Women are expected to be perfect. In a world of continued systemic sexism, they are met with undue pressure to uphold archaic traditions dictated by a looming patriarchy. But enough is enough. Women are retaliating more than ever, exposing the venomous snakes for who they really are, and music is the vehicle through which singers, songwriters and musicians are telling their stories. Pop up and comer Madi Rindge wields her dagger on her new single “Perfect,” a scorching takedown of a former lover, as well as the misogynistic male species, at large.. “About a year ago, I finally left a toxic relationship. I was angry with men but mostly with myself,” she tells B-Sides & Badlands. “I had put up with the emotional and verbal abuse and stayed quiet for too long.”
“When I started dating again, I was hyper aware of being paid attention to only if I was wearing makeup or only being complimented when I had heels on,” she continues, detailing the self-loathing traps men concoct in a show of forceful dominance. “I was fed up with these unrealistic expectations men had of me. Fired up, I sat down and wrote [this song].”
From magazine covers and billboards to glossy TV commercials, women are “taught at a very young age about the idea that women have to be ‘perfect.’ I read a quote recently that made me feel empowered and that I also felt captured the essence of this song. It goes, ‘In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act,'” she says. For Rindge, she utilizes her adept songwriting talents to dismantle the system, furthering the cause of equality and assessing her own place in the world. “‘Perfect’ is my way of rebelling ⎯⎯ of influencing people to think about themselves in a way society doesn’t teach us to.”
“Perfect” and previously-released single, “Just One,” which happens to be the title cut to her forthcoming debut EP, expected April 1, exhibit her penchant for smooth, R&B-intoned hooks and intimate lyrics. Already, her future looks bright.
Below, Rindge discusses the pressure to be perfect, her early roots in classical piano and the thrill of songwriting.
How have you dealt and handled the pressure to be perfect, in your personal life and career?
It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. As a perfectionist, I’m constantly battling that need for perfection ⎯⎯ in my career and in my personal life. One thing that has really helped ease my anxiety and any pressure I feel when it comes to that is Transcendental Meditation ⎯⎯ something I recently started practicing. It helps me remind myself that nothing is, or has to be, perfect. This past year has been a huge year of growth, and I’ve learned to surround myself with people who truly care about me and make me feel great while letting go of the relationships that don’t do that for me. Ever since I’ve done that, I’ve felt less pressure to be something I’m not.
What have you learned about yourself through writing this EP?
Wow, I’ve learned so many things! I know what I want in life and relationships, how I want to be treated and what makes me most happy. I’m so grateful to know what I’m passionate about and to be able to do it. This EP marks what feels like the beginning of the rest of my life.
Were you always so adept at writing massively infectious melodies?
Writing melodies definitely comes easily for me. I feel really lucky in that way, but I also practice every single day to continue to challenge myself and get better.
Do you have songwriters who have molded you most?
John Mayer has been a huge inspiration to me as a songwriter. I love when you can listen to an album and hear the lyrics one way, but when you go back and listen again, you hear a different meaning. That is a sign of an incredible writer, and I think he does that very well.
Can you tease another new song you’re most excited to share?
Oh, I mean, I guess so. [laughs] One of my personal favorites is a song I wrote called “Stars” [out March 1]. It’s actually from my best friend’s perspective. She met someone who makes her feel good about herself, challenges her intellectually (which is hard to do because she’s incredibly smart) and loves her for who she is. It was hard for me to believe that kind of love existed. But writing “Stars” was surprisingly eye opening for me. It reinstated some hope and showed me that ⎯⎯ as cliché as this might sound ⎯⎯ true love really does exist.
You’ve hinted at your father’s musical background, which includes snagging some major hardware at the Grammy Awards. What did he win?
My dad was in a band in the 1980s called ShadowFax, and they won Best New Age Performance [for their album titled ‘Folksongs For A Nuclear Village’] in 1988.
Have you taken advantage of your father’s connections to further your own career? Or do you prefer to make your own way?
Whenever it’s appropriate, of course! But his contacts aren’t always the right ones. I love meeting new people, so I’ve been able to make a lot of my own connections through networking, friends and going to shows.
What music were you first exposed to?
My parents played everything from jazz to Motown to Brazilian to pop music in the house when I was growing up. My dad played with Herbie Hancock, Justin Timberlake, John Mayer, Oscar Castro Neves, you name it! We heard it all. And that was helpful in figuring out what kind of music I gravitated towards most.
How did learning classical piano at such a young age ultimately influence your pop music?
Being classically trained on piano was fundamental to my understanding of music, in general. I like to think of it as an alphabet ⎯⎯ I learned all the a’s, b’s and c’s, which allowed me to write any type of music I wanted to write. Though I quickly realized I didn’t want to be a pianist, I now had the tools to write melodies and lyrics and be able to accompany myself on piano as a singer-songwriter.
What did you feel when you wrote your first original song?
I felt accomplished! I think I was about 12 when I wrote my first fully-finished song. I sang words I wanted to say to my parents but was too scared to do so. So, I felt safe singing it. I was simultaneously excited and nervous, but when I finally played it to my mom, she started crying. Writing music was my therapy, and still is, through a time when I was too afraid to speak up.
When was your first live performance? How would you reflect on that moment now?
I started performing at two years old ⎯⎯ piano recitals, dance performances, musicals ⎯⎯ but there’s one performance, in particular, that stands out. I was about 11, and this would mark the first time I ever sang while playing piano in front of an audience. It was “Boston” by Augustana (no idea why I chose that song). I practiced for weeks every single day, I was so nervous. When it finally came time to performing, I was terrified. As soon as I finished the song and the audience started clapping, I remember having a huge smile plastered on my face, and I was almost embarrassed I couldn’t get rid of it. [laughs] But in that moment, all I wanted was to do it again. I’m proud of my 11-year-old self for being so courageous and pushing myself out of my comfort zone! I didn’t know how much I would love it… but now that’s all I want to keep doing.