With a fearless, creative energy, rising New York City pop artist and singer-songwriter Madeleine McMillan dives into the intimate and political in all her music. Her thoughtful lyrics and melodies reveal a giving individual who redefines popular notions of love and relationships in her work, bringing artist and audience together through honesty, not idealism.
What is your inspiration and why?
My inspiration is my hometown of New York City. I’m surrounded by different communities and cultures at all times. I have all the arts at my fingertips. I can go to a museum, a concert, play, musical, you name it – whenever I want. I have an incredible network of musicians I work with and admire. There is so much to take in and so much to take away from all of it.
Why is music important to the queer community?
I think it’s important for the queer community to have safe space to express ourselves. I think music itself is a safe (and fun) form of self expression. It’s a great way to enhance the uniqueness of each member of the queer community.
What do you hope to achieve as an artist?
A lot of my music focuses on mental health. My goal is to start conversations. The more we talk about mental health and mental illness, the more normal the conversation becomes. It needs to be a normal conversation, especially for the benefit of those in the queer community.
Did music play an integral role in your coming out? If yes, how so?
In a sense, yes. I’ve never identified as straight. There’s never been a question in my mind that I’m queer. I don’t have a particularly interesting coming out story. Although, I don’t specifically identify as lesbian, it’s easy to feel like I don’t fit in. Music is where I can express all of that without worry. It’s my safe place. Music the most important part of my identity. I can turn to it to help me cope with anything.
Given challenges facing our country and community, in your opinion, what is most needed for the queer community now? How can the music scene further that goal?
The queer community needs to feel safe. We need people to hear us and believe us. I think inclusivity and self expression are both hugely important. One cannot exist without the other. The queer community has contributed so much to the arts – and gotten so much out of it. Music is such an effective form of protest. I’m noticing a lot more musicians using their voices to speak out against human rights violations. I really hope that continues.
You have a new single out. Tell us a little about that.
My new single is called “Matchbook.” It’s a song about leaving a long-term relationship through the lens of self-empowerment. I co-wrote the lyrics with two other people. The three of us got together and shared all our worst breakup stories. It was quite a conversation! And it led to a song we’re all really proud of. I hope others will enjoy it as much as we do.