17 Oct 2016

‘It’s a reminder that what you’ve been through never truly leaves you’

9:43 am on 17 October 2016

Madeira – aka Kim Pflaum – on the pain behind her debut EP, Bad Humors.


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Photo: Facebook

This is part of a regular series called Verse Chorus Verse which sees local artists break down the stories behind their music. For more, click here.


Come On Thru

This song is basically the step by step process of losing the one you love to someone else despite promising you’d be together forever. And then wanting to move past it equally as much as wanting to fix it and make it all better again. It’s kind of bittersweet, but mostly it really sucks. First edits were really shimmery and disco-ish, with heaps of delay on everything, but later we striped it back and added more drive, to be what it is now. I always knew I wanted to take it down a key for what I call “the rap bit”, but was unsure about the chorus reprise in the lower key. In the end, I liked how it’s reflected the lyrical content like “I’ve got this, I’ve got this, oh god no, this sucks, I can’t do this anymore”. It almost gives up at the end, like ‘I’m tired of putting on this brave face’, you know? 

Let Me Down

This is pretty much a track about facing disappointment and what feels like constant bad luck. I like to think of it as the response track to Salka Get Her Hopes Up, the title of which was originally a stab at me as I always hope for the best in situations and of people, but it means I’m easily disappointed when things don’t live up to my expectations. Instead of pointing the finger and saying ‘the way you react to these situations is wrong’, I ask people to accept others as they are and learn to be gentle with them if needed. The song encourages reflection, empathy and even forgiveness, that’s why I wanted the instrumentation to be soft and dreamy. 


This was one of the first tracks I worked on with Shannon of Tom Lark. I knew I wanted it to be a bit heavier and darker than the light, dreamy songs I have been writing, as I had a lot of unresolved sadness and anger to process. Musically, I’d just started using Ableton seriously and was kind of going through the sound presets and playing with the arps, and I found this bass tone which I think is based on a Solton sequencer synth. I thought it suited the mood of the song and gave it the right omph. I like to think the sadish organ tone in the intro sets the scene for the direction of track.

I wrote the lyrics for this track in one sitting, and it’s about the feeling of having your trust betrayed and realising too late that you have been taken for a ride by the person you love. It deals with being love blind and the idea of gaslighting – people do these nice things for you to use as leverage for bad behaviour. You forgive and forgive. You are taken for granted. The line is blurry and you can’t see what is unacceptable anymore. “He hurts me but he loves me, he does all these nice things for me”. It’s manipulation, and it’s deadly. And I like to question ‘how far is too far?’ 


I actually started writing this song when I was still in Yumi Zouma, though in the first version the chorus was way more intense and it had this pulsing sub saw wave synth in it with a horrible harmonising guitar leadline. I have this tendency to throw everything into my songs while I’m writing them and then strip stuff back out later.

The premise for the song was me taking a stab at the Gen Y ‘grass is greener’ mindset – this idea that we need the perfect life where we feel completely fulfilled and utilised and will cycle through the motions until we find this perfect fit (which, of course, is unreachable). It’s about me-ism and the pursuit of happiness. Its partners leaving good relationships to try someone or something else, because they might be missing out on something different – the ‘try before you buy’ method. It’s about filling your CV of life with notable conquests and experiences and puffing yourself up to look worldly and diverse. It’s only showing people the best side of your life; the showreel, the social media syrup, a perfect and fulfilled life.

So I call it out – it’s a hoax, it’s like a horoscope where you make people believe whatever you want them to believe. We read into these reels and can feel inadequate, and we compare ourselves to these illusions. But one could argue that it’s a smoke screen that is unfulfilling. There’s a lack of living in the moment and a lack of commitment; it’s selfish, it’s an endless comparison and it’s making us feel like shit. But we still partake in it, even though deep down we know having it all won’t solve our problems. I question if it’s perhaps better to stick at something and work hard to make it the best it can be rather than constantly focusing on imperfections. 


I wrote this song about the time I was in New York recording the second Yumi Zouma EP and the incredibly difficult interpersonal challenges going on for me at that time. I could feel everything was falling apart and I was doing everything I could to fix it, at great personal cost. I was under so much emotional stress, I was on all these meds to help me function and deal with the pain I was being subjected to. The blows were unrelenting, and they crushed me a little more each time. I remember I was sleeping on an air mattress on the floor and felt like I was being trampled into that floor, or melting into it like a block of warming ice. One minute I was loved and elated, the next I was crushed and walked over by some of my closest friends. I gave everything a superhuman effort, but I still lost it all.

The song asks ‘why do these awful things happen when you are giving your all and when you bring nothing but love?’ The whole experience was painful, disjointed and messy – it left me with a lingering hurt and I wanted the song to reflect that. In many ways, that is why I have this song last, as the EP deals with hurt and trying to overcome it, yet this song is the reminder that what you’ve been through never truly leaves you.

It’s a heavy place to leave it, but it was essentially what this Bad Humors record was all about – getting it all out. 

For more, including upcoming NZ tour dates, follow Madeira on Facebook.