Madison Beer is more than ready to open up. From the moment I ask a question from inside a karaoke room at a club event for Las Vegas’s JBL Fest, she’s prepared to tell the truth. “[I’m someone who was subject to] massive amounts of online hatred and bullying, and to people constantly perceiving and having opinions about me,” she tells POPSUGAR. “That’s been very hard at times.”
When it comes to the internet, which she calls “f*cking terrifying,” she wishes there was more accountability for the kind of cyberbullies that came after her so intensely during the early years of her career. “There should be actual consequences for that. I would love to see something implemented where, actually, no, you can’t just hide behind an account and be horrifically mean to people and cost people their lives sometimes. Maybe a system that finds these people and holds them accountable,” she says, growing thoughtful. “I’m very grateful that I pushed through those hard years because there were lots of moments where I almost didn’t.”
It’s a radically honest story that Beer has been telling in myriad ways over the course of the past year. She broke out when she was just 13 years old when Justin Bieber retweeted a video of her singing Etta James’s “At Last,” but from the beginning, her viral infamy led to struggles. Bieber was a constant shadow over her career during those years — “interviews used to be very mundane and annoying to me because it would just be like, ‘So talk to us about Justin Bieber. How does he smell and what’s he like?'” she laughs. “The first five years of my career were just constant Bieber trivia, which is great and I love him . . . but it’s been nice having people just want to get to know me.”
Beer recounts the bullying — and her long recovery from it — in her April memoir “The Half of It” and also in her latest album, “Silence Between Songs,” which was released on Sept. 15. The memoir and the album are deeply intertwined, both delving into the painful underbelly of that time in Beer’s life. “I was actually writing the book and the album in similar timeframes, so I think they coexist. If you read the book and listen to the album, I think there’s a lot of overlap, and I’m not sure that one would have turned out as they did without the other,” Beer notes. “I just tried to be honest. As I was writing the book and feeling relief as I was being honest about certain things, I was like, how can I translate that into my music?”
As for why she’s decided to be so publicly vulnerable, Beer says that talking about the truth of what’s really going on has always been important to her. “I’d just been through a lot, and I felt like it was time to share those more serious and deep parts of myself,” she says. “That’s how I am. I’m always talking about that kind of sh*t so I’m like, let’s make music about it, why not.”
“Being a mental health advocate and sharing those intimate parts of myself, that’s newer, and it’s actually been arguably the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.”
Most of “Silence Between Songs” was written at her producer Leroy Clampitt’s house, and she recalls that one song in particular — “Ryder” — was healing to craft. “Writing ‘Ryder’ was very rewarding for me. I felt an immediate sense of therapeutic happiness,” she says.
In making the album, she also wanted to focus on creating something with staying power. To do that, Beer turned to music that’s withstood the test of time, like the Beach Boys’s beloved “Pet Sounds.” She explains, “Listening to ‘Pet Sounds’ all the way through for the first time made me really be like, I want an album that lives past me and just still holds up and invokes the feeling that I’m feeling right now. I just got very inspired and I think that the classic music, it just speaks to me . . . Hopefully, my music speaks to some people in the same way.”
Beer’s certainly already seen that speaking out about her story has resonated with lots of fans. “It’s definitely given me clarity in a lot of ways and I think it’s given me more purpose,” she says of her decision to tell the truth about what she’s been through. Beer’s honesty has allowed her to connect more deeply with many people, bonding with them over shared experiences. “It feels good because I have people all the time being like, ‘Thank you for what you wrote,'” she says. “It means a lot and I’m very proud that I’m able to do that.”
Beer’s not about to put everything on the table, of course, which is well within her right. “I don’t really pressure myself to talk about things that I’m not really ready to talk about. Everything that’s out there, I feel at peace with and ready to speak about,” she says. “There are definitely things I haven’t opened up about yet. That’s been an interesting thing to balance — like, what do I wanna talk about? What are still things I feel are for me that I’m not ready to have up for f*cking commentary?” She knows that what she says — like everything on the internet — will be up for scrutiny.
Now, though, Beer’s intent is on crafting a narrative and releasing music that lasts, and she’s proud of the story she’s choosing to tell. “Obviously, singing and making music is something I dreamt of doing and wanted to be doing my whole life. But this part of my story and career, being a mental health advocate and sharing those intimate parts of myself, that’s newer, and it’s actually been arguably the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done,” she says. “Just making people feel less alone, sharing my story, destigmatizing certain things — I feel really proud of myself for opening up.”