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On Humanness, Cannibal Vampires and This: ༼ꉺɷꉺ༽Anti-Standard #17 With Madeline Kassen

“I like to make songs that take u places or feel specific emotions; songs you can dance to and cry to at the same time. Primal human feelings.”

For Anti-Standard #17 I interviewed beloved musician and artist extraordinaire, Madeline Kassen, who! I have the pleasure of knowing in real life, yes it’s true :0 Madeline is truly a weaver of music, a sound-scapist and an absolute gem. I invite you into Madeline’s world via Anti-Standard #17 which lives on despite my eradicating Thrifts and Prints . com in the middle of it (oops, my bad!) Ok READ!

T&P: Ok starting off with a heavy question, but take us on a journey of your music evolution. Where and when did it begin? Where will it go? 

M: I went to catholic school and church and sang Ave Maria and stuff like that in choir. I actually really like those songs (my favorite one was “Dust and Ashes”). Growing up catholic has influenced me a lot creatively. 

I have been writing songs for as long as I can remember. My cousin and I would write theme songs for the games we would play and I would just sing about random stuff because singing just feels really good.

I started singing jazz when I was 15 or 16. A piano teacher of mine asked me to try it when he found out I sang. I am so glad he did. Around that time I started going to open mic jazz jams and cut my teeth the way before I started gigging a lot around town. Eventually I mustered up the guts to perform music I had written which is what I really wanted to do all along, but it is so scary at first! 

In high school I started producing music and became obsessed with doing that and thats kind of the driving force of my solo project (experiments in production). I feel like as I get older I act more like a historian collaging and piecing together every song and noise I’ve heard. In this day of the omnipotent internet, my influences come from everything.

Subject wise, I think about the good vs evil, the internet and the decline of humanity/the-world-as-we-know-it a lot. Thematically/genre wise, I like to make songs that take u places or feel specific emotions; songs you can dance to and cry to at the same time. Primal human feelings.

T&P: Tell me more about gothweb. I watched the video multiple times because it fucking rules. Who’s in the gothweb? Is the web made by goth spiders, or are we all stuck in a web of goths. 

M: I’d say its more like the second, though one could argue that spiders are pretty goth Bohemians inherently. The gothweb is like a web of sad or melancholy thoughts. I wrote it in a time where I felt like no one was really listening to/caring about what I was saying. One time I was talking to this dude and I started stammering because I do that sometimes and he just walked away. The gothweb comes about after failed social interactions like that one LOL. 

T&P: Can you please write a poem…could be a limerick…could not be, up to you, about the first thing you see when you are answering these questions. 

Kitten so cat 

The world is a lap

For you to roll around in and nap

you’re the perfect kitty

to lay on my titty

Can you believe that?

My sister wrote the “kitty/titty” lines.

T&P: You’ve had you’re instagram since you were 11 what’s your favorite photograph on it and WHY

I really like this photo of raw meat I saw in china

T&P: Ok, enough about instagram, can you tell me more about the big ear performance. 

M: Yes! I bought those ears for a stage costume but I forgot to put them on until mid song so I tried to work it into the performance. I really like those ears… They hang on my wall and make for nice decor when I don’t wear them but I like to break them out on casual days to spice things up.

T&P: If you had to walk around wearing one outfit everyday for the rest of your life what would you wear?

I love this question but its soo hard! Maybe this one? Or the ones in the gothweb video. I actually don’t have access to half of my wardrobe rn so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This is me and my room mate at the time, Mairead ❤ (She’s in an awesome band called Sweet Petunia

T&P: Tell me more about Pisha, or say NOTHING AT ALL. 

Thats the name of my solo project! It doesn’t quite feel right to release music under my name, I like to play characters and it kind of helps me to categorize things without attaching it to my personal life too much. The name “Pisha” is taken from this bad ass 3,000 year old cannibal vampire character in Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines. Maybe my favorite video game character? She is a lot like a spider the way she traps her victims and hides out in abandoned buildings and makes a temporary “nest”. 

I really just chose it because I like the name. It is percussive and fun to say.

As a project Pisha doesn’t really fall into one genre but I wanna make more music videos and make it an all around creative adventure.

So Pisha is like this character that lives in relatable extremes. It’s a place where I can be melodramatic and work things out. It really makes me feel better. But most of the time songs happen when I’m dicking around with a sound and i’m like “wait thats kinda groovy” and then Ill write about what the music reminds me of but there’s really no set in stone process. 

T&P: Tell me more about your band Tada

M: Tada is a bad ass band I’m in with some amazing people (Chase Roork, Nate Buckley, Alex Massey and Blaise Eldred) that really inspire me. We are all pretty different as musicians and bring in a pretty wide ranging mix of influences which makes for a pretty interesting outcome. Every time I bring in a song I wrote and I think it will sound one way, it totally sounds different once everyone writes and adds their parts, which is the beauty and fun of collaborating.  I guess you could consider it shoe gaze. It pulls from a lot of different chiller rock sub genres. I’m a huge fan of The Cure and a lot of the songs I write for that project are very much inspired by The Cure.

We have an EP coming out to all streaming services with songs we recorded with genius producer and a close friend of ours Gal Patel. I’m very excited to share that stuff. I love being in that band so much. It has honestly been healing. We have a lot of fun.  

T&P do you believe in conspiracy theories…any at all? If so, which one sticks with you the most. 

M: I definitely believe in aliens (is that even a theory?). I feel like all of the “theories” I subscribe to I believe to be truths. For a while I was pretty sure Courtney killed Kurt Cobain but it’s been awhile since I visited that. But I feel like I should definitely get more into that during this quarantine. Do you have any suggestions?

T&P: Oooo was definitely into the Courtney killed Kurt Cobain theory too. The most recent theory I looked into was “the world ended in 2012” because basically everyone remembers brands wrong now like the Berenstain Bears vs. the Berenstein Bears. Seems like everything is less theory more “ah probably true” lately.

T&P: Talk about your upcoming single  “I’ll Be Your Dog” 

M: This song is basically about the elements of servitude, submission and obsession that can be found in loving someone. It’s sort of an answer song to “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. I was listening to that and “Ava Adore” looking at the lyrics and kind of exploring this theme of love/aggression/domination, and what made me love those songs so much and thought to myself “What if I write a song in response?” but it is also definitely still very personal to my experiences (writing music always is). I was exploring different means of production and sound, etc. I got stuck in a 80’s synth pop hole for about two years; this and working with Tada busted me out. There’s some biblical references there (and honestly throughout most of my music): “I’ll wash your feet with my hair,” “you laid your hands and healed me, ”etc. The theme is worshipping the one you love like a god. There’s also a nod to Mimi in La Boheme. Production wise, I feel like you can almost hear that I was binge-playing Vampire Masquerade Bloodlines when I made this. It’s like industrial pop I guess, kinda rockish, with throbby synths. 

This is the first single on my upcoming project. I’m very excited about it. I feel like I finally know what I wanna say and what I want the feeling/vibe to be. I also have more mad skillz in production than I ever did before so I’m stoked to share it.

M: Bonus questions: you answer too!!!!!!!!?? (???if u want?? I curious)

Fav emoticon?

M: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ༼ꉺɷꉺ༽ 

T&P: big fan of long nose smile, unnecessarily creepy :——)

What are you listening to currently?

 M: Strawberry switchblade, kaelan mikla, a sunny day in glasgow, She past away (always)

T&P: At this SECOND I’m listening to Gigantic, Pixies, also really loving Girlpool at the moment

Reading?

Uzumaki, neuromancer

T&P: The Dead Beat by Marilyn Johnson

Last two things you bought?

Holy basil tea, a perfume bottle necklace for my friend

T&P: Handmade ring and a little toy gas station pump :—)

KEEP UP WITH MADELINE

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