With the release of her debut single “Smoke Alarm,” on Jan. 20, Northeastern University Student Madison Bequer became the newest player in the Boston music scene. In an interview with The Harvard Crimson, the singer-songwriter recounted her music journey and shared her experience balancing school and music.
Despite a fascination with music since early childhood, Bequer’s passion for songwriting originated in the poems and stories she wrote. Citing a lack of confidence in her singing voice, she didn’t venture into making music until the Covid-19 pandemic, when she chose to apply to Northeastern’s music program.
“When COVID happened, it actually helped me realize that I did want to do music, for good, and not anything else,” Bequer said.
Thinking about her life’s trajectory led Bequer to many existential crises. She wanted to make sure she would be happy doing whatever it is she chose. Unsure of her potential, she decided to push herself and pursue singing.
“I just have to do this, because if I don’t I’m always going to wonder what would have happened if I did do it.” Bequer said, stating that her confidence started growing after committing to music.
Northeastern’s song-writing courses played a large role in developing Bequer’s confidence along with her songwriting skills, making it possible for her to release music. Her peers and faculty taught Bequer to get comfortable sharing her work and grew her confidence.
“I had this really amazing teacher,” Bequer said of David McWane, lead singer of Boston-based band Big D and The Kids Table. McWane provided insightful feedback on Bequer’s song. With his advice, she began to think “maybe I’m better than I think I am.”
For many college students, creative passions and academics often conflict. But Bequer found it critical that her academic and creative goals align. While many of Bequer’s skills are self-taught, her classes provided her with useful information and opportunities, like having peers listen to her songs and learning about technical production.
“The very base idea of sharing my music with other people and not getting nervous, that vulnerability, I only could have learned through doing it at school,” said Bequer.
Making music in an academic setting motivated Bequer to get out of her comfort zone while giving her the tools to complete the songs she wanted to make. She self-produced her debut single “Smoke Alarm,” citing a recording class she took as an invaluable resource for learning how to use software like Logic and Pro Tools.
“If I didn’t do this program, I don’t think I would have released a song,” Bequer said.
While Boston has a vibrant indie and folk music scene, Bequer asserts that her music doesn’t fit the Boston mold. She doesn’t identify with its sound as a consumer or creator of music.
“I don’t think I really make that kind of music. I don’t know what genre you’d put my music in, but I don’t think that’s it,” Bequer said.
Regardless of her unwillingness to fit the mold, Bequer has found people she enjoys doing shows and making music with, her lifeline towards connection.
“It’s not my favorite of the music scenes I’ve been a part of but there are really amazing people in it,” Bequer said, determined to make her own niche in Boston’s music community.
Expressing difficult emotions has been uncomfortable for Bequer, and finding a way to share them is what inspires her songs.
“The driving factor is literally what I’m feeling. Music and lyric writing is kind of the only way I can adequately express those things,” she said.
Bequer is continuously working on new music. “I just wrote a song yesterday,” she said, after mentioning her hope to release an EP in the future. Excited by the feedback she received from playing her work-in-progress in class, Bequer plans to include that song on her upcoming project.
Bequer’s first foray into music creation is certainly not her last. From being hesitant to share her songs with her family, to releasing a single and working on an EP, Bequer has evolved into a confident artist with the help of her own will and her college’s resources. Determined to pursue music and driven by the desire to express herself, Bequer stands poised to grow her burgeoning musical niche.
—Staff writer Anna Moiseieva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AMoiseieva.