Words Tim Chivers
Images by Production of Troy and Julian Oates
Madelena is a young indie pop artist with a jazz voice background and a sweet, genuine song-writing tone. She grew up in a musical home, learning to play multiple instruments such as the flute, saxophone, guitar, piano and violin. Since graduating from the Conservatorium of Music in Hobart with a major in jazz voice, she has been around Tasmania performing at functions and events, attending song writing sessions and teaching music to others.
I first experienced Madelena’s music at an event in Fern Tree, where she was one of the many musicians helping raise funds for the Brightside Farm Sanctuary, a home for abused and neglected animals. She has also performed at Tas Eco Film Fest and Animals Tasmania events, and is a big advocate of self-awareness and having an open mind about her impact on the world around her.
“I think music is so powerful and using it to create awareness for issues is so important.”
Soon afterwards we met at a café in the city to talk about her plans for releasing music and her musical philosophies. She showed me some posters she had printed to advertise the single launch for her song “My Lightest Shade”. This song was recorded at The Song Store, a studio in Victoria. It’s a bright, summery tune with a short and sweet manner. When writing the song, she tried to capture the feeling of childhood summers and trying to find a bit of lightness, especially in Tassie where sometimes a bit of sun is hard to find. In the long term, she hopes to release four singles for an EP.
Madelena met the owners of The Song Store at the Australian Songwriters Conference in NSW.
“It was awesome, lots of creative people, lots of positive energy, lots of opportunities, and I really enjoyed the co-writing sessions.”
In 2015 Madelena put together a collection of songs and poetry called “A Note in Time”. It didn’t have a theme – instead, it was like a scrapbook or collection of different ideas and stories. She hired the Battery Point Hall with the help of a crowd funding campaign, and set up tables and chairs in a cabaret setting with some snacks and drinks. She performed “A Note in Time” several times, including a performance at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and Cygnet Folk Festival.
Madelena is interacting with many of Hobart’s hardworking and talented musicians. She has a duo project with Hannah May, another local singer-songwriter. Together they are supporting each other musically for their own original material and performing covers of songs by female Australian songwriters. She has also worked as a lead singer for the Baker Boys Band, covering popular songs for weddings and functions. She has been working hard to play and perform her own music more frequently, and the local music community has welcomed her with open arms.
“This year, I’ve started the ball rolling and now it’s tumbling.”
Madelena studied a jazz voice degree under Maria Lurighi, at the Conservatorium of Music in Hobart. Maria encouraged her in an academic environment whilst also supporting her creativity. She felt her mentors at the University of Tasmania understood that though she was studying jazz music her ultimate goal was to be a songwriter. She met a lot of the people that she plays with now through the Conservatorium community. She found her degree useful for building talented and capable contacts so if she is seeking performers she can always find someone available.
Madelena has also gained experience teaching master classes and focusing on vocal coaching and guided song writing. She also ran a vocal workshop about mindful singing at Cygnet Folk Festival this year.
“It’s great watching people learn about their own voice and achieving goals, becoming more aware of their bodies and voices.”
Madelena feels blessed to have built such a large support network around her. As an indigenous Australian, she sees many factors improving the representation of indigenous musicians in Australia and she sees a lot of opportunity for creative expression and storytelling around her through festivals and events that celebrate the arts, culture and community.
Madelena believes that local music should be valued as much any other art or product that Tasmania has to offer. While we Tasmanians have a lot of pride in our art and culture, local musicians have a much smaller audience. Audiences that do attend Tasmanian music performances are some of the most passionate people in the world, it is an important reminder to show support for our musicians so they feel valued and appreciated.