Madeline Spooner is a young songstress who just released her new EP, NAUTILUS, which conjures a swirl of ravishing mood pop within every track. Photog Anna Maria Lopez recently caught up with the singer to shoot some portraits and ask some questions.
You’re a native of the Midwest. How did you come to move to Los Angeles?
“I romanticized living on the West Coast all throughout my high school years. So many great bands that I was influenced by, like The Doors, came out of L.A. and I just knew this was where I needed to be. My parents insisted I go to college and with very little thought or research I set my sights on CalArts and got in. I came out in 2009 to study music and was shell-shocked when I realized The Valley was not the beach and 2009 was not 1969. There are so many redeeming qualities to the city but I do miss thunderstorms and that simple Midwestern lifestyle.”
How did you choose the title of your new EP NAUTILUS?
“The name chose itself. I saw a spiral shape in a bunched up blanket on my couch in a sort of subconscious flash. I knew it was the title of the EP at the moment I saw it. The nautilus and its divine proportions is the mathematical formula that makes up creation. NAUTILUS revolves around themes of life, death, rebirth and transformation. At the time I was writing it I was having dreams in which I was dying of a terminal illness and was also present with my friend and CalArts music mentor who was dying of cancer. And all of that influenced the music. I also finished the record with the song that I started with before meeting my producer, Ethan Allen, which is titled ‘Into The Womb.’ So it really came full circle, just like a spiral.”
Was there a catalyst which made you decide to incorporate electronic production into your acoustic songwriting?
“Yes. Absolutely, there was a catalyst. For most of my life I only listened to classic rock and then in my early teens I listened to various female folk-pop artists. When I discovered CocoRosie’s electronic freak folk album Grey Oceans, it turned my world upside down in a good way. I started hearing electronic music in my head before going to sleep at night. It was totally clairaudient because the sounds I was hearing were so visceral. It was as if I was an antenna picking up radio waves from some distant place or time. There is no way I could ever record or notate what I was hearing because it is far too complex. But from then on, I knew I wanted to incorporate more in my music.”
How did you come to work with your producer Ethan Allen?
“I was working at a coffee shop in Silver Lake called Mornings Nights and Ethan was a customer. A coworker told me he was someone very special that I should know. It turned out to be very true. At that time I was still self-producing and about a year later I sought Ethan’s help. After just one meeting I knew he was the guy to work. NAUTILUS was a true collaboration and co-production. When I brought the songs to him it was as if he had been there from the beginning of the original idea. That’s when you know you’ve got a true collaborator because it feels like you don’t need to verbalize much.”
What is the overall lyrical theme of this EP?
“There are a lot of deep, heady philosophical ideas but there is a fair amount of playfully facetious and provocative naïvete to the lyrics. Words like ‘let’s make a porn out in the corn’ and ‘I am the whore, lucky you are’ are covertly executed in the way they are sung and snuck into the rhythm of the melodies. They are lyrics that aren’t necessarily the focus of those songs but flavors of the human experience that can’t be ignored. I mean, you can’t have life or death without sex in the mix.”
You use projections in your live shows. How do you curate the images?
“I have been leaning towards a more modern look with clean lines and shapes where the function of the projections should serve to heighten the experience and enhance a trans-like state. The projections are there to support the experience. I want people to get a feeling like they are lifting off the ground.”
Have you gotten your nautilus tattoo yet?
“Who said I was getting a nautilus tattoo?”