Meet Madison Emiko Love: The Golden Hand Behind The Pop Music Scene

Meet Madison Emiko Love: The Golden Hand Behind The Pop Music Scene

The LA-based songwriter is the secret ingredient to all your favorite pop hits.

The LA-based songwriter is the secret ingredient to all your favorite pop hits.

Photography: Amina Gingold

Styling: Scott Shapiro

Text: Hannah Hightman

Madison Emiko Love reclines nonchalantly yet gracefully on her bed, encircled by ivory sheets and sporting a loose-fitting white button down shirt and a collection of necklaces, her dark hair fashionably tousled, looking not unlike the rom com stars she cites as inspiration for her work. The atmosphere of LA glamor is heightened by her poodle (a retired dog show champion), Gigi, who remains perched faithfully by her side throughout the interview, scarcely distinguishable from the sheets. Unlike her dog, Love does not blend in with the background, literally and metaphorically.  She has a distinct voice, smooth and sultry like the content of the songs she writes, yet also vivacious and bubbly, portraying a spectrum of human emotion in a single breath, the kind of voice that inevitably makes her a performer as well as a writer.

It may look like Love is relishing in the luxury of a free Saturday morning, but the workaholic songwriter has far from an open schedule; she actually has a session right after this.“People are like, ‘You’re always working! You need to go on vacation,’ and I really think I need that,” the LA native says with a laugh. But Love’s hard work hasn’t gone without notice. Those who are not familiar with Love herself certainly have heard the songs she’s written. The 23-year-old has co-written two Billboard Hot 100 hits: “Bad Things” by Camila Cabello and Machine Gun Kelly, and “Him & I” by Halsey and G-eazy. She’s also written for Bazzi, Pitbull, and Jason Derulo. She started writing professionally while attending NYU’s Clive Davis School of Recorded Music, and friends have been telling her to take a break ever since. “I remember being in college and my friends would be like ‘We’re going out tonight. You should meet more people,’” she says in a breathy, affectionately mocking voice. “And I would always be like ‘Oh no, I can’t.’ Because I was already talking to publishers and they were sending me stuff to work on.”

Possessing a vibe she describes as “a bit dark, clever, and [with] multiple surprises,” Love draws from eclectic influences, including everything from her childhood favorites like Taylor Swift and Carole King to pieces of overheard conversations. “I was at this bar the other night, and this woman was like ‘Oh, I don’t know that guy but I know I wanna do it again!’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m stealing that,’” she says, still in awe of the crass genius of the comment. Although Love’s lyrics suggest a life of dangerous lust, her songs bear little relevance to her personal life. “I tend to write a lot of darker, twisted love songs, even though my life is very untwisted and happy. I don’t know what that means psychologically but it’s good for business,” she says. She has a particular fondness for “Dead,” a song she wrote for Madison Beer. “The lyric is ‘If you say you can’t live without me, then why aren’t you dead yet, why are you still breathing?’ I love it because it kind of surprises you. When I was writing that song, I was like, ‘Let’s be literal.’ I like to come up with concepts that are like ‘Whoa, did she just do that? Yeah she did!’” she exclaims, voice fluctuating in tone to embody the imagined bystanders to her work. “Dead” is at once both vulnerable and powerful, assertive yet melancholy, and therefore emblematic of Love’s MO for writing songs for female voices. “With everything that’s going on in the world, I believe there is a need for women’s voices to be heard and celebrated. I think it’s extremely powerful to have songs written by a female for females. I try to empower women in my songs, applaud their creativity, and their intelligence.”

Although the perception might be that Love’s occupation is one that’s out of the spotlight, she often finds herself sharing the stage with the people she’s written for. “Truthfully, I’m never really that far behind the scenes. With many of the songs I pitch, artists ask me to feature on them. They get married to the sound of my voice on the demo. More often than not, I look at a song and see it as something I could potentially be a part of.” She’s been featured on G-Eazy’s “Mama Always Told Me,” Axwell - Ingrosso’s “I Love You,” and Black Coast’s “No Filter.” She’ll also be doing a few performances with Two Feet on his upcoming tour. “I wanna just surprise people,” she says. “I think a lot of people think I’m a songwriter and don’t want to be an artist but I do,” she states emphatically, running her fingers through her hair as if to pose. It’s obvious she was meant for the limelight. As she builds a solo career, Love is starting to become more reflective, looking toward her own life for fodder for her writing, free from the sometimes confining parameters of writing for other people. “A lot of artists are afraid about talking about different things. I’ll give a song to one artist, and they’ll say ‘Oh, she’s not talking about relationships right now, so think of something more creative. Talk about friendships.’ And I’m like ‘Okaaay,’” she says, reenacting her confusion to this hypothetical incident. “There’s a lot of boundaries when you pitch. But right now it’s just me exploring and figuring out what I wanna talk about.” Love fully expects her songs to change as she does. “How you grow as a person is intertwined with songwriting. As I grow, [my songs will] probably be more mature.”

Love’s relationship with songwriting already has changed. What was initially a metaphorical escape, a sort of catharsis for teen angst became the key to unlocking a new life for Love. “In school, I wasn’t really a cool kid. And now, I feel like my life is just beginning. My dad would always come into my room and say ‘This is not your life. Your life is coming. And you’ll know when it happens.’ And when stuff was happening music-wise, my dad said ‘This is it! This is your life!’ And I felt it.”

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Madison’s Discography:

HIM & I - G-Eazy and Halsey

BAD THINGS - Camila Cabello and Machine Gun Kelly

STAR - Bazzi

IN THE DARK - Camila Cabello

HURT PEOPLE - Two Feet feat. Madison Love

WHAT SHE WANTS - ARIZONA

MAMA ALWAYS TOLD ME G-eazy feat. Madison Love

I LOVE YOU - Axwell Ingrosso feat. Kid Ink

SWEET BUT PSYCHO - Ava Max

DEAD - Madison Beer

THINK BEFORE I TALK - Astrid S

POR FAVOR - Pitbull feat. Fifth Harmony

KISS THE SKY - Jason Derulo

AWW - Baby Ariel

JACKET AND PANTS ECKHAUS LATTA SUNGLASSES STYLIST’S OWN EARRINGS SHAMI RINGS TALENT’S OWN
Credits: PHOTOGRAPHY - AMINA GINGOLD FASHION - SCOTT SHAPIRO HAIR - KYO SUD MAKEUP - KYLE SHEEHAN

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