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October 26, 2022 38 mins

Minnie questions Madison Cunningham, singer and songwriter. Madison shares the inspiration that changed her songwriting, what she learned on tour with Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers, and answers a new mini question: what is orange wine?

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Speaker 1 (00:06):
What is orange wine? I know nothing about wines. Don't worry.
I'm very interested to know about your nothing. What is
orange wine? Because that sounds really weird and good? Is
it like Fanta? Do you mean fanta? Crazy? Sweet and carbonated?
And my dad needs to say this was wine and

(00:26):
it's orange, so you know it's it's phantom medicine. You
ever heard of high See? Hello, I'm Mini driver. Welcome
to Many Questions Season two. I've always loved Pruce's question.
It was originally a nineteenth century parlor game where players
would ask each other thirty five questions aimed at revealing

(00:49):
the other player's true nature. It's just the scientific method really.
In asking different people the same set of questions, you
can make observations about which truths appeared to me universal.
I love this discipline, and it made me wonder, what
if these questions were just the jumping off point, what
greater depths would be revealed if I ask these questions

(01:10):
as conversation starters with thought leaders and trailblazers across all
these different disciplines. So I adapted prus questionnaire and I
wrote my own seven questions that I personally think a
pertinent to a person's story. They are, when and where
were you happiest? What is the quality you like least
about yourself? What relationship, real or fictionalized, defines love for you?

(01:32):
What question would you most like answered? What person, place,
or experience has shaped you the most? What would be
your last meal? And can you tell me something in
your life that's grown out of a personal disaster? And
I've gathered a group of really remarkable people, ones that
I am honored and humbled to have had the chance

(01:52):
to engage with. You may not hear their answers to
all seven of these questions. We've whittled it down to
which questions closest to their experience or the most surprising,
or created the most fertile ground to connect. My guest
today is musician and songwriter Madison Cunningham at She is

(02:14):
one of the youngest guests I've had on my show,
but you wouldn't know it from the wisdom and sort
of old soulness that radiates not only through the lyrics
she writes, but also in the way she speaks. Whether
she's performing solo or sharing the stage with some of
folk music's biggest names. Madison's musical talents are really not

(02:35):
to be missed. I love hearing a songwriter describe the
world in their own words, and it was delightful hearing
Madison's perspective on my questions. I've really hope you enjoy
our lovely conversation. What person, place, or experience most altered
your life? I would say music has been the thing.

(02:59):
I think touring the country and the world was the
thing that very much challenged my worldview and my line
of thinking because I was immediately met with or I
should say, my opinions were met with experiences, and that
changes everything. You can have thoughts about the way you
think life should be or the way you've known it

(03:20):
to be with them. When you like actually experienced life
and open yourself up to other people's experiences, your opinions
on things drastically changed. And I remember the first tour
I ever did. I was opening for Chris Thealy and
the Punch Brothers, and we both had a really similar background,
like both grew up in the church. We were both
homeschooled the whole way through, and I don't know many
people who had a similar story like that. We just

(03:42):
were talking on the bus and I just was asking
questions and I just will never forget one thing that
he said to me. He's like, you're twenty one now,
and I was like yeah, and he was like, yeah,
things are going to change for you. And he wasn't
arrogant or like condescending or anything. It just was like
he was coming from a place of sincerely sympathizing with
me and going or empathizing maybe and being like, I
know exactly what you're saying, and I understand it completely

(04:06):
and why you're asking these things, but also like it's
going to change for you. I just know it. And
he was right like and I don't even remember exactly
what I asked him, but I remember the place that
it was coming from. And I was very just fearful.
I just I just was nervous and scared, and I
felt I was experiencing impostor syndrome too. So I always
say music in a way saved my life, and I

(04:27):
think made me the person that I am because it
just immediately challenged me and caused me to open my
eyes and touch the world in a different way. Did
you write different music before music became your I don't
want to use the word escape, but maybe your evolution
out of that that first part of your life. Did
you write music while you were still within it? And

(04:47):
then did you write your way out of it? Yes?
And yes? And what was that music like? Like? Do
you have recordings of it? Like? What was it like?
I feel like I'm still very much that person. Always
had a curiosity of like breaking musical rules. I really
really enjoyed that and just had a curiosity around that.
But in terms of like writing, my lyrics were very
stale and they didn't show anything. They just told everything.

(05:11):
I have a bit of embarrassment around that phase of
writing that. There was a whole record that I did
that had all of the songs on it, which has
since been taken down, and again, like, musically I'm very
proud of that record, but thematically and lyrically, I just
felt that I was showing my age. I think I
wrote my way out of it. Like I had a
friend who had sent me a book. Have you ever
read the book Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattinson? No,

(05:37):
Yeah you should. It's within the first three chapters you
get his point and like that's just enough to change
you and to inspire you, and the rest of the
books great too. But he goes on this whole tangent
about object writing and sort of how to write from
your senses, and that really teaches you how to write
in metaphor and to incorporate imagery and that phase. I
was probably eighteen when I read that book, and I

(05:59):
just remember that my writing started to take a turn
because I would think about those exercises and his whole
thing is like, you write on an object using your senses.
You write every day, but it can only be for
ten minutes, so when the timer goes off, you have
to be done. It doesn't matter if your thought was
finished or not. But it's all about teaching the brain
to dive deeper in a shorter amount of time. So

(06:19):
just when I did that and kind of went full
force with that exercise, I really feel like that's when
I started to write songs that I was proud of
and could like get behind. Now, Great, that's really cool.
I want to check that book out. It's incredible. I
mean from the first page or like just reading the
way that a writer writes, it's so inspiring. I think

(06:41):
you totally dig it. What question would you most like answered?
I think this is really on the nose, but I
would love to know if there was an afterlife or not. Like,
I don't know if everybody feels that way, but for me,
it's like that would maybe help things in terms of

(07:04):
like the way that we grieve. It's like, well, we
see that person again. I don't know. Did you have
a spiritual upbringing? I totally did. I did. Yeah, And
so much of my young adult life has been shedding
all of that but also coming back to it in
different ways that I can't sort of help. Like, I
guess that question was planted in me as a kid,

(07:25):
but there was always an answer for it. There was
always like, yes, there is there is the hope of that.
And now I still have that question, but don't feel
like I have an answer. And there's a mystery to that.
There's a mystery that I've become totally comfortable with. But
I would like to know. Yeah, I would too, I
would too. I mean, I think it's really tricky because
my when you're a kid and you ask questions, like
regardless of whether when came from a spiritual household or not,

(07:47):
you ask questions, and I know as a parent, you
endeavor to answer that question no matter what it is.
You try and find an answer yeah, I'm so aware
of how little I've gone. I don't know, Like I
felt like it was such a cop out and wanted
to offer something up that. I think it's really interesting
that kids in a way have to share the certainty
of their parents answers, and maybe those questions go back

(08:10):
to being questions and you don't have an answer for
them totally. It's such a funny thing, Like things I
thought I was sure about, I realized it was just
my parents gave me that answer because they were my parents.
I feel like all these big questions happened late at night,
it's like dark outside and things start to feel a
little bit scarier, and you ask these questions that are
going to be in your head, you know, or in
your dreams or whatever to your parents, And I'm like,

(08:31):
how much of it was them putting on a brave
face and filling the silence and wanting to be a
pillar for me and say, yeah, this is this is
the answer to this, probably, you know, like being an
adult now and knowing how much I'd say I don't know.
That was also their way of loving me. They wanted
to give an answer to help me probably just be
able to rest my head and go to bed false asleep,

(08:53):
like when you see a little child's face going, what
happens when you die? Oh? Like you really? You know,
I've leaned pretty hard into clouds in heaven. I'm not
gonna lie. I did a lot of that face with
this little face staring up from the dinosaur duve. Oh
my god, it happens when you die. Mom, Oh darling, Oh,

(09:18):
it's lovely. Don't worry. It's so lovely, you know. And
he never questioned me, And then like obviously now you
know we have these conversations. It's really it's interesting. But
I want to know that too. Also feel like maybe
there's a reason that we just don't because life wouldn't
resonate in the way that it did if we were like,

(09:38):
it'll be fine, and I give a funk, it's fine.
There's so many people that I grew up with who
act like that because of the certitude and what they
think and know to be true, where it's like, what,
there is a heaven and the afterlife is where it's at,
and that don't sweat it in this life if it's
not going your way. Yeah. The way that they treat
people as a result of that it's like to me
or the earth or whatever it is, it's like, how

(10:00):
is this okay to you? Seeing that? Observing that that
started to just make me kind of like question, you know,
it's like, we are existing now, Why are we pretending
like we understand that it's going to be taken care
of later, or that we shouldn't be thoughtful about these
issues that are happening now, or that we shouldn't be
attentive to our neighbors or whatever. It's like, I just
felt like such an oxymoron to me to like claim

(10:22):
to be a Christian and to then move through the
world that way. But you know, that's a whole other conversation.
But I feel now like in my life, when the
words I don't know come out of my mouth, I
feel a sense of relief. It's like releasing this pressure
that I have to maybe feel like I need the
answers for everything, and to just be like, actually, that's
not for me to decide, it's not for me to say,

(10:44):
and that's okay. Yeah, it's it's liberating. Do you find
that with songwriting? I found that a little bit. What
if I was stuck and I genuinely didn't know what
that verse was, or what that chorus or what was
supposed to be doing. I would say out loud, I
don't know, and then I will go and do something else.
And it was invariably, necessarily always, but I would say
about nine at the time in doing that other thing,

(11:06):
whether it was going for a walk, going for stuff,
going to the supermarket, that the idea or the link
the bridge would come, or the idea of the lyrics.
I think there's massive freedom and I don't know. It's
the key maybe, and there's sometimes answers like you can't
guarantee that, but like in the action of saying I
don't know and then going for a surf or going

(11:26):
on a walk, some of those say they're like as
simple as lyrical questions sort themselves out where you're like, oh,
that's the end of the verse. All of my favorite
writers have such strict regiments. They don't only prioritize writing,
they prioritize not writing as well, And that them is
like a part of it, you know, Yeah, that's brilliant,

(11:47):
and that is so true. And I think even like
with writing anything, or maybe even with challenges as a whole,
the idea of leave it alone, like step away from
that and allow the sort of now of discover rate
as opposed to just staying in the certainty of I
don't know. I think it can actually be incredibly liberating.
That's really interesting. It's in the other stuff. The creativity

(12:09):
is in the other stuff, as well as the sitting
there with the guitar or at the piano exactly yet.
To use an audio example, it's like some of the
biggest sounds are made from the lightest touch. You can
use that in writing. It's like we want to put
our heavy hand on it because we want product, we
want things to be finished an instant, when it's like

(12:29):
sometimes we just have to like lighten up on our
touch of the song and let it just grow. I
feel like songs are like living things that if you
give it the right amount of water and sunlight and attention,
they will they will grow. I was writing over the
Pandemic with Gary light Body, who's a really old friend
of mine and a beautiful songwriter, and we were sending

(12:51):
each other you know, so he literally did he just
sit there with the guitar and like he'd figure something out.
Then he sent it to me and then I play it,
and then I change some of the lyrics and I'd
send it back to him, but it's like each time,
and then maybe we'd have like voice notes in between
where he'd be like, I don't know about that? What
did you mean by that lyric? Like what did you
mean about that? Linking us back into the thing. And

(13:12):
it was so funny being in his I don't know
and then like playing around in that and then vice versa.
It was so beautiful because that it was an exchange
of I don't know what this is, or I think
it might be this, but I'm not attached to it,
so you can change it. And we wrote like that,
and there's something really cool about that because it doesn't
have to be anything. And you're right, it does create itself.

(13:35):
It's the statue inside the block of marble, the Michael
and the idea. It reveals itself. You just sort of
chip away. Yeah, I mean it sounds like also in
the exercise. What's so beautiful about that when you're writing
with someone else is like, you can't afford to be
too precious or egotistical about when your ideas are questioned.
It's really actually just a question of wanting to understand.
It's not like someone put it once, it was like,

(13:57):
I try not to take criticism personal because it's not
me that they're criticizing. It's just an idea, which is
like we don't do a good job, or at least
I don't of separating myself from an idea because if
someone doesn't like it, I'm like, then I can't produce
anything else. It's I'm the problem. And it's like, that's
not true. You're just the conduit for an idea and
don't like let yourself become too like entangled with it.

(14:19):
But I think what's so beautiful about that exercises like
you guys were allowing yourself to ask like I don't
know what this means, and you could either be like,
oh it means this, or you could return it with it.
I don't know, but it's malluable. Yeah. Also practicing having
that thrown at you like I don't like that and
it's your idea and I have to go that that

(14:39):
doesn't feel okay, and then you have to go through
that process of going, well, so what if that were true?
So so now if I look at this song or
this piece of rising from the point of view of
this person that I love and value they don't like
this thing, okay, so what is that and then like
going and examining it and going, oh, maybe I was
just attached to it because it was the only idea
that I had, and I wanted to send him something

(15:01):
back to show that I can do this, like at
the same level as you, which is ridiculous because he's
been writing songs and many more songs than I ever have.
It was interesting, like interrogating the ego of someone I
respect doesn't like my idea, and then you couldn't take
it personally because they weren't there. You just have to
kind of figure it out and write another idea and
then go, okay, well that also works and is maybe
beautiful totally. I think it's cool writing in lots of

(15:24):
different ways, and it also creates an opportunity for you
to respond in two different ways. Either you like are
offended by it and you shut down and then no
ideas come, or you allowed to be this like moment
of faith where you're like, oh, I can do more,
I can do better, and I will exactly and maybe
it will be better. Or maybe it's also just like
there's there are loads of ideas. It's cool you don't

(15:44):
just have one idea. I always get very attached to
that same where and when were you happiest? I loved
this question because it was a little bit sad to me.
That took me so long to think about it. It's like, oh, yeah,

(16:06):
am I not happy on a day to day basis?
I don't know, but I think it's kind of a
two part answer, if that's cool. During the pandemic, some
of our best friends and I and my husband, we
all drove up to Montana and there's just one moment
where we drove up to Glacier and we we blew
up all these inner tubes and we started at this

(16:28):
stream head and just floated down the stream and there's
this one section where the water was so blue and
so deep you couldn't see the bottom. And I remember
just like instinctively grabbing onto a rock, throwing my inner tube,
and then just diving as far as I could, And
I like, I never do that. I rarely have a
fear of water, but I just like I felt fearless

(16:50):
and happy, and also like literally in that moment, no
one could reach me, no one could ask me questions.
It just I felt completely liberated and I felt like
just a person, and like all the other things that
you sort of let make up who you are felt
unimportant in that moment, just from being in nature and

(17:11):
from shutting off my phone. Things as simple as that
that made me feel truly happy. God, I so can
imagine that. I mean, I'm sitting here in London and
I dream of the water in all forms, particularly the ocean,
all the time, and I just so saw that pool
of what I love a physical trigger of happiness. It's

(17:33):
often other people that around the circumstances, like just in
asking this question that trigger happiness, yeah, or moments from childhood.
But I love that idea of nature triggering real, true
happiness because I feel that is absolutely my happiest place
in the world is out in the ocean, surfing, being
able to see my son on the beach totally and

(17:55):
it's so innocent. It's like the moments where it just
feels so uncomplicated for a second, they're like, Oh, all
that matters right now is just like the way the
water feels and catching this wave or whatever. You know.
It's like, I don't sadly go to those moments often enough,
or I don't make space for them because there's just
so much you know day to day. My friend calls
them techno realities, which are just these little things that

(18:18):
you get lost in that sometimes cause you to forget
what's important and what you love about your life. It's
so weird because I was just having this conversation with
my boyfriend the other day. I was like, what is
this charis in between the self awareness of things that
will make our lives better and the actual doing of them.
You know how that feels. I know how that feels,
and yet actually going and seeking it out. It's almost

(18:40):
like we slump into that techno reality, or we slump
into it going wow, this is just life. This is
just what it is. I've got to sit in front
of my computer for five hours and answer emails or
do this thing. I think we've got to fight harder
to carve out that other space because I know, we
know that's where the creativity and the freedom comes from. Well,
and the people that I think who display that the

(19:00):
most are like in sort of business terms, are always
deemed as like flaky or just like non responsive, but
they're actually the most tapped in. And that's not the
case for every flakey person. Quote unquote. But those creatives
that don't answer emails or don't it's like I know
that they're somewhere creating, or they're on a walk, or

(19:20):
they're doing the things that matter, and it's like who
cares about the rest? I know emails matter, Like if
I didn't answer my email, this wouldn't have happened today.
So that's important to me, you know. But also it's
just like I think you're right. Instinctively, we know where
to return to, but we don't. It's always like last
resort or something. Yeah, I think again. It is just
like insisting on drawing the lines of engagement with life,

(19:43):
you know, of going okay, well it's going to be
this for this amount of time. But I'm just talking
from my I suppose from my own perspective, which is
one gets lazy and then you don't realize that you've
sort of been bludgeoned by all of the social contracts
and all of the stuff. But it doesn't really take much.
That's what's great. Like I can just walk up to
the park from where I live in London, and that's

(20:04):
where my mother used to say, that's where the city breeds.
And it's true, like you go there and these ancient
trees and it's pretty wonderful, but you have to go
do it right. You have to do it. No one
is going to tell you that you need that break
except for yourself. Like I've I've learned that a lot
where it's like, you know, if it weren't for me
at times putting my foot down, I don't think anyone

(20:25):
would tell me, hey, you should stop, or like you
should take a break. Like it's like there's a machine
that's running and no one really wants to shut it down. Yeah, yeah,
it's true, particularly if you're generating income for them. I've
also found that it's like, you know, it's like yeah, no,
I'm you're right, I got to do that too. Yeah.
I mean it's also attached to morals to where I'm like,

(20:47):
oh my god, all these people are relying on me.
I wouldn't do anyone wrong that way. And then it's
like there is a certain point of honesty that you
reach where you're like, but the way that I feel
now isn't helping anyone really, you know, like I have
to have to succumb to something in your life. Can
you tell me about something that has grown out of

(21:09):
a personal disaster. M This is another one of those
questions that I thought about for a couple of days.
I did my research, and I went and listened to
this podcast beforehand, and that one got me because I thought,
I'm twenty five at the moment, and there's the potential
that some of my worst personal disasters are ahead of me.

(21:29):
Oh you're so not wrong, which is like dark Now,
it's great, It's really true. You can confirm you're coming
at me from literally years older than you. Oh my god, No,
it's gonna be great. It's gonna be great because she's
going to grow out of it. But unfortunately, this is
the gift that keeps on giving, like you don't stop

(21:50):
having personal disasters, like it's just you know, you start
keeping a tally. It's a relief to me in a
certain way, though, because the more that I've talked to
people who are older than me or have just lived
more life, the idea of like, oh it just kind
of stays hard makes me feel like there's nothing more
that I should be doing to make it easier. It's like, oh, okay,
good that this isn't on me. This is just life

(22:11):
coming at me. But I would say the most recent
thing that I can name it was the experience of
making the album that just came out on September nine.
It was so deeply difficult for me, I think because
I just felt so disconnected from myself and from the process.
I just was like paralyzed, I think from pressure. And again,

(22:32):
so much of it, I think was I was responsible
for so much of the pressure. Was I was putting
on myself unduly, you know, But from my label and
from from management to it was just like, this has
to be like really remarkable work. Otherwise who knows in
this fragile place that the industry was in, And it's
like the one time that I felt like everybody who

(22:53):
was on the inside couldn't speak for how it would
look or what it would be. All they could say
was it just has to be amazing. And again that's
that's not me faulting anyone. It's just I was also
making this, writing this in so it was already a disaster. Yeah,
I think that was the scariest thing to me. I
felt like I was like a little foodsball on a

(23:13):
foods table that like anything that anyone said could have
like just shot me in the other direction. So I
feel like my compass was gone so the whole time,
to me, that felt like a disaster, and trying to
make music from that place, I just I like rerecorded
songs so many times because it just didn't feel right.
I just felt like it was reaching all that to
say as that was kind of happening. My grandma died,

(23:35):
who I was really close to, and you know, grief
tends to do that thing, which I learned because that
was the first person who I was ever close to
that I lost. Grief as this thing that gives you
this hyperclarity, even if it's just for a short time,
where you're like, oh, literally, only these two things matter,
that's all I can give importance to. And for me,

(23:58):
it was like family and love and loving people well,
and that was it, and like music being out of
the equation, there just was a relief for a minute
because I was like, I've been putting so much pressure
on this and on myself and it's turned into this
thing that I'm so afraid to look at in the eye.
And what was so beautiful about that is there was
a song that I wrote about her, It's called Life

(24:19):
according to Rachel, that came out of that and it
felt like that sort of purity of thought, love and
family sort of came through the music. And what was
so cool about is like I released it thinking this
is such a specific song about my grandmother and losing her,
Like I think it's just going to be for me,
and so many people have been able to attach their
story in their life through that song, which has just

(24:42):
been like so overwhelming and mind blowing to me. And again,
it's like one of those things that I think it
was really just because there was like no ego around
a song like that, There was no room to try
and be impressive in the music. It was just like confessional.
It talks about the guilt that you feel when you
lose someone that you didn't do it enough or be
all those things that you deal with. So yeah, I

(25:02):
think and obviously the record is finished and I'm proud
of it, but that was one of those moments where
I was like, how do I avoid going through that
again in my life, even though I see such good
that that came out of it. But you know, sometimes
you come across these situations where you're like there is
literally nowhere around this but through, and so you just

(25:25):
kind of strap in and hope for the best. That's
so amazing, and I'm so glad that you. I'm not
glad you lost your grandmother, But to experience the clarity
and the clarifying nature of grief is it's an extraordinary privilege,
and it is a really beautiful, strange moment in a
person's life. And to be able to be creative, to

(25:46):
be able to use that and harness that because that, really,
to me is what that is, is harnessing that energy
and turning it into something else. But I'll tell you
something that my dad said to me when I was
heartbroken over this guy that I loved so much, and really,
I mean, I'm actually must have been your age, and
I thought that I was going to marry him and
I loved him, and he just broken up with me.
And I stood up all night and I've been smoking

(26:07):
cigarettes and drinking coffee, and I was sitting outside our
house and my dad was going through this phase of
I think I've told the story before, but I'm going
to tell that again because it's pertinent. And my dad
went through this phase where he would go out jogging
in the morning and it lasted for like three weeks,
but it was during this time, he came out with
his towel around his neck and he was sort of
jogging and he had his toweling head band on and
he was like he was like, oh, have you been

(26:28):
up all night? And I was like, yeah, and I'm
so unhappy. I'm so sad. You've been up all night
just crying and smoking and drinking coffee. And he was like,
over a chap, is it? And I was like, yes,
it's the love of my life. And my dad was like,
do you want me to tell you something that you're
not going to want to hear? And I was like, well,
I mean not really, but and he was like, you're

(26:51):
going to feel this way about someone else. So I
will say to you, Madison, you were going to feel
this way about other records. How however, you're also going
to feel that it's easy and beautiful and simple and
the way that maybe you love your husband you have
that relationship. It's all of it, and it will be
all of it if we're lucky, hundreds of times over.

(27:12):
But I understand the brutality of being in that moment
where it's just so painful and the process has just
been really, really difficult, And even though you're proud of
the thing that comes out at the end it's Gnarlie,
and then you know they'll be that experience again. I'm
sure you're going to write so many more records and
you're I'm sure have it for maybe other different reasons.
You know, you'll have kids running around and you won't

(27:33):
be all of fucking focus and it'll be like, I'm
losing my mind and I've got to finish this record. Yeah, totally.
This goes back again to kind of what we said
at the beginning. It's like, you know, noticing when it's
hard and taking steps to kind of alleviate that, and
sometimes you can't and you just have to go through
it being hard. Someone said to me during that time,

(27:53):
and a similar thing that your dad said, but she
kind of was like, you know, the beauty of the
is she goes, it's just gonna get harder, and I
was like, I don't see beauty in that, but she
was saying, like the reality is and where you can
find beauty also is that you're going to lose more
people that you love. This is the beginning, but it's

(28:14):
also the beginning of more clarity and love in your life,
and that can feel morbid, like a morbid idea. But
grief is such a human thing. It's such a human idea,
and it's it's things that we don't love to talk about,
but I find it so important, whether that be you know,
grieving the loss of a relationship or like actually loving

(28:36):
losing someone. That all has a place, and it's sadly inevitable.
Like I guess sometimes I'm like, there's no romantic way
to really view this. It's just sad, that's it. Yeah,
but that's also okay. Yeah, it's also okay. Exactly. Sometimes
it is it is just sad and it is just hard,
and that's okay, and like we get through it, you

(28:56):
get back to the glacier and the inner tube. Yes.
So what quality do you like, at least about yourself? Oh? Man,
probably how non confrontational I am. I I run from

(29:21):
it at every corner, and I think there's this desire
in me to be diplomatic and a peacemaker, and that's
a good quality. But the unhealth of it is when
it's like avoiding things purely because they're hard and uncomfortable,
not because they're bad, if that makes sense. It's like
some confrontation is necessary and good, and I hate to

(29:43):
see the way that like my non confrontational side will
possibly hurt somebody. So I work. I work on that,
I try to. I'm not good with the hard confrontations.
There's also this deep fear in myself that I have
that I don't know how to articulate something well, especially
when nervous. It's weird. I mean, I'm a I'm a songwriter.
I deal with lyrics, love lyrics, but I have time

(30:04):
to sort through that. But when I'm face to face
with someone and there's conflict or something, and I always
feel this immense pressure that I don't have what it
takes to actually like solve it at the moment. I
don't know where that comes from. I don't know if
like there's something in my childhood or I know my
dad is very non confrontational. Not to blame him for
my own qualities, but you know it's like sometimes you

(30:27):
inherit those those traits from your parents. Yeah you do.
It's what's it cool? It's called epigenetics. Is I want
the emotional stuff that you inherit. I didn't know that name.
That's helpful. Yeah, yeah, blame dad, I said one time
to a friend. I was like, how long can I
blame my parents for things? And they're like, I don't know,

(30:49):
maybe maybe don't blame them for things. Just maybe take
responsibility for as much as you can. And then it's
like a really delicate balance. I know it is. I'm
always asking my son. I'm like, is this damaging you?
Is the stamaging you? How about this is the sdamaging you?
What about this? Wait? Hold on, let me just stop crying.
Is the damaging you? The poor kid? But honestly, I've

(31:12):
just like, listen, I will be able to recommend you
a good therapist. I think our parents do. They gave
us all these things that are wonderful and all these
things that are terrible, because that's also the gift. I guess, yeah, right,
I guess so. I mean the gift of being able
to question yourself and everything. You know, I love that gift.
But like that must be hard as a parent, and

(31:34):
turned to tow then like to go, I know There's
gonna be a point in time where I'm going to
hurt you. Is that now? Like? Have I done it yet?
You know? That must be like you're holding your breath exactly,
And unfortunately it's unavoidable, like you are going to do that.
And again, it does seem to come around to self
awareness that, like as with anything, the minute, won't can
identify that you've done something that is difficult for another

(31:57):
person to metabolize calling it out and saying I, oh,
I did this and I'm really sorry, or I did
this and this because of this or whatever it is.
I do think that kind of mitigation helps. Interesting that
you're a songwriter and that you I mean, I think
that's really I think it's really cool. I wonder if
that's just like, in addition to the sort of being
rarely creative, it's also where of being able to work

(32:17):
through that and deal with it and go, no, you know,
I'm gonna I can write about it, and I can
articulate it. I can articulate it actually really really well
and put it to music. Right. Well, yeah, I guess,
I guess those fears are always at the beginning of
writing songs too. Yeah. I always have this hesitation or
this worry that I'm going to forget how to do
it or not going to be able to do it

(32:37):
in a way that will mean anything to anyone, or
that anyone can understand, you know, because I think I
love ambiguity. It's I find it very sexy, and I
love people who are very mysterious. And there's the part
of me that just wants that to be what my
music is. And then there's another half of me that's like,
but I really want to be understood. Yeah, Like I
want people to know where I'm coming from and to
get the picture of me so they can hear me

(32:59):
when I speak. You know, it's a funny balance. That's
so funny. I always really wanted to be mysterious, but like, nah,
that ship sailed. I think that's a whole other lifetime.
But I know, I know exactly what you mean about.
I think it's really good to be able to articulate stuff.
I think that's also speaks to the creative process with
everything anyone who's creative, Like the minute you when you're

(33:20):
beginning something, we just have absolutely no idea how you're
going to do it again, Like how are you going
to do this? How is it going to happen? How
is this song going to be written, this book going
to be written, this play, movie, TV show be made?
Like it's mysterious, that is mysterious. Yeah, one. The actual
art of songwriting will forever be mysterious. It's like it's unattainable.

(33:43):
If we all knew where it began and where it ended,
we would just stay in those places, but we don't exactly.
It's constantly moving. So what relationship, real or fictionalized, defines
love for you? I feel like the people in my
life who have defined love for me are the ones

(34:05):
who have loved me through every phase of my life. Um,
and he liked me even And I would say, my sister,
I'm the oldest of five girls. Yeah, I know, it's
it's sometimes I don't realize how crazy that is until
I see a picture of all five of us together
and I'm like, this is a lot of kids. But
my younger sister and I we've always been inseparable since

(34:28):
I saw her when I was two years old and
she was just born, like we always have had a bond.
And she's just one of those people where it's like
I always kind of test her and bring things that
I think this is too ugly for anyone to hear.
I'm just gonna tell you. And she never bats and
I she's always just like, oh yeah, I have those
same thoughts, and I feel like she has shown me
love in ways that so many of my friendships and

(34:51):
people that I've leaned on have failed to. And maybe
it's a blood related thing, but I don't know. She's
just kind of one of those people for me that
I lean on and know that I'll be seen I
kind of no matter what. My husband is also that
person for me. He this is such a rare thing
and not everybody's story, but I've known him since I
was thirteen. We met then, and you know, it was
never romantic. We were always just really really good friends,

(35:13):
and he was always one of those people for me
that I thought, it doesn't get better than Austin as
far as character goes. He's the coolest person I know,
or the best person I know. I don't know if
I thought he was the coolest at the time that
became apparent later. He just was kind of one of
those people that was just sort of a lynch pin
in my life, someone who just saw me from age
thirteen to now, which is a long span of time

(35:35):
and how many turns a person can sort of take.
We ended up dating when he was a junior in college.
I was a couple of years younger than him. I
didn't go to college, but I moved to l A
and decided to pursue music, and the endeavor of that
was so much more intense than I expected. And it's
definitely tested me in so many ways as a person,

(35:56):
for better and for worse. And I think he's kind
of been there and seeing all of it, but still
has like just been there to kind of scoop me up,
to hold me kind of at the end of the day,
and has never like his love hasn't wavered in the
midst of all of that. So do you think that
being seen because you said that about your sister and
this and about your husband, Like, is that really important?

(36:16):
I mean, obviously it's really important. That's not what I meant,
I actually meant. Do you think that that is sort
of extends into the part of the crux of why
you do what you do? Is that notion of reflection
and visibility? Maybe in a subconscious way it is, like
it's funny. As a songwriter, I've always said like, I
don't know if I have anything to say, and then
sometimes that will change where you're like, oh I do,

(36:36):
Actually there's a song here, there's a statement that I
want to make. But I go in and out of
phases and feeling like I want to be seen in
that way, in a public way, and times where I
really really want to hide. And that probably fluctuates with
the level of hardship that comes with it. You know.
It's like the more responsibility you have, the more you
crave the denial of it. That's at least been my experience.

(37:00):
But I think just in my in my personal life, yeah,
being seen is the most important thing to me. Even
if that means someone is seeing the worst parts of me,
I want them in on that. I want them to
know that that's really cool. I like that. Madison, thank
you so much. It's been so great. I really appreciate
your time and all your thoughts. Thank you so much.

(37:21):
Thank you many. This was just the honor of lifetime.
So thanks for having me. You're very, very welcome. You
can find Madison's album Revealer out now wherever you get
your chance, and give the song life. According to Rachel,
the song she told us about today, the one about
her grandmother. An extra spin Many Questions is hosted and

(37:46):
written by me Mini Driver supervising producer Aaron Kauffman, Producer
Morgan Levoy, Research Assistant Marissa Brown. Original music Sorry Baby
by a Mini Driver, Additional music by Aaron Kaufman. Executive
produced by Me Mini Driver. Special thanks to Jim Nikolay,

(38:10):
Will Pearson, Addison No Day, Lisa Castella and Nick Oppenheim
at w kPr, de La Pescador, Kate Driver and Jason Weinberg,
and for constantly solicited tech support Henry Driver,
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