The last four Valentine’s Days have been important to Madeleine Mayi. In both 2018 and 2019, she lost loved ones on February 14. On Valentine’s Day 2020, she put out “love me,” the lead single from her debut album. On February 14, 2021 Mayi will finally release her debut full-length. While the album, appropriately titled 2/14, deals with extremely personal experiences surrounding her earlier February 14ths, Mayi explores the stages of grief in ways that allow the listener to reflect upon their own experiences with bereavement.
LA-based/Santa Barbara native Mayi released EPs shy and Just the Six of Us in 2018 and 2017, respectively. In 2/14, Mayi shifts from her earlier EPs’ blues and R&B-tinged pop to a more moody indie rock sound, mixing characteristics of artists like Maggie Rogers, Moses Sumney, and Bon Iver in a new, laid-back blend complete with calming instrumental interludes. Standouts include absolute groove “ITRL” (“In The Right Light”), the lyricism on “for anything,” and the hopeful closer “here”.
We recently caught up with Mayi over email for some insight into her career and creative process. Check out the full Q&A below:
(Brittany) Did your childhood influence your desire to become a musician? How did you start writing music, then recording, and then touring, especially as you’ve DIY-ed most of your career so far?
My childhood was full of all kinds of art. I was a super outgoing kid and always wanted to be onstage. This meant I was in choir, theater, took acting classes, you name it. But as I got older, it became clear that music was more than just something I enjoyed, it was something I needed. In high school I was in a duo band and would occasionally sing on some random projects (like a random Teva commercial? and I seem to remember something for the Chicago Bulls?) Singing was my entrance to the industry, I studied voice at USC and got a degree. It wasn’t until the first year of college that I took songwriting seriously. I fell in love with having my own voice. And the rest is kind of history. Every other pathway in life shrunk away, and becoming an artist was the only thing that made sense. I was lucky enough to meet the two people who became my managers in college, and together we have accomplished a lot as a truly indie team.
February 14 is an important date to you outside of the immediate thing that comes to mind, Valentine’s Day. Can you explain 2/14’s significance and why you decided to name your album after that date?
Yeah. So, Valentine’s Day used to be pretty normal for me. It was weirdly more of a family holiday growing up- we would make Valentine’s for each other and kind of do a Santa thing where we left them on the counter for each other in the morning. Cute. But then a few years ago I lost someone special to me and my family around Valentine’s Day- and the year after, another close family friend passed away. It was very strange. It became clear to me how easily something can become complicated. And my record is about loss, and about finding hope. So Valentine’s Day is the perfect juxtaposition for me and this story.
I love the two instrumental interludes on this album. What made you decide to include them? Do they serve a purpose in the album’s story about a journey of loss?
Thank you! I love them too. They do serve a purpose. There’s a lot of time between these songs from the story side and these interludes serve that purpose. They were both written by Cameron Lee.
My favorite lines from the album are “I break all that I buy / I don’t shop anymore” and “You break all that you see / Maybe we belong,” on the song “for anything” because they conjure up such an anxious but beautiful image. What’s your writing process like? Do phrases like that come to you immediately, or do you have to revisit and revise to find them?
Thank you! Wow, that first one is my favorite too. My process is very stream of consciousness. I don’t belabor over a lot of my songs once they come out of my brain, unless there’s a message I have that is so clear I NEED to figure out a way to say it better (like ‘love me’). Sometimes a single phrase will come to me a few months before and I’ll write it in my journal and it will come out later.
It sounds like much of 2/14 was finished by early 2020. In the time since then, have you been able to start thinking about where you want to go with your next project, or was it very tempting to keep refining 2/14?
I am not one to redo what I’ve done. I am looking ahead at what is next! Got some more coming in 2021. 🙂
Is there anything else you’d like to add or anything you’d like to plug?
Look out for a mini “live” set coming from me. <3
2/14 drops on Valentine’s Day. Be sure to keep an eye out for it on your preferred streaming platform!