Q & A: MADELINE CASTREY

Velvety vocals combined with a foot-tapping modern beat: introducing Madeline Castrey




PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR US WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.


My name is Madeline Castrey. I was born in Surrey and I’ve always been a lover of music from a very young age. If you’ve heard my songs, you might not believe it, but my background is actually in classical singing. I have a strong background in West End Theatre and television, but then I fell in love with opera and began to train as an opera singer.


I was seriously ill as a teenager, and the silver lining of this was being able to spend lots of time on music and finding the style I really loved. I was thrilled to become the first ever 16-year-old admitted onto an undergraduate degree course at The London College of Music, and I then went on to gain a distinction in my master’s degree specialising in opera.


Over the past few years, I’ve been using music as a means to fundraise for the charities that helped me as a teen, and I was thrilled to receive a Princess Diana Award for my work.


In terms of my music; one of my biggest ambitions is to make the jazz genre more accessible for listeners.


Coming from a classical and jazz background, I have seen quite a lot of exclusivity in these genres in the past, so that is something I am trying to counteract! In order to do this, I have combined jazzy melodies, velvety vocals and modern beats infused with classical elements to create a new style of smooth/nu-jazz and soft pop that I hope will bring a whole new wave of listeners to the genre! (Though sometimes I do have to rein myself in a bit and remember that I’m writing a song and not a symphony!)


TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE?


My new song ‘Brand New’ has a sultry jazz groove, and talks about finding new love ... (who...well that would be telling!) but the underlying message is one of empowerment, excitement and that rush of cautious thrill at facing the unknown - something I think we’re all seeking to find after this year! For me, it’s not only marked a shift in my musical style, but also a shift in my outlook which I have found particularly refreshing.


If you like velvety vocals combined with a foot-tapping modern beat, this might be your thing!


WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM OR SINGLE?


All of my songs are deeply personal and reflect my thought processes or experiences at one time or other. ‘Brand New’ is probably the song I’ve become most attached to because it was the only one I have written so far when I had the specific realisation of ‘this is a song’ I was sitting in front of Tower Bridge on a summer’s evening looking straight ahead at the Tower of London – there was such a buzz of everyone around, and I just felt in that moment that I wanted to immortalise it in a song!


CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS?


Smooth, sultry and sweet with a beat – a bit like chocolate really!


In fact, I suppose if the song were to be a chocolate, it would be an After Eight – smooth and classy but with a sweet playfulness at the centre!


WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY?


This will always be Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody! I remember hearing this as a child and I think enthralled is the word! Even now I find the combination of vocal prowess and the combination of a multitude of different musical styles so inspiring – I suppose that’s why it’s so iconic!


I just love how many emotions are embodied within the song, and I guess what that proves more than anything else is the power music has to tell a story.


DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND OR ANOTHER ARTIST?


My favourite video is actually Love is on the Radio by McFly. I just love how inclusive it is – it really feels like a celebration of uniqueness coupled with a unifying message of how we all feel when we’re in love. I think it’s just awesome!


WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT MAKING MUSIC?


Hmmm…I’m not sure how interesting it is, but I’m a bit of an academic! I actually took my GCSE music at 10 and got an A*, and then took another GCSE and 2 A L evels at 11, 12 and 13 – safe to say I was very bored as a child! That’s how I got my place on a degree course at 16 and now at 23, I’m in the final year of my doctorate! I was also really proud to become one of the youngest university lecturers in the country at the age of 22. I’m really against age discrimination and really live by the motto “she believed she could – so she did”


I also realised recently that I could curl my tongue into the letter W, I have a super bendy thumb and I spent six months in the company of Basil Brush…you’ll have to google that one!


DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING LIVE, IF SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?


Coming from a classical and musical theatre performance background, I’m quite used to dealing with nerves!


I’d say I get more nervous for a single show than I do for a run of performances of a particular production – though having said that, perhaps some of my most hairy moments have happened whilst performing in The Lion King in London. As you can imagine with a Disney production, the magic that is created and achieved is wonderful to be a part of, but with so many complex costumes, props and bits of scenery, there is so much that can go wrong! I’ve fallen over a fair few times in that show, props have malfunctioned and once I got my “tail” wrapped round my foot, so I spent the rest of the scene hopping!


In terms of overcoming nerves, I like to drink hot water and honey before I sing – I find it’s really calming and great for the voice. Then it’s just down to deep breathing and perspective to tackle overthinking – which I’ve definitely been guilty of on several occasions!


HOW DID YOU FORM THE BAND?


Well it’s just me, and I suppose I have lockdown to thank really for the extra time and space to create.


This year has been such a challenging one for everyone, , but the silver lining has been having more time and space to create – in fact, I would say that having this time has really changed and shaped my musical direction and in many ways, it’s so lovely to say something good came out of such a difficult year!


HOW DO YOU WRITE?


At the risk of sounding cliché, my experiences drive much of my creative output. It’s so hard to sit down with the mind set of “I have to write a song now” and if that’s the case, the result is never as good as stumbling across a lyric or a melody from exploring how you’re feeling at that particular moment. As a classical musician first and foremost, I’ve found that I have a tendency to get carried away with instrumentation and textures so sometimes I do have to reign myself in a little bit – otherwise you’ll be listening to a symphony and not a song!


Relatability is key for me. My songs are very lyric focused, so I’m always thrilled if listeners can relate to my own experiences through my lyrics. With my style of jazz that combines modern pop beats with more classical elements, I strive to keep my music uplifting – and so I hope that my music inspires a message of joy and empowerment for all.


WHAT INSPIRES YOU?


My Mum is always my biggest inspiration. Of course, I have musical idols too, but I’d say the two main things that drive me are making jazz and indeed music as a whole more accessible to listeners, and also simply trying to be the best version of myself!


If I’m stuck creatively, I always turn to classical music. Ravel’s Bolero, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite inspire me no end!


WHAT IS NEXT?


Well, I’m currently in the process of recording a new single and I’m in the middle of writing my first EP, which I’d love to release next year alongside a few more singles. Once the situation allows, I’m also looking forward to performing live again – I can’t wait to get back to the London Jazz scene!


I’m really looking forward to growing my audience in 2021 – and of course, finish my PhD in music which I am completing alongside all of my songwriting! (Though I’m not sure what a doctor of music does really?!)


The sky’s the limit really, so watch this space!


PLEASE TELL US ANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS SO WE CAN SHARE.


Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4YYuk8m6m1MctrmihrbZ0S?si=7KMU9ltzSb6MkJgRWdUU4

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Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/madelinecastrey/


Twitter: https://twitter.com/madelinecastrey


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madelinecastrey


madelinecastrey.co.uk


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