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Sound Circuit

Madison Ray and the sincerity of creation


Not everybody is picking up what Madison Ray is putting down. Like virtually any artist who has created for public consumption, Madison Ray has suffered the slings and arrows of negative response, sometimes in this very forum. Dealing with it is part of the coming of age that any performer must weather.

Madison Ray plays a free show at The Garden on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 10 p.m.

Madison Ray plays a free show at The Garden on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 10 p.m.

“There’s always the visceral response,” he said. “When you’re trying your best and someone is like, ‘Oh, that’s shitty,’ sometimes it’s like, ‘How dare you! You just don’t understand me.’ ”

Often times it will be the projects most driven by passion that will receive the strongest blowback. This is because unadulterated passion is rarely crowd-pleasing. When an artist is driven by the sincere, emotional need to produce something, the results can be confusing. For local examples, look at Little Ruckus or Pat Fleming’s Gloom Balloon. Or Madison Ray. It is the sincerity of that need, however, that becomes the important ingredient.

“As long as you can really get behind what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you can defend it,” he said. “If you’re just doing something gratuitously, you’re going to get called out on your bullshit.

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“(But) what you might intend is always going to be different from what an audience is going to pick up. You can’t really dictate that. All I can do is express myself and see what sticks.”

Over the past couple of years, the form that Madison Ray’s expression has taken has evolved. Where he was once a high-energy stage show with a full band backing him up, the iteration you are now likely to see at The Garden is more esoteric. The band is gone, and what has replaced it is harder for people to easily define. But Madison Ray’s stage show continues to come from the same place — a desire to connect with people by showing them something honest.

“There’s this expectation like, ‘Oh, we’re doing the work in our rehearsals; you should just automatically come out and give me your money and your adoration,’ ” he said. “That’s not the case. It’s not to say that you aren’t talented, but you cannot get there without building a relationship with your audience. And the best way to get there is to give of yourself first.” CV

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