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Madai is a hot new Miami-based talent recently signed to Pitbull‘s label, Mr. 305, Inc. Spanglish Noise was able to arrange an interview with the pop/dance singer where we discussed her Cuban influences, how she signed with Pitbull, the 2012 Latin Billboard Awards, and of course the upcoming debut album. You don’t want to miss out on yet another exciting new interview – tune in at SpanglishNoise.com or download the podcast on iTunes!
JM: I’m Joseph Mitchell and you are listening to an exclusive Spanglish Noise interview with Madai, who is one of the latest talents to be signed with Pitbull’s label Mr. 305, Inc. Madai has a voice and performance presence filled with power and confidence, while at the same time possessing the ability to surprise listeners with the soulful passion and insight of an R&B artist. (Sound clip of the song “May Day“). So welcome to the show Madai. I know that you were just at the Latin Billboard Music Awards last week. How was it?
Madai: It was great! I can’t complain, it was a really fun experience. I think this is my third red carpet. I had the honor of being able to do the official Telemundo after-party and being able to close the show – and it was an experience. I was really happy to see how everybody reacted – to my music, to my songs, and basically I have a new song that I debuted that’s going to come out, I think I’m going to start churning it out to my fans..around mid-May we’re going to start promoting it. I just wanted to see how people would react and they really really liked it. The song is called “This Night,” so we’ll be having it soon online.
JM: Before we delve into the music, I want top start by asking you about your childhood in Cuba. And thinking back to that time, were there any Cuban artists, traditions, or musicians, whom you found to be inspiring?
Madai: Ok. I would have to say that I grew up listening to a lot of salsa, merengue, a lot of that, what we call in Cuba – folklore Cubano – which is kind of like old African music, mixed with the whole Cuban vibe, which is a lot of drums and the salsa and the whole “spiciness” like I call it. Celia Cruz is one of the representatives that I would say I grew up listening to a lot and I always..I think that my passion for music, it came because my father used to dance when he was younger in school. He was in all different groups of dance teams and I don’t know, sometimes when I would see him dance, family parties or whatever, that attracted me because I used to love dancing with my father and then I liked the whole being the center of attention when it came to music and I would hear any kind of music and just start dancing and just singing the song. It didn’t matter where I was at – it could have been a birthday party, a wedding, or whatever – I was always trying to be in the center. I think my father’s passion for music and his dance really made me get involved in the music.
JM: So the music was always there inside.
Madai: Yeah I feel that the music was always there. My father always loved the music and the dancing, so I had that push. And my mom always loved music in the sense of singing; she secretly really loved opera and you know, I just feel like music was always installed in me by them, so I think that’s what makes me right now the person that I am.
JM: Those are great influences to have. I read that you came over to the US at around age 8 or 9?
Madai: Yes. I left Cuba, basically two months before turning 9, so that’s why I would say 8 years old and then people at my interviews say, well it’s 9 years old. But yeah, I came at 8 years old about to turn 9 years old and it was a crazy transition. I didn’t speak English and it was a little scary. But I guess that’s where I kind of drifted to the music in the way that..not really musically but my writing started getting developed when I got here. I used to write a lot about myself. You know, it’s a new country, you don’t really have friends and then you’re scared to meet new people…what they’re going to think of you, they don’t know you..as a kid you’re always scared. So I kind of reflected myself and shut myself down by just writing certain things, and started writing poems and they evolved to what I do now, which are songs and you know (laughs)…we’re here. Right now a few years later I’m a singer-songwriter and pretty blessed that I just took it upon myself to write and do this.
JM: And then going forward, what type of song and style are you looking to share with your listeners?
Madai: Well at the moment I want to do pop/dance; basically the younger crowd right now is what I’m trying to target. As I grow up as an artist and my fans grow up, I want to be able to give the more, so hopefully later on in life I’ll be able to do the style of music that I love the most, which is more of an R&B feel, it’s what I like. So I think I’m going to end up doing R&B music later on, but right now I just want to give them a little more of the fun pop/dance music.
JM: When you say R&B, I heard your song “Soon“…would you categorize that in that category, or is that more pop?
Madai: “Soon” I think is..it’s a little project that I wanted, to make it more pop, but my direction was more R&B because I just wanted to show more of my vocals and be able to show a little bit more of soul, which is what I think R&B is all about..soul and power, and really feeling the music. I think, – like I always tell everybody – I think that it’s an R&B song gone soft, which makes it a little bit of a pop song.
JM: For the listeners out there who haven’t heard your other interviews yet, what were the important events or steps that led to your signing with Pitbull’s label?
Madai: Well signing to Pitbull, it was like a dream come true, and it was so amazing how it turned out because I came upon him through a fan of mine, a girl named Jackie – she’s a great friend of mine now. We met because she used to go to shows and basically I did a show close to her job and we kept in contact, and then she mentioned the fact that he sometimes went to her job and she was going to try to talk to him. And at the beginning I just thought, you know, she wants to really help out but I doubt that’s going to happen. You kind of lose some faith because it’s so hard to get to somebody that big..but basically she spoke about me very greatly and then we had meetings, three meetings before we signed, Pitbull, my father, my mother, and I. My parents have always been, you know, my representatives, and they have always been with me, and I think they will always be [with me] because they are the people who keep me the most grounded. Basically we had meetings, I sang to him acapella, “When You Believe” by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, and also I sang “Hero” from Mariah Carey. We were signed maybe a month after because he was on tour, so it was just getting all of the paperwork done through the lawyers..and things are great! You know, he’s a great guy, very supportive, truly believes in me, and I am very happy to have somebody with such great caliber as himself believing in me.
JM: Sounds like a great mentor to have.
Madai: Yeah he is. He’s very driven, very focused on his job, what he does..he believes 100 percent in his music and he loves it. He eats, breathes, music..and that’s always what you need as an inspiration. As a new artist, he really inspires me 100 percent. And what’s more important to myself, as another artist that’s coming up, I love the fact that he’s very grounded and if he’s doing a red carpet, he will stop and say hi to everybody wherever he’s at. He always treats everybody very nice, so I feel that it’s very great to have somebody else like that. He’s a great mentor like you said.
JM: What can you tell us about what you’re working on at the moment?
Madai: At the moment I’m working on my album. We’re planning to make it titled “Madai.” Madai is my name and it’s basically, the first album is just letting the fans know who I am and getting to know me, so I feel there’s no better title than point-blank: “Madai.” I’m going to be working on the CD with The Jumpsmokers; they are producers from Chicago. And I just think it’s going to be really great! It’s going to be dance music, but with really deep lyrics and very important topics..not really important, but what we go through every day as young teenagers. People like to hear stuff that they have gone through or that they feel, that’s relateable, so that’s what I do with my music.
JM: Is there a tentative release date set for this album?
Madai: At the moment we don’t have a release date. We’re hoping at least mid of next year.
JM: Do you have any plans for performances in the meantime?
Madai: Well yeah, at this time we have a couple of presentations booked. Basically it’s like a small tour that I’m going to be doing in DR [Dominican Republic], Puerto Rico, I think we have a show in Atlanta, we have another one in Chicago, Las Vegas, and one in LA. Basically we’re getting a small tour going, just so I can showcase my songs and make this whole Team Madai movement that I have going on..to keep it moving and let everybody know a little bit about me and my music.
JM: That’s very exciting!
Madai: (laughs) Yeah yeah it’s fun! I mean, my favorite part is always being on stage and being able to give out my voice and what I think is my talent, which is just projecting and making somebody really feel the song, and my favorite part is just being on stage and seeing everybody having a good time and just enjoying what I do. To me, the most important part is the fans, and getting such great feedback.
JM: Seeing that you’re speaking with SpanglishNoise.com, do you feel there are any advantages or disadvantages to being a bilingual artist?
Madai: Some people might think it’s a disadvantage..I just think it’s great because I could always do, you know, any kind of music that I wanted – English or Spanish – and it’s easier to take on the world and have more people listen to my music, when it comes to being a bilingual artist. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, you know, I can just touch more people as I go.
JM: Which of your songs has meant the most to you so far?
Madai: Hmm..there’s a couple of songs that I’ve done and they’re not necessarily out there..there’s so many good ones, but one of the songs that I have, it’s on my youtube page, is called “You Didn’t Understand” (sound clip of “You Didn’t Understand” plays softly in the background). I think it’s..I really like that song because I wrote it..I mean most of my songs are about me and stuff that I’ve gone through, but some are about my friends’ relationships or little things like that. But “You Didn’t Understand” really touches me and it’s basically just a relationship that’s gone wrong and you just want to walk away from it before it becomes even worse. You want to walk away from it in a very clean and classy way but, I mean, sometimes it doesn’t work out. I would say “You Didn’t Understand”. I love it; I love that song..of the ones that I have out there! (laughs)
JM: It seems like you’re really on a good track right now. There’s a lot of opportunities unfolding before you and you have some great producers that you’re working with, lots of great music. Looking back, what advice would you offer to the next generation after you?
Madai: Just basically, when you want something..which I always tell everybody it doesn’t have to do with the music, it has to do with everything. Anything that you want in life, you have to stay focused, go for it, and just believe in yourself, because at the end of the day if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re really not going to go anywhere. I would say just keep on with your drive and believe in yourself. That’s the number one thing that has kept me [going], ever since I could remember, that’s the thing. All my friends say “it’s awesome that you’re now with Pitb[bull]” and “look how far you’ve gotten,” but a few years back people thought you were a little bit crazy for thinking that you were going to do the music thing when you weren’t in the honor roll of the school..and, you know, it was kind of a little crazy to have gone from straight-A student to, “Hey, um, I’m just going to focus on the music 100 percent.” But that’s the way I think it is. You should always focus on everything, give a 100 percent, maybe even more. Focus, focus, have drive..believe in yourself..and that’s all. As long as you have those things, you’ll be fine. (laughs)
JM: That’s all great advice.
Madai: Well guys, this is Madai and I would love for you to follow me on twitter, @OfficiallyMadai, check me out on www.MadaiWorld.com, or just check me out on facebook, Madai World, but I would love to have your feedback on my music and everything. Love you guys!
(Sound clip of the song “Pure Evil“)
JM: Thank you for tuning in to another Spanglish Noise interview. You can find us online at www.SpanglishNoise.com, also on facebook, or on twitter – @spanglishnoise. More exciting interviews with artists and producers are on the way, so tune in each Wednesday for the latest. In addition to the website, you can also search “spanglish noise” on iTunes to subscribe to the latest interviews and podcast episodes. Thank you for listening and I will see you next week!