Madeon and the transformative, immersive world of ‘Good Faith’

Photo by: M.J. Rawls

It’s the third day of Lollapalooza 2019. At around 10 PM CT time tucked away at the American Eagle state, Madeon, named Hugo Pierre Leclercq is about to unveil his new live show. You ever have something that you were painstakingly working on that you were eager to show the world? Even for the battle-tested Leclercq, nerves set in. “The last few weeks leading up to the premiere of the show were intense! The team and I had a real sense of community. The last few hours leading up to the first show were especially stressful. At that point, it was all up to me and I didn’t want to let everybody down.”

What we were about to see was an accumulation of ideas and concepts that were formulated years prior. Every musician has a moment like this. It may not occur on your first or second albums. With every release or every tour, there’s something that you’re building to. It’s that feeling of complete freedom that can only be gained from experience. From successes and some failures along the way. “I started thinking about that show almost as soon as I started working on the music,” said Leclercq. “I made a mock-up of the stage layout in early 2016 and have been collecting ideas and integrating it ever since. I absolutely couldn’t wait to make it a reality.”

The concept of Madeon began while Leclerq was 11, but came into prominence with the ‘Pop Culture” video he released in 2011. He was hailed as a prodigy in the DJ word. I remember seeing him at the now-defunct IDentity festival in Philadephia. For him being just 17 years of age, he had a command in his set that some veterans would dream of having.

Photo by: M.J. Rawls

The synths of “All My Friends’ started to play coinciding with a flashing spotlight and words on the screen stating Madeon PRESENTS Good Faith Live. From there, Leclercq appears with a microphone stand and begins to sing. Within the process of the live show and making the album that would follow, he’s grown more confident in his voice. “I really wanted to be in front and embody the show. I grew tired of hiding behind a table. Singing my own songs unobstructed feels more meaningful than the way I performed before. The Good Faith era was here.

Photo by: M.J. Rawls

A notable moment in the show was when “Dream Dream Dream” played. Leclerq was surrounded by ghostly figures on the screen behind him. Some of these visuals were green-screened with actors months before these show began. They began to glow and circle around him in a way that drew you into the melody. While we saw the beginnings of this with the Shelter tour with his good friend, Porter Robinson, that was a gateway for this show to happen.

It’s almost poetic that at points, Leclerq would raise his hands while he was in the middle as he was shaking off the built-in nervousness on commanding his own live show. Using his own tracks that served as a story throughout his whole career – with an exception of one or two. This was his moment that you can’t get just from a DJ set. This was the start of something special.

“DJing is my hobby, it’s a very fun activity, it reminds me of playing a video game,” Leclerq would elaborate. But designing and performing the live show is a whole other level, it’s my true statement.”

Photo by: M.J. Rawls

The beginnings of the Good Faith era began directly after 2016’s Adventure tour concluded. Leclercq stayed in a New York studio for a bit and conceived the beginnings of the songs that would ultimately mark a new era in his artistry. “All My Friends” literally feels like you’re walking down Broadway or Time Square. It captures the aura of the somewhat carefree scenery of New York and enjoying the things or people around you.He spent a good amount of time plastering the walls in his room with pictures and creating a universe for himself. Not only is Good Faith something that he engineered, but he also stated on his Good Faith radio show that he wanted it to be a space that fans could share as well.

Leclerq was able to flex his creative muscle with Good Faith seeing that he produced, mixed, and mastered the album on his own. The first track, “Dream Dream Dream’ utilizes choir vocals, a motif that occurs throughout the album with tracks like “Be Fine.”  “Adventure was about capturing my teenage years, but I want to experience more life for myself. I wanted it to be rooted in memories and experiences rather than imagination.”

If you listen to a track like “Nirvana,” you can tell that something has profoundly changed. Adventure and subsequent tracks that followed were recorded in Leclerq’s basement. With Good Faith, he changed the scenery recording in places like Norway or around beaches. This particular track helps you see through his eyes and even strives to take you to whatever you consider your personal nirvana.

In the composition of this album, Leclerq was in a constant state of learning and unlearns. Even down to utilizing his own singing voice, you can hear all the intricate touches that he’s gained over the year. “I think with my dance music background I could occasionally make the mistake of reaching for techniques that were more utilitarian, said Leclerq.” “It was more tailored to create excitement in a dance setting. I wanted to welcome influences from all the music I listen to and study songs that have different purposes.”

Madeon
Photo by: M.J. Rawls

So what is Good Faith? When I spoke to Leclercq, he told me that this album is about encompassing joy or finding what joy really means. This is whether it be regaining it and learning to enjoy it while you have it. ‘No Fear No More’ speaks to that, especially with the tempo changes throughout. Leclercq isn’t afraid to push his boundaries in order to make something new. “That song, in particular, is an anthem to childlike defiance and confidence,” said Leclerq.

For every song like that, there’s ‘Heavy With Hoping,’ which features singer Audra Mae chronicles the space of heartbreak. Good Faith is about the good times, but equally about the bad ones, too. It’s only when you have the bad ones that you appreciate when the good times come. In the journey of Leclercq and Madeon becoming this singular person, Good Faith is an honest and inventive approach on the range of motions Leclercq was feeling at a certain point in his life. Now at 25 years old, a man that has already seemed to accomplish a lifetime worth in music already has created a place that is limitless.