- 04 Jun 20
With nearly 20 million social media followers and influences as eclectic as Radiohead and Tame Impala, Madison Beer is a pop star with a difference.
It’s a quiet afternoon on Planet Lockdown and even for an on-the-rise pop star with 19 million Instagram followers life seems to be proceeding at a trickle
“This is a strange situation,” nods Madison Beer, taking shelter at her parents’ place on Long Island. “I’m hanging out. It’s weird.”
Things will get even weirder a few weeks later. Having returned to her home in Los Angeles, Beer will participate in a Black Lives Matter protest – not the Jedward one, disappointingly – only to be caught up in a violent crackdown by police.
“Leave Santa Monica now if you can,” she will write on Instagram. “I was just teargassed. They are arresting everyone and teargassing all crowds.”
This was supposed to be a whirlwind year for the 21-year-old. With one billion plus Spotify streams and a huge social media presence, she’s poised to be pop’s next big thing. She’s even had the obligatory celebrity relationship, having stepped out with Brooklyn Beckham in 2017 (we’ve been politely requested to refrain from asking her about this).
“I want to tell my story and get myself out there,” she tells Hot Press in her first major Irish interview. This is ahead of the release of her debut album, Life Support, featuring production from Justin Bieber/Adam Lambert collaborator Leroy Clampitt.
With song titles such ‘Good In Goodbye’, and ‘Selfish’, Life Support has been cast as a break-up LP, a rumour she is eager to put to rest. “Definitely not,” she says in a low-speaking voice not all that far removed from her smoky vocal style. “It’s about my journey in life so far.”
“Life so far” has contained more ups and downs than you might imagine. Beer was “discovered” aged 13 when Justin Bieber tweeted a YouTube video of her singing Etta James.
Island Records signed her soon afterwards. However, she was uncomfortable with the direction in which she was being pushed, described by Rolling Stone as “Radio Disney bubble-gum pop”.
She dug in her heels and just three years later, at age 16, was dropped. Some artists might have given up. Beer, though, simply worked harder, writing songs that gave voice to her love of artists such as Radiohead, Tame Impala and Lauryn Hill. You can hear those influences in new tunes such as ‘Selfish’, where she emotes over tempestuous waves of machine-tooled emotion.
“It’s had its ups and its downs,” she says of her career. “It’s not always fun. It’s nice to able able to step away from it at times. I wouldn’t change it though.”
Sexism in the entertainment industry has become a more visible issue in recent years. What has Beer’s experience been?
“Yeah, definitely – I knew it was something I would have to prepare for. That I would just be aware of. I didn’t think of it as scary. I was ready to figure it out.”
If not quite yet a household name, she’s certainly “Internet” famous. She’s appreciative of and gracious to fans. But, yeah, sometimes it’s exhausting.
“It is difficult to find yourself being a public figure,” she says. “It’s not the easiest. I give it the best I can.”
Before we go there is time for one or two questions submitted by fans. If she had a message for her younger self, what would it be?
“I would prepare my younger self for all the things that would happen to me and that I would have to get through [i.e. being dropped by Island]. It wasn’t fun. Now I look back and am grateful for the experiences.”
And what was her favourite part of the process of making the album? “Just being able to talk about things that are personal and discuss and be open and be able to move on from certain things. It was good for me to the able to get it out and move on…that’s the thing.”
The necklace she is often photographed wearing – what does the inscription say? She smiles. “It’s my name.”
Madison Beer’s new single is ‘Selfish’. Life Support will be released later in the summer.