By KAYLEE WALDEN/ Montana State News
“She has an amazing voice,” a young woman in the crowd whispers emphatically to her friend, after the vivacious red-head on stage belts out a show-stopping high note.
She stomps a high-heeled foot along with the end of the song, and the crowd erupts into applause. It’s a packed
house at Cactus Records for their Annual Record Store day, and the animated red-head is Michal Madeline, who carefully dismounts the stage as the cheering begins to subside
After several hugs and handshakes, Madeline walks a couple blocks to a bar down the street letting her nerves settle after the surge of adrenaline from being in front of a crowd.
“Jack and Coke please,” she says, waving to a group who yelled their congratulations from the other end of the bar. She tries, to no avail, to tame her “mane,” as she calls it. Fiery red curls stick out in all directions despite her best attempts to secure them back into a pony tail.
“My hair is almost like a metaphor for my life these days,” she says with a laugh, “All over the place.”
Indeed, with the rising popularity of the electronic duo ONOMONO, of which Madeline is one half, her schedule has been penciled in to the brim.
After studying for one year in the music program at Montana State University, and finding that the classroom atmosphere was “not for her” Madeline took the leap of faith that many artists take, and is trying to make a name for herself in the independent music world.
Turns out her leap has landed her gigs all across the Northwest. She recently paired up with fellow Bozeman resident and another former MSU student Shane Johnson, who has been creating his own electronic mixes for the past three years.
“We met through mutual friends and we just connected musically. I don’t really know how to explain it; when you like all the same songs, relate to the same lyrics, you can understand a person before you get to know them.”
Other frequent collaborators with the duo are vocalist and beat-boxer Nathan Reid, emcee William Hemingway and DJ BVS.
ONOMONO recently performed up at Big Sky resort and received an honorable mention for the “Best New Artist” award at the Zoo Local Music Awards in Missoula last month.
Though she can’t recall exactly what made her fall in love with the world of music, she recalls being infatuated even as a young girl.
Not only does she have a passion for singing and songwriting, Madeline also is a self-professed “music junkie,” spending hours online searching for new songs and plugged into her iPod listening to her old favorites.
“It’s my escape. Whether I want to drown something out or think about it really deeply, the first thing I’ll do is put in my headphones and crank up the volume,” she says, digging out an older generation iPod, complete with her name inscribed, from her purse.
“Listen to this. Iron and Wine is one of my obsessions. They’ll calm you down no matter how stressed out you are.”
A slow, acoustic and uncannily soothing melody plays, accompanied by soulful lyrics. “Great, huh?” says Madeline. Her face lights from within when she describes anything she’s passionate about. She orders a second Jack and Coke, flashing the bartender a friendly smile.
ONOMONO recently released their own interpretation of Iron and Wine’s song “Woman King,” which spices up the original with Madeline’s powerful soprano and Johnson’s infectiously catchy electronic beats.
Madeline says that besides Iron and Wine, her biggest musical inspirations include Alicia Keys, Adele “and of course Aretha Franklin.”
To finance her travels to perform, Madeline works more than full-time hours as a manager at the local Zumies clothing store, her third job in retail sales.
“I enjoy talking to people all day, and it pays the bills,” she says. “But it’s not what I want to do with my life. I’d like to end up in the big city someday.”
A big city would be the opposite of her roots; born and raised in Hamilton, Montana, which has a population of fewer than 5,000, Madeline moved to Bozeman for college while her family moved out to the small-town Midwest. Her mood seems to change when talking about her family, and she changes the subject before the questions can go much further.
“I don’t see them much anymore, and it really doesn’t bother me too much.” Her voice holds tones of apathy, a stark contrast to her usually bubbly personality. “I’m kind of the black sheep, I guess.”
She says she’s created a family of her own though, here in Bozeman. Her boyfriend of four years, also named Michael, is perhaps her biggest fan. A close network of friends also provides her with support and encouragement as she follows her dreams into the shark tank that is the music industry.
As for the future, Madeline says she doesn’t have any plans, but doesn’t mind the craziness for now.
“I’m just along for the ride,” she says.
ONOMONO’s music will soon be available on iTunes, and can also be heard on https://soundcloud.com/onomono.
– Edited by Alex Komstoeft