Madilyn Bailey

You’ve had a bit of a crazy life, being born and raised in a small town with lots of foster siblings and managing school with dyslexia. How do you think your experiences growing up influenced your decision to take a music route?

Yeah, I definitely didn’t have a traditional childhood.  I have 6 siblings 4 of which were adopted. I had around 30 foster siblings over the course of my childhood.  I was home-schooled until high school. I just didn’t know any different. I thought everyone grew up like me. But boy am I grateful I got to grow up with this perspective of the world because a unique perspective is the number one thing that sets an artist apart.  Because I was home-schooled, I had lots of free time to play, so I made music. I loved learning, so I worked with my dyslexia. I saw that not everyone gets a good start at life so I wasn’t about to squander mine. I was being fortified early to take a path less travelled.

Your career really began on YouTube. What do you think it means to be a musician on YouTube? Do you think you will ever depart YouTube?

When I started YouTube it wasn’t a viable career yet.   It was just a shimmery idea of what it could be. I knew as an artist if I could build my own audience without any of the traditional industry methods I would have the freedom in my career to make the music I believe in.  I don’t know how but I knew YouTube was my best chance at building this. I saw the vision and chased it down

Now, “being a YouTuber” is the number one career kids aspire to do when they grow up.  How crazy is that? I’m immensely grateful I started building my community when I did and I’m super excited for the future.  It doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. And I have tons of new content in both the music and life categories to share.  I would say I’m stepping into a whole new era of Madilyn now.

How is the process different between creating covers versus original songs? Do you have a preference between the two?

Covering all of the biggest songs over the past 10 years has taught me a lot about songwriting and both musical and vocal arranging but my true love has always been in making my own music.  I’ve been a storyteller since I was in diapers. When I realized I could combine my love of storytelling with my love for music by turning my stories into songs, I was hooked. While I was growing my YouTube channel with covers, behind the scenes I was developing myself as a songwriter.  And now that I’m at a place where I’m ready to share these stories, the covers have given me this amazing platform to launch my music from.

Photo: Siri Benrud

Your most recent release, “Red Ribbon”, is such a beautiful song, with a beautiful video to match. What does the song mean to you, and why do you think it is important to share such personal and painful experiences, particularly through music?

I know I personally have gotten so much healing out of music.  Last year when my Grandma passed away Red Ribbon was the song that really pulled me out of the darkness.  I knew immediately that I wanted to inspire healing through my music too. Every time I listen to Red Ribbon it reminds me that pain isn’t always a bad thing.  In pain, there is growth, development, progress. My grandma always used to say that happiness is a choice and I wasn’t able to fully understand that until she passed away, but it’s true.  I had to choose to be grateful for the time I got to spend with her, over feeling cheated for time. I had to choose to carry on her legacy by going out and doing good in the world. I had to choose to let the pain unlock a deeper well of empathy within me instead of becoming resentful of the pain.  I’d like to think that healing our hearts is as simple as taking a ribbon and choosing to do the work, stitch by painful stitch. Our hearts are made to be broken and remade and then broken again. I hope when I leave this world, my heart has a large variety of ribbons, stitches, and scars to show how I fearlessly loved.

The video for “Red Ribbon” also features various women who have also had some difficult experiences. What was your thought process behind including these other tales?

For a while after my Grandma passed away I couldn’t bring myself to talk to my friends and family about how much it was truly affecting me but the moment I opened up and shared my grief, people were able to open up to me about what they were going through too.  The more I spoke about it, the more I healed. I think a big part of me overcoming this loss was feeling like I wasn’t alone in my pain. Every single person I know is fighting little wars every day within their own worlds. My hope with inviting my friends to share their stories in the Red Ribbon music video was to show that you are not alone in your pain and to inspire people to speak their pain into the light where it can heal.

You’ve been covering and writing songs for a long time now, how do you think your perspective of music has changed over the past decade or so?

I think there’s nothing cooler than sharing your unique perspective through music.  After covering so many songs and writing so many more of my own, I have even more appreciation for a real honest song that isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is.  Catchy is cool but without an honest story, it’s just noise. Stories are cool but if it’s not brought to life in an interesting way no one will listen. That’s been my mission with my music from the start.  Tell honest stories in an interesting way. Music has its trends but honest music never goes out of style.