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Scout Beck

Madeleine Hyland
Feverrr Interview

Scout Beck, Editor
Feverrr by Mathew Foster
Feverrr by Mathew Foster
With undeniable stage presence, a genuine love of performance and a voice with the power to stop you in your tracks, it's no surprise that London (UK) based performer Madeleine Hyland has taken the inevitable next step and created her own band Feverrr.

Currently on stage with 'Wolf Hall' on Broadway, Madeleine is preparing to lay down the tracks for a debut album with band mate Joey Batey.

The actress and singer has a voice with real depth and soul and the delivery of a true performer. Feverrr promises to showcase that talent, so brilliantly demonstrated in her duets with Kevin Rowland on Dexys latest album 'One Day I'm Going To Soar'.

Playing the role of an impossibly perfect, yet ultimately convincing muse and lover, Hyland brought a level of drama to 'Incapable of Love' that raised it way above a simple break-up song. It became a very real story, something that needed to be seen as well as heard - wonderfully theatrical yet paradoxically believable.

Implausibly beautiful and sparking with sex appeal Hyland is in her element as the woman Rowland, incomprehensibly, ultimately rejects. Her energy is infectious and she and the Dexy's frontman crackle with tension as they belt out note for note at each other. The result is passionate and compelling.

So it is with a justified degree of excitement that her latest venture is anticipated. Speaking from her temporary home in America, Madeleine told us a little more about herself.

Hi Madeleine, how and where are you?

"I'm on a balcony on the 35th floor in midtown, NYC. Hungover. Almost literally."

You are currently performing in Wolf Hall, how did that come about?

"Huge breakup. Childhood dream. Basically, I've no idea. I landed the job almost straight after Dexys worldwide tour. Two years later, I'm on Broadway."

Can you tell us a little about your role in it?

"Basically, no. I'm not in it much. I pretty much spend most of my time swanning about and looking pretty. And people pay me. It's great."

Is musical theatre your first love?

"Music is my first love. Theatre is my first love. I grew up around a lot of jazz and a lot of theatre - my dad is a saxophonist and my mum plays piano and was an actor for a while. Someone gave mum a bunch of random Sondheim mixtapes - and I used to shut myself in the living room and sing for hours, making up the story when I had to because I hadn't seen the shows they came from - and lots of Judy Garland and Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee. So I I've always thought singing to tell a story was a sensible thing to do."

Acting or singing? Do you have a preference?

"Depends what I'm drinking. The two things keep feeding each other - the more I sing the better my acting gets - it makes you a lot more honest. I think maybe singing is harder, there's nothing to hide behind. And the audience switch off very fast if you don't really mean it.

"One time, I was singing in some club in Soho. I gig a lot round there. It was 3am. Everyone was off their tits. Basically, I was singing songs I'd sung a hundred times. Even my best friends weren't listening. I felt like wallpaper. So half way through a version of Fever, I decided to pour red wine slowly down my dress. I wasn't even looking at them, I just thought - 'well, I'm here, so I might as well make a mess.'

"After a minute or two, I realised everyone was listening. I don't know if that means I 'meant' the song more, but it made me understand that nothing - nothing - is more important than connecting with people. Doesn't matter what you're doing -acting, singing, painting, rollerblading... Just make a mess and make it together."

How did the collaboration with Kevin Rowland happen?

"I was drunk. He asked me back to his to sing on his new tracks.

"His songs are honest and have a great humour that I think comes from a wryness, a self-awareness. You feel like every song is a wink from the end of the bar. But they demand that you throw yourself in at the deep end. And I love that - be a goddess for a moment - go - break, break up, go - fight, really fight - and you sing your heart right fucking out of your chest.

"And I like that. I like that it's never completely defined who she is, who I am, so I can walk a line between the epic and domestic every time we perform it, let my imagination go all these different places, find different ways to mean it. I get to make a mess with her, and I think Kevin likes to make a bit of a mess too."

What is it like working with Kevin and Dexy's? Is it something that will continue?

"I have massive respect for what Kevin does. He has managed to define himself as a completely uncompromising artist in a world where it is so difficult to do that and keep your head above water commercially. He never settles. And he's taught me so much. I don't know where it's going to go."

Can you tell us a little of your background?

"Yeah, I'm a pirate."

Was performance always a big part of your life?

"When I was little, I got really jealous of the Virgin Mary in the school Nativity play. Three years in a row, they put me in the choir. So eventually at one point I stole the baby Jesus, and she had to nurse a small Kermit the frog doll for the rest of the show."

Who did you aspire to be when you were growing up?

"God. It's the beard."

Who else had a big influence on you, personally or professionally?

"I packed my bags and finally ran away from New Zealand and arrived at The Globe in London, where I worked for a few years. I got involved with a bunch of theatre companies. The Factory became my family. There's this director called Tim Carroll who has pushed me. I was so boring and I blushed all the time. Tim made me fearless, made me stronger, made me want to want things more. That and 80s power ballads."

Who impresses you now?

"It took me a long time to come to terms with this. But I impress me sometimes. Putting aside my fabergé ego for a moment, no-one takes the time to appreciate how far they've come these days, the time to sit and understand what it means to boring, to be weak, to be lonely. Now I know I'm all those things. And I'm capable of not being those things. New York is a strange place. You hear the roar of the world out here. I guess I'm learning to roar a little back.

"There's this bloke called Joey who I hang around with. He gets me drunk and we play music together in the bath. That's pretty impressive."

What have been your personal and professional highlights so far?

"A gig in an old theatre in Wales with Dexy's. Our first gig of the tour. A kettle and some sandwiches in the wings. The room was almost empty. Turned out everyone there, all the organisers and everything, they thought we were a Dexy's tribute band. The kids at the chippie down the road went mental over Kevin's shoes. None of the classics, just finding faith in the new songs, the new material. I felt a change, a change in the room. I burst into tears in the middle of a song. Someone in the crowd handed me their glass of wine."

Is there something you would love to do professionally that you haven't done yet?

"My new band is called Feverrr. It's me and Joey. We've been gigging out here in the US, soon to go into the studio and get our debut record down. People seem to like what we're making. It feels new to us. Joey wants to be Joni Mitchell, I want to be Nat King Cole. I want to get gigging, the grit and the pints sort of gigging back in London. I'm excited.

What are your short and long term plans?

"I'm going to build a travelling globe theatre out of shipping containers. A punk globe for plays and rock 'n' roll that my friend designed. We're going to put them up all over and take over the world. One glass of red wine at a time."