Madame So

by Nickie Shobeiry

If “lyrical grit pop” is your thing – or if you have no idea what that is, but just like good music – then Madame So is your woman. Described as a “real honest style of scuzzy pop” by journalist Andy Vale, Madame So’s music has everything from catchy choruses to sating guitar riffs and thoughtful lyrics. Paris-born and now living in London, Madame So has played solo in both cities, and also Amsterdam. Her first EP was titled The Sell-by Date, and her second EP is due for release on November 30, titled It’s Not Even A Colour.

Don’t get the reference? Then listen to her new single, Black Is Beautiful.

When I asked her what the inspiration for the track was, Madame So said she wrote it last year, after a conversation with a family member regarding the kind of music she makes. “They went, ‘You should put more groove to your music, as currently, you sound like you’ve been adopted by white people.’ That pissed me off so much that I wrote a song about it. This song is a big middle-finger to ignorant people like this – black and/or white – who still believe that black people have to create R&B or hip-hop, and white people rock music… I really invite those lame spirits to revisit music history.”

She added, “Funny thing is, we had this conversation on the same day as the MOBO [Music of Black Origin] Ceremony, where a good 75% of the winners were anything but black, but this didn’t seem to bother the said family member. Double-standards, I guess. I am really, really proud of being black; I’m just a different kind of black, I guess – one that sees a bit beyond Beyoncé, Riri and Nicki. There are at least fifty shades of black, I guess, and I’m one of them, in that sense.”

Madame So began recording her EP this February. “I attempted to work with someone different than my sound engineer on The Sell-by Date EP, and If Only You Were Dead, just to see where the sound would evolve, but the guy I started recording with did not get what I was aiming for – he was a session bass player, looking for some quick money to be made while off tour. So, with pretty much all the instruments recorded, I went back to the roots with my friend, Matt Hill [of the band Paintings Of Ships], who co-produced both my debut EP and my single, and now this second EP. Matt really understands my vibe, my sound, and my vision. I was very particular about the drum pattern and sound I wanted for Black Is Beautiful. Just days after writing it, I started jamming this song with my friend Hiroshi on drums, and he nailed it, so I had his drumming stuck in my head months before we started recording. Sadly, he had to return to Japan, and then went on tour with The Red Paintings. I had tried drummers, who just couldn’t get the beat I was after – but in a strike of luck, The Red Paintings’ tour was stopping by London in April this year, so Hiroshi popped into the studio for a couple of hours, and literally saved the track. God bless Hiroshi! Generally speaking, on this EP, I just wrote the songs, jammed them with the band during a couple of rehearsals, and then went and recorded them. A pretty organic process, really!”

And her advice to any budding artists? “Just be true to yourself and do what feels right, no matter the trends.”

Though compared to Blondie and Patti Smith, Madame So is an artist unlike any other, breaking boundaries and expectations with her music. Keep an eye out for this rising artist.