Madi Sipes and the Painted Blue(photo: Ryan Devisser)

Words by Sarah Leighton

A lot of plans for the year ahead never make it past the first week of January. If you talked to any of the members of Madi Sipes and the Painted Blue, however, they will tell you that 2017 exceeded their expectations. The whole band — comprised of Nick Cunningham on bass, Madi Sipes on vocals/guitar, and Caleb Koehn on drums — tells the story of the biggest surprise of 2017:

“They played our music at an iTunes pizza party. You know, a bunch of execs in a room. Apparently, Elton John’s producer was there and heard one of our songs. Elton John hosts

[an Apple Music] radio show each week called the Rocket Hour. So, this producer goes to Elton and makes him listen and Elton John ends up playing our song on his radio show!”

Coincidently (or not), the song Elton chose to play was “Blue Jean Baby.” In the introduction on his show, he quotes his song “Tiny Dancer:” “Blue jean baby, LA lady, seamstress for the band.” He then proceeds to introduce the band’s name and that they’re from San Francisco. “…He knows where we’re from,” Madi explains excitedly. “He just said my name. He knows who I am and where we live!”

Elton knowing who they are wasn’t their only big win for 2017. The year also brought the band’s music to a major TV network drama show, the CW’s iZombie. “That was our first big thing,” Nick mentions.

The band was so excited, and according to Madi, “Definitely shocked. Releasing the music, we were unsure if people would actually listen to it”. People did listen to it: specifically, 300,000 were listening regularly on Spotify. Their expectations were to have somewhere around 10,000 listeners.

New listeners might be surprised to hear a voice as sultry and rich coming out of someone like Madi Sipes. Madi says she was always an introvert. “The first time I played a song we had released and I saw someone singing along to it, it blew my mind. I didn’t know — ‘cause I never voiced the things I wrote about in normal conversation, but it was really therapeutic and amazing.” Their songs draw influence from jazz like Ella Fitzgerald, folk like Fleet Foxes, and R&B like Frank Ocean. Layered on top of Madi’s sultry voice, the Painted Blue showcase a perfect expression of adult feelings and experiences bolstered by their lyrical storytelling.

Overall, you can expect big things from Madi Sipes and the Painted Blue after a year like 2017. The band is excited to continue growing as artists and evolving their music. They plan to drop an EP in February that is extremely diverse in sound, but if February seems too far away, you won’t have to wait long to hear the first release from the EP, called “Unrequited.” The song is a collaboration between Madi Sipes and the Painted Blue and The Guest and the Host, a project fronted by their producer Andrew Heringer (formerly of Milo Greene). “Unrequited” is slated to drop on January 12.

In the meantime, check the band out on Spotify and Soundcloud and look out for some upcoming shows in the Bay Area.

Raised in the Bay Area and schooled in the mountains of Colorado, Sarah is a lover of live music, ugly dogs, international travels, and vintage treasures.