As students at the University of Wisconsin can attest, one year of college can drive someone crazy, let alone four.
The thought of leaving all that hard work, though, and simply quitting seems unthinkable, or crazy to most.
For singer/songwriter Madison Malone, however, the idea didn’t seem so crazy at all. To chase her dreams, it was the most sensible thing she could have done.
After spending most of her life surrounded by music, it’s no strange thing that Malone became a musician herself. The music her parents listened to inspired her growing up, and she started playing piano at a very young age. In high school, she delved into choirs, musicals and songwriting. Even further, she taught herself guitar and started playing shows.
None of that stopped when she came to college. Though she chose unrelated majors, Spanish and social work, she found other ways to be involved with music.
Malone originally found her place in Redefined, one of the a cappella groups on campus, which altered her friend group and support system on campus, Malone said.
As well as being a student involved in a full-time singing group, Malone continued to write music. Within the difficulties of balancing school and music, she found inspiration from the energy of the people around her, Malone said.
But trying to balance school and music started to take its toll. Going to morning class, doing homework during the day and then staying up until the early hours of the next morning to write songs wasn’t healthy academically or musically, Malone said.
When faced with the decision of where to focus her energies, Malone said, “school I can put off at this point, music is something that when it comes to a doorstep you just have to run with it.”
So she dropped out of UW to become a full-time musician.
This decision became the underlying theme of her first album Liminal, named after the particular feeling of being on the threshold of life.
“Once it was completed, I just felt this strong desire to make a decision, stop living in between things and stop being so pseudo-musician, pseudo-student,” Malone said.
Just like she knew which direction she wanted to take, she knew which direction her music should take. Malone’s music aims to connect people and help them relate to each other. She does this through what she calls “soul-pop with ambient and alternative influences.”
“Soul, for a couple of different reasons: music from the heart and soul, stuff I’m trying to connect people’s souls and people in general,” she said. “I’ll give enough details to give people imagination or for them to grab onto it.”
Malone’s creative process leads her to compile her music in a unique structure. It starts with the composition of a chorus. The lyrical content of that chorus always relates to her on a personal level. Then, she structures the verses so that they relate to a bigger picture, in turn making them more relatable to an audience.
This strategy has led to her many successes. Malone has toured for three years, in places like Nashville, New York and Los Angeles. In June of 2016, she released her second album, Bloom. Most recently, she moved to Los Angeles, allowing her to pursue bigger business opportunities.
Her success doesn’t end there. Malone has become her own boss — she’s the owner of a publishing company called E.M.H. Publishing House. This is quite beneficial to her career — it means that she can publish her own music rather than it going to a different company.
Malone made the wild decision to leave her academic career, and it paid off. The success she already has is nothing in comparison to what she has waiting in her future.