Mads Harrop is using her musical talent in more ways than one.
The 20-year-old former St Kevin’s College pupil is an accomplished songwriter and performer and released her first EP this week.
Diagnosed with Tourette syndrome last year, Harrop has also learned how to use her musical skills as an effective way to help her cope with her condition.
Tourette’s is a neurological disorder that can be characterised by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements, as well as vocalisations called tics.
But it has not held Harrop back.
She has firm career goals and is well on her path to success, releasing her three-track EP Contagious World this week, in New Zealand Music Month and Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month.
Harrop has been recording Contagious World over the past couple of months, but the songs have nothing to do with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The title track Contagious World is a nod to the world’s most influential musicians and music groups, and their lasting impact on today’s society, she said.
“I wrote Contagious World back in late March 2018 .. [while] I was busy working on my other music,” she said.
The song Medicine is about how important music is to her.
Harrop also has Asperger syndrome, and has learned to manage her conditions well through therapy sessions.
But it was through music that she could express herself most freely.
“I get to just enjoy myself, be in the moment, and I can forget about how challenging life can be for me,” she said.
“The amazing thing is that when I’m playing music, the tics become suppressed and they disappear.
“When I’m recording, the tics vanish as well, I just have to take breaks every now and then when I’m doing that, so then I can let my tics out.”
Tourette’s had also given her more inspiration for songwriting.
“I have a song which hasn’t been released yet called Hiding In Colour, and that’s about my experiences living with Tourette’s,” she said.
“It’s also enabled me to explore that topic, plus the idea of neurodiversity in some of my songs.”
Music has always been part of Harrop’s life.
Her father Steve is an award-winning New Zealand musician who owns Studio Sublime, a fully-equipped analogue and digital recording studio in the Waitaki Valley, where Harrop recorded Contagious World.
“I’ve been singing since I could talk,” she said.
“I started to really become passionate about all things music at the age of 14.”
She plays the guitar, piano and cello.
Harrop wrote her first song Mad Mad Woman after her father introduced her to English glam rock band T. Rex and their song Children Of The Revolution. T. Rex is now one of her “favourite bands of all time”.
When Harrop was diagnosed with Tourette’s last year, she had just started studying music, with a focus on studio production and composition, at Otago University.
She is passionate about her study and is looking forward to returning to campus in July.
“I’ve got some very professional and experienced teachers as well as some awesome friends from the music department who are all like family to me.
“I am surrounded by a bunch of awesome people in that area, which is what I really love.”
For now, she is enjoying spending more time at home in the Waitaki Valley, working on her songs, writing, and studying online.
- Contagious World is available on iTunes, Spotify and at madeleineharrop.bandcamp.com