The Untitled Magazine caught up with South African-born, LA-based DJ, producer, designer, and model, MADDS (aka Madison Louch), to chat about her latest provocative single “Never Forget”. MADDS will be performing this year at Firefly Fest and Blended Austin, and has previously toured with the likes of Steve Aoki, Deorro, and Bad Bunny. MADDS and her girlfriends Cindy Prado, Alexa Collins, Brianna Gonva, and Sabrina Calvo, got together in Miami for her music video supporting “Never Forget” wearing her latest designs, MADDS x AKOSHA bikinis. Read more about the tenacious multi-hyphenate in our exclusive interview below.
How did you get into music and performing?
I’ve always had a super creative side to me since I was young. I’d turn to music, and use it to explore and express my feelings ever since high school when I taught myself how to write songs, DJ, and produce. I have A TON of energy! (Which would later come in handy for a crazy tour schedule and balancing studio time, modeling, and designing.) I’m super outgoing and talkative, so I love connecting with people on every topic under the sun. I’m also a naturally curious person and love to learn, so no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I always find my way back to music and finding new artists and genres. I would go to shows and festivals whenever I could. Seeing an ocean of people smiling and dancing and having the best time was so inspiring and exciting. And I thought, “I want to be able to do that – bring happiness to not just one or two people, but to thousands.”You are from South Africa and now are based in LA what brought you to the US? To take it way back, my dad came to California from South Africa at 16, met my mom at 17, got married at 18, and moved back to South Africa and had me. My dad worked as personal security for Nelson Mandela and a firefighter, so he saw first-hand what was happening- South Africa is still pretty bad right now, but it was very dangerous when I was a baby. They wanted a different and safer place to raise me, so we all moved to Orange County. So I’ve been in California since I was about 4 years old and moved to LA when I was 18.
Tell us about how you first discovered EDM?
I discovered electronic music when I was 13 because my parents accidentally took me to a warehouse rave – they were hosting an event, and little did they know that there was a musical performance part! We were in Salt Lake City, and Benny Benassi was performing and it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The lights, lasers, bass, and all of the people. It was so much to take in that it was almost overwhelming! But I was hooked.
Tell us about your provocative new single “Never Forget”? What inspired the song and lyrics?
This is the first song I’ve made where there was no pressure or deadlines, and it happened on semi-accident. I was DJing in Mykonos and I made a trip of it with some of my friends. We were partying and having a blast – no boyfriends, no drama, no fighting, no crying. It was amazing and super rare because is there ever a drunk night where someone doesn’t get upset?! We had Calvin Harris on repeat, and we decided we needed our own summer anthem. So I start putting together the track, adding different melodies. My friends started getting super involved, even though they’re not musicians, but they know what they like! They’re like, “add that [ding ding ding] there!” I’d try to figure out what sound they meant and add it in. I kept playing with the melody, and my team heard it and came back with a demo and the topline matched perfectly! I have a lot of music that I sit on, and we listen to but I don’t release, so I thought this would be one of those, but it got moved to the release schedule instead! It’s such an energetic and fun song – sexy and carefree – the perfect thing to listen to during the summertime. It’s a vibe.
You have a fearless attitude that shines through your music and persona, what drives your positive attitude? Do you have words of wisdom or a mantra you live by?
“When words fail, music speaks”
This was my high school senior quote and I live by it every single day. Music is the language that I know best, and it is truly the one thing that brings people together and makes people happy – it’s universal and uniting. Music is the most natural way for me to express myself and to handle my emotions, whether it’s to celebrate a win, let loose with friends, deal with bad news, or calm down and unplug. Everyone is going through something, and I love making people happy. So if I can play a set, show you a good time, and make you forget about real-life problems for an hour, nothing would make me happier.
What do you want your fans to take away from your music video for “Never Forget”?
I want people to live life to the fullest, surround themselves with amazing people, and be in the moment! Do what makes you happy, try not to take things too seriously, and really allow yourself to let go and enjoy.
How would you describe your music in 5 words?
Upbeat, Sexy, Sensual, Carefree, Party
Which musical artists have inspired you most throughout your career?
Skrillex, Avicii, Kaskade, Clavin Harris are true inspirations and have been since day one. They’ve paved the way for so many DJs and producers. The older I get and more I experience in life, I gravitate more towards experimenting with new sounds and live shows from artists like FISHER and Chris Lake. I love the technical side of the music, but seeing how others pull in the visual part for their live set is so interesting and inspiring.
You have toured with the likes of Steve Aoki, Deorro, and Borgore, as well as performed at Coachella – can you share one of your biggest highlights performing live so far?
My biggest highlight so far would have to be performing Main Stage at Live Out Music Festival in Monterrey, Mexico. My set was the day after Avicii’s passing, and I was so devastated by the news and felt that it was so important to incorporate a tribute- he’s one of the greatest DJ’s of all time and it was such a tragedy. Over 40,000 fans were at my set, and the energy I felt from the crowd was totally electric and unmatched to anything I’ve ever experienced. It only felt right to pay my respects this way and to honor him as a visionary who has had such a profound inspiration not only to me, but to so many artists and people across the world.
You are going to be performing at Firefly Fest this summer, can you share more details about the upcoming festival and performance?
Expect a lot of new music and a ton of energy! Firefly will be one of my many major music festivals of the year, and I’m excited to be able to perform on the same stage as Billie Eilish, Machine Gun Kelly, and so many other talented musicians. That alone already has me excited and thinking about my set so far ahead of time. With so much music out now, new releases every week, and festival classics and crowd favorites, there’s a lot to work with! But I love feeding off the crowd’s energy and what they’re vibing with, so it’s going to be a great time and I cannot wait!
You are also a designer and model, how do you balance all the various productions you are working on? Can you share some highlights from your career in fashion?
I love everything that I get to do from DJing to modeling to designing. I’m an extremely energetic person, so it’s really perfect that I can channel my creative energy into different projects across different industries. It’s a lot to have on your plate, but it all comes down to scheduling and timing things out the right way. So while that part takes a lot of coordinating, but it’s so worth it and I’m very fortunate because it keeps me energized and focused while still having fun and collaborating with different people.
As for a recent highlight in 2019, I was featured on a billboard in Times Square for Forever 21. That was insane and so unbelievable! I hope to do more campaigns and collaborations. But just being able to do my job is a blessing every day.
I understand you just designed your own bikini line in collaboration with AKOSHA, what inspired the new collection?
I did! It was a total dream come true, especially because my nickname growing up was “Maddie Beach” since I was raised on the beach and loved the ocean.
Back when I lived in Miami, I came across the Akosha brand and loved how unique their designs were – from the plastic strap, to the sexy ‘80s vibe, to the intricate prints. The founder and I met, immediately clicked, and decided to do a collaborative line!
We wanted to bring in elements from my roots and upbringing and combine them with the Akosha silhouettes. My grandmother from South Africa had this set of blue China, and I loved everything about those plates from the cheetah print to the detailing – so many memories! We found that exact print, and incorporated it into the line!
I wanted delicate, lacy details but I also wanted sexy silhouette options to give the best of both worlds – classy meets sexy. I’ve always loved that juxtaposition! It took weeks of back and forth to get it just right because we wanted it to fit everybody and be functional for any occasion, whether you’re at a pool party, want minimal tan lines, or on vacation or around family. Not too, too sexy, not too, too modest, and super easy for people to style however they choose!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Any long-term career goals you hope to achieve?
I definitely want to continue touring and hitting the festival circuit globally! I absolutely LOVE performing, meeting fans, and traveling, and learning about other cultures around the world. Then, I see myself not only producing house music but getting into the business side of the industry and creating a record label for smaller artists that were like me when I started out – eager and hungry to make good music. The music industry is really tough to break into, and I’d love to help give people a chance to succeed with the lessons I’ve learned and some of the tools I’ve been fortunate to have access to.
Are there any other upcoming projects, new releases, or performances we can look forward to?
I just released my first music video, “Never Forget”! I am still so excited and proud of that whole project and it’s giving me even more motivation to keep creating. Keep working away in the studio, and envisioning music video concepts, and getting more into what my live shows will look like with production and pyro and all of the things! As for the future, expect it all. From live shows both around the states and internationally, and more music releases throughout the summer. I’m personally a fan of so many different genres and love playing with different sounds depending on my mood, so I can’t wait to be releasing more music throughout the summer and keep the party going!