Madeline North, goth electro-pop musician, more commonly known by her stage name – So Below – is taking on the music world with her chilling and empowering sound. With a dark vibe and lovely voice, this New Zealand native has a unique aesthetic and voice that makes her music especially stand out. I got the chance to talk with Madeline about all things fashion, music, and what more to expect along the way.
SO BELOW INTERVIEW
TESS (HIGHLARK): I love the cool, electro-pop, goth vibe in your new single “Ruin” – what appeals to you about this style?
SO BELOW (MADELINE NORTH): Thanks so much! Well to me it has this spooky yet empowering vibe to it, this sounds silly but it’s the kind of music I would go running to ya know? like when the latest HEALTH record came out I think I ran to it for maybe 6 months.
TESS: Have you always been drawn to making music this way?
SO BELOW: I feel like I talk about Trent Rezzy (Trent Reznor) a lot, but I’m a massive NIN fan and I just love the combo of super heavy industrial music with pop melodies, so basically I try to make music I would want to listen to if I heard it on the radio. Yep.
TESS: When listening to your music I can see how passionate you are about it – have you always known you wanted to make music?
SO BELOW: I’ve played piano my whole life, and guitar on and off and been in school choirs etc. But no, I didn’t really to be honest think making music was ever a thing I could do, I had so many musician friends who had been doing it for so long and I had absolutely no idea where to start.
TESS: Who are some of your favorite artists and biggest inspirations?
SO BELOW: My 3 favorite artists of all time are Radiohead, NIN, and The Backstreet Boys. Pretty odd combo, but for my own music I get a lot of inspiration from Moderat, Caribou I think I was listening to heaps when I did my first EP.
TESS: What’s your favorite song at the moment?
SO BELOW: Hmmm this is a funny question as I’ve had a similar conversation with a few different musicians this week, how when you make music it actually gets kinda hard to LISTEN to music as you just spend the whole time critiquing parts of the song. BUT in saying that I really like this new Bonobo track Surface, her vocals are bloody brill I’m a sucker for some good harmonies.
TESS:Like your music, you have a very unique and distinctive personal style and fashion sense. A quick look at your Instagram shows that you are more drawn to darker colors – which seems to mirror your musical sensibility. Do you think your personal style has evolved alongside your musical style?
SO BELOW: Hmm i don’t think so? I to be honest think it’s partly a New Zealand thing? New Zealanders wear a lot of black, I have a good American friend who when he would hang out with all of us he would be the odd one out in blue jeans so now he just wears all black like the rest of us.
TESS: Who are some of your biggest fashion inspirations?
SO BELOW: I like really clean simple outfits, I can’t really think of a person who inspires me, but there are a lot of great New Zealand designers like Miss Crabb and Lonely Hearts who I love.
TESS: The music videos for two of your singles, “Far” and “Hard,” are very beautiful. How involved were you with the videos, and how was the experience of making them?
SO BELOW: I was involved in the concept for the videos, I wanted them both to be dark, night time vibes, Far with the strobing effect, but I can’t say I’m very creative visually, I just come in with vibes and reference images and they take it from there. Pretty different experiences in terms of videos, Far was just me and the director, and then one other person for a bit. Hard was a big production with maybe 20 crew.
TESS: Do you ever get nerves or stagefright before performing for big crowds?
SO BELOW: Do I ever! Yes I hate it, when I played my first show at REC in Auckland basically everyone I had ever met in my entire life was there and my parents and all their friends and it was just like I was trapped in some horrible high school reunion nightmare I couldn’t escape from. Which is funny cause then a week later I played in front of 1500 people and it wasn’t even bad. The smaller intimate shows with people you know are much more nerve wracking.
TESS: Lastly, I would love to know what we can expect down the road – more music videos or an album?
SO BELOW: Just finished filming the video for “Ruin”, and will be putting out my second EP before the year is over. I have an album planned for next year and hopefully some New Zealand and Australia dates.
[+] SO BELOW
Photo © Nina Jordan. All Rights Reserved.