Charleston native Mado Smith believes that the spirit of his beloved hometown can be found in his music and his paintings. “The context of the region comes out in art,” says Smith, an up-and-coming EDM artist. Which is why he doesn’t understand why Charleston doesn’t have more musicians the city can identify with. “People over in the U.K. and other places abroad fantasize about this place,” says Smith. “We’re lucky enough to have it right under our noses.”

Last year, Smith released his debut EP, Tenderfoot, and the electronic aficionado says it reflects the Holy City’s character. “The record is not rushed,” he says. “Charleston is such an easy, healthy, day-to-day place. Charleston gives me context, and context is important more than ever in music.”

He adds, “Charleston isn’t a little New York or a little L.A. It’s Charleston.”

When Smith says Tenderfoot is not rushed, he’s not kidding. Not only does his three-track compilation have an easy-going vibe, he also took his sweet time releasing it. Although the debut’s three ambient tracks, “Tenderfoot,” “In Reference to the West,” and “DHNM” were completed in March 2012, Smith spent three additional months making paintings to accompany each track. Once he completed the artwork, he released the EP.

“Overall Tenderfoot is about not psyching myself out or tricking myself into consistently putting music out. I think that’s important,” Smith says.

The EDM artist also says that the EP was his way of dipping his foot in the water, adding that he has many expectations even if people don’t know him. “In five years people can look back at Tenderfoot and see there was foresight involved,” Smith says. His main focus on the EP was establishing himself as an artist and becoming more comfortable as a singer and a songwriter.

Smith’s paintings often influence his music and vice versa, but he believes that music is supreme. “Both do different things with its audience,” Smith says. “Images don’t hold the same weight as music. Music gives more purpose. The two go hand in hand, but the music directs the art.”

Back in May, Smith released a new single “Rocket,” a track he had written one night in January. Not surprisingly, he was in no rush to release it. First, he handed the track over to two engineers, who worked on a dozen different versions before Smith ultimately settled on the original. He also took five months to agree on art for it. “I wanted to push my presence up as a personality,” Smith says. “It’s the first single of my next set.”

For Smith, it’s extremely vital that he exhausts his creative options with each song. He is very sensitive when it comes to his lyrics. In fact, for two out of the three Tenderfoot tracks, the lyrics came well after the music was written. “I let the melodies come out first. Lyrics are tricky,” Smith says. “It’s about waiting.”

To hear Mado Smith’s music, visit or

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.