The rising star talks to Rollacoaster about starting her music career, getting advice from her sister Suki, and the visuals for new single “greedy”.

Maddi Waterhouse features in Rollacoaster magazine train sitting
Maddi Waterhouse features in Rollacoaster magazine train sitting

Taken from the Autumn/Fall 2020 issue of Wonderland. Order now.

She may be the youngest Waterhouse, but she’s certainly not least. Maddi Jean Waterhouse has just released her new single, ‘greedy’, about “that moment when you have the realisation that you’ve not been respected in a relationship, you’re finally ready to speak up, you know your worth and you set yourself free” – ahead of her debut EP set to be out this fall. Her music captures the growing pains of moving into young adulthood, with relatable lyrics and a dreamy sound.

Earlier this summer, Maddi put out ‘young in love’, our first taste of her sultry, pop sound. The song reveals her ability to put words to the naiveté of dealing with powerful emotions during such formative years.

Maddi Jean has also participated in several modelling campaigns throughout her teenage years, but is ready to make the transition to performer. Don’t confuse her with the other singing Waterhouse, Suki. Although her family is a constant source of support, Maddi Jean is conscious of creating her own space in the industry.

Maddi Jean sat down with Rollacoaster to talk about starting her music career, her undying love of Lana Del Rey and growing up. Using her music as an outlet to share her feelings in an unpolished, not-to-be-posted way gives her an instant connection with anyone who has experienced their first heart ache or the angst of the later teenage years. Maddi Jean is ready to see where the journey takes her, and we get to listen along to it.

You’ve just released your debut single, ‘young in love’ and are working on launching your first EP, how has that been? Has singing always been the dream?
Since I can remember, I have always had music in mind. It’s been a slow-burner because I’ve been working on music for a long time and im only just releasing my own songs now. I’ve been working on the EP for two years. I’m really glad I gave it the time it needed to properly come together, but I’m beyond excited to finally get the ball rolling!

Has quarantine given you the opportunity to focus on it more or was this the plan regardless?
It gave me the time to really decide what direction I wanted to go in. In terms of the EP, all the songs had already been made, so I was lucky that I had it all done before lockdown. It gave me more time to really focus on how I was going to put it out rather than working on content, meanwhile I was writing more music for the new year.

Has that affected the way you’re using social media and generating buzz?
It’s different for me because I don’t know any other way of putting out music. I suppose normally I would have probably done live events to start out with. So I tried to adapt by making homemade mini performance type videos on Instagram. It definitely feels weird relying so heavily on social media. It will be really nice to be interacting more in real life, rather than just over the internet! It’s definitely something I’m looking forward too.

What went into the decision to go by Maddi Jean instead of Maddi Waterhouse for your music career?
Jean is my middle name and I felt Maddi Jean had a nice ring to it. Also, my sister releases her music as Suki Waterhouse, and we have a very different sound. I didn’t want any confusion so I could really go on my own path. Jean was also my grandmother’s name and I’ve always loved it.

Having two older sisters involved in the creative industry and one specifically in music, do you go to them for advice?
We all rely on each other for creative advice, definitely. Suki was so helpful with any issues relating to the EP. She always supports me and encourages me. Immy has a really good creative eye, which was super helpful for the video and artwork. It would have been really different without their support and I am so grateful to have them. We’re all creative so it would feel really weird not to share it with them and ask for their opinions!

What was the process like writing ‘young in love’? Do you usually use songwriting to reflect on things you’re going through?
I find songwriting really cathartic because it genuinely helps me process experiences. Getting out and singing is a really nice way to release those feelings creatively and move forward. I just had my first studio session in awhile and I finally made a break-up song. It was really relieving to sing about it. It helped me see how much has changed and how much I have moved on. ‘young in love’ is a very naïve song, so it’s nice to have a record of that time and be able to reflect on how I was feeling. I’m exited for my music to mature as I mature and to go on that journey with me!

Maddi Waterhouse features in Rollacoaster magazine beach
Maddi Waterhouse features in Rollacoaster magazine
Maddi Waterhouse features in Rollacoaster magazine beach
Maddi Waterhouse features in Rollacoaster magazine

Is there any theme or feeling that ties the whole EP together?
The title of the EP is called “last born”, which is a reference to being the youngest in my family. I chose to call it this as I feel like all the songs have a youthful innocence and share an energy of confusion. That seems like the one theme that is carried throughout the whole EP. I didn’t do that intentionally when I was putting the EP together, but it happened naturally.

Having your songs act as a sort of documentation of those feelings of growing up, what is it like to look back on it after?
Looking back on it and listening to my music, I would definitely say I’ve changed a lot since then. It is really nice to have those songs to look back on. However, I’m 100% still growing up, I definitely do not feel like a full ‘adult’ yet, whatever that may be. I can feel that I’ve matured and gone through a lot of changes, but maybe I’ll look back on it ever further down the road and realise I actually haven’t grown that much! I guess we will see.

Is it challenging to put that transition and all the feelings that come with it out to an audience?
It’s never worried me or stressed me out because it’s nice to share with people the more personal things through music, so the listener can connect to it and we can have that shared experience together. The thing I love so much about music is that it’s not just the best and shiniest parts of your life unlike social media, it’s the full experience. I feel like I can talk honestly and passionately through music. Im excited to connect with people through the more personal aspects of my life that I am able to sing about.

Where did the vision for the music video for ‘young in love’ come from?
It wasn’t very planned to be honest! It was me and my oldest friend with my Handycam. We managed to use a club in London at 10 in the morning to film for a couple of hours, which was really fun to do. I did my make-up in the bathroom beforehand and took a rucksack of outfit choices. I wanted it to look personal and homemade, and not overly set-up, so we kind of free styled and just had fun with it. I didn’t have this super specific vision for it, I just wanted to make it fun and intimate. I think some of my next videos will have more of a story element to them. But it was nice to have the first video just be me and my friend.

Is there anyone you look up to for inspiration when you’re creating videos, or for the artistic vision in general?
Lana Del Rey has always been a huge inspiration to me. I used to watch all of her videos on YouTube. I’ve kept in mind the elements she brings into her videos and songwriting because I have always thought they were super cool. I remember watching the video for ‘High by the Beach’ and thinking how incredible it was. How its shot in one take and the colour scheme gives it a dreamy aspect that I find really appealing and inspiring.

Do you think of yourself as a natural performer?
I am definitely not a natural performer. I was always a really shy, introverted child, especially compared to my three siblings who are all really outgoing and charismatic. When I started singing, it was always in the safety of my bedroom because I even found it hard to perform for my family. Performing still does really scare me, but it also excites me at the same time. I know in my gut that I can do it, so that’s where I get my courage. I’m going to start doing some lives on Instagram, which is hopefully a good first step!

You’re currently at university for history of art, and you’ve done modelling in the last and now you’re also starting this career as a singer. Do you have a specific direction in mind for your future?
I don’t have a specific direction, I’m really just along for the ride and seeing where it takes me. Right now I’m going into my final year at university where I study Asian history of art. I really did that for my brain, since I really enjoy going to lectures, expanding my mind and learning about such interesting topics. However, music is something that I definitely want to pursue more.

Maddi Waterhouse features in Rollacoaster magazine outside
Maddi Waterhouse features in Rollacoaster magazine outside
Photography and video
Johnny Jordan
Henry Petrillo