Maddie Zahm on Coming Out as Bisexual, Dealing With Religious Trauma, and Opening for P!nk

That song is the first time I really cut the bullshit and didn’t try to sound smart. I think it’s the most lyrically obvious song I’ve ever written. And I felt the simplicity of it needed a music video that matched. The chorus is quite literally just someone’s name.

Opening for P!nk had to be surreal, given your history. Did you two have any exchange behind-the-scenes about the lyrics moment?

Actually insane. Also? Fine. I’ll say it. She’s hot. She winked and waved and me and I still haven’t recovered. She has set a new expectation for me now in dating. Anytime someone treats me sideways I think, “This is how you’re gonna treat someone who’s been waved to by P!nk? I truly think not.” But no, she’s a very busy lady so that was enough for me. I did cry to “What About Us,” the song I got kicked off [for] because I deserved it. I made history with the worst performance of that song known to man. I hope she never watches it.

Part of what I love about your music is you’re still carrying all of who you are with you. A lot of queer people, in my experience, get to a town like Los Angeles and kind of erase who they were before, which I can understand doing if you want a fresh start. But I think as we got older especially, we have to accept the totality of who we are and what shaped us. How do you manage being both the Los Angeles bi woman and that closeted girl back in Idaho?

I love your questions, holy shit. Honestly, I have worked in therapy about not being completely rage-filled about being raised in the church. I think I learned my “big girl” voice there. I learned I was a feminist really quick by sneaking out to go to women’s marches. I actively had to make the choice not to date men who wanted me to be their wife at a very young age. I didn’t realize how much of my time I spent rejecting being a “Proverbs 31 woman” that I was actually becoming the woman I wanted to be. Instead of being angry that the church defined me for so long, I’ve found peace with that feeling. I was so uncomfortable with who they made me to be that it forced me to care enough to leave it all behind, to feel comfortable in my own skin. And I didn’t do all of that for a version of myself I don’t like. I really like her.

As someone whose music has gone viral on TikTok, how do you feel about the impact of the app on the industry? I know it can help tremendously with discovery but I also know other artists have been critical of a sort of pressure to reverse-engineer “sounds” in their songs.