Under the moniker MADEIRA, New Zealander Kim Pflaum will be releasing her debut EP, Bad Humors, Sept. 23. In her solo record, the former Yumi Zouma singer continues to create the passionate, indie-pop music for which she is known. With Bad Humors coming out this month, MADEIRA dropped a few singles such as “Manipulator,” “Come On Thru” and “Let Me Down.” The songs on the EP come from a place within MADEIRA, but she admits that what she’s creating is art, and whether the tracks make people want to be happy, cry, write, paint or dance – that’s up to the listener to decide.
We caught up with MADEIRA to talk about Bad Humors and her musical career.
How did you initially getting started making your unique style of indie/synth-pop/dance music?
MADEIRA: I’d dabbled in a few genres, rock was fun but didn’t suit my voice, folk suited my voice but was a yawn to play, indie pop was a happy mix of the best aspects so that’s what I ended up sticking with.
What differences should people expect from Bad Humors when compared to your work in Yumi Zouma?
M: The kind of music I made with Yumi Zouma is one of my favourite types of music right now, and though it didn’t work out with them I wasn’t about to stop writing music that I liked. So there is definitely a similar sound, and of course my voice is the same, but I like to think with this project I’ve taken a few more chances; tried a few more things that wouldn’t have made it past the editing process previously. Playing it safe can get a bit dull.
What’s your songwriting process usually like?
M: I get a lot of ideas while I’m driving actually. I don’t really blast the radio or anything, I use the time to think or listen to interesting podcasts. I often come up with melodies and lyrics first which make their way into my phone. Then when I’m at home or at the studio I start jamming on my guitar or keyboard for some chord progressions that work with what I’ve already captured. I don’t have one set way of doing things though, because sometimes I just mess around on my synth and come up with interesting tones and lead lines and a song progresses from there. As for song content it can vary too, either I have an idea or concept that I want to base the song around or if I’m lacking in inspiration that day I’ll reach into my bag of tricks for a starting point. Then I record as I write, do scratch vocals and spend a while doing some basic production on the song before giving it to my friend Shannon who does the rest of the production. I often sit in these sessions to both suggest and learn. I don’t often reference too much music in the songwriting phase as I do want to spoil my own creativity or inadvertently rip anyone off, but in the production phase there’s a lot more referencing to different artists, eras, and genres. So the process is both individual and collaborative which works with me well.
What’s the significance of the name MADEIRA? Is it just a cool name that you really like, or are you a huge fan of that particular Portuguese archipelago?
M: I actually started the project quite a few years ago, my original idea was to write music as a form of escapism – almost like a tropical island holiday, so I chose a name that reflected that. The initial songs were silly and whimsical. Over time that has evolved, but I still liked the idea that writing and performing music can be a form of escapism from everyday life. On the other hand, I have the tendency to be quite reclusive, like an island myself, so I found that quite fitting. What is that quote? “No man is an island but this women is,” I think it’s from Gilmore Girls…. I also think Madeira specifically has this temperate and slight feminine quality, pleasant and sweet like the wine.
What do you like to do when you’re not making music?
M: I dance a lot, though I’m no pro or anything. Most exercise is monotonous but dance is engaging and uses a lot of brain power, which is a good workout for my rubbish short term memory!
I also dabble in a mixture of creative endeavours – illustration, design, painting, writing and the like. I have a curious nature and will attempt almost anything once.
What’s something weird or interesting about you most people don’t know?
M: I officially drowned when I was three years old.
Are there any messages or themes you like to depict in your songs; “Manipulator,” “Let Me Down” and “Come On Thru” to name a few?
M: These songs they have personal meaning for me no doubt, but they are also a form of art, and I can’t tell someone how to interpret art. I can suggest ideas, but at the end of the day the songs belong to everyone, and they evolve past my original thoughts as people find their own meaning or message within the music.
What type of dance moves do people usually do to your music?
M: I’d like to think they dance with confidence and a little bit of sass.
Are you planning a tour with this EP?
M: A few select shows in NZ and USA most likely. Stay tuned!
What artists tend to influence or impact your music?
M: Definitely other indie/alt pop artists, strong female musicians, old R&B and funk stuff, also mainstream pop through the decades. Like most musicians I listen to a wide range of genres and I’d like to think it all has influence.
What’s one thing or person the world could live without?
If you could have anything, such as a drink or a sandwich, named after you, what would it be?
M: Either something overly important and scientific, or a roller coaster.
What’s one song, your own or somebody else’s, that sums up you as a person?
M: Kim’s Watermelon Gun (Flaming Lips)
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d be doing?
M: Completing my post-grad degree in Psychology or maybe a full time dancer.