Madison Olds discusses her new single, finding her voice as an artist and what’s next

Hailing from Kamloops, British Columbia, 22 year old singer Madison Olds is fast becoming Canada’s next breakthrough artist, with hopes of expanding onto the international stage.  Having a father who is a musician helped foster the love of music in her from an early age, with him giving her her first singing and guitar lessons.  Olds burst onto the scene with the release of her debut album Blue in 2018, an album that encapsulated a singer-songwriter acoustic sound.  With the release, she was given the opportunity to support artists such as Willie Nelson, Kacey Musgraves, and Neon Dreams as well as asked to write the theme song for the 2018 Kamloop’s BC Winter Games.  The song, “Moments In The Mountains” has become one of her greatest hits.  She then released “Thank You”, which earned her a spot on the Hot AC Radio charts in Canada, a place within the top ten of CBC Searchlight 2019, and a chance to perform in several international showcases with Music Matters in Singapore in the Fall of 2019 (with her band comprised of her father on bass and her brother on drums).  Last month, Olds released her latest single “Best Part Of Me”, a song that reveals her growth as an artist from the acoustic sounds of Blue to a more upbeat and poppy sound.  “Best Part of Me”, says Olds, was created from a “moment of mental disparity” while taking a solo writing trip to Nashville.  The track was produced and mixed by award-winning producer Ryan Worsley (Dear Rouge, Nuela Charles, Mathew V) at Echoplant Studios and mastered by Chris Gehringer (Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Drake) at Sterling Sound.   Outside of music, she loves animals and rescues pit bulls with her father, loves hiking and sustainable fashion and was a competitive dancer (tap, hip hop, lyrical, ballet, and musical theatre) for 11 years before transitioning into music.  You can connect with Madison Olds and purchase her music via the following links.  Photo credit: Kaylee Smoke.


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You recently released your new single “Best Part Of Me”, which you have said you wrote to acknowledge your mental health and making time for self care.  What role do you feel music has played in helping you to deal with your mental health struggles and does Canada provide a lot of support and resources for mental health?


Oh yeah!  And you know what?  It’s so hard for me to talk about because, when I say that I struggle with mental health issues I know that there is always somebody who has it worse and who may not feel that they have the support that they have.  I feel really fortunate because of my family and the people I surround myself with.  Canada is a pretty great place.  I have had a lot of friends who have had to go the hospital and have received the help they needed.  I’m not too sure how it is down in the United States and how easy it is?  Maybe it’s similar and I’m just not aware of it.  But I think we are aware that it’s a real illness and we treat it just like we do a physical illness.  I think that is really important because I think that is a part of the problem.  A lot of people don’t see it as a serious injury or illness.  In terms of music, I’m pretty shy when it comes to talking about how I feel, although I feel my boyfriend might disagree (laughs)!  I do keep those deep, reserved, emotional feelings to myself and I think that music has been a good way for me to talk about how I’m feeling and still be kind of cool about it, like “Yeah, it’s a problem, but not really.  It’s ok.  But it’s definitely there”.  It’s a way for me to get things off my chest and almost like having my own therapist.  My guitar is my therapist, I guess (laughs)!


You have also talked about how you aim to promote happiness and positivity.  When you are going through your mental health struggles, how do you come back to the positive mindset and center yourself?  What does self-care look like for you?


I think, and this is such a personal thing, but I do feel that happiness is a choice for me.  If I wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror, I can pull myself out a bad mood if I really try hard enough or if I look at myself and smile.  I think…yeah.  I don’t know.  It’s a tough one.  Somedays it is a little bit easier to dive in and just be like “Man this sucks!  I’m super unhappy!  Nobody talk to me!”. But I also know that what people see on the outside isn’t what I feel on the inside and I can’t expect everybody to understand how I’m feeling if I don’t convey it.  I try to be compassionate towards others when I’m feeling that way.  That does come with the happiness.  My favorite saying is “It costs nothing to not be an a-hole” (laughs)!  It literally is free to be a nice person, so I think even when I’m at my lowest and unhappiest or saddest of moods, I remember that there is a world going on around me and there are other emotions other than mine.  If I’m not willing to talk about them, I can’t expect somebody to understand how I’m feeling.


I read that you won first place a couple of years ago at the International Songwriting Competition.  What can you tell me about your songwriting process and the things that inspire your lyrics?  When did you discover your passion for songwriting and how has it evolved for you over the years?


Yeah.  Actually, I don’t think I won first place.  I think I won in another category.  It was like first place for…I can’t remember.  It wasn’t like the top, top prize, but I did win first place in my category.  I got into songwriting a few years back.  I’m 22 now, so I think I was around 16 when I got super serious.  I mean, there are those really bad songs I wrote when I was 13, but we don’t talk about those (laughs)!  So I started when I was around 16 and formed this little band and we were having some pina coladas one night and were like “Wow.  We’re going to be like The Dixie Chicks because there’s this competition!  I don’t know anything about country so let’s write a song!”.  We ended up writing this song and going to this competition and it was super fun.  We went across Canada and ended up in Nashville and won our competition.  There were like 700,000 votes in 2 weeks, which was crazy because we didn’t even know each others last names when we started the group.  Then I ended up in Nashville and I was writing a lot and working with Lennon Stella’s dad and was back and forth working.  It kickstarted that fire and ignited me and I felt that this was obviously what I was meant to do.  It felt so right.  Right around the same time we have this sporting event in Canada called the BC Winter Games and a family friend reached out to me, and it was around the time I was starting a band and I didn’t really know much about songwriting, and she asked me to write the theme song.  It was a huge honor and I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.  I ended up writing “Moments In The Mountains” and am so glad I had the opportunity to do that song.  It’s so funny that it’s the most successful out of all of them.  I listen to it am like “Oh you young naive songwriter! How dare you call yourself a songwriter!” (laughs)!  But yeah.  That’s kind-of where it all started and once I got the bug for it and heard a song I wrote go from a little junior idea into being a big girl song that was recorded and produced and on the radio, it was a really good feeling.  It was the feeling of accomplishment and I want to keep feeling that.  I want to keep feeling my hard work become something other than just idea.  I fell in love with it and realized that I was relatively ok at it and the more I did it, the better I got.  I haven’t stopped since!


Could you talk a little bit more about Nashville and the solo writing trips you have taken.  What kind of impact has Nashville had on you as an artist and a songwriter, with it being a songwriter’s city and one with such a collaborative atmosphere?


Oh yeah.  I would say Nashville is the humblest of cities that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.  Not even for music, but just as a complete tourist they are just the epitome of hospitality.  I can’t get over how amazing everybody was.  As soon as you get into the songwriting, I’m this nobody songwriter in the room with someone who has written songs for The Dixie Chicks or Chris Stapleton and they’re like “Wow.  You’re a good songwriter” and I’m like “Oh my god.  Really?  You think that?”.   It was really encouraging, I guess, to keep going because I think that’s not always the vibe, especially in cities like Los Angeles and New York where they can be a little bit harsher or say “If you don’t have these credits we don’t really want to work with you because it’s a bit of a risk”.   In Nashville, everybody is an asset and has something to offer.  I think that’s along the lines of the Nashville writing rule, where everyone in the room gets an equal percentage, because whether or not you contributed to 95% of the song or 1 idea that ended up not getting used but morphed into it, everyone had an equal part to play in the magic.  I used to be really nervous as a songwriter, or just as an artist in general, and would be afraid to say an idea in the writing room.  I didn’t want them to look at me and be like “How could you think that was a good idea Madison?  You should keep that to yourself”, so I was super nervous.  But there’s something about Nashville where I felt like it was ok to just say an idea and as soon as I started to say those ideas, I realized they were good ideas and that I should be more confident.  I think Nashville was where I learned my confidence, because they were just such great people.  Just great people!  I think that was so important for my songwriting growth and I take that everywhere with me now.  When you go into a writing room, everyone leaves there ego at the door.  It’s not about you or anything other than the song.  Nashville really taught me to step out of the way of the song.  If your idea doesn’t get used, it’s not because it’s a bad idea.  It’s because the song is better than that idea.  I think it was important for me to learn that and I don’t think I could have learned that anywhere else.


You have a history of competitive dancing, which I read that you did for 11 years before transitioning into music.  What sparked your love for dance and is something you are still active in?


Oh yeah.  I’m on Tik Tok now (laughs)!  So I danced competitively and then realized I’m short and have a bit of junk in the trunk and maybe wasn’t going to be a royal Winnipeg ballet dancer or attend Julliard or whatever so I hung up my dancing shoes and realized I still loved the spotlight.  I did a lot of musical theater and was kind of good at singing, so I continued on with that.  Now that this whole Tik Tok thing has come around, I’m like “Oh, I’m kind of good at dancing still”.  So I always do it and when I’m in the bigger cities, I like to go drop into dance classes and I did a lot of dance in Los Angeles and all through Oregon.  I miss it.  There’s a huge sense of team and family when your dancing with a bunch of girls and you’re up for like 13 hours a day practicing your stuff for competitions.  It definitely taught me, I think, my dedication and hard work and pulling something out of my butt when it’s not ready (laughs)!  I was the queen of not practicing and still nailing it.


You have a love of animals and you and your dad rescue pit bulls.  What can you tell me about how the two of you started rescuing pit bulls?


Yeah.  My dad has worked in a lot of kind of secluded communities.   For a little back story, my dad studied music at Berklee.  He did jazz composition in Boston and then had a family and had to give up the dream.  When I came along he started to play music more.  Now he has his own IT company and goes to a lot of remote communities to help give then online communication, so they aren’t left out of the world.  He helps the schools and was doing a lot of grant programs for the young kids there to help them go to school.  Through that, he saw so many stray dogs.  I think the first time my dad brought a dog home I was 4 and he was in this little piano box.  We kept him and had him for 15 years.  That basically sparked it and we’ve done quite a bit of fostering since then because it’s hard to try to keep all of them, obviously.  They all come from different circumstances.  A lot of them are really afraid or over-excitable.  Then, I got a bit older and realized, around 16 or 17, that I could start doing this on my own and realized I’m a bad foster mom because I never want to give them up.  We have 4 pit bulls right now and they are all rescues.  One is from Los Angeles and one is from Mexico and 2 are from Canada.  They were all just left to fend for themselves.  I have a huge heart for all animals and would literally take a bullet for any of them, but I feel like right now the pit bull breed needs a lot of attention.  They are getting a bad rap and have a bad name.  I think, when it comes to dogs, that any dog can be trained to be bad or to be good.  I’m just giving them the extra love they need right now.  I think as I get more of a name in music, I want to do more of that stuff.  It’s really hard to go out in the street and be nobody and say “Hey!  Let’s save the pit bulls” and people would be like “Shut up girl.  We don’t know who you are”.  As soon as you become somebody and have the social responsibility to influence people, I think it’s really important to stand up for what you believe in.  As I’m slowly climbing my way up, and Madison Olds becomes a name that people are starting to recognize, I want the name Madison Olds to be associated with the fair treatment and equality of animals.  It’s hard and doesn’t happen overnight.  I want to get more involved in more hands-on stuff rather than just being a voice, but hopefully that will happen in the next little while.


What has it been like for you to grow up having a father who was involved in music?  What impact did that have on you and your love for music?  Has he given you good advice in the pursuit of your own music career, having that experience himself?  


It was totally miserable (laughs)!  Kind of not.  When I would dance…he had an ear for timing…I remember this really traumatic experience.  I had done a tap solo and was already feeling very insecure about it.  My dad had just had knee surgery and he came to my rehearsal and sat on the ground and he started banging his crutches on the ground and saying “You’re not in time!” (laughs)!  I was balling my eyes out.  I mean, it probably wasn’t that aggressive, but, yeah…you know what?  It was great when I was learning, and as soon as I started to get a little bit more serious, I think I was like “Hmmm, I wish both my parents weren’t involved in music so much” because now they’re the driving force behind me…my dad just walked by and stuck his tongue out at me (laughs)!  I’m really grateful that I have their support, though, because I think that a lot of emerging artists don’t have that and their parents are like “Hey that’s not a real job”.  My parents have always been the ones who were like “If anybody is going to make it, it’s you and if anyone is going to be there in the sidelines sacrificing everything for you, it’s us”.  I don’t think I would trade that for anything in the world.  I am so grateful.  And then, like, this past year I traveled to Singapore and played some dates and my band was my dad and my brother.  I don’t think that people often get to say they work alongside their family like that and get to feel like a star and have fun and travel the world and do what they love and also be artistic.  So yeah, I’m pretty lucky.  I still always look back to that traumatic dance experience and it haunts me some nights (laughs)!


What was that experience like for you, having the opportunity to tour Singapore with your dad and brother?  What can you tell me about Music Matters and becoming involved with them?


You know what?  It was great.  I think I would go back again, having been a bit more of an established artist.  Playing a lot of the indie stages can be pretty exhausting and not a lot of people come out to those. But when you play the main stage, with some of the bigger names, it’s great.  The actual conference itself was amazing!  My brother and I are bit of hams.  My brother is an actor and became a helicopter pilot and worked in the military.  He has all of this huge experience and he’s just this big, lovable goof.  When we are together, we are like tweedle dee and tweedle dum (laughs)!  It’s fabulous.  We decided we were going to go to this seminar with Billie Eilish’s agent and she was talking and was like “Oh, you know what I love?  People who work as a family”.  Then my brother looked at me and was like “We’re going up and we’re going to talk to her after”.   We go up together and he’s pumping my tire and being the best big brother and it was great.  Even when we played a bad show, the three of were on stage having the greatest time laughing at each other and giggling and being like “You know what? It doesn’t matter what happens.  We’re here together”.   I think that sometimes when you have paid musicians, there’s a bit of this, like, stress and pressure and obligation to make it the best show possible.  When it’s your family, you’re just doing because you enjoy it and are just having fun.  So I think if I were to do it again, I would definitely do it with my family, as well just because they are so understanding and kind and fun.  If you aren’t doing it because you are having fun then why are you doing it?


You have said that up until this year, that you have struggled to find your voice and who you wanted Madison Olds to be.  What has your process been like in finding your voice this year and knowing what kind of artist you want to be?  What have you learned about yourself in the process?


I have learned just that it’s ok to not do what everybody else is doing.  I think in the past I’ve tried to sound like other artists or emulate what success was sounding like at the time and now I’m just doing a song that feels right and if it sounds current, then, like score and if it’s good and current, then double score!  I think that’s been important to growing up, just as a young adult, where you go from trying to be cool and trying to fit in to realizing I always fit in and just didn’t know it and I made my own cool.  It’s the same with music.  Rather than trying to be Billie Eilish or Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift, it’s like, no, I’m going to be Madison Olds and she has some cool sounds she’s been playing around with this year and it’s different and awesome.  It’s all equally awesome.


Your first album Blue that was released in 2018 explored more of a singer-songwriter acoustic sound but your new single definitely has a poppier sound.   Is that poppier sound something you want to pursue more or are you hoping to keep some of those more acoustic sounds, as well?


I think I went for the more acoustic sound because I was trying to emulate…well, maybe not emulate…but Ed Sheeran was a big idol at the time and still is.  Now I’ve realized that showmanship is a huge part of being an artist and that I love picking my guitar up but I also love to be a ham.  When I picture Madison Olds, I picture Madison at Madison Square Gardens with confetti cannons and dancers and it’s like “Ok, we can’t dance to this (acoustic) music”!  I’m a pretty bubbly person and am pretty happy and always describe myself as, like, rainbows out of my ass and so I try to think about how I want my music to come out and slow, somber acoustic isn’t really who I am.  I’m super bright, bubbly and poppy and that’s just kind of where the music went as I started to figure out who I was and follow who I am.


You also did a recent collaboration with Jack Trades on the song “Body Language”.  What can you tell me about the track and how the collaboration came about?  Do you have any other collaborations in the works?


Jack Trades is one of the most kind and humble people I know.  He’s constantly supporting my music and I constantly get to support his music.  I’m so glad that we got the opportunity to work together.  Originally, it came from a producer friend who was like “Hey, I’m working with this label and they sent over a track.  Would you like to top line on it?”.  I was like “Yeah, send it to me.  Let’s do this.  It’ll be fun”.  My friend Ryan and I sat in the studio trying to wrote some lyrics and we wrote it in, I wanna say 2 hours.  It was pretty quick in terms of songwriting.  We had a great time and then I just kind of stepped back from there and was like “If they use it, they use it and if they don’t, whatever”.  They ended up loving it, which was awesome because we had fun writing it and then I ended up building this amazing relationship with Jack Trades.  I’m hoping we get to work on some more stuff together.  “Body Language” is really fun and is a little bit different from the sound I’m going for.  It’s a little more on the electronic side but it’s been awesome and my little hometown radio station has been great with supporting it and playing it and people seem to like it.  That’s always a good sign.



You described 2019 as a year of experiences and tons of lessons.  What do you feel were some of the more memorable lessons and experiences that you had last year?


I think the biggest lesson was that you can’t do this on your own.  I was trying really hard to find management that wanted to be on board and who saw the vision and that there was a lot of work behind me.  I don’t have the numbers a lot of people have, but if they really believe in the music, we could really do something great.  It’s really hard to find the right team and I thought for the longest time that I don’t need a team.  I can do this on my own.  But I think the biggest thing I learned was that it isn’t just me.  I tried to describe this to a friend who isn’t in music, that Madison Olds isn’t me anymore.  Madison Olds is the company and I just work for the company now and other people work for the company.  I wish I would have branched out more to try to figure out a team in the past, but I’m super grateful for the people who I have now.  It was obviously meant to be saved for 2020.  I signed on for management at the beginning of this year and am so grateful.  His name is Jeff and he’s also from British Columbia and am so grateful to have him on my team.  He supports me and makes me feel like I actually have something to be said in my music and actually know what I’m doing, which is amazing.  I don’t think a lot of music industry people make their artists feel that way.  So yeah.  I think the biggest lesson was not having people on a team with me. My favorite memory…gosh there are so many!  My dad, brother and I played this stage in Toronto and had this huge audience that came out and it was kind of Toronto’s version of Times Square.  There’s a mall and big flashing lights and stuff like that, and we played there and it was great.  We had a huge crowd and people loved us.  We didn’t care what was going on outside of us on the stage and we looked back and were having fun.  It feels great when you don’t have any technical complications and when everything feels like you are nailing it.  It’s a great feeling.  When I think back to my most memorable experience from 2019, I would say it’s that.  I feel like we came off as professional and having fun and that was all I cared about.


What’s next for you?  With all of the turmoil in the industry right now, a lot of musician’s plans have changed from what they originally were.  How has that affected your plans for 2020 and how are you adapting to the changing times?


You know what?  2020 has not prevented me from chasing after that dream.  I’m going to keep releasing music.  “Best Part Of Me” was just the door to the house of amazing songs I’ve been working on with some amazing people.  I’m really excited about that.  Obviously we can’t tour, but that’s ok.  It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen.  I’m a big believer of everything happens for a reason.  I think of it as everyone is home and are a captive audience and are looking for new music, so now is a better time than ever to put out some more music and to have people hang out at home.  And if my song is remembered as “Oh.  She released that in 2020, the worst year ever” then whatever.  At least it’s remembered (laughs)!



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