Once you catch wind of MADDS, it’s hard not to fall in love. Born in South Africa but moving to sunny Los Angeles, the DJ, producer, designer, and model proves herself to be a force to be reckoned with in the dance music realm, creating heartfelt, feel-good bangers that remind you to live life to the fullest and treat each day like it’s your last.
Real name Madison Louch describes herself as “very energetic, extremely creative, and very passionate.” She states, “I’m like a kid who drank 12 Red Bulls and was let loose. Every dog I see, I want to adopt and take home. It's really, really bad. I'm probably going to bring home a farm one day!”
Exuding inner and outer beauty in all her endeavors, MADDS recently released her standout new single “Never Forget,” pairing it with a visual for the books. On top of having her dear friends in the shoot—Cindy Prado, Alexa Collins, Brianna Gonva, and Sabrina Calvo—MADDS also rocks her own swimwear brand called MADDS x AKOSHA, a line inspired by her South African roots stemming from her grandmother’s China.
In light of the world opening back, MADDS has been blessed with a jam-packed fall schedule: Vegas Residency at Resorts World, Firefly Fest, Blended Austin, and multiple college shows. Flaunt caught up with MADDS via Zoom, who had just moved into her new place in Los Angeles. Read below as we discuss her roots in South Africa, moving to Los Angeles, how “Never Forget” came about by accident, how she got her name, having her own bikini line, goals, and more!
What was it like growing up in South Africa and when did you come to LA?
I came to LA when I was 18, but I moved to California when I was under 5 years old. South Africa is still pretty bad right now, but it was very dangerous when I was a baby. My dad was personal security for Nelson Mandela and was also a firefighter, so they saw a lot of stuff that went down. My dad came to California at 16, met my mom in Dana Point at 17, got married at 18, and moved to South Africa and had me. Then they realized that this isn’t the place to raise me, so they moved back to Orange County. And here I am today!
How would you say that played into your artistry?
I really like Black Coffee a lot, he's a South African DJ and producer. I really loved Candice Swanepoel growing up. I always admired what she did. She travels to tons of countries, takes in the culture, and appreciates it. She learns their language, she really immerses herself. She's a very down-to-earth, genuine person and I really liked that. She inspired me as a human.
For music, I get my inspiration from all over the place. I don't even know where I could even pin it because everywhere I go, I'm like a sponge—I absorb everything. One day, I want to do reggaeton. The next day, I want to do house. The next day, I want to do dubstep. The next day, I want to do deep house, then techno. I'm all over the place and you never know what version of me you’re going to get, but it's definitely entertaining. It works out for me as a DJ because I’m never bored, ever.
When you realize you wanted to be a DJ and could do it for a living?
When I finally decided to do it for a living, I was 20 years old. I knew I wanted to be a DJ when I was 15. I went to Identity Festival in Chula Vista and saw Kaskade's set. I remember I was about to leave, because I knew I was going to get in trouble if I didn't get home soon. My parents were going to get mad because of curfew. But I turned around, and it looked like an ocean of people, everyone was smiling and dancing. It was this exact moment when I've never felt anything like it in my life. I thought, “I want to be able to do that. To make not one or two people happy, but thousands.”
I discovered electronic music when I was 13 because my parents accidentally took me to a warehouse rave, thinking they were hosting an event. [laughs] Benny Benassi was performing, so they view that as the whole reason why… my mom wanted me to be a pageant girl, but I went straight EDM DJ like a little rebel. Seeing the impact that Kaskade had on so many people really got me hooked. I'm about to perform with him and I want to say, "Hey, I'm not crazy. I know you don't know me, I'm opening for you, but you're the reason why I'm a DJ and here today! Okay, bye!" [laughs]
"Never Forget" out now. How are you feeling and how excited are you?
I'm really excited, because this is the first song I've ever made where there's no pressure. I didn't even mean to make this song. I didn't realize this was going to happen. I was getting drunk with my friends in Mykonos, we’re partying together. No boyfriends, no friend drama. For once, no one cried on the trip! Which is rare, because there's never a drunk night where someone doesn't cry. We had fun, I was DJing. I was listening to Calvin Harris on repeat, nonstop. I said “you know what, we need our own anthem!"
Little by little, I was producing and producing, adding different melodies. My friends started getting super involved, even though they don't know anything about producing. They said “we really like that [ding ding ding].” They’d try to make out the sounds, I said “okay sure. I guess I can pick up what you’re saying.” I kept tinkering with the melody, and I sent it to my team. They came back with some lyrics with a great topline, I said “this is it. This was the whole vibe of how it was.” I thought it was just going to be a fun song that me and my friend's play. I have a lot of music that I sit on, and we listen to but I’ve never released. This turned out to be one of those things where I couldn't not put it out.
I called it the Sisterhood of the Traveling Song, because we’d all listen to it nonstop before it came out. Eventually I said “okay, we're gonna put it out.” I know one of them would end up posting it. It’s too good to keep to ourselves, such an energetic and fun song. It's sexy, it's carefree. It's the perfect thing to listen to during the summertime, especially during these times we're having with COVID. It's like "Summer" by Calvin Harris, it's a vibe. You roll down the windows and have fun. You can do what you want, it's carefree.
Best memory from the video shoot?
The whole thing was really fun, but I loved meeting new friends. I added some extra girls into the music video that knew my mom because she runs all the Monster Energy models. Some of them live in Miami, so they joined the shoot and it ended up expanding my friend group. We hung out together every night I was there, for almost two weeks. After the first day we met, we had sleepovers every single night: eating pizza and ordering McDonalds. We’re all talking and talking and talking, having late nights. It was like an all girl summer camp! Now I talk to these girls everyday. It's always nice having a genuine good friend group. Now with the new girls, I’m sure they'll be inspiration for another song.
Talk about having your own bikini line, and being able to showcase it in the video.
I've always wanted my own bikini line. My nickname is Maddie Beach. I grew up on the beach, I love the ocean, and I’m obsessed with bikinis. Makes sense, right?! I met Akosha because I was living in Miami for a period of time, and while I was there, I fell in love with the way it's so unique with having that plastic strap. It's like 80’s but sexy, it was an art piece. The founder and I clicked, and I said, "let's do a line!" And we did a collaborative line! I was obsessed with plates that my grandmother has from South Africa, which are the blue China ones with the cheetahs on it. We got those exact prints.
I really, really love that classy french style: lacy and delicate. But I wanted it to also be sexy. So classy meets sexy - the best of both worlds. It took awhile to come up with the design because I wanted it to fit every body and to be functional. So you can wear it if you're out and don't want tan lines, if you want to be sexy at a pool party, or if you're with a significant other or your family. You can pick and choose how you want it and style it. I was very anal about the whole project. I asked all my friends for their opinions and was having debates with them. There's a piece of all my friends in the collection. And I hope everyone can see a bit of themselves in the pieces, too.
What’re you most excited for now that you can perform again?
I'm super excited! The Vegas residency is going to be a new chapter of my life and career. I like to describe my life as a chapter book. That book has finally ended and the Vegas residency is the next series of it. It's going to be exciting. It's a new me, new sound. It's going to be an overall amazing experience and I’m feeling very grateful for it. This is what I've worked so hard for.
With Firefly, I'm nervous because all my friends are asking to go! I’m like, “why do you guys want to go to this one show all of a sudden?” Then I saw Billie Eilish on the lineup, and it blew my mind! I'm totally speechless that I'm on the same line up as her and so many other artists that I've looked up to. Then, to have a residency with all my friends that are artists that I've listened to since I was 15 years old. It’s so much to take in! I remember saving lunch money to go see Zedd and Tiesto. And now, I have a residency with them. I'm so nervous and so grateful, it seems too good to be true! I'm eager for it. It feels like the first day of school when you lay your outfit out the day before.
Out of all the ups and downs I've dealt with in this industry, this is perfect timing. I'm the most prepared, the most driven. My mindset is good. My friend group is good. My family’s so supportive. This is the time for the next chapter. I'm going from MADDS to MADDS 2.0. I finally found myself. I’m ready to go!
Where did the name MADDS originate from?
I had my first job at 16, I worked at a skateboard shop called Active Ride Shop. Everyone always called me MADDS. “MADDS come here, MADDS this and that.” We’re trying to put together all these different stage names, then someone said "MADDS, where's this?" It was natural and easy and just kindof clicked. So, shout out to Riley, an employee at the skate shop I used to work at when I was 16. She's the one that came up with it technically. [laughs]
Any goals for yourself at this point in your career?
My goals are to start a label or collaborate with a label that is all about helping other artists get recognized. It's really difficult in this industry. It's a lot more who do you know more than what your craft is. I’d really like the opportunity to give kids a chance to pursue music, get funding, whatever is needed for schooling, introduce them to other artists and producers, anything they need. Being a musician is expensive and so time-consuming!
Having my own festival one day would be cool, but that's way down the road. Also, I’d love to found a charity. I know 3LAU does a lot helping kids and charities. He's an all-around really great DJ, producer, and person. He's very involved with what's going on in the world. My sister is a type 1 diabetic, and insulin is extremely expensive. It’s something that impacts her every move, so I think about it a lot. There are so many incurable diseases that impact people’s daily decisions and lives. And I’d love to find ways to help whether it’s donating directly, proceeds from a festival, or giving them an experience that they might not be able to have because they can’t attend events. Once, I did a 16-year-old’s surprise birthday party. Instead of staying in my hotel room, I went and slept over at her house. I learned how to play Fortnite. I want to make it so more fans will be able to be a part of the show, or be the next generation of DJs and producers. I love making people happy, and I want other people to experience that feeling. I want to start being able to give people the experience who can't physically or affordably do it.