- 23 Dec 21
To cap off the year, Hot Press are looking back at some of our most read articles of 2021. Here we look back at Kate Brayden's interview with singer Madison Beer, where she discusses her debut LP Life Support, grappling with social media fame, and reclaiming her own narrative. Originally published in March.
Having been thrust into the spotlight from the age of 13 after none other than Justin Bieber spotted her YouTube covers, Madison Beer’s near-decade in the music industry has given her a certain steeliness and stamina. The 22-year-old has faced past record label executives hoping to mould her into a global pop princess, before Beer revitalised her career by choosing to forge her own path instead. The singer’s diaristic debut LP certainly quells any misconceptions, with Madison releasing music strictly on her own terms.
Highly intelligent lyrical wordplay adds layers of meaning to the proficient project, with consistent production and songwriting co-credits dispelling any doubts about Beer’s dedication to her craft in the process. No-holds-barred ballads, empowering sex-positive tracks and blunt conversations about her experiences with self harm and recent Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) diagnosis work in tandem to curate an eclectic amalgamation of talent.
“It felt like a huge sigh of relief, releasing Life Support. It was overdue,” Madison tells Hot Press of the follow-up to 2018’s As She Pleases EP. Speaking to the artist over Zoom, Beer is as mindful of her words when opening up to the media as she is when crafting her batch of songs.
“I had wanted to tell my story in a way that was organic for so long. The album is incredibly personal but remains within the boundaries of what I did and didn’t want to share. I’m relieved that it’s actually out there now, for the fans as well as for myself. We’ve built up such a bond in our friendship, because there was such a long period of time where I wasn’t releasing music, and yet they were still supporting me,” the singer adds.
“They’ve been with me for ten plus years. The fanbase is amazingly kind and understanding, I’m really thankful to have such them in my life.”
Social media has been criticised as a cesspit of negativity for those coping with mental health struggles, and Beer has had her fair share of online mishaps and abusive messages. Given the tumultuous nature of her fame and the obsession with the artist’s appearance, how does remain in control of the digital world, considering she has millions of followers on every platform?
“Right now I have two phones for dividing up work and regular use,” Beer explains. “I used to sit and create a really negative space for myself, but I’ve since created a space where I can cut that off and distance myself. There are times when I don’t even want to be perceived anymore. A very real thought that I have a lot is whether I want to exist as that kind of public entity. It can be pretty draining when I’m even offline, because I’m aware that there are still people looking, watching and consuming everything I do.”
“Some journalists are eager to listen and want to talk about impactful things, but I’ve had my fair share of press incidents with people who only care about drama or boyfriends,” the LA-based singer adds. “I have so much more to say than that. I try to use my own platforms in order to stop the press from dictating everything written about me, but can be a double-edged sword.“
Her devoted fans have waited patiently for Life Support, a 17-track genre-blurring album which doesn’t disappoint, nor does it hold anything back. Blending fierce honesty regarding mental illness and toxicity within relationships with shimmering electro-pop synths and hypnotic R&B beats; the project’s subject matter resonates deeply with her audience. Discussing BPD and self-harm has its risks, however; especially as a female pop talent.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m worried about accidentally becoming a therapist to my fans or become the face of this diagnosis,” Beer says, reflecting on Britney Spears and Mariah Carey’s brush with the press and mental health stigma.
“I’m definitely open with the fans about all of these things that I’ve dealt with personally, but I always like to emphasise that these are just my experiences. I’m honoured that a lot of people have told me that I’m their role model and have given them strength but I try to also continuously express that I’ve only just been diagnosed with BPD a little over a year ago. I’m still navigating it and learning every single day - I’m not 100% healed, nor am I someone that they should be relying on. I’m a huge believer in therapy and I advise everyone to see a counsellor if they are able to do so.”
“I debated opening up about BPD for a while, because I wasn’t sure if I was ready for people to possibly use it against me. I’ve dealt with people further stigmatising mental health by calling me ‘crazy’. I rarely saw anyone speaking out about these issues on their own terms when I was growing up. Starting more conversations has really moved mountains for some people, because these disorders can make you feel so isolated, as if no one understands you. It’s an honour that I get to reach people in that capacity. I truly believe that fans receiving comfort from Life Support is a beautiful and healthy thing.”
A resounding pattern appears to be Beer’s desire to take control of her own narrative. On International Women’s Day 2020, Beer shared an emotional statement after it emerged that intimate photos of hers had been shared online by a previous partner. The singer was just 14 when she had initially sent the photos.
A dominant theme throughout the album is removing the confines of shame in order to reclaim your sexuality, with Madison’s Gen-Z listenership revelling in the power reversal.
“If someone who sent nudes to a guy felt overwhelmingly guilty after he shared them around, I want them to see that their idol is dealing with the same thing,” Beer says of image-based sexual abuse, which is now a criminal offence in Ireland.
“You don’t deserve to feel anything other than human. The discussion should be around the horrible person who betrayed your trust - usually a man. So many women have been exploited, but being sexual is perfectly normal and I’m not going to let someone make me feel less than.”
Life Support is out now via Epic Records.