Introduce yourself to us!
It’s just me, and as much as I wish I had a groovy band name…I thought using Madeline Castrey was the obvious choice! I’ve left the middle name off though – With two left feet, I’m the least ‘Grace’ful person in the world!
I write and perform all my own songs and work with some wonderful producers to get the tracks sounding how you hear them now!
Where are you based?
I’m based in Surrey which is just south of London. The village I live in is very small, and the music scene is basically just me making lots of noise! The beauty of this location though is that it’s close to London, so I can still be a part of that vibrant city life!
What genre would you describe yourself as?
My genre is a new little take on smooth jazz. Speaking a bit more specifically, I’d say nu-jazz/soft pop. As a classical and jazz musician, I’ve found that a lot of people have preconceptions about these two genres, given that they’ve been quite exclusive in the past. I’m aiming to innovate an area of the wonderful jazz genre so it’s more accessible to the modern listener by infusing jazz and classical elements with modern beats and relatable lyrics – so I hope there’ll be something for everyone!
Who is your main inspiration?
Artist-wise: Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald, vocals wise, the one and only Karen Carpenter – and I fancy myself a bit of a Jools Holland in terms of arranging music and improvising. I’d love to
collaborate with him one day!
What is your songwriting process (which bits come first?)
The chords always come first for me! Usually one lovely chord comes from playing a wrong note, and from there I’ll make a sequence. Then I usually improvise a melody over the top and walk away for a bit – then eventually the subject will come to me and the words will flow from there. I’m a very methodical person (I love a list!) so I find it easier if the process is very linear – seems strange for something so creative!
What made you want to start in music?
I’ve always been a lover of music. I used to put on shows with my little sister as a child and I actually can’t recall a time where music didn’t feature in at least some of my career plan! If you’ve heard my songs, you might not believe it, but my background is actually in classical singing. I have a strong background in West End Theatre and television, but then I fell in love with opera and began to train as an opera singer.
I was seriously ill as a teenager, and the silver lining of this was being able to spend lots of time on music and finding the style I really loved. I was thrilled to become the first ever 16-year-old admitted onto an undergraduate degree course at The London College of Music, and I then went on to gain a distinction in my master’s degree specialising in opera.
Over the past few years, I’ve been using music as a means to fundraise for the charities that helped me as a teen, and I was thrilled to receive a Princess Diana Award for my work.
What is on the horizon for you?
Well, in terms of live music – as soon as the global situation allows, I’d love to perform live more frequently and in some bigger venues! I’ve had the opportunity to perform at some wonderful places in the past like West End stages and the Twickenham Stadium Live Room, but Ronnie Scott’s is the ultimate ambition.
In terms of my recording plan, I’d love to release an EP in the next year alongside a few more singles. Then looking ahead to 2021/22, I’d love to think about getting a label involved… the sky’s the limit really!
Who would you most like to collaborate with (alive or dead)?
Well, assuming I can keep up with him, this has to be the one and only Freddie Mercury…and did you know that we actually both attended the same university! (Obviously not at the same time though!)
What is your ultimate goal?
Signing with a jazz label like Blue Note and releasing an album with some fantastic originals and some dynamic collaborations! I’ve got plenty more songs in the pipeline so I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running next year!
If you could cover any song, what would it be?
This kind of ties in with my previous answer: I would have to say Queen ‘Somebody to Love’ I would have said Bohemian Rhapsody, but I think I might need some more people for that!
Tea making: milk first or last?
I’ll shock you here and say I actually don’t drink tea! I’m a big coffee drinker and for that I would have to say milk in first because apparently you burn the beans otherwise?! It’s a known fact that I’m TERRIBLE at tea making, so it’s not often that I’m asked to make it – when I do…milk in first (I can see people rolling their eyes!)
Tell us your funniest joke!
Oh no!! I’m notoriously slow on the joke front!
Okay…here we go:
Two rabbits walk into a café looking to order some food.
The first rabbit says I’ll have a ham and cheese toasted sandwich please.
The second says, I’ll have one ham and one tuna
The first rabbit is shocked. “You can’t do that, you’ll get seriously ill!”
“Mixing – me - toasties”