So Below is the brainchild of Madeline North - one of the many New Zealanders to have flown the nest to sunnier parts of the world, i.e. Los Angeles. She first released ‘Drift’ into the world a mere nine months ago, yet it’s collected a whopping 75,000 plays on Soundcloud, and praise from critics around the world. Her debut + self-titled EP was released earlier this year, and compiles a collection of four songs that are hauntingly beautiful, layering her harmonies with a darker production style.
North worked on the EP with fellow New Zealanders Aaron Short (of The Naked and Famous), Sam McCarthy (of Kids Of 88), and Leroy Clampitt (of Taste Nasa - who also co-wrote Justin Bieber’s song ‘Company’), and it’s culminated in a truly unique sound.
2016 is set to be an exciting year for Madeline / So Below, and we chatted with her about what the year will hold, as well as discovering her love for Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead…
COUP DE MAIN: You’re originally from New Zealand, but you’re now based out of L.A. How do you find the differences between the two cities, and has that influenced your writing at all?
SO BELOW: Yeah L.A. is such a great place. The music scene is a lot bigger and I just feel like everything is more accessible. I think I would be writing the same sort of music no matter where I was based, but you can't put a price on good weather, it’s legit sunny pretty much every day. I do miss NZ though not gonna lie #4real.
CDM: You released your EP earlier this year - what else does 2016 have in store for you?
SO BELOW: A bunch of stuff! I have a music video coming out in a few weeks, will be playing my first live shows in a month or so, and am working on a full-length album. Exciting right!?
CDM: How does your songwriting process work - do you tend to start with lyrics or melody first, and how does it progress into a song?
SO BELOW: Chords and melody first for sure! I think melodies for me are the easiest, writing lyrics is definitely not something that comes naturally lol. But when I DO write lyrics that I think are not totally shit, it's the bestest feeling ever.
CDM: As well as So Below, you contribute to Space Above with Aaron Short and Sam McCarthy. How does that creative process differ to creating So Below?
SO BELOW: Well I would say the process is similar, but Space Above is more of a collaborate thing, where as So Below is my project so I get to have the final say HAH! Nah but I definitely take my music in a much stronger pop direction than Aaron does with his stuff.
CDM: Our column is all about NZ music - what other New Zealand artists are you loving at the moment?
SO BELOW: Well my super talented friend Chelsea Jade (now based in LA too!) just put out a new track called ‘Colour Sum’ which is V cool. BOYBOY has a new banger out too.
YOU WILL LIKE MY MUSIC, IF YOU LIKE... garlic bread (and if you DON'T like garlic bread you're a terrible person).
IF YOU ONLY LISTEN TO ONE OF MY SONGS, YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO…'Drift’.
WATCH THIS VIDEO, BECAUSE... Chelsea Jade showed me this the other day and seriously what the hell. It's so stupid yet SO AMAZING.
MY TOP FIVE MUSICAL CRUSHES ARE... NIN, Radiohead, Apparat, HEALTH and School of Seven Bells. Trent Rezzy is the only one I would consider making out with though (maaaaaybe Thom Yorke if I'd had a few wines).
YOU KNOW YOU'VE MADE IT WHEN... you have an infinity pool.
CDM: If you were to curate your own music festival, who would you want to play and what would the festival be called?
SO BELOW: Ummm it would be called the "Maddie North Musical Hoedown" - it has a great ring to it. I would get my 3 favourite bands: Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Backstreet Boys to headline it, and they would all be contractually obliged to hang out with me the WHOLE time and give me compliments and hugs. We would all get along so well and become best friends forever and ever.
CDM: What's the most despicable thing you've ever done?
SO BELOW: The best I could think of was when I was around 8 at school, I was talking about this girl behind her back to a group of people, saying mean things. I turned around and she was sitting basically behind me the whole time hahah. How embarrassment. Is that despicable enough??
CDM: If you could pick any five people (living or dead) to be in your entourage, who would you choose?
SO BELOW: Maybe just me and the whole SVU team? But they have to stay in character the whole time.
CDM: Who is your most famous fan?
SO BELOW: Maybe Joel Little? He has a Grammy and has met Kanye so he's clearly a big deal. I don't really know if he's a fan but apparently he heard one of my current demos and said it was "pretty good" sooooooo I guess thats his way of saying it's Grammy-worthy.
CDM: Do you believe in magic?
SO BELOW: No but dammit I wish I did, life would be so much more fun.
CDM: What is your spirit animal?
SO BELOW: A sloth I guess? Coz I have long nails AND I'm super tired all the time.
CDM: How long could you go without talking?
SO BELOW: Forever basically, until I'm watching a film. Then I turn into one of those horrible people that talks the WHOLE TIME. My bad.
CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
SO BELOW: Ummm I guess one billion dollars?
CDM: What is the most heroic thing that you've ever done?
SO BELOW: Hahaha omg I can't think of anything, does that make me a horrible person?
CDM: Have you ever written a love letter?
SO BELOW: Silly cute ones I think, not the serious kind.
CDM: What is your first proper memory, ever?
SO BELOW: I remember playing on the driveway with my Inspector Gadget toy. Man I used to be cool.
CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
SO BELOW: Maybe Cher, 'Believe'?
CDM: Stretch your right arm out as far as you can reach, what can you touch?
SO BELOW: My bedside lamp. Yes I'm in bed. Yes it's the middle of the day.
For more So Below, check out:
+ for more new music suggestions, check out AllTracks >> alltracks.co.nz
Listen to ‘Drift’ below…