In the ever-evolving world of music, there are few experiences as exhilarating as discovering a rising star on the verge of taking the industry by storm. One such artist who has been making waves with her extraordinary talent and lyrical depth is none other than Maddie Zahm, whose latest releases have left audiences enchanted and eager for more.
Maddie Zahm is a 25-year-old American singer-songwriter. She has just released her anthemic new single “Where Do All The Good Kids Go?”, and is due to release her new album “Now That I’ve Been Honest” on 20th October. Amongst other hit songs, her self-released 2022 single - “Fat Funny Friend” - has been streamed over 69 million times on Spotify and viewed 8.4 million times on YouTube.
She was also a contestant on the 16th season of American Idol. From all that, it's obvious that this emerging artist has the credentials of a mega-hit superstar.
Ahead of her album's release, Zahm spoke to The Teen Magazine about the driving force behind her music and the life that has shaped her into the creative force she has become!
Her New Single, 'Where Do All The Good Kids Go?'
Zahm had a lot of inspiration and messages she conveyed through her first single. She wrote the song when she was just getting comfortable with her move to LA. "I think when you’re raised in a very small Christian bubble, you feel like you aren’t fully prepared for the real world," she explained, "I realized how utterly unprepared I was to experience things that every adult eventually has to. I felt very naive and vulnerable and wanted a song that talks about how utterly terrifying that can feel!"
In terms of her approach to writing songs similar to 'Where Do All The Good Kids Go?', she tends to focus on the lyrics first. "Most of my songs start with me dumping exactly how I am feeling onto a piece of paper and making it fit to a melody I adore to the best of my ability". She enjoys writing from her own perspective, saying "I feel like we’re [listeners] old friends and to not be vulnerable with them feels incorrect". This gut-wrenching and revealing song uncovers the truth of many childhoods.
Zahm describes her new album as being a collection of 12 songs, each representing the ordered months in the year that preceded her releasing her EP. She's excited to share every part, whether it be chaotic or beautiful, of her music. "It [the past year] has been such a rollercoaster and in some ways I feel like my listeners are a bit behind on my life events," she reveals, "We deconstructed a lot of our identities (at least I am assuming if they’re listening to my music), so I wanted a follow up piece of art that is in chronological order starting from the moment I released my EP." It's a revealing piece of art that walks listeners through all of her firsts, including the first time she liked a girl, and the first time she dealt with depression.
'Now That I've Been Honest' seems to evoke a sense of place in its title, and Maddie's career so far has greatly influenced her style today. "I think I’ve always said that being an artist is somewhat of a shocker to me. I really was excited about being a special needs teacher. In some ways, I feel like this music is (hopefully) healing other people and helping them feel less lonely". She still feels like that teacher part of her brain is being used!
Diving deeper into the idea of healing people, "I hope that people realize that you’re allowed to be messy and not have anything figured out, and that even our most personal experiences tend to be universal." She is grateful that she was able to write herself through all of these situations: "I hope that anyone who latched onto the EP is able to move through the post deconstruction/coming out experience".
In a competitive music industry, Maddie has mastered her artistic vision from the beginning of her career performing on American Idol. However, after her EP, she didn't think about anything since everything was brand new. She had to figure out her purpose and messaging behind the new album to make it as meaningful as the EP. "It’s challenging right now, as a new artist, to keep the attention of people enough to build a world around your music, instead of being the girl with 'a few viral TikTok songs'". She is still navigating how to continue to invite people to her music.
Aside from her lyrics, she focused a lot on the production and tried to relate it to her life experiences, using a ton of church influences. "It’s kind of funny because I really struggled to find a sound for the album that felt far enough from my church references and close enough to my sound," she says, "It took me a minute to figure out what I wanted the album to sound like, and I’m grateful for all of the hours I spent listening to other artists". In the meantime, she has thoroughly enjoyed going on tour, Atlanta being her most special and memorable show.
10 Quick-Fire Questions.
Lastly, I asked Maddie a few questions for readers to get to know her a little better!
1. Dream career achievement?
I’d love to win an award for my lyrics.
2. Dream collaboration?
LADY GAGA CALL ME PLEASE
3. Dream travel destination?
4. Your favourite song you’ve written so far?
'Dani' will always be my favorite because of how special it is to me. If I had to pick a line from a song, it’d be from 'Robin Williams':
“The more that you’re adored, the less you’re liked. How could that not make you lose your mind?”
5. Favourite go-to meal?
Chicken and rice (and a sweet treat obviously).
6. Top three favourite songs overall?
- Simply The Best - Tina Turner
- Everywhere - Fleetwood Mac
- You’re Gonna Go Far - Noah Kahan
7. Something you never leave the house without?
ADHD meds and a will to survive.
8. Your hobbies aside from music?
Recently cooking & Catan. I’m also getting into the gym! (Hate that I just typed that!).
9. What type of dog do you think you like most, personality-wise?
I just asked my closest friends and they all said Golden Doodle & Cavalier king! “Like, you need long hair on the ears but you’re certainly not a small dog”.
10. Any advice for those who also want to get into music?
Make sure you really love your own music, because you’ll have to stand up for your art a lot. Also, make it because you want to and not because you want to make it. The best part about the music industry is music, not the industry.
Keep Up With Maddie
'Now That I've Been Honest' is out October 20th.