Five Questions With… Madison Galloway
The young Ontario roots artist has just released a debut album, Moon & Mercury. Here she discusses working with Ron Hawkins, the song she is most proud of, a love of Led Zeppelin, a memorable open mic debut, and a funny road story.
By Jason Schneider
Madison Galloway is an emerging voice in Canadian roots music and at just 19 years old, she has already begun making her mark, with her debut album Moon & Mercury, produced by Lowest Of The Low’s Ron Hawkins. The 13-track collection—including a stellar version of House Of The Rising Sun—displays a remarkable range of styles, from foot-stomping highs to ambient lows, all while blending elements of folk, blues and rock into an eclectic sonic journey.
Growing up in small-town Fergus, Ontario, Galloway’s early passion for music was complemented by an equal love of painting and protecting the environment. She began with classical piano training, but it wasn’t until she picked up a guitar as a teen that she discovered her true calling and started pouring out original songs.
Soon after, Galloway released a five-song EP entitled Who Knows Where and started building a reputation as a road warrior, touring with her band, and as a duo and solo performer. She’s played hundreds of shows since then, including notable performances at the Mariposa Folk Festival, Riverfest Elora, and RBC Bluesfest, sharing the stage with 54-40, Colter Wall, and others.
She performs in her hometown of Fergus on July 4, with further Ontario dates to follow, along with shows in B.C. in August. To check out more of Moon & Mercury, go to madisongalloway.com.
Congrats on your debut album Moon & Mercury. What was the process like making it?
Overall, I’d say it was exciting, fun, stressful, and magical. Between our producer Ron Hawkins, engineer Brian Hewson, my band, the guest musicians, and our family, we all made a great team, and I’m so grateful to have gotten to work with all of them. We lived at the studio for two weeks, which was a cool experience in itself, but by the end of it, I think everyone was a bit exhausted. I painted the front cover of the album and designed all of the artwork throughout the CD, so there was still a lot to be done after the actual recording. All of our efforts were completely worth it though, and I’m thrilled to have been able to bring Moon & Mercury to life.
What songs on the record are you most proud of and why?
One song I’m most proud of is My Baby Don’t Care. It’s the only song on the record I performed solo, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. It had been an instrumental guitar piece when I wrote it a couple of years ago. But when I started prepping the songs for the album, I began envisioning lyrics and harmonica on it. I wrote the words about a week or two before going into the studio and tracking the harmonica was one moment where I have to admit I was impressed with myself!
What drew you to the blues and roots music in general?
I grew up listening to [Toronto rock radio station] Q107 with my parents, and Led Zeppelin became my favourite band, which I think introduced me to blues and roots music. They have such an incredible range of styles, but I was just really drawn to their bluesy side. Those are some of my favourite tunes that they did.
What's your best touring story?
I don’t know that this is the “best” story, but in 2017, the band and I had a show in Wasaga Beach [Ontario], so we were staying at my house the night before. Joe, our drummer at the time, had a large carrot in his backpack. While we were sleeping, my lil’ doggie, Myles, found it and ate the entire thing. Jonathan, our guitarist, and I happened to find some little carrot pieces in the morning, so we cleaned them up and decided not to mention it to Joe. When he looked for his carrot later that day, it was gone of course. Then when got to Wasaga, Myles had the most vibrant orange poop I’ve ever seen in my life, and it was then that Joe realized where his carrot went! We all had a really good laugh about it.
What do you recall about your first time performing in public?
I took piano lessons from the age of six and performed at the end-of-year recital each year. What I remember about that is asking how many songs I could play and always picking the max! I have more vivid memories about the first open mic I ever went to. It was in Mississauga at the Living Arts Centre, and my mom had called the host and asked if we would be able to sign up in advance since we were coming from an hour away. He marked me down on the list, so we made our way to Mississauga. There was a huge snowstorm, so we weren’t sure if we should still go, we decided we shouldn’t bail since we were signed up. There wasn’t a huge turnout because of the snow; even some folks from Mississauga didn’t show up. But I remember loving getting up there to perform in front of everyone. It was a pivotal point in my deciding to pursue music instead of painting, which I still love to do as well.