The concourse at Lime Street Station on a Friday afternoon always seems to be incredibly congested, the heaving sense of humanity on the move as they find their way to different pastures for the weekend in search of fun or the locked doors of their own palaces and castles, is at times a wonder to behold. Ant like but striding with purpose, the evening concert in the city bringing people in, the thought of a late summer’s drink at the local spurring them on to catch the stopper between Liverpool and that other bended finger of North West music appreciation, you cannot help but be entranced by this weekly dance.
It is a staging post, the light relief of Time that we all must share at some point and one that as the August sun beat down through the clear glass high above our heads and one that I was proud to share for a while with Liverpool’s Maddie Stenberg.
Maddie Stenberg, like many of her young compatriots in the Liverpool acoustic scene, is a musician who has come a long way in such a short amount of time. On the verge of L.I.P.A.’s 6th form college and already with some wonderful experiences on the local music circuit, Maddie Stenberg already feels like a woman who has been around for years, it is a reflection perhaps that just how warm the city is to nurturing its young talent.
Ahead of yet another series of gigs before the inevitable hard work of college begins and with the hustle and drama filled sprints for the trains going on behind us, I get to wish the young lady happy birthday and talk to her about the future.
Firstly, I’d like to say a very happy birthday! How is being, shall we say a young musician trying to make her way on the Liverpool acoustic circuit different now to the time when your father’s generation for example were maybe treated in a different way?
Maddie: “I think it’s a great place to start, everyone’s so supportive and you get to meet lots of people who help you along the journey and they try to do the best for you and everyone wants you to do well.”
You were up at Cal Ruddy’s E.P launch, bouncing away and enjoying the night. Has seeing someone that you are close to musically encouraged you?
Maddie: “Cal’s really inspiring, he’s a good friend of mine and he’s a really big supporter of my music so to see him onstage after doing gigs for four years, it was exciting to see the result of all the hard work and determination.”
Talking of hard work, you’ve had great support from your dad, has it felt like hard work?
Maddie: “I guess it was hard work at the beginning, it was frustrating but when you get the hang of it and just gig then it just becomes fun.”
Has it been fun?
Maddie: “Yeah, I think so.”
You seem to enjoy doing gigs?
Maddie: “I love doing gigs, it’s probably my favourite thing to do, just playing in front of people, people are just saying to me to get my music out there really.”
Your lyrics have a way of drawing an audience in, are you aware of the attention? They are almost progressive in the way they tell a story.
Maddie: “Thank you very much; it’s kind of you to say that. It’s just kind of how I feel and it’s great to have audiences listen and for people to feel that king of connection to my lyrics so if that gets across, then that’s wonderful.”
Which usually comes first then, the lyrics or the melodies?
Maddie: “The melodies, I love writing melodies and it’s nice to think about what you want to get across in the lyrics and what message you want in the songs.”
There was a song I heard a few weeks ago that sounded very personal and emotional, you were only 15 at the time it was written I think, not disturbing but very heartfelt – Change Is On Its Way – it’s from the heart.
Maddie: “It’s about trying to forget the negative things that have happened in your life and moving on and thinking positively. I just write from personal experiences and then kind of write the songs from those.”
Do you think that’s a lesson which younger teenagers should learn from rather than being pent up and full of aggression, they should listen to music or another form of art?
Maddie: “I do think young people should listen to music and poetry and things like that as it does help a lot. Have these negative experiences but have them in a positive way through music or through another art form as it may help you to move on and just enjoy life.”
You’re going to college – the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts (L.I.P.A.), that’s another step for you and your music.
Maddie: “I’m going to study music and performance at L.I.P.A. Sixth Form and so I’m just going to be learning new techniques.”
You have a big stable mate in one of the other young ladies of Liverpool, a huge rising star in Eleanor Nelly and again, there’s a very distinctive path you both seem to be on. Your music is very beautiful, it’s very life-affirming and a style that a lot of people appear to be drawn to, it’s your smile and also the anguish of the lyrics that enraptures them. Do you think going to L.I.P.A. will enhance that?
Maddie: “I think going to L.I.P.A. will help me to meet more musicians like myself and just enjoy it even more and to improve on my music and my writing.”
What are your future plans for gigs and recording music?
Maddie: “I’ve been recording a few demos these past few weeks so I’ll be getting them on Soundcloud and I played the Folk on the Dock Festival and then I’ll be at Beerdfest at Constellations.“
I’ll be at Beerdfest and so will I and other people be able to hear any of this new music?
What about the new music?
Maddie: “It’s only really at the demo stage, not much beyond that.”
If you could have one final piece of advice to give to people that say are two or three years younger than you, Cal Ruddy or Eleanor Nelly, what would it be?
Maddie: “Just to make music that you’re happy with and not let other people’s opinions distract you from the music you want to make, just be happy with it and if you’re happy with it, then that’s great!”
Ian D. Hall