Graduating to next level electro-pop
Madi Sipes & The Painted Blue get serious about their jazz-inflected indie band
Later this month, singer-guitarist Madi Sipes will graduate from the University of San Francisco. Finally. It’s a huge deal for her bandmates, bassist Nick Cunningham and drummer Caleb Koehn, who both live in Sacramento. They’ll live in the same place for the first time since forming Madi Sipes & The Painted Blue.
“It feels like a strange family reunion,” Cunningham said, explaining how the group has grown accustomed to gathering a couple of days before every gig to practice. “It has seemed to work out so far. Hopefully when we’re living together, we can take it to the next level.”
Around the same time, the band will also drop its long-awaited debut full-length, Privacy. The group will celebrate with an album release party at Holy Diver on Friday, April 6.
A few songs off of Privacy have already been released via the group’s 2017 EP Sex & Sadness, a collection of five moody, jazz-inflected electro-pop tracks. With deep, sultry vocals, Sipes sings of love and longing over dreamy, bluesy, and at times strikingly sparse soundscapes. The band cites Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Ocean and Fleet Foxes as influences, and despite how disparate those artists seem, they can all be heard in bits and pieces across the EP, along with soulful indie songstresses like Feist. A few unreleased songs will round out Privacy, which drops April 20 on Dawson/AWAL, and Madi Sipes & The Painted Blue will play them all at Holy Diver.
Even though it’s an exciting time, the band is already thinking far ahead—specifically to the six songs they’ve already finished for the next record.
“We see this album as the cherry on top of these songs we’ve been working on the past four years,” Cunningham said.
Let’s back up a bit: Sipes first started gaining a following when she was a teenager in Placerville. While performing at a summer camp talent show, she drew the attention of a counselor, Andrew Heringer, who was part of the Los Angeles-based pop band Milo Greene. They collaborated on songs at a distance before Sipes formed the band with two of her high school friends and Heringer became their formal producer. Those songs make up Privacy, and that’s why they feel so old to the band.
For the next batch of songs, meanwhile, the band and Heringer worked in a room together at the same time.
“It feels more representative of what we want to bring to the table,” Cunningham said.
They also sound more cohesive, he added. While Privacy jumps back-and-forth from more R&B-tinged tracks to warm folk harmonies to full-fledged pop, the future songs sound more firmly rooted in their influences of Frank Ocean, Ryhe and Drake. The group will start slowly releasing those tracks in June, but before that in May, they’ll also drop a remix EP of Sex & Sadness with versions made by a few of their music friends, including San Francisco’s Geographer.
Clearly, this is a team of planners. Sadly for Sacramento, they said they’ll probably move to Los Angeles to be closer to their producer and the rest of the industry. Cunningham imagines getting out on the road, going anywhere at any moment, free at last.
“And chase the dream,” he said.