Madge Seen Through Tantron's Lens of Queer Absurdity

Madge Seen Through Tantron's Lens of Queer Absurdity

Interview by Madge / Photography by Tantron

Hey! Madge here. As part of my Ethanol EP release, I got to collaborate with one of my favorite digital artists and creative minds, Tantron. Fun fact is that we grew up together and I've basically known him since he was born. When I talked to Tantron about Ethanol, he came up with four insane photo ideas that interpret it through his lens of queer absurdity. I talked to him a bit about his creative process and what inspires him generally, below.

Madge: HIIII, BB. I have some questions for you. I'd love for the folks to get to know you and your work better. I feel like these pictures are such a clear insight into your mind. I'm fascinated to think that this is what you imagined when I described Ethanol to you. The first thing I noticed about this photoshoot concept was that it seems like a fever dream in a childhood playroom or a kitchen pantry — so many everyday objects. What are three everyday items that inspire you?

Tantron: 1) Lamps! Colored light! Having lighting options in my home and work space to fit my current mood is crucial for me to have a good day! 2) Plants! Can't seem to stop spending a million dollars a day on new plants! I was at an obsessive total of 33 until a healthy little fern I picked up last week turned out to only have a lifespan of two days, which lowered me back down to 32... NOT MY FAULT! 3) Kitschy-ass trinkets! They're so dumb! So tacky! So poorly designed! And so important!

I know that you love ugly. What are your favorite ugly colors?

In the same way that hipsters used to say they followed a band before they were cool, I've been obsessed with neon yellow highlighter for years, and now it's all over the past two seasons of fashion and I'm a lil pissed lol! Neon yellow, not to be mistaken with neon green, as melodramatic as it might sound, is truly essential to my art practice. I love to pair it with an iteration of a rancid brown beige mustardy matte cream tan and make it real icky to look at.

I also know that you grew up seeing and experiencing a lot of ugly things in Mormonism — a lot uglier than just an icky color palette. How does your religious past inspire your work?

Both consciously and unconsciously, most of my work is satirical of and inspired by the suburban Christian culture that raised me. Certain colors, kitsch decor and aesthetics that feel like symbols of home and rejection of community are things that I inevitably end up using in my work. The idea of hating something so much that you begin to love it and use it because of that hate and rejection is something that I'm still trying to understand in my own work. In the past two years I've gone from from a very stalwart and miserable "straight" Mormon, to a very faggy and happy post-mormon butch queen. Between then and now, there's been an egregious amount of hurt, anger, mental health episodes and probably the hardest: a year and a half of chronic stomach, digestive and breathing issues directly correlated to physical manifestation of trauma! I think my recent work visually follows my coming to terms with being myself and embracing my queerness and eccentricities. It just continues to get weirder, darker, more kitschy and cuter!

I relate to that big time in my musical process. What kind of music inspires you?

I can be locked in my room listening to nothing but slow moody sad girl music like Angel Olson, Aldous Harding or Mitski for 10 hours, but I can also be out till 4 AM drenched in sweat going very hard on the dance floor to RiRi or 100 gecs, Pussycat Dolls or YOU, MADGE! You know I'm literally your #1 fan and don't roll your eyes. I'm a versatile gal, but if I had to choose one, it would be music that makes me happy and bouncy and dancey!

HAHAHA! I love you. I am always so flattered that you even listen to my music at all. What kind of music did you grow up listening to?

I'm the youngest of five kids, so what I listened to was what my older siblings in high school were listening to — therefore at 9 years old I was singing "Getting Away with Murder" by Papa Roach (yikes) during my sister's goth phase. The sister which, might I add, was YOUR best friend growing up. I also listened to a lot of Death Cab and System of a Down, which to this day, is still a guilty screamy pleasure of mine.

I miss the early 2000's. What a magical time. What is your biggest goal for 2020?

Well currently it is to not go insane, but before that when we lived in a regular world it was to just continue popping out lots of work, even in quarantine! I had met some incredible creators at the end of last year and I started getting big boi jobs through them and was hoping to ride that trajectory, but that'll have to wait until the industry is back open again! Oh duh, and fucking defund the police.

OH YEP. I feel that. What is your biggest goal in general?

Making a comfortable living (in a small home with a cutie husband) creating work that's conceptually, socially and visually important. I would love for my work to be important enough to be remembered after I'm in the MF ground.

And on a smaller scale, if you could think of five adjectives to describe yourself what would they be?

VeRy QuEeR, Over-exaggerator, Detailed, Post-Mormon, Anxious OCD girlie!

There are some nouns in there, but I'll forgive you. Pop punk or emo? Choose one.

I think I must go with pop PUNK...

Great choice. First word that comes to mind right now?


Same, tbh. Let's do that. Thanks for chatting with me!

Stream Ethanol by Madge, below.

Demon: Madge
Photogrpahy and creative direction: Tantron
Body paint: Taylor Brizendine
Makeup: Sasha Borax
Camera assistant: Adam Lee