Madison Beer

Madison Beer

Madison Beer has been through it. After a period of self-healing, she’s back with the music she’s always wanted to make. Marianne Eloise meets her to find out what fills the ‘Silence Between Songs’.


Madison Beer is in a really good place. Ahead of the release of her second album, ‘Silence Between Songs’, she’s able to reflect on the past 12 years of her career with pride and more than a little kindness for the very young person she was when she entered the spotlight. “I feel more confident now. I feel excited and like I’ve learned a lot, the last few years have been such a learning curve. There have been some pivotal moments,” she smiles.

Beer revisited some of her most pivotal moments in a memoir, The Half of It released earlier this year. A memoir written by a 24-year-old would usually elicit an eyeroll, but Beer is perhaps one of a few with enough to fill it. The Half of It traces the first couple of decades of her young life, delving into the debilitating effects of growing up in the public eye on her young psyche. It’s a heavy, disheartening read, joining a growing canon of memoirs by young stars seizing the mic and exposing the harsh reality of a young life in the spotlight, like Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died. With topics like self harm, suicidal ideation and a particularly jarring episode in which a 15-year-old Beer’s nudes were leaked, it’s a harrowing look at an artist often dehumanised by the mainstream press and even her own fans.

For Beer, it was a chance to work through everything she’s been through. “It was very therapeutic for me to finally speak on everything,” she says now. While it was difficult confronting her own past, “it felt really good, in ways.” Had she always longed for the chance to tell her own story? “I’ve always been a curious person and I like to read about things and get to know what the truth is. I always want people to find comfort in the things I talk about,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to write these things down, I just didn’t feel like there was an appropriate place.” A few years ago she started approaching publishers, and she’s proud of the outcome.

Beer is one of the first people to have their entire career, their entire life, documented online. It’s left lasting scars, and she’s still as quiet and as reticent an interviewee as she was when I first met her four years ago, at just 19. But there’s a quiet air of confidence to her now–she’s thoughtful with her answers, giving only as much as she feels comfortable doing. It’s a learned skill, and one that’s essential when putting up barriers to the outside world. Beer was discovered at the age of 12 when Justin Bieber saw a video of her doing covers online and got her signed to his manager, the notorious Scooter Braun. Years later, she was dropped by Braun, delaying the release of her debut, ‘Life Support’.

That delay was a blessing – Beer didn’t feel comfortable with the music she’d been making, nor with the degree of input that executives wanted to have in her music. She grew up with music and always saw her voice as more suited to ballads, but she felt as if people wanted her to make squeaky-clean pop. ‘Life Support’ gave her a chance to break free: “I’m so proud of myself and that music and it was such a point in my life. Even if it’s not the music I would make today, I still think it’s great,” she says. “I’m proud of my younger self for putting so many years into working on it.”

Just two years later, on ‘Silence Between Songs’, Beer feels like she’s finally coming into her own. “In the back of my mind, this was always the music I wanted to be making. I don’t think that, until now, I’ve been able to articulate it or understand.” She adds, “I have always wanted to create music that I’m proud of, and this is music that I’m proud of, but I didn’t know specifically what it was going to be. I’ve tried to go in a direction that feels really accurate to me.” That eternal pursuit of authenticity drives Beer: “There are so many trendy things that come and go, but I want to do things that I love whether it’s trendy or not. I try not to put too much pressure on my surroundings and what’s going on in the world.”

I’ve always wanted to create music that I’m proud of – and this is music that I’m proud of. I want to do things that I love whether it’s trendy or not

Madison Beer

In a world where stars with barely any experience or even talent are made overnight on TikTok, Beer’s journey and fairytale of being discovered by a star feel at once antiquated and more common than it once was. One thing that grounds her, always, is focusing on the music itself. “Music has always been something that I’ve been drawn to. It’s the universal language and there’s something about it that is unlike anything else. It is a major gift that we have,” she says.

Beer is, as I remember her being as a teenager, slow to open up. She’s tired and burned out, and understandably not particularly trusting of journalists – just search her name on the Daily Mail (or don’t) for some idea why. But she’s sweet and introspective, with thoughtful answers that betray her age. I’m moved by the degree of love she’s able to show herself – something that she’s struggled with for her entire life, and that I remember being hard for her. “I was self-hating for a very long time. I believed I didn’t deserve love, I was negative. I grew out of it. Now I’m like, no, ‘you do deserve love and you do deserve reciprocation’. I treat people a certain way and I want them to treat me the same way.” 

That kind of self growth is rare in someone twice Beer’s age, even if they hadn’t been through half as much. “I have my days still, but I feel like I’m overall in a better place,” she says. “When you met me, whoa. A lot has changed, a lot has happened, and I feel protective over myself. I feel like I’ve grown a lot of empathy and I think that I have had a crazy time. I have had an intense life, especially these younger years with all of this. Now that I’m a little older I try to be nice to myself. If no one else is being, I have to be.” There’s a sadness when she says that, and you can see two things going on at once: her growing up so early forced Beer to be older than she was, but it also didn’t give her a full chance to grow up like everyone else did.

“I’ve learned a lot over the last few years. I have a lot of self love and a lot of respect for myself and I try to treat myself with the same amount of respect as I do other people,” she says. “I stand up for myself, I’m proud of the person that I’ve become and the person that I’m continuing to become. I want to be my own best friend, I want to be someone that I’m proud to go to sleep with at the end of the day. I’m trying to continue to work towards that every day.” The pandemic was a key period of self-reflection for Beer. She spent every day FaceTiming a friend that she calls an “introspective, deep person” and they’d get into serious conversations that led to some deep self-reflection. “I went through a lot over the years that I wasn’t ever really facing or talking about or taking seriously at all. It all caught up to me and I was like, ‘Ah, OK. Self, we need to have a talk.’ I feel like I learned a lot. Did not anticipate the pandemic being the thing that made me learn all that about myself.”

Beer started working on ‘Silence Between Songs’ shortly after the release of ‘Life Support’, a beloved record that finally gave her devoted fans a full album and took her on a tour that she calls life-changing. She struggles to pick a favourite track, shouting out ‘Ryder’ and ‘At Your Worst’ as ones that are important and special to her, but insisting that she loves them all. There’s no self-criticism, no faux self-deprecation – it’s refreshing.

After over a decade of watching people make cruel, judgmental statements about her online and in the media, Beer wrote ‘Half of It’ as a way of reclaiming her own narrative. She opens it with a reminder many people need: that just because she is famous, rich and very beautiful, she still experiences the same difficult things that we all do. Difficult things that can’t be solved by money and are often even cruelly exacerbated by fame and exposure. “People think that just because I have success or so many privileges, that I can’t also have hard times or traumatic things happen to me. People perceive those things as cancelling each other out,” she says, now animated, almost angry. “If you have any money, any fame, any success, if you’re good looking, if you have followers, if these things are things that you possess, you’re not allowed to be sad and you’re not allowed to go through things that are hard. No way do you contemplate suicide. I think that notion is crazy, I disagree so much.”

People think that just because I have success or so many privileges, that I can’t also have hard times or traumatic things happen to me.

Madison Beer

She goes on, hedging again that she knows she’s lucky. “I think those things are surface level. I’m really grateful for everything I have, I’m extremely privileged, but at the same time I also know that I’ve been through dark shit before. I’ve been through messed up things and I’ve had a hard time and I’ve thought about suicide. I don’t think those things negate one another. Both can be true. You can be someone that has privileges in life that are beautiful and you are grateful for, but you can be someone that has had a tough hand at times.” I would argue that, when it comes to things like her nudes being leaked and cruelly dissected, fame makes life a lot harder – particularly for a child. That was lost in the discourse around her nudes, and it seems to have left a lasting mark. She was, after all, a child. “That was not fun, for me. Especially because it wasn’t treated with caution and no one really cared.” That was almost a decade ago, and maybe we know better now, but it’s difficult to see the lasting effects of young fame up close. Beer, at least, seems to be incredibly self-aware and self-assured. 

When I spoke to Beer last, I asked her what she liked to do for fun. She told me she liked to draw, paint, and take a lot of baths. Mostly, though, she just wanted to “be a kid”, a sad statement from someone who never got much of a chance the first time around. I ask her the same question again: “I’ve tried to be good about taking my time off and taking time to relax and not feeling overwhelmed and not getting burned out. I’m still a human being that deserves to chill,” she says, as if it’s something she hadn’t realised until now. As a devoted Pisces, water is still the place that Beer feels safest. “I love my pool, I like to swim a lot, and that’s all I do. I’ll leave my phone inside for hours and no one can get hold of me and I’ll chill.” For someone whose darkest moments have happened because of what goes on inside her phone, that sounds like a happy ending.

‘Silence Between Songs’ is out now