Madeon details his Good Faith Live premiere at Lollapalooza, plans for sophomore LP, and the genesis of ‘Pop Culture’ [Interview]
Nonetheless, the French native had already inscribed his indelible earmark on the wall of electronic music eminence long before he had (by most standards) reached adulthood. At the ripe age of 17, Madeon curated what many would consider the magnum opus of mashups in electronic music, “Pop Culture,” wherein he fused 39 of his favorite charting tracks via his Launchpad controller. The amalgamation’s live rendition, as of today, sits at a staggering 50 million YouTube hits; though it accrued viral status in mere days.
Following back-to-back EP releases in the subsequent years, Madeon formally demonstrated that he could not be further removed from one-hit-wonder discourse, as he put forth his accolade-abundant freshman project, Adventure. Not long after it reached shelves, Madeon’s debut LP has been widely regarded as one of electronic music’s signature releases. The album left his globally dispersed fan base to at a loss as to how such an endeavor could be eclipsed.
But this past March, all suspicion of what Madeon had been plotting during his absence from solo work reached long overdue fruition, when he announced that he would be unveiling a never-before-seen live experience at Lollapalooza 2019. Following months of well-warranted speculation following the cryptic teaser, Madeon began to inch back the curtain on the musical masterpiece that he was meticulously etching to perfection behind closed doors. Judiciously stamped, Good Faith, Madeon’s sophomore album proceeded to spawn back-to-back, contrasting yet equally enticing, productions. The first was ushered in by a strategically surreptitious billboard in Los Angeles, in May of this year. Since, the pair of releases, “All My Friends” and “Dream Dream Dream,” have faultlessly led expectations for the remainder of the forthcoming endeavor to skyrocket, as Madeon proved he hasn’t lost his golden thumb in the studio after all.
As the Saturday of Lollapalooza’s 2019 edition promptly approached, Madeon’s finale performance at the festival’s American Eagle complex was among one of the event’s most anticipated electronic spectacles. While he had previously revealed that new music would surely appear during the show’s display, it remained to be seen just how much of Madeon’s sophomore effort would be at the downtown Chicago audience’s fingertips.
Just a few hours prior to Madeon’s taking the stage to demonstrate for patrons the importance of showing a little faith, Good Faith, that is, with the new live setup, Dancing Astronaut had the pleasure of sitting down with the 25-year-old titan of his trade, to dive into the background behind the show’s assembly, what to expect from the album, and how his “Pop Culture” mashup changed his life.
As it was assuredly futile to keep up in real time during the 60-minute performance, 1001Tracklists.com afforded the understanding that Madeon rattled out a mind-numbing ten unidentified tracks throughout his visually-enthralling ‘Good Faith Live’ phenomenon. While he maintained that no material from his Lollapalooza performance would be a candidate for his next single release, clues from a puzzle pieced together on his latest Good Faith Radio episode indicates his third single could potentially appear to be “Be Fine.” Ultimately, listeners will have to keep the faith until further notice.
You’re debuting your new show ‘Good Faith Live’ here at Lollapalooza, and it’s your first solo live show since the Adventure days. What made you decide to specifically share it here in Chicago?
I’ve been thinking about the show simultaneously with writing music so it’s been years, and the vision for the show is best expressed in larger scales. I felt like a festival was the perfect opportunity to present it in its best light from the start. So when Lolla came asking me what I was up to, it felt like the right timing and the right amount of prestige to debut a show. It was a great landmark to look forward to in the future.
It felt like the right fit and it’s nice because I get to do this show and then I have a couple of months where I’m in Europe and then a couple of months for the U.S. tour. I get to improve and learn from this show and it’s like a large scale experiment. We literally brought the largest screen we could fit so we went all in.
What are you able to tell us about your plans for the unveiling of ‘Good Faith Live’ tonight? Are there any outright differences between this and the full tour?
The tour we’re trying to bring the most we can practically but obviously we’re doing different venue sizes. When we’re doing Bill Graham, it’s going to be as big but when we’re doing smaller cities, it’s like something else. We’re making sure we bring a full and great experience to every show that we’re doing but the main difference is that we’re doing is that the tour will have a longer set because this is just under an hour.
I’m going to be able to play a lot more songs and have a lot more moments so this first show is sort of like a condensed teaser. I also decided when I was working on the setlist that I wanted to debut some new music but not all the new music. So for example, I’m currently picking my next single and all of my next single options are not songs that I’m going to be playing at this show. So there’s still going to be new things that I’ll play on tour.
Recently you touched on how you started work on Good Faith right as the Adventure era was coming to a close. How was the creative process for ‘Good Faith’ comparable to how you approached ‘Adventure’?
It was so incredibly different, nothing like it. Yesterday, I was getting emotional about this show. I was going through the e-mail I sent to my team in very early 2016 when I was kind of wrapping up what my vision was for that next era and almost everything in that is still what I’m doing now. The way I described the show then is still the show I’m doing tonight. I had such a clear idea of what I wanted to do which was quite different from Adventure, which was more a process where I was trying to figure it out.
I took a lot of time because I was mostly concerned that I was taking care of myself, taking time off when I needed it, taking the time to learn certain things I didn’t know and not rushing into things. There are some songs like “Dream Dream Dream” that were ready very early on and just because they are ready doesn’t mean they need to be out right now. Let me figure the whole vision out first, so I had to be patient. With Adventure, I made it while I was still touring a lot and it was more so start and stop and more interrupted where I could be less introspective with it. I love that album so much but that process felt vastly different for sure.
So far your sophomore album has given us two singles with “All My Friends” and “Dream Dream Dream,” which possess clear stylistic differences. Is Good Faith going to lean specifically towards either of these styles or towards something completely unexpected?
You’ll find there’s a really clear sonic theme to the album. I think both singles touch on elements of the recurring palette, like one big thing is humans, choirs and chants which is obviously very prominent in “Dream Dream Dream.” That’s the thing throughout the show and throughout the album. That will be seen in the visuals and that’s manifested in the audio of almost every song, so those singles are good representation of that. The palette of emotion does get a little bit broader than those two songs. I do think they’re a good intro, though. I think they hopefully set the tone quite well but there’s more secrets and fun moments to come.
You had acknowledged that “All My Friends” was probably the most pop-leaning production on the album…
Yeah so I really like the idea of making music that I didn’t even think of as necessarily living within the format of dance music. The songs I was referencing or thinking about when I made that one felt very free. I didn’t feel like I needed to make it relate to any particular format so in my head so I was just writing a straight up pop song, but in the best and most sincere way possible. Pop music is a really respectable genre. The Beatles are great and they’re a pop band, so deciding you want to write a pop song isn’t necessarily a bad intention, it’s a beautiful intention. I was trying to express my love for that genre and obviously anything I do is still informed by my background in dance music, so it comes through and ends up being dance music, but it’s nice to free your process and clutter of genres.
Through the creation of Good Faith, were there any musical inspirations that helped you along the way?
I was listening to a lot of more hip-hop when I was making Good Faith. I got into Pink Floyd too and you’ll hear some influences maybe on the album. I rediscovered my love for The Beatles, which I do every so often. I got really into Tyler the Creator and stuff like Kraftwerk. All of the bands and acts I was destined to eventually love that I hadn’t found by that point, I found now. My musical taste had expanded in the most enriching way and I’ve never loved music more than the past couple of years.
Earlier this summer, your legendary “Pop Culture” Launchpad mashup celebrated its 8th birthday. What has that song meant to you personally as you look back and see how far you’ve come?
It’s so hard to say. It’s mostly a beautiful, beautiful memory. It’s something that I’m so thankful and grateful for. I felt very lucky to have that idea at a time where it had the room to connect and it found an audience. It felt like the stars aligned in my life for me because I needed that to happen. I was just out of school and everything was uncertain, so it made my future more precise.
It was a big relief because it felt like my take on music was maybe going to connect with some people. It changed my life and I still really enjoying it, listening back to it and performing it in sets. It was so spontaneous because it was literally the first thing I did when I got a launchpad. I just had that idea, I went to the store and then shot it that night. I just saved it and didn’t put it out right away because I wasn’t that secure about it I guess. Then I got more confident like, “You know what? This will probably do 10,000 or 100,000 views.” So I put it up and went on vacation. It blew up and I didn’t even see it so my manager called me and was like “Hey, so here’s what’s going on.” I was on vacation in somewhere with no internet so I could only go to the cafe every few days. Between the time I arrived and the first time I went to the cafe, it had several million views which was so cool.
**This transcript has been slightly edited for clarity and readability
Featured image: Dan Franco