine’s taken all of her past influences and turned them into an educated whirlwind of a career so far. She shared with ZO about everything from the King of Pop to her time on the hip-hop road to her latest single and what’s next.
Kendra: You’ve noted that piano is a huge part of who you are. How has your relationship with it grown and shifted as you’ve gotten older and more settled into who you are as an artist?
Madeleine Rauch: When I started playing the piano the focus was on Classical music. When I grew older my interest was more in Pop and R&B music so I switched teachers and also started writing little songs on the piano and accompany my singing.
Studying Jazz Voice at music college in Germany I also had to learn Jazz piano. Now I still like to play a Classical piece from time to time. I am a huge fan of Chopin and Debussy, but I mostly play piano to write songs and accompany myself. The Classical lessons from early on definitely helped me with my current use of it. They also gave me a nice finger dexterity.
Kendra: Was one of the first songs you learned to play by Michael Jackson? With him being your first real idol as a kid, what song of his do you feel sums up your musical journey so far?
Madeleine Rauch: I started listening to Michael Jackson when I was still in kindergarten. My best friend and I would watch his music videos. My mom gave me his album Bad on cassette. I listened, danced, and sang a lot to that album. But I was too young to actually sit down and learn a song in a foreign language. When I was a little older and started checking out pop songs on piano I learned a lot of Vanessa Carlton and Alicia Keys songs.
But whenever I listen to the Bad album it brings up childhood memories. I don’t know if there’s a song that sums up my musical journey so far but “Man in the Mirror” has always been one of my favorites since I was a little kid and first listened to his music.
Kendra: When you headed off to Berklee, what were you most nervous about?
Madeleine Rauch: I was nervous about a lot of things. For me, going to Berklee didn’t just mean attending a new college. It also meant moving to a different country with a different language thousands of miles away from home. I was especially nervous about if I would be able to I give my best and make the most of my time there because I am very ambitious and demanding with myself.
Kendra: Can you let us in on the most important thing you learned outside the classroom while there?
Madeleine Rauch: When I studied Jazz Voice in Germany I always felt like I didn’t completely belong because some of the Jazz students had that notion that Jazz is better and more intellectual music, and Pop and R&B is something you don’t really need skills for. So I sometimes felt a little ashamed because I came from R&B and I didn’t know much about Jazz when I started college.
But when I got to Berklee there were a lot more different music styles around and R&B was especially popular among very accomplished musicians because it is in fact not just an easy style to play. So I learned the music style you play doesn’t say anything about your skills as a musician and that it’s okay if I feel closer to R&B music.
Kendra: How did you get connected with Materia? Is the hip-hop world as crazy as it’s perceived on TV and in the movies?
Madeleine Rauch: A friend of mine connected to the people around Marteria told me they were looking for a new singer. They recommended me. They called me up, I auditioned and got it. Fortunately, it was a relaxed process, no open call or big casting or anything.
I guess the craziness really depends on the artists and the phase they’re going through. Some people fulfill every cliché and other is the opposite. The people I have worked with and met were all really nice. Marteria is not much of “Gangster rapper” and does not really have any conflicts with other artists. The band and him did have a time with excessive parties though. Fortunately when I joined they all had calmed down and now it’s relaxed.
Kendra: From singing with Materia to releasing your own music, it’s been a big year for you. Were “Stick to My Plan” and “Hands Off” songs you’d been holding onto for a while?
Madeleine Rauch: Actually yes, the process from writing these songs to releasing them took a while. I wrote both songs and produced a demo when I was still in college in Weimar. I didn’t record them until I was in Boston which was perfect because I found amazing musicians to work with. The mixing process and the release took a while because for one I am a little bit of a perfectionist. Also I was busy with moving back to Germany, graduating from college and finding a job at that time. But I am so proud of the result so it was definitely worth the wait.
Kendra: Will we see them on an album in 2019?
Madeleine Rauch: I definitely want to release an EP in 2019. I’d rather add only new songs on that though. I’m currently writing new music and collaborating with different people to try new things in terms of sound and style which is very exciting. I just want to evolve in my music. So when I am ready for an EP I am probably going to have moved away a little from the sound of my lasts singles.
Kendra: Speaking of, what are your plans in the first half of the year?
Madeleine Rauch: I want to get my focus back on songwriting. Since I didn’t have that much time for it in the last year with touring and everything that was going on. I will try to develop my sound and work together with different producers and other songwriters. So far, like with my last two singles, I mostly wrote on my own. I am also thinking about relocating to LA because of my network and job opportunities over there. So I hope it’s going to be an exciting year!