Pop isn’t the genre that Nashville is known for, however our contributions to it are many—most notably Katy Perry, Kesha, and Meghan Trainor. But there is an underground of pop singers here in Nashville that set a high bar for musical talent.
Nashville pop recording artist Madison Lawrence, who just released her new EP, Yours, is part of that group. Her project has been a long time coming, as Lawrence has built her online following, garnering over 20,000 followers on Twitter and over 8,000 YouTube subscribers.
As an internet star, Lawrence has done well. “I’m finding a lot of success, luckily. I bought a house with my own money, which is great. You have to know how to work with it. I’ve been on the internet, just as an internet personality for three or four years, and I’d also been on YouTube before that. I’ve learned a lot about analytics and how to utilize certain posting times. But ultimately, you need to know your audience. And I’m lucky enough to have a supportive base of people who feel like they can relate to me…”
Her new EP is a story in four songs. Lawrence takes her listeners down the path of a relationship, from the height of the sexuality, to the realization that it isn’t working, to the ugly break up, to the healing of self. The EP’s origins were in Lawrence’s personal experience.
“I got broken up with, which is pretty typical, I guess. We were together for two years, but had a terrible weekend that sparked everything… I wanted to tell the entire story, because a lot of the people who knew me and my boyfriend at the time didn’t know what happened between us… So, I found this as a way to tell my side of the story without being a huge b*** about it. It was just cathartic for me. Healing is definitely one of the words I would use to describe the EP.”
The EP includes the first song she had written around sex. “I think what I love most about this song,” she said, “is that it was written so obviously about sex, which is something I’m not usually known for…. But it was just pouring out of me that night. As a woman, it can be hard to write about sex so blatantly. But if we have it, we should write about it….”
“That was the only song that was written for the EP that wasn’t about the break up,” she added. “The narrative of the song fit so well with what I was wanting to do for the order of the album. It inspired the idea to make the EP into a story. It made it a narrative, and it’s better that way, I feel.”
The title track, “Yours,” is about the “moment of realization and clarity in that relationship where I realized I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore,” Lawrence explained, “which scared me… We’d been on a trip to New York, and on the way home, it was just obvious that we weren’t working. So I got back home and wrote the song in about ten minutes.”
The song “talks about being someone else’s and how you relate that to yourself and figure out that push and pull between whether or not I wanted to give my entire self to this person or do I want to own some of myself still. It got to the point where I was giving all of myself to him and he was giving nothing back to me. At that point, I said ‘I don’t want to be yours, I don’t want to be your thing. Because that’s what I am. I’m some thing, not someone that you care about…’ That’s why I chose it as the title track, because it was a pivotal moment in my life.”
“If” describes all the negative feelings experienced after a particularly bad break up. “It’s very bittersweet. It’s not necessarily as sad as some people think. It was approached from more of a ‘Yeah, this sucks, but…’ place. We had a two-year relationship. I know things about him that nobody knows and he can say the same. We were incredibly close and deeply in love, so I must take that at face value. I can be angry at him for what he did to me, and I can be upset at how it turned out. But at the same time, it was a relationship and I needed to reconcile that and decide to be somehow ok with moving on. And we ended up having a conversation about it, and this song was the culmination of that talk…”
“Take Care” is upbeat, in-your-face number that reminds you that you are the brightest star in your universe, and that self-care is a top priority. After the breakup, things got ugly, Lawrence explained: “We were both in situations where we both were still angry and still not feeling great. We took it out on each other, so that, obviously, was a miserable situation. Things got ugly on social media where he was talking to my friends and stuff…”
This lead her to reflect on the end of their relationship more generally. “I realized that for the last year we were together, I hadn’t been taking care of myself. And I still wasn’t taking care of myself. I was still giving all of myself to this person and still letting him control my feelings… I realized that I have to take care of myself. I have to take care of me. I needed to learn how to love myself again without the support of somebody else’s love.”
“So I realized I had to get back in the saddle, so to speak,” she added, “and then I just wrote this bop, as the kids would say [chuckles]. I wrote it because I needed to hear it. As I wrote it, I was internalizing it … saying to myself, ‘The only person you need to love right now is you. That’s all you need to do.’”
Along the way, Lawrence has become more open about herself. She identifies as ‘queer,’ and while the term is controversial for some, she finds it works well for her. “I identified as bisexual for a while, but it was too limiting for me, and I am not a huge label person, so I wanted something that was more of an umbrella term, which, now, queer has become. We have reclaimed it as a community, which is wonderful. Part of me feels like it’s a bit of an homage to standing in solidarity with all of this.”
She also recognizes that the term is problematic for some. “I think that, in the South, a lot of people still don’t get queer, which I completely understand. I think that online and on social media, it’s easy to be validated in that kind of thing, because there’s such a huge audience and market of people who are queer and identify that way… But I’ve been around gay people, I’ve been around lesbians who have said they don’t appreciate me using the word queer to identify myself. And I completely understand that as well.”
“I feel like it fit me better than say, bisexual,” she added, “or pansexual because that’s a little too broad for me… I would never want to tell someone what term they want to use to identify themselves… Queer lets me leave that door open.”
When asked if her sexuality is translating in her music, Lawrence gave an enthusiastic response. “When my girlfriend and I got together, it absolutely did. I wrote her a song for her birthday. It was the first song I’d ever written about a girl. Before that, I was too scared… I didn’t come out young like most people do now. I knew from when I was young, but I didn’t think that I ever wanted a relationship… So I didn’t want to write a song about a girl.”
Openness about her sexual identity has translated itself into her music in other ways. “Now my sexuality is starting to show up in my music more. ‘Take Me Down’ was about a boy, but I decided to make it gender neutral because I know a lot of my followers are also queer and identify other than straight. I wanted to be relatable to other people and not have them feel like they would have to change the words.”
“If the song is about a boy, and you’re writing it to a boy, that’s completely fine,” she explained. “I’m not saying anyone should do every single song that way, but with songs like ‘Take Care’ or ‘Take Me Down,’ I think it’s good to leave that option open… It’s so important to be conscious of your audience and aware that some of them aren’t straight. So if someone can relate to my songs because they’re gender neutral, that’s something I want to give my followers.”
Building off of her success as an internet personality, as well has her new project, Lawrence is looking for new opportunities. “I’m starting to transition into live performance, because it’s easy to get stuck in a niche, especially if it works for you, revenue wise especially. But I need to be performing. And I need to know that when I go on tour, I have a base that’s going to come out for it. And especially here, I want to play out here and get more known around the live scene, which is vastly different from the online scene.”