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Though only 23 years old, Madeline Adams is already a prolific songwriter. She began singing in Athens, GA, at the age of 15, a fact that tells a whole story by itself, and she has already released two solo albums, with another due out in January. With comparisons to big names Cat Power and Kimya Dawson (among like, 50 others), it's obvious this Southern gal is already giving critics the vapors, but the best is probably still to come.

Hybrid Magazine: How would you describe your music to somebody who had never heard it before?

Madeline Adams: I usually say it's either country, jazz or pop.

HM: So how would you describe your live performance, as opposed to the recorded stuff?

MA: I don't know if we'd be closer to a jazz band now, or what. It's changed a lot over the year, when my friends joined me. We've got a big horn section and a keyboard and bass and drums, so we're making our way to being a full rock band or something.

HM: You said it's changed a lot over the last year. What was the catalyst for that change or did it just naturally happen, or what?

MA: It naturally happened just kind of based on my living situation. A year ago, I was living with some horn players and my drummer and I had a CD release show coming up, and I thought it would be fun to have a full band and just stuck with it.

HM: What had the setup been before that?

MA: It was solo for many years, and then it was me and a drummer for about a year.

HM: You're originally from Athens, Georgia, but you moved to Bloomington, Indiana, for a while, before moving back to Athens. Why did you decide to move back home?

MA: It was after a really good recording experience with Matthew Houck from Phosphorescent, after deciding I wanted to be on Orange Twin Records. And it's my home town, you know? I love it.

HM: How did you end up moving to Bloomington in the first place?

MA: It was a bunch of friends of mine had moved there at the same time. I had already been involved with Plan-It-X records. That was located there, that was one motivating factor. I knew people involved with that. Defiance, Ohio - I had been on tour with Defiance, Ohio a couple times and became friends with them. My future roommate in Bloomington had played in Dinosaurs, Baseball And Hopscotch, and I had been on tour with them. It was a large community of musicians I already knew. I was looking to move, and to move somewhere where I knew people, so that was Bloomington.

HM: As a musician, what does it mean to you to be from Athens, Georgia?

MA: I probably wouldn't have started playing music as early as I did otherwise. It's an extremely musical town. Some of my first favorite bands were local. Elf Power and Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal. Vic Chestnutt's from here. There's so much good music that it forced me to have to write good songs. Otherwise I'd probably be laughed at.

HM: Why do you think Athens is such a hotbed for so much music?

MA: I don't know. Cheap rent, probably.

HM: You told me before not to ask you about influences, but I guess now I sort of have to. What can you tell me about, maybe not necessarily influences, but from where you get inspiration as a musician?

MA: Right now, it's really hard to say, because it all comes from different places. You know, I can pinpoint the first bands that got me started playing. But it's a lot harder, seven years later, to say what exactly shapes what I do. I listen to a lot of Paul Simon, Neil Young, and vocally, Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams have probably been inspiring me a lot lately. But I'm not sure how much records that I put on and listen to really affect my songwriting so much. I think most recently, it's probably been effected by playing bass in Nana Grizol. I've been ripping off my friend Theo [Hilton, Nana Grizol guitarist] a lot. Hot New Mexicans is another band from Athens that I've found myself being inspired by.

HM: In addition to other bands, what else inspires you? If it's not other music, what else gets you going?

MA: I usually start out with lyrics, so I guess I get inspired by situations that I feel like I need to talk myself out. Honestly, usually hard situations.

HM: Where are you in the process of your next record?

MA: I'm hoping to have all the tracks done by the end of June, and then get down to mixing.

HM: What are your plans for that, in regards to progressing from your last release?

MA: The last one I did, I was kind of trying to capture where my live show was at that point, and at that point, it was really barebones solo. There were some embellishments on the album, but it was pretty bare. This one, there's a full band, plus a lot of session musicians. I say session musicians like they're not by friends but, you know, a bunch of friends. It'll be more upbeat at times, and hopefully more lush.

HM: Looking a little bit further, what are your long term goals as a musician?

MA: That's a good question. People keep on asking me that. I don't know. In all areas, I hope to have an easier time touring. I need to figure that out. I want to get out of this country, big time. Figuring that out. I'm really only looking as far as this album coming out, and touring it as much as possible.

HM: If you're not looking too far into the future, what is it that motivates you? What keeps you going?

MA: I guess I just don't know what else to do. I'm a bartender, but I'm not that great at that. I go back to school every now and then, but I'm not a stellar student. This is what I do.

HM: Where do you go to school?

MA: I went to UGA for a semester, and then before that I went to a community college in Bloomington for two semesters, and before that, I went to Athens Tech in Athens. I go back to school every time I get really scared of being a musician, that there's no money in it. Then I inevitably get frightened about getting out of music and go back.

HM: You've been playing music for a while, so I wanted to ask you, in that time, what has been your biggest achievement? What are you most proud of?

MA: I don't know if there's a real winner. I'm proud of all my albums. Every time I finish one, I feel great. I get a huge high from every show I play, really. I've played very few bad ones.

HM: Every time I read a review of one of your albums, I see you compared to a different female singer-songwriter, so I wanted to ask you which of those comparisons do you think is the most accurate?

MA: I don't pay much attention. I usually find them to be inaccurate, the ones I've seen. The ones I can remember off the top of the my head, Chan Marshall, from Cat Power, is that her name? I like Cat Power, but I've never listened to much of it. I understand why people would compare me to that, but I wouldn't agree. And with Kimya Dawson, I really understand, because we've toured on the same circuit and put out albums on the same label and stuff. We're both female songwriters. I don't know, maybe Kimya Dawson's pretty close. I love her work.

HM: I'm glad you mentioned Cat Power. It seems like every time there's a new female singer-songwriter, she's inevitably compared to Cat Power. What do you think about that?

MA: Yeah, every female singer-songwriter gets compared to Cat Power now. It's because she's good. She's good, and you know, she's current. I can't say I own any of her albums or anything.

-Adam Clair

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