[Q&A] Maddie Jay Grabs Our Attention with Debut ‘Mood Swings’ EP

Photo Credit: Lizzie Steimer (@lizziesteimer)

By Alissa Arunarsirakul // May 11, 2020

With clever song concepts and intriguing lyricism, Maddie Jay has always been destined for greatness. The Los Angeles-based singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist had been honing her bass skills for quite some time, but then she discovered her growing passion for songwriting and production. As Jay navigates through her millennial angst in her attention-grabbing debut EP, she makes a solid name for herself with Mood Swings.

On Mood Swings, Maddie Jay reflected,

“I had to take stock of the people in my life. Sonically, I was very inspired by California and the sounds that have historically come out of the west coast and The Beach Boys and Harry Nilsson.”

To celebrate the release of her new music, we recently chatted with Maddie Jay about novelty sunglasses, anxiety, and of course, Mood Swings.

HH: For those who don’t know, how did you first get into music?

MJ: I grew up playing violin, but eventually switched to bass when I was 16 or 17. I went to music school for jazz bass and then transitioned into making my own music in the last few years.

HH: Mood Swings was written in a transitional period when you moved to sunny Los Angeles. How would you say your life has changed since that time?

MJ: Things are a lot different now; I’m much more settled in. I was trying to figure out where I belonged in this city, and in kind of a meta way, dealing with the anxiety of switching careers and pivoting so fast. I was literally writing songs for my artist project, that were about how anxious I was about starting my artist project. A lot of the writing I am doing now, for EP2 etc, is more focused on exploring my current relationships, and nostalgia for my home, rather than anxiety and transition.

HH: Whether your music is inspired by a Friends binge session or lunch breaks, every track on Mood Swings is an absolute gem. What would you want listeners to take away from the EP as a whole?

MJ: I really tried to hone in on specific emotions for each song, rather than just casting a broad net to everyone. Even if people don’t relate to every song, or every lyric, I hope that there is one specific word or line or something that makes someone go, “Oh damn, I’ve totally felt like that before, but haven’t been able to express it.” 

HH: “The Peanut Butter Song” was released months ago, but we still have it on repeat. How do you come up with such clever ideas when it comes to songwriting?

MJ: Rhymezone.com + late nights + writing everything down whenever something comes to mind. I’ve literally woken up in the middle of the night and scrambled over to my phone to write down an idea lol.

HH: Can you describe your favorite novelty sunglasses?

MJ: I wish I could attach a picture. I have these ones that are just tiny upside down triangles and they look absurd. This whole fascination started because I used to have a roommate who was a total fashionista, and I’ve always been pretty fashion-reserved/tomboyish, but she would always come into my room with these ridiculous items of clothing or accessories and be like, “I am never ever going to wear this. Do you want it?” and my top three pairs of sunglasses came from that.

HH: If you could collaborate with anyone in the music industry, who would it be?

MJ: If you threw me in a room with Tame Impala right now, I would definitely not be mad.

HH: What are your three hidden hits?

MJ: “Geekin” – Mia Gladstone & Ciscero
“Hide n Seek” – Cehryl
“Aloha Goodbye” – Addy Baddy

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