At just 25 years old, Hugo Pierre Leclercq, better known by his stage name Madeon, has built himself a sonic empire with an army of passionate fans and a slew of groundbreaking collaborations under his belt. The French multi-hyphenate first caught widespread attention through a viral YouTube video, in which he performed a mash-up of 39 different popular songs in real-time using a Novation Launchpad.
Since then, Madeon has gone on to release two stunning albums, a chart-topping collaboration with Porter Robinson and a handful of production credits for songs by Lady Gaga and more.
Below, we speak to Madeon about his latest album, Good Faith, working with the likes of Lady Gaga and Coldplay, and more. Check out the complete interview below.
Hey Madeon, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. How're you feeling about your show in Singapore?
"I'm feeling very excited. We've been on the road almost non-stop for three months now, so this is the end of a long trip. Before this, I was in Australia and Japan, so we're wrapping it up here in Singapore with a DJ set, and it's my first time here, so it's all very exciting."
Congratulations on the release and success of Good Faith. Going into the studio, and leading up to the release of the record, did you feel any pressure given how well your first album performed?
"No, I felt very free, actually. I think for me, the most important thing about Madeon is that I'm excited about it, and it makes me want to wake up in the morning. That's the thing that I chase. I've never really thought out the success or reception. The cool thing about Good Faith, is that I had the idea come to me very quickly and strongly, all the way back in 2015, I knew what I wanted to make.
I just needed the time and energy and effort to finally realise that vision. The vision of that music, with the choirs and the strings, and the more acoustic sounds, as well as having my own vocals on there, all of those ideas occurred to me very early on in the process. That's all I could think about."
It's been slightly over two months since the release of the album. How has the reception been so far?
"I'm so happy. It's perfect. I love the way that people appreciate the departure and embrace the new sounds. I feel like they have the same connection that I had while I was making it. It's cool to see the songs emerge in a new life. Everyone's favourite track is different.
My song, 'Dream Dream Dream' was just used for an ad on TV for the new iPhone, so a lot more people are starting to check out the track. I think there's going to be a lot more life to the album in the coming months."
Usually after an artist releases an album, they start to hear things on the record that they wish they had done differently. Do you find that being the case for you and Good Faith?
"I have tiny little details that I want to change, but I don't want to say them, because then I'll be pointing those flaws out to people. I don't want other people to notice. (Laughs)"
You drew inspirations from the likes of Tyler, The Creator and Pink Floyd among other artists for this record, in terms of production. Can you expand on that?
"Yeah, I try to celebrate my love for music in general, and it's more than just dance music. I love hip hop, I love pop, I love rock. Listening to all those bands, I felt free trying out the methods and production styles that were used in those genres.
I recorded live drums, strings, and choirs – things that aren't very typical or common in dance music. I think I just wanted to follow my influences, and not think about if it was acceptable to not in the realm of dance music."
By 2016, you had already produced for massive artists like Lady Gaga and Coldplay. What did you learn from those experiences?
"Oh, I learnt so much. I was so young, and I was so lucky to be in that position, where I was in the presence of greatness and talent. I took it all in. I wrote down all of their wisdom. They were all very caring. I was 17 or 18 at the time, and they were all very gracious and caring, and were able to show me a lot of insights to how they do things, and those experiences are some that I'll never forget. I only have good words for them.
Lady Gaga is a true visionary and a true artist, and a true genius. She's really self-sufficient. It was so cool to be a part of her creative process. I think I realised through working with these artists, the power of having a clear vision and knowing what you want to make, and resisting the urge to imitate. Trust in what comes naturally to you, that's probably the best for your music."
Given how accomplished you are at such a young age, what advice do you have for budding producers who want to stand out?
"The most important thing is to do something different. We don't need another of your favourite artist. We don't need to hear people trying to imitate and recreate something that our favourite artists have already done. Everyone who makes music, has something unique in the experiences, and that shapes unique sounds.
I think a good way to go about it, would be to combine the sounds of your favourite artists and influences, with a very weird taste that you have, that maybe no one else likes. Combine your influences together, but never recreate them wholly. Don't try to think commercial, think different. The really successful artists are the ones that are contributing something different to listeners that didn't know they wanted."
What was it like working with Porter Robinson, and is there any chance of another collaboration down the road?
"No, there's no chance of another collaboration. That was the whole point of 'Shelter'; we wanted to do a one-time thing that we could cherish and remember forever. That's what makes it so special. It's perfect the way it is now. Doing another collaboration that may not sound as good would only tarnish that legacy.
Porter and I have been friends since we were 12 years old, so we've known each other for a really long time. We chat all the time, and we're always exchanging tips, so in a way, we're always collaborating, but you'll never hear another track from the both of us again. Working with Porter is always beautiful. 'Shelter' really gave me a lot of confidence in songwriting because seeing people resonate with that song made me feel like writing my own lyrics and sing had paid off."
So now that you're wrapping up the tour, and you've already put out the record, what's next? Are you going to begin writing new material, or are you going to enjoy the success of Good Faith for a bit?
"I try to chase inspiration whenever it hits. I'm still very inspired by the Good Faith world, and I feel like there's a lot more to say. I've written a lot more music for Good Faith that didn't make the cut, so I want to keep the album alive through more material that fits into that universe. I'm going back into the studio to touch up on the B-side songs and properly explore the Good Faith era and take it all the way.
2020 is going to be dedicated to me finishing out the Good Faith story, and wrapping things up properly in a way that i'm satisfied with, so I can close the chapter. I'm going to be living in the Good Faith world for awhile."
Stream Madeon's Good Faith below.