Get To Know Maddy Davis [Interview]

Jackie Verba

Right off the bat, it’s pretty obvious that Maddy Davis is cool. With “Sally, I Met a Boy,” the self-written/co-produced single tells the relatable tale of wanting your friends not to doubt the validity of your latest romance, even though it always ends the same. Opening with a grungy, punk-rock distorted guitar line, the rising artist confesses that her track-record with love hasn’t always been great. In true punk rock fashion, the drums kick in at the chorus, exploding with energy, and bringing it home. Maddy Davis writes her music from a place of honest experience, connecting with listeners as she commits to making songs that mean something to her.

“Sally! I Met A Boy” follows her latest single “Middle Kid." Both singles are from Davis’ debut EP MUD, an ambitious effort proving her ability to turn vulnerabilities into lyrical illustrations, putting her on the map as an artist to watch in 2022.

I got the lovely opportunity to talk to her about her creative process, her latest release, New Jersey, and stages made out of buckets.

Being from New Jersey and growing up NYC adjacent, has that had an effect or an inspiration on your music?

The suburb where I’m from in Jersey was not the most embracive of creative culture. Basically, I grew up surrounded by a lot of sports, as most people do! It was a little weird because I was so close to New York City, but I just wasn’t IN New York City. The distance between my Jersey suburb and NYC was very apparent to me. Thankfully, my family is super musical and my mother always wanted me to have opportunities to further my creative side. Creativity was very embraced in my household, but right beyond, not-so much. I did play soccer though! But as soon as I realized that soccer wasn’t ever what I wanted to do with my life, it lit a fire under me to make a path for myself to get out of here.

The push to get out of your hometown!

Exactly yeah! I love Jersey looking back, but during those moments I was very much thinking “I need to be around like-minded people and learning about myself.”

So right now, you’re in LA right? USC?

Yup, and I have one more year of school left.

It’s definitely different being an artist in LA versus one in NYC, culturally, geographically, etc. Do you find yourself teetering between the two? Or sticking more to your roots?

I definitely want to be sticking to my roots, forever. It is honestly tough coming to a big city like New York or L.A. where so many people want the same thing as you. But I think it’s so important to remember who you are as an artist, as cheesy as that sounds. It’s so easy to get lost in “what’s gonna make you viral” instead of “being successful and still being me.” I would say that’s a big challenge, remembering that. Nowadays I’m used to being in L.A., but when I first got here I felt serious pressure to be releasing music all the time, making music videos, just producing as much content as possible. With that pressure, people do lose who they are as artists. Definitely trying not to ride that wave.

Makes me think of Maggie Rogers taking two years in Maine to make her album. Low-key wish all artists did that.

Right! And I think COVID-19 had that effect too! I mean, I got to L.A. in January of 2020, then went home to Jersey for Spring Break and ended up being stuck there, again. Having that little test point of being in L.A (for only two months) and then having time to reflect on that short time spent there from my childhood bedroom in Jersey. If I didn’t have that, I would be in a completely different spot creatively than I am now. Grateful for the trial run.

In those months when you were home, we are now getting the product of an EP coming out sometime in Fall?

Yes, September 29th!

We talked about the pressure that all artists face to be constantly making content, how has that impacted the creation of this specific EP?

With the whole project, you can really tell that I grew up while making it. The first songs I made for it were done in early 2020, around March. Throughout this project and throughout its creation, I did seriously discover my sound. Literally once I stopped looking for what I was “supposed to sound like” and said —  “Fuck it,” got back to my roots, asked myself —  “Why am I writing music? What’s inspiring me now and today?” That changed the game for me. All these songs are about my first experience with that, and with a new attitude toward writing music.

Generally, creating it has been a blast! I’ve been sitting on this for a while; it’s been a year since everything was mixed and mastered. The songs are like tiny time capsules to me.

Do you think they represent you now? Or is it just a different chapter? Sonically at least.

Honestly, yes, I think they are me right now. I used to release music and then literally one week after the song came out I would be like - “I fucking hate this song, this isn’t me, blah blah blah.” But with these ones, I do listen to them and I feel like it is the start of something. I haven’t completely grown out of them or shed their skin at all. The songs represent me a year ago for sure, but when I hear them now, they are 100% a foreshadow of what’s more to come. I’m really really excited for people to hear it.

How about “Sally, I Met a Boy?” What was the inspiration behind it?

The concept I thought of in the shower one day! I was finding myself falling for a new guy at the time. Fun fact, it's actually inspired by my producer Matty, because we used to date.

How Fleetwood Macian! Sorry, please continue.

Ha! We started working together and also, kind of starting to rekindle our relationship. I had just had such terrible luck with relationships at the time. My sister, Sally, heard about it all from me. Her artist name is DJ Dave, and a lot of people know her as Sarah, so it’s a bit confusing. People have literally no clue who Sally is, so it's kind of a fun little guessing game. At the point of making the song, she lived in New York and I lived in LA. Around that time, I kept having to call her and kind of admit that I was falling for a new guy. I really thought that that relationship was going to be the right one. And you know…I just kept calling Sally all the time, trying to convince her that I was right about this. Then the song concept hit me, and I felt it was a cool, different perspective. I was feeling so desperate to make Sally trust me and to get her approval for a guy that I like.

And how was the music video process for this one?

I have a friend from USC, she graduated this year, Caro Knapp, she is literally amazing. We met a year ago for coffee in New York and we just had so much in common and got along super well. When I talked to her about making a music video for “Sally,” I honestly had no idea what to budget, I just knew I wanted to work with her specifically. She went home after our initial talk and made a treatment for the video, and the rest worked itself out! Basically, we had the best time with a very small crew. I’m really pumped for this video to come out.

Are you excited for anything in the future? More writing going on, more live shows, etc.?

Definitely. I have so many songs that are in the vault ready to go. Lots of music sitting and waiting to see the light of day. I’ve played so many of them live, and doing that is a huge part of my life. In high school, I would frequently throw shows in my basement. My mom is honestly such a badass, she let my sister and I throw seriously big shows for a basement. We actually built our basement stage out of buckets; and it really worked. We would have a bunch of local artists come and play, friends pulled up, family came. Those were honestly some of the best nights of my life.

I did bring my love for live music events to USC, along with the bucket stage from Jersey. Thanks to living in a very musical house on campus, all of us living there got ourselves involved in the L.A. backyard music scene. Everyone contributes in some way to make the shows we put on a cool experience. More of those is what I’m really looking forward to.

That’s such a cool experience, just how common it is to get to perform live.

I’m so lucky, seriously. I love performing outside in general, but having that constant community is surreal. Those have been the best shows because it’s pretty easy to get people to come, the house is located at a commonly walked spot on campus. So no excuses not to be there!

Basically, I’m going to a show.

Yes, you actually have to.


Huge thanks to Maddy Davis and her team! Watch the “Sally, I Met a Boy” music video right now below.

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