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Cardiff Character: Maddie Jones

Maddie Jones has red hair in Bonham-Carteresque ringlets, a biker jacket, and a voice that hovers on the verge of laughter. “I don’t know whether other adults still get the feeling before Christmas when you can’t sleep,” she says, sipping on a cider. “I’ve been getting that all week… a kind of nervous tension.”

It is the evening before the launch of her first full-length album, Vita Brevis. She has just collected a fence post from her parents’ house, which she plans to wind with fairy lights and plant on Womanby Street – signposting The Moon Club where she will be performing for family, friends and guests.


Maddie Jones performs songs from Vita Brevis at The Moon Club

Maddie is 26, and is from Ystrad Mynach – a small, impossible-to-pronounce Welsh village. She is four years out of a Music degree at Nottingham and makes a living as a full-time musician. With an artist “fuck the working world” mother and a father who taught her guitar, her first singing inspirations came from Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday. She then passed through a ‘heavy rock’ phase, was part of an all-female punk band called Pure Silk at secondary school, and ran open mic nights during her undergraduate years in Nottingham. Post-graduation she decided she wanted to ‘do’ music, made a business plan of her life with her Dad, and started “tentatively writing and recording songs.”

The making of Vita Brevis, (a phrase extracted from a longer quote by Hippocrates, which means “Life is Short”) began in 2013, when Maddie won a competition that provided her with recording time, later extended with Arts Council Funding. The art-deco cover, in which she shouts – or perhaps laughs – through a gramophone with a firework exploding behind her, she designed herself. “I thought the photo really encapsulated the album tone… Life is short: shout through a horn.”


Maddie finds songwriting very therapeutic: “A lot of the emotions [in the songs] are very intense, not just the sort of thing you talk about to people; but it’s very liberating to sing them – especially to strangers.” She loves hearing that her music has resonated with a person: and once got a free taxi ride from a driver who played her EP on a loop.

“I’m more happy with [Vita Brevis] than I’ve ever been with anything,” she says. “I’ve got to the point where I’ve stopped listening to it so critically, and started to enjoy it as an album.” Following the launch, she wants to spend the next year touring and playing festivals.

There aren’t enough strong female singer-songwriters out there, she thinks. Artists like Rhianna and Katy Perry are applauded for their appearance and their dress but not for their instrumentalism or their ability to write lyrics. Her advice for aspiring “lady singers” breaking into the industry? “You are going to be treated differently, inevitably. Make it work to your advantage. Don’t let people walk over you because you’re female. Just get them to say ‘Oh, that’s unusual… a girl with a guitar.’”


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