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Interviews

Interview: Madison Cunningham Talks New Covers EP “Wednesday”, Creative Block, & Future Plans

By: Freda Looker – 

Madison Cunningham. (Photo: Claire Marie Vogel)

At age 7, Madison Cunningham began her journey as a passionate guitarist, and continually strives to learn from her idols. This is apparent in Cunningham’s grit to cover the greatest: Tom Waits, The Beatles, John Prine, Radiohead and more!

Cunningham stepped brightly into the folk universe under Universal’s Verve Label Group back in 2018 with her lovely album titled Love, Lose, Remember. Fast track toCunningham today based in California, where she is a Grammy nominated singer-songwriter, and talented guitarist.

Bringing inspiration from Joni Mitchell to the most recent Sufjan Stevens album, Cunningham is putting a twist to her latest cover EP titled Wednesday. Talking about the roots of the project, Cunningham said, “back in 2019 I started recording a bunch of covers with the intention to post them on my socials, and to stay sharp as a singer-songwriter. We then decided to post each cover on a Wednesday, hence the cover album name Wednesday.”

It was in mid 2020 when Cunningham fell into a creative block, understandably due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and stressful political climate. While finding a sense of relief in her covers project, Cunningham felt a strong emotional pull to release what felt appropriate for this time. Cunningham adds an emphasis to how she hopes her fans will react to the songs she selected to cover for Wednesday, “I hoped that people listening would find comfort in the four selected covers that I felt comforted from.” The four covers include Tom Waits’ “Hold On”, John Mayer’s “The Age Of Worry”, The Beatles’ “In My Life”, and Radiohead’s “No Surprises”.

Songwriting inspirations derive from an artist’s experience while on tour, or off tour building relationships. It makes sense why some musicians may question their intention to a song or album’s purpose more, especially when making an impact is so critical. This is where Cunningham is strongly aware of Wednesday’s impact and uses her natural ability to vocalize her care and empathy for the world with her singing, and sweet melodies.

Creative blocks do not come up as a surprise for many artists this year. Cunningham is actively learning how to adapt, and brings an interesting perspective in finding meaning to songs. “This year has been especially hard for songwriting, and trying to find where the songs live in. My writing process doesn’t rely on anything specific, it’s maybe a simple chord progression or melody, but the current environment is challenging creativity in new way that I haven’t had to experience before.”

Cunningham continues on how she personally changed her perspective on creative blocks, “I believe that writing blocks are self-imposed, but you have to be willing to let it unfold and come out. Whenever I come faced with a block, I understand that I have to directly face my attitude and to flip the process on its head to hopefully pick up an instrument again.” Cunningham’s solution is one to take note. Although the same solution doesn’t work for every artist, perspective aids in viewing the songwriting process in a wider lens.

Cummingham goes into detail about her favourite song that she has written and the meaning behind it, “Something to Believe In took me the longest to complete, almost a full year actually. There was a certain meaning that I had for the song and I wanted to express it in the best way possible. Nearing the year mark, I had to lock myself in a room to really hit the nail on its head with this one. Things got weird to say the least, to the point where I was doing handstands to get the blood and lyrics flowing into my head more-if it were even possible.”

The future for Cunningham truly is shining brightly. After accompanying Andrew Bird on his 2019 tour, Cunningham and Orville Peck are planned to grace Madison Square Garden on October 30th and 31st of 2021 for Harry Styles’ Harryween Fancy Dress Party. Buy tickets here.

Give an ear to Cummingham’s new cover EP Wednesday and follow her on social media for upcoming news and updates!

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