Madden – ‘#Alive‘ – Madden’s debut track ‘Golden Light‘ propelled the producer from the small Norwegian town of Nesodden to worldwide recognition as it became an undeniable global summer anthem with 61 million streams on Spotify. Now Madden builds on that spectacular introduction with his new single ‘Alive.’ While they share a positive and uplifting vibe, ‘Alive’ is a significantly different track – not least because he recorded the vocals for it.
It’s pretty unusual for producers to do that at present, Madden admits. With ‘Alive,’ I’ve tried to capture the intensity of an adrenaline rush – the calm before throwing yourself out there, and the joy of the moment when it happens.
Madden recorded a demo of the song in the middle of the night in downtown Oslo, playing softly on the piano and singing close to the microphone to avoid the wrath of his neighbours – and that nocturnal atmosphere feeds into the finished track. His vocal was intended as a guide for another singer to follow, but the results were so mesmerising that he decided to perform it himself. A swift rewind of Madden’s story reveals a man who seemed more likely to be found playing the Montreux Jazz Festival rather than delivering one of electronic music’s most irrepressible summer anthems of 2016.
Electronic music was the only thing that I couldn’t get into, Madden laughs, acutely aware of the irony. But my friend and I would hang out and he’d show me just how varied it is. I’d sleep with my headphones on and then wake up with the music still playing. I took in a huge amount of music in a short time.
Madden started playing the piano as a child and progressed to the extent that he was able to study at the world-renowned Berklee College of Music and then the Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium in Copenhagen. His discovery of EDM came after completing his studies in Denmark, which was fortuitous timing: “I decided that if I was going to dedicate so much of my life to music, I wanted it to be able to reach out to a broader audience than I could with jazz.”
Madden formed the production duo Kontaktor with his friend Daniel Wold. It was a connection that clicked for very practical reasons: Wold’s expertise as an engineer was the perfect match for Madden’s musicianship. Their track ‘Bocce Ball‘ won the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and they were even invited to attend a masterclass with hitmakers Stargate.
Despite his solid background, Madden realised that he’d need to formally study production to maximise his potential. As his course drew to a close, he planned to start a fresh project under his own name to complement his production for other artists. Madden picks NAO, Sigala, ODESZA and Nero as artists he’s excited by, and also believes that a new wave of promising Norwegian newcomers such as TRXD can follow the likes of Kygo and Matoma to bigger things. But what distinguishes Madden is his training in jazz.
I think that really sets me apart from other producers, Madden concludes. What I learned from jazz was the improvisational technique – when you’re in the moment, you can have an idea and then make it into anything. That kind of approach works for songwriting and producing too. I feel lost in the music while writing.
As he works towards an album and a full live show, it’s evident that Madden has taken the route less travelled to get to where he is today. Those experiences, however, give Madden a unique attribute that makes him stand out from the pack as a compelling new talent.
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