Songs from the Seventh Floor EP[CD]
MADISEN is Leila Harrison and Matt Clarke. The duo make music that is beautiful, delicate and dynamic. Blending their voices, driving acoustic guitar and lovely harmonies, the two deliver songs that cuts straight through pretense and directly to your heart. The duo's debut recording, "Songs From the Seventh Floor EP," is an honest concentration of songs that capture their sound and energy marvelously. In early 2004, Madisen enlisted producer, engineer and mixer Jared Kuemper (Sheryl Crow, Tegan & Sara) to help them deliver the goods, and the end result has been described as "charming, airy and melodic." Their "lush, lovely tunes" are conveyed thrillingly by Leila's powerful, compelling voice, and Matt's stirring vocals and driving guitar. Leila's voice has been described as 'rich and melodic, coming across as sexy and unmannered - not an easy feat, and indicative of an unselfconscious delivery." (now, we haven't quite figured out exactly what that means, but it sure sounds nice, doesn't it?) The debut disc has grabbed them notable attention from the industry. They have recieved radio play throughout western Canada, and California 103 in Calgary has had three of the disc's five songs in regular rotation for several months. Reviews have been flattering and the duo have also performed on the boob tude numerous times. On stage, the duo is even more convincing. Whether with the band or stripped down and acoustic, their shows are consistently dynamic, honest and captivating. Touring has landed the pair infront of several sold out crowds, and their fan base seems to just keep growing. And in addition to their own shows, the duo has recently completed touring the US and Canada with Australian Singer-Songwriter Ben Lee. Originally from Calgary, Alberta and now based in Vancouver BC, the two made the move west together in 2002 and began officially playing together in 2003. In addition to their musical endeavors, the two also share a passion and experience for the stage and screen, having acted in numerous productions. Plans are in the works for a full length follow up to 'Songs From the Seventh Floor' in the near future, and the duo have no plans of slowing down until they have conquered at least the modern world and select areas of Antarctica. Hopefully you live in one of those areas and will be able to experience the fury of Madisen soon. Press Clippings 'I love this band Madisen. They are a duo consisting of Matt Clarke and Leila Harrison. From the moment I heard Leila's voice I was sold. They actually inspired me to build another site just for acts like theirs who are incredibly talented but have no spot on the radio dial.' - John Beaudin, QM/FM 103.5 FM (Vancouver), The Breeze 103.1 FM (Calgary), smoothjazznow.com 'If Matt Clarke and Leila Harrison's romantic partnership is as successful as their musical collaboration as Madisen, they're sure lucky. The folk-rock duo create lush, lovely tunes sung by Harrison and driven by Clarke's guitar.' - Briana Doyle, Canada.com Duo looks up from seventh floor from The Vernon Morning Star by Dean Gordon Smith Transplanted Vancouver duo Madisen dub themselves 'folk-rock', but a close listen to their debut CD, Songs from the Seventh Floor, reveals a style veering towards singer-songwriter territory, specifically a mature pop context that opts for affairs-of-the-heart material rather than the more topical concerns of folk-rock. However, the former Albertans are definitely possessed of a Western (Canadian) sensibility inherent in their yearning, acoustic-driven sound. The ringing, chiming instrumental arrangement and flowing rhythm on the opening track Blind inhabits the realm of prairie consciousness, perhaps informing the folk association. The pair (Leila Harrison and Matt Clarke) are backed by a tasteful group that includes producer/engineer Jared Kuemper (Tegan and Sara, Sheryl Crow) that brings their songs to full potential here. Vocalist Harrison's voice is rich and melodic, coming across as sexy and unmannered - not an easy feat, and indicative of an unselfconscious delivery. The results are pleasing and easy on the ears. Especially effective is the vocal blending of Harrison and Clarke on the swaying Not Yet, producing a rich and well-realized duet. Here I Am moves into rockier terrain, featuring more of a band-driven energy. The sweet sounds and roots of the duo are explored fully on the thoughtful Sad Nights that reflects the best of the dreamy, haunting quality that Madisen offers on this classy EP. Catch Madisen live when the duo plays Lorenzo's Cafe in Ashton Creek (east of Enderby) Sunday night. Call the cafe at 838-6700 for info. Madisen's New Ave - By Mike Bell (The Calgary Sun, Nov. 5 2004) Duo working well together In today's world, it's all about multi-tasking and maximizing. That's why the Vancouver-based duo of Matt Clarke and Leila Harrison like performing in Calgary. Both folk pop musicians, who perform under the name Madisen, are former locals who use their return trips to the city in order to take care of family business. For example, the pair's upcoming show, tomorrow at the Ironwood, has given them the opportunity to attend a couple of birthdays. Talking with the pair, it seems a return to the fresh mountain air and reconnecting with the kin has made a difference - they both sound relaxed and refreshed. It makes you wonder why they left to begin with. 'We were feeling a little stagnant here in Calgary,' says Clarke, who writes most of the act's material. 'So (we thought) a change in scenery might be a little motivation for us. 'And the opportunities are greater, so that definitely appealed to us.' That was more than two years ago. Since then, they've slowly established themselves in the Vancouver scene, thanks in part to persistence, not to mention their airy, melodic acoustic songs. Those gifts have led to their charming debut EP, Songs From the Seventh Floor, which was recorded on another trip back to Calgary earlier this year. So ultimately, Clarke says, despite a couple of hiccups and despite the always present pull of home, the move west was a good move. 'Things never quite go as you expect but overall it has paid off,' Clarke says of the relocation, which has also helped both of their acting careers. 'But it's been a different road than what we had originally planned it to be.' Strangely the main difference is Madisen itself. While the pair have been a romantic couple for years, their musical collaboration was limited to Harrison adding vocals every so often to Clarke's solo material. Eventually, they worked so well together - onstage and off, presumably - that it was only natural it blossom into a full time partnership. 'The music thing was unexpected but extremely pleasant - we've ha a lot of fun,' Harrison says. 'And the relationship helps the music and maybe vice versa. They play off each other... 'It's challenging sometimes,' she laughs, 'because we're in a relationship and we don't hold back so much.' Honesty key for folk-duo Madisen By James Catterall (The Gateway, University of Alberta, March 10, 2005) Madisen The best things in life seem to happen without any planning. When Matt Clarke heard Leila Harrison singing, both of them had other agendas. Clarke had just graduated from theatre school and Harrison was busy with acting projects of her own; neither had any intention of making a career together in music. But the two went against their plans. Now, they make up folk-rock duo Madisen. And, as Clarke explains, he wouldn't have been making music if Harrison-with whom he says he shares a remarkable chemistry-hadn't come along. 'I started writing songs on my own and started playing in coffee shops and wherever people would let me play,' he says. 'We started playing together and we just jumped it to the next level.' Clarke isn't just speaking professionally; the two share a romantic relationship offstage that they try to keep separate from their performance. Though it may influence their lyrics, they insist that honesty is key when it comes to music. '[Our relationship] shouldn't be the focus. It would be easy to make that the focus and sort of ride on that.' 'People get bored from that kind of stuff too. I mean, the music is what's going to keep people coming back,' adds Harrison. If the cheery optimism of Harrison's vocals is any indication, it would seem that Madisen's future is bright. Their five-song EP, Songs from the Seventh Floor, is a testament to happiness, produced by Jared Kemper (who previously worked with Tegan and Sara). Though they encountered a lot of extra expenses and difficulty putting together the EP, Clarke insists that 'if we don't look from outside the box or keep some kind of an objective viewpoint or positive view we'd lose our minds.' Honesty, again, is key, says Harrison. 'You're working with people who are very experienced and it's very easy to say whatever you think, and there's a danger of losing your own vision of what you want, but I think we did a good job with the EP of staying true to our own sound.' And that sense of honesty even comes through in their record's themes. 'I think the theme of the record is this is what we're experiencing; this is our journey,' says Harrison. 'An honest performance: that's what we strive for every time, and we strive to enjoy ourselves up there.' MADISEN: Songs From the Seventh Floor (Independent) By Mike Usinger The Georgia Straight (Vancouver) - Aug 26, 2004 So it's a sun-dappled Sunday morning and there's not enough of a breeze to rustle the leaves in the trees. You've been busy at your Mokita Super Inox cappuccino machine, but truth be known the three Illy caffè macinato lattes have got you a bit wild-eyed. As beautiful as the day is, you're starting to feel like you need something a little edgier than the dulcet tones of Dido. May we suggest Madisen's Songs From the Seventh Floor? Forget the sleepy, urban folk for urban folks first couple of tracks; 'Blind' and 'Hold Me Tight' may be fine for cuddling by the food island, but they aren't going to help you sweat away the caffeine jitters. Skip to the duo's moderately upbeat 'Not Yet', in which singer Leila Harrison and singer-guitarist Matt Clarke get their money's worth out of hired hands Kristian Alexandrov (drums) and Phil Hall (bass). By the time the two get to their best track--the almost-confrontational acoustic rocker 'Here I Am'--they give 'er almost as hard as Joan Osborne or Holly McNarland. You won't find Songs From the Seventh Floor on the rack at your local Starbucks just yet, but trust us, it's just a matter of time. Treading between two industries (FFWD Weekly Calgary, SEE Magazine Edmonton -June 17, 2004)Vancouver-based acoustic duo Madisen switch between film and music MADISENFor all the parallels that can be (and often are) drawn between the music and film industries, there are a few important differences, according to Leila Harrison, who is half of the acoustic-pop duo Madisen and who's dabbled briefly in both.As far as acting goes, Harrison started as a dancer before she turned to live theatre and played minor roles in television and film, recently appearing on the American television show Dead Like Me. And while she certainly enjoys both facets of performance-particularly the vibrant entertainment scene in Vancouver where she now lives-Harrison has more control over her destiny when she's playing and promoting her music.'Acting is a lot of fun, but it's definitely a tough industry to break into,' Harrison explains. 'You don't have quite as much control over your destiny in the film and television industry. No matter what happens, we'll always be able to book shows, we'll always be able to play open mics, and [to] write new material and record at home.'Another element distinguishing Harrison's two passions is whom she works with. When playing music, she'll always be able to choose her partner. In the case of Madisen, it's Matt Clarke who provides guitars and additional vocals alongside Harrison's soulful and twang-inflected voice. This collaborative dynamic is essential to their bubbly country sound and is easily identified on their debut five-song EP, Songs from the Seventh Floor.'We'll always be able to work together with [the music],' says Harrison. 'It's nice to have someone in your back pocket all the time that you can bounce ideas off of and work with in that way.'Clarke has been in Harrison's back pocket for years. Both actors, the two moved to Vancouver in 2002-she from Cochrane, he from Calgary. They combined their musical talents under the name Paramie the following year but changed their name this year before the release of the EP.Their dynamic has also changed, and even though they've maintained their shared system of creation, the two-person songwriting team is less exclusive. Under the direction of producer Jared Kuemper (Sheryl Crow, Tegan and Sara), Madisen was outfitted with a team of additional musicians. On Songs from the Seventh Floor, Harrison and Clarke are backed by a full slate of performers, and many of the live shows reflect this change.These additional musicians aren't merely passive players, however, and affect the songs as they are adjusted and influenced by a full team of creative minds. Still, Clarke doesn't think this arrangement runs the risk of compromising his and Harrison's control over the finished product.'When you get to play with other musicians you really get [the] flavour of them, and it expands what we do,' explains Clarke.'It's really nice because we get an opportunity to hear someone else's take on what we do,' adds Harrison. 'The bottom line is that I have no idea how to play drums-so when we bring our music to a drummer and he adds what he feels will work with it, that's exciting for us.' JAMES KELLER From romance to folk rock Madisen brings Cochrane's Harrison home for folk club show Darryl Mills Wednesday March 09, 2005 Cochrane Times - Their romantic partnership began in Calgary, while their musical collaboration called Madisen, didn't get it's start until they moved to Vancouver. But, no matter where she is, Leila Harrison will always have a place in her heart for Cochrane. 'No matter where I go, Cochrane will always be home,' the former resident and Cochrane High School grad said. Harrison and her music and life partner Matt Clarke are in Cochrane on Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. appearing at the Cochrane Valley Folk Club at the RancheHouse. This folk rock duo that only officially began playing together in 2003 has already received strong critical acclaim for their honest and passionate brand of folk rock. Harrison's voice has been called powerful and compelling, and even soulfully sexy, while Clarke is also noted for a strong voice and driving guitar. Harrison says returning to the not-so-small-town anymore where her parents still live in the same house is something she is excited about. 'To come back to Cochrane and see everyone is great, and the support we've gotten from the community is phenomenal,' she said. She also said she has heard nothing but great things about the folk club, and she says it is great that Cochrane has such a thing. 'We're really excited to be coming to a place where people are really coming for the music,' she said. 'It'll be nice to have people get what we're really trying to do.' And, she has nothing but praise for her partner. 'I feel very fortunate to have found a partner in music as well as in life who is such a good friend to me as well,' she said. 'He's a phenomenal songwriter, and the most dedicated artists, in general, that I have ever worked with. 'He's very passionate about what he does and he really inspires me to be better.' Clarke has been playing guitar since he was 12, and writing songs for about seven years. 'I am in awe of the way he works.' Tickets for the show are $18 in advance or $20 at the door and are available at Coffee Traders (Harrison says it is still the best job she ever had), Pix & Stix, or Bragg Creek Video.
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