I first came across Madeline Ava on UkeTube and it was obvious she had a way with open and affecting lyrics. That was confirmed when I came across her CLLCT page (UPDATE: now sadly defunct). She has three albums there – keep that in mind when she discusses how long she’s been playing – including a cover of the entire Neutral Milk Hotel album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and an album of original songs Songs I’m Too Nervous to Sing for My Mom. The album is packed with poignant lyrics set to lo-fi, Kimya Dawson-style songs. It also features a tribute to puns; a surefire way to appeal to someone who names their blog after an obscene pun. So I threw a few questions her way and she was kind enough to answer.
How long have you been making music and how did you get into playing the ukulele?
My dad got me a ukulele for Christmas a few years ago. I ignored it based on the assumption that it would be really hard to learn. During the summer I picked it up out of boredom and realized that it was actually pretty simple. I actually learned my very first song courtesy of Ukulele Hunt! I started writing my own songs the summer of 2008 and played my first show that September, so this is still pretty new to me! I fell in love with the ukulele, for sure.
Some of your songs seem very personal. Are you ever worried you’ve shared too much in them?
I’m often embarrassed to play some of my songs for that very reason, but I’m embarrassed by so many things! I think being open with people you care about is something that can never be pushed too far. Sometimes I say things that I don’t mean – but my songs are always exactly how I feel… and without music some important thought might never see the light of day.
Why did you choose to cover the whole of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea?
Neutral Milk Hotel has been like a soundtrack to my life as well as my friend’s lives. We’ve spent many nights listening to them or playing their songs on our own instruments. So on one level, it was because of their personal influence. I also just like the idea of taking something huge and elaborate but making it accessible to everyone. People should realize that important music can happen without theatrics. Anybody can make something epic.
Which three songs does everyone need to hear?
Anxious and Worryin’ by Defiance, Ohio: The vocals are soft but strong. The instrumentation and lyrics absolutely blow me away every time!
Start Today – Gorilla Biscuits: People shouldn’t be so afraid of hardcore music! This song is melodic and optimistic… two things people might not expect of the genre.
Going to Georgia – The Mountain Goats: Darnielle could sing anything and it would bring a tear to my eye, but this song is endlessly beautiful.
What’s your all time favourite pun?
If you’re American what are you when you’re in the bathroom? European!
What plans have you got for the future?
I plan on touring a bunch of nice DIY venues this summer with some music-making friends of mine. One of them, Max Weiss, is another ukulele player and is doubtlessly a boy wonder. Outside of the music world, I plan on graduating high school and having tons of pet goats.