Experimental alternative Dream-Pop-Rock artist Madison Rene Knapp (MRK) does a good job of filling in her true interpretation of musical art where it has been lacking in the music industry for years. If Kate Bush was David Byrne’s conjoined twin and the siblings were raised on the nuked out paradise of Bikini Atoll and creatively weaned on a Broadway stage, the result would be MRK.
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
I was born in the town of Fayetteville Arkansas to my parents Ron and Rhonda, both Age 25. For the majority of my childhood we moved to several places in and around Arkansas, then to Pennsylvania, then Washington state. During high school I did some stints abroad in Italy and France before graduating and moving on to New York City. After two years of living in New York I decided to move to Los Angeles to study audio engineering. Los Angeles has somehow kept me for 11 years despite my rambling ways.
When was the birth of your musical gift discovered?
I was always, it is rumored even from birth, a showboat of a child. I was always singing and performing and finding ways to entertain any audience I could, which usually meant my family. My mother and father both sang beautifully as well and my father also plays guitar. When I was around seven years old, he taught me how to play twinkle twinkle little star on his fender acoustic. From there I eventually created my own tablature system with crayons, using shape, number and color for fret, string and finger. Regrettably, I have lost my knowledge of that system, but at the time I used it to write love songs. I am still doing a glorified version of that today.
Describe your sound:
My music comes from a visceral and personal place. I strive to be both melodramatic and minimalist, soft and wild. Because voice is my first instrument I am always seeking to use it for my expression in new ways. Although I fall into “pop “sensibilities, I strive to push pop music to the weirdest lengths I can.
Who are you as an artist?
Who I am as an artist is who I am as a person: I am a woman in and out of love, I am a white female in and out of politics, I am a human in and out of society. My goal is to constantly explore these inner and outer workings that I may more deeply understand myself, the world and my place in it all.
Tell us about your songwriting process:
I approach song writing in several ways, but my favorite is to jump in, start pushing buttons or plucking strings or making sounds of any kind. I like to find a single sound or progression to latch onto, and then vocalize on top of it. The next part of this type of process includes going back over the stream of consciousness that has been recorded and begin to pick the most striking parts of it. From there, I will build what I consider to be a song. Sometimes it happens differently. Sometimes, a flood of words or a flood of melody will come into my mind and the structure is already apparent before actual sound is created.
Congrats on ‘River Of Blood’, it’s a great piece of audio and visual of art to be proud of. Has it gained attention from film festivals?
Thank you, and yes, I have been very fortunate to show this video at various film festivals, including: Bogotá, Les Femmes, Cinevision, Toronto Arthouse, iPhone, IndieWise, Social Machinery, Art All Night, and Figari Film Festivals. This is all largely thanks to Leila Jarman, the director who—as a filmmaker—has a much better understanding of film festival circuits than myself.
Your songs 27 and HELL-O among others are absolutely brilliant, how did you start working with Alex Arias?
Thank you, again! Alex Arias and I used to share a band mate several years ago. The drummer for my old band, Aeriel Stereo, was also in his old band Pyramids. Over the course of a few years, after our bands had fizzled out and I started recording my own material, Alex got wind of it and asked if I would like to work with him. My answer was a huge enthusiastic yes! Alex and I worked together for a long time and I am deeply appreciative of the skills and time he has put into the development of my project. Without his gumption to try to work with me, who knows where my music would have ended up. I had written and recorded several of the songs on my own as rough versions, and Alex was able to polish my diamonds in the rough perfectly.
Excellent concept for your ’27’ music video, lots of glitch and VHS feels. How was the concept created?
After such a massive production as River of Blood, Leila Jarman and I wanted to explore what we could do with minimal set and minimal equipment. We decided to head out to Malibu Creek State Park with just a costume and camera. From there Leila manipulated the footage to create the feeling of a degrading VHS tape. We wanted to explore the playful and morbid aspects within the lyrics of the song itself. I wrote the song on my 27th birthday, fantasizing about joining the “27 club.” There is suicidal ideation, manic humor, and morbid imagery all wrapped around a very driving beat. It was actually my attempt at writing a Song in the style of the Ramones. I think that Leila truly captured the spirit of the song in her direction and editing of the video.
Other then music, share with us some of your passions:
Love and sex, specifically the comprehensive education of the masses about love and sex. I believe very strongly that these two forces (or you could even consider them one) govern our conscious and unconscious minds, collectively and individually. So much of my material revolves around my experience of love and sex to varying degrees, and I observe daily how these things impact the world. I truly think that we all deserve a better understanding of our bodies, biologically and psychologically and even spiritually. Specifically, I am most passionate about women’s reproductive rights and women’s reproductive comprehension.
Tell us the reason you chose to cover Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game:
Covering Wicked Game was something I had wanted to do for a while, and finally one day Alex Arias presented me with an amazing beat on which I could record the vocals. That song has always touched me as a love addicts anthem, something I go into a bit in the interview for the videos release.
Favorite piece of clothing you own:
Right now, my favorite piece of clothing is these giant white acrylic nails that I just got for a video shoot. They are not only a great conversation piece, but they are also tactilely useful in massage and in providing people with comforting head and back scratches.
What’s next for MRK?
A new EP in 2018! The album is finished and several videos are in progress. I can’t wait to do more shows in and outside of LA.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
To me, the pairing of the words “dark beauty” signifies the eternal exchange between light and dark, their sameness and their opposition.
Photography credit www.marinafini.com