Alternative folk artist Madison McCreary recently launched her nine-track album, Time + Tide, touching upon themes of dating, friendships, restlessness, and the complicated emotions that arise while being home for the holidays. A misty, nostalgic tone fuses with story-driven lyrics and female-powered harmonies to create the dreamy release that ebbs and flows through the growth phases Madison has experienced in her own life.
“Time + Tide is a window into my head and heart. It moves through the months of the year, capturing the tension between the desire to stay rooted and roam free. I hope my music creates the same nostalgic feeling as rediscovering an old folded-up note in your back pocket.”
Born in western Kentucky but currently hailing from Kona, Hawai’i, Madison boasts a unique soundscape of island-influenced bluegrass that brings to light the various musical landscapes from which she has grown.
We recently caught up with Madison for a fast round of our Quick & Dirty series to get to know a little more about the person behind the music and dive deep into the nostalgia that influenced her writing for this record.
What’s something you know isn’t real but wish existed?
Madison McCreary: “Maybe faeries? I love the idea of a whole faerie world living in little mossy twig homes in every patch of woods or garden.”
What’s your favourite article of clothing that you own?
“I have this sweater that used to belong to my dad. He was a dairy farmer for most of his life (we had Holstein cows) and it’s this ratty gray sweater with a picture of two cows in suits and ties and hats and it says ‘the moos brothers’ like, referencing the blues brothers. I wear it all the time.”
If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
“I’ve thought about this a lot … I think my current answer is sea turtle. They live a long time and they just float around and can swim in deep water but also can bask in the sun.”
What historical event would you most like to have experienced firsthand?
“I would love to have experienced pre-colonization Hawai’i. I’ve done so much learning (and have tons still to do) about Indigenous ways of being and knowing that have been all but eradicated. So many people will argue that Hawai’i is just ‘inherently’ dependent on tourism, but that period before Western contact when all was sustainably in harmony with the earth, and stars proves that wrong. And I love to have a glimpse into it.”
What is something that no one else seems to care very much about but drives you irrationally mad?
“I can’t stand it when people bite cheese sticks instead of pulling it off in strings. It defeats the entire purpose!! I shudder just to think about it.”
What always makes you nostalgic?
“Being home on my family’s farm in Kentucky. My songs are super inspired by the feelings of home (and the tension of wanting to move and grow and fly away) that the farm brings. There are trees lining the driveway that I helped plant when I was just a kid, and they’ve sort of grown with me, if that makes sense. In my music and writing I feel like I’m always exploring the tension of staying grounded but also growing a little bit every day, like those trees.”
What were the longest five minutes you’ve ever experienced?
“Well, I’ve been a high school English teacher for the past 6 years, so I’m used to experiencing the longest 5 minutes of my life every day, multiple times a day, during the last 5 minutes of each class. Keeping 10th graders focused and in their seats when they know the bell is about to ring is like herding a pack of wild hyenas.”
When do you feel like the best version of yourself?
“I feel like I’m the best version of myself whenever I am making things for the people in my life. A lot of times, that “making” is writing songs. Most of my songs started out as “letters” to friends or partners, meant to express my love, or my gratitude, or my anger, or to help someone I love process grief or change. I don’t know if it’s actually a historically accurate quote, but my phone background is this quote by Van Gogh, ‘there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.’ So yeah, I guess I’m the best version of myself when I’m making art/getting deep with and loving on the people around me.”
Favourite Drink and Food?
“Drink – coffee; specifically, a warm cup of coffee in a chunky mug, sipped in the passenger seat of a car that is being driven by someone I love and we are driving someplace beautiful. This is another thing that makes me really nostalgic. It’s a feeling I get when I’m on camping trips with my friend Elle, who designed my album art and who one of the tracks on the album is about. We’ve done Bryce Canyon and Zion and Yosemite and lots in between. Warm coffee in my hand, riding in the car next to her, driving to a trailhead, that’s one of the best feelings there is.
“Food – I can eat breakfast food at any time of day or night. I CANNOT eat lunch food before having breakfast food, even if I wake up at noon.”
What three things would you have to have in your bag on a road trip?
“A book to read, a sweater, some funky earrings, maybe? I think I’d be pretty happy Winnie-the-Pooh-ing it in a soft sweater with a book to read and some funky earrings on.”
What’s the theme song to your life and why?
“Well, actually, my album I just released is the closest thing to a theme song to my life. It’s called Time + Tide, and it traces through different months and ‘seasons’ of my life so far as I’ve moved from Kentucky to Hawai’i and learned and grown along the way. It’s gentle but also complex, rooted but airborne, like me.”
If your life were a book or movie, what would the title be?
“A quote taken from a running notes-app list of things I said to Elle on our last Yosemite trip: ‘Coffee In Hand, Tears of a Man’ (or, a back up from the same source: ‘I Wipe My Boogers All Over God’s Green Earth.’ lol).”