INTERVIEW: Madison Cunningham 'Who Are You Now' LP out August 16!

Madison Cunningham is the bold Americana woman you need in your life right now. With bluesy guitar riffs, a love for The Beach Boys, and tour with a multitude of well-known acts such as Iron and Wine, and Andrew Bird, Madison Cunningham is officially on our radar. There’s something about a woman that can pick up a guitar and own the stage without a second thought that drives us wild. Madison does just that with her particularly distinctive roots-oriented sound that reminds you of a little bit of Joni Mitchell, a little bit of Johnny Cash. Check the interview below as her new LP 'Who Are You Now' premieres August 16th! x

Current praise about Madison to prove how incredible she is —

“Poised and precise in her singing and ace guitar playing… Madison Cunningham might not conjure a comparison to Fiona Apple on first listen, but…with [her] wonderfully tangled imagery and cutting self-awareness, shows she’s an heir to that queen’s powerful throne.” –NPR Music

“A voice that was reminiscent of Stevie Nicks...  her set was sweet and filled with the energy that only comes from a California artist. ” –WXPN's "The Key"

“expert chugs of electric guitar... for fans of Aimee Mann, Joni Mitchell and Jeff Buckley. ” –Rolling Stone Country

Hey Madison! Thanks for chattin’ with us today, we hope tour is going swell. It’s no secret that we swoon over your guitar video’s on IG - that Beach Boys cover! Are they a big inspiration to you? What musicians would you say inspired your sound? 

Goodness, yes!  ‘Pet Sounds’ in particular was a turning point for me sonically and melodically.  Jeff Buckley, Fiona Apple, Joni Mitchell, Juana Molina, Radiohead, have all left profound inspiration on me in their wake. And the list goes on...

Asking for inspiration is a basic ass question but we like to think it helps our readers relate to the musician. Plus, it’s kind of like soup. Whoever you throw into the inspo pot makes you, you. Like when you throw a ton of vegetables together and wah-la. Speaking of, what do you eat on tour? Does someone shop for you? Do you eat out every day? 

Usually there’s green room snacks and sandwich material back stage.  But I don’t really have an appetite until after the show.  My mid-day eating habits are black coffee and a granola bar of some kind. 

What’s your favorite song off of your new LP Who Are You Now? We can’t wait to blast it. 

“Trouble Found Me” might be my favorite song on the record. But it’s hard to say. 

When writing the LP, was there a process to picking the song order? We’re always curious if there’s a certain story somewhere in there! Maybe each song is a story, or version of you, or maybe a personal experience? 

Sequencing is one of the most time consuming parts of packaging a record. I’m always trying to find the arc to it.  Meaning, a healthy balance between fast, medium, and slow tempo songs.  I also hear songs in color, so that has a say in the placement of it all.

Tell us about one of the rooms you wrote your favorite song in off of this album. Was it cold outside? Candles lit? Does atmosphere help your song-writing process? 

My favorite time to write is in the evening in my bedroom with a window open and a scented candle or some form of incense burning on my dresser. My favorite daylight scenario is opening all of the blinds and curtains and sitting right in front of the window and watching cars and people go by. I wrote most of my songs that made it on the record that way.  One song called “Song In My Head” I finished in the second row of my Honda Pilot. 

What does it mean to you to not only be a badass female guitar player, but a female in the music industry?

It means to me what I think it means to any serious guitar player of either gender. A lot of work and diligence, and constantly putting yourself in the student’s chair.

Photo Credit: Claire Marie Vogel

Photo Credit: Claire Marie Vogel

* with Andrew Bird
† with Calexico and Iron & Wine
‡ with Amos Lee
§ with Lake Street Drive

June 26 /// TRIP Music Festival /// Milan, IT*
July 16 /// Chicago Theatre /// Chicago, IL*
July 18 /// Frederik Meijer Gardens /// Grand Rapids, MI*
July 26 /// Newport Folk Festival /// Newport, RI
Aug 16 /// Orpheum /// Phoenix, AZ †
Aug 17 /// Rialto Theatre /// Tucson, AZ †
Aug 18 /// Meow Wolf Taos Vortex /// Taos, NM †
Aug 19 /// Denver Botanic Gardens /// Denver, CO †
Aug 21 /// Center for the Performing Arts /// Vancouver, BC ‡
Aug 23 /// Chateau St. Michelle Winery /// Woodinville, WA ‡
Aug 24 /// Fox Theatre /// Spokane, WA ‡
Aug 25 /// The Zoo /// Portland, OR ‡
Aug 27 /// Kettlehouse Amphitheatre /// Bonner, MT ‡
Aug 29 /// Red Butte Amphitheatre /// Salt Lake City, UT ‡
Aug 30 /// Avalon Theater Grand /// Junction, CO ‡
Aug 31 /// Belly Up /// Aspen, CO ‡
Sept 4 /// Rococo Theatre /// Lincoln, NE ‡
Sept 5 /// Pageant /// St. Louis, MO ‡
Sept 6 /// Taft Theatre /// Cincinnati, OH ‡
Sept 8 /// Queen Elizabeth /// Toronto, ON ‡
Sept 24 /// Masonic Auditorium /// Cleveland, OH*
Sept 25 /// Masonic Temple Theatre /// Detroit, MI*
Sept 26 /// Riverside Theater /// Milwaukee, WI*
Sept 27 /// Palace Theatre /// St. Paul, MN*
Oct 1 /// Bootleg Theater /// Los Angeles, CA
Oct 6 /// Palace Theatre /// Albany, NY §
Oct 7 /// Le Poison Rouge /// New York, NY
Oct 9 /// DC9 /// Washington, DC
Oct 10 /// Harvester Performance Center /// Rocky Mount, VA §
Oct 11 /// The National /// Richmond, VA §
Oct 12 /// The National /// Richmond, VA §
Oct 13 /// Greenfield Lake Amphitheater /// Wilmington, NC §
Oct 15 /// Whitaker Center /// Harrisburg, PA §
Nov 1 /// Civic Theatre /// New Orleans, LA*
Nov 2 /// The Tabernacle /// Atlanta, GA*
Feb 3-10 /// CAYAMO /// Miami, FL

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