Artist That Brunette Promoting An Inclusive Message Of Self-Love For Womxn Through Her Music

That Brunette | Image by Lauren Berthelot

Music has always been a medium that has changed the world and impacted humanity in ways no other institution or system can. Whether it be love, politics, religion, or anything in between, some of the world’s biggest influences over time have been musicians and artists.

Artists that are up-and-coming, underground artists, independent artists, those just breaking into the scene, and artists who touch hearts and minds everywhere but who don’t need mainstream media for validation are who we love to learn about and amplify. And if you haven’t yet heard of That Brunette, aka Madeline Mondrala, it’s time to get familiar, because she is going places with her dreamy ethereal sounds but also because of her message.

Her EP ‘Millennium Fig’ is out in August, and she just released a new single titled “Coolest Girl” on July 31st. Written as a love letter to a decade long female friendship, “Coolest Girl” is an ode to a friend of That Brunette who recently moved out of NYC. Trust us when we say this is a track you will want to listen to immediately.

Alongside her music, That Brunette is stepping into the spotlight as a leading figure for empowering young women – biological and trans – in supporting positive body images and the idea that all women are made beautiful just as they are. Having already made a name for herself in the music world, garnering acclaim from the likes of Billboard, Ladygunn, Popdust, Line of Best Fit, and several others, she is aiming to share an empowering message and platform for young women everywhere to boldly and unapologetically learn to love themselves. We had an opportunity to speak with That Brunette about empowerment, how the music industry treats women, and why she believes in a message that uplifts all womxn.

That Brunette | Image by Lauren Berthelot

How did you come up with the name “That Brunette”?

Before I was “That Brunette” I was going by my real name. I had reached a point where my pursuit of a career in music was becoming detrimental to my mental health. I didn’t want to quit, but I needed to depersonalize my pseudonym in order to untie my identity as Madeline the person from my perceived lack of success as “Madeline” the artist. I wanted a fresh page with a neutral name. On the most basic level, I am a girl with brown hair. If you saw me on the street, that’s what you would see. From that vantage point I could be anyone, but if you zoomed in I would still be me. 

Tell us about “Coolest Girl” and the message behind it…

Coolest girl is about the women you grow up with in your twenties. For me, they are both peers, and muses. This song is about the coolest girl I know who moved back home to Texas after nearly a decade in New York. Acknowledging transitions in life is really theraputic for me, and I do it through songwriting. A song is a souvenir of a moment in time. 

We don’t often hear about music centered around women that is just about women, without the attachment to a love interest or some sort of objectification. Why do you think the industry is like this?

The music industry is male dominated and centered around making money by commodifying youth and sexuality. In the eyes of a CEO of a major record label, lyrically driven music about female friendship, love or anything in-between is not considered marketable. 

Coolest Girl | That Brunette

You have been described as having “unapologetic authenticity”. Tell us what this means to you and why it is important?

When I first started out in the music industry I encountered people who promised me the world if I could just change everything about my music and myself. When that plan inevitably failed I realized compromising who I am would only lead me further away from who I’m meant to be. I make music that I want to listen to, about experiences I’ve had, for people I love. I always remind myself to look at things from a broader perspective. When I get tunnel vision on the idea of “success”, I lose the joy of creating, and what is the point of creating if it doesn’t bring you joy? 

Can you share more about why body positivity is a core part of your message as an artist? 

I think bodies are beautiful the way a plant or flower is beautiful. Each is unique. I’m not ashamed by my body hair, acne, or figure, and I allow them all to change over time. I want people to see their bodies as their own works of art. We are in a constant state of flux, and we only have the body we’re in for a short period of time. If you look at your body as something temporary and precious, it may help you to appreciate it more in the moment. 

We see a lot of people using the term “female empowerment” these days, but for you it is a message about inclusivity. Why is having a trans-inclusive brand of female empowerment important to you?

Trans women are women. Therefore they should be included in the idea of female empowerment. Intersectionality is an integral part of feminism. You cannot fully advocate for for women’s rights and equality without acknowledging how women’s overlapping identities such as race, religion and sexual orientation affect the way they experience oppression. As a white woman it is my job to be aware of my privilege and find ways to dismantle it through focusing on the needs of marginalized women. 

That Brunette | Image by Lauren Berthelot

So many female artists talk about feminism and sisterhood, but the music industry still upholds a very narrow ideal of what it means to be “woman”. Tell us about how you are working to dismantle stereotypes and expand the definition of this word.

I continue to present myself to the world as a 28 year old, imperfect singer-songwriter who is still finding herself. I think any woman who continues to exist in any sort of public way in 2020 is broadening the scope of what womanhood is, especially women of color, and trans women. The reality is that there is no criteria of what a woman is, nor should there be. I am a fan of so many female artists, each of whom have a unique offering for the world. I learn from all of them, and they influence me. Seeing fellow women as teachers rather than competition is a powerful thing.  

What can listeners expect from your EP Millennium Fig in August when it is released?

I wrote these songs at a time in my life when I was examining my purpose, and refocusing my energy. They are really songs about self acceptance. I’m still working on forgiving myself for what I’ve considered to be mistakes in my past, but these songs mark the beginning of that process. If you’re fighting yourself, who wins and who loses? I realized a lot of the existential pain I was experiencing wasn’t self inflicted, but was the product of being a creative person in the new millennium, when options are limitless, over saturation is inevitable, and self worth is measured in followers. Millennium Fig is about valuing yourself despite all that.

How has COVID-19 impacted your ambitions or plans as an artist and performer?

Being in quarantine has made me examine who I am and who I want to be as an artist on a deeper level. I don’t feel as rushed as I did before. I’m realizing that good things take time.

What message do you hope your fans will take to heart as they listen to your music?

I hope people hear these songs and feel that they’re not alone in their overthinking and anxiety. But it’s really not up to me how people interpret my music. I just hope they enjoy it, and connect with it in their own way.

You can listen to ‘Coolest Girl’ here or in the embed below, and get familiar with That Brunette via her website.