Madz Winter has just wrapped a season of Class of Cabaret at Space Theatre for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and now the year 12 student from Blackwood is getting back to regular gigging in her retro, rockabilly band.

madz carOne of the two front-women of cover band, Raunchy Sugar, Madz has a world of experience for one so young.

The band, which is made up of Madz (vocals), Jessica Reed (vocals), Ian ‘Mad-Dog’ Lehmann (guitar), Dean Edwards (drums), Andy Spy (drums) and Michael Winter (bass and vocals) began a few years ago, almost accidentally, according to Madz.

“Raunchy Sugar started off filling in for one of Dad’s bands when one of his old bands fell apart and he had dates to fill. We started out as a 1950s rockabilly swing band and then that fused into ‘60s R&B and now we plug ourselves as a retro cover band,” she says.

Her dad is Michael Winter, an accomplished and much respected member of Adelaide’s music community, who Madz credits with her musical break.

“I grew up admiring the singers of Dad’s bands, so music was something I aspired to do from a very young age. I also have a younger sister who plays classical music. She plays cello and I play the keys,” she says.

“Dad has been a working muso in Adelaide since before I was born. He’s played in bands with Chris Finnen, Zkye Compson-Harris and people like that, so I was brought into music through that. He’s the bass player in my band so that threw me in the deep end with gigging when I turned 14!” she laughs.

Raunchy Sugar
Raunchy Sugar
Madz Winter is halfway through her final year at school and, although she’s enjoying studying music there, she’s not entirely sure where she’ll take her music career yet.

“I want to keep gigging because that’s what I love to do, but I’m not 100% sure where I want to do with it; whether I want to focus on a solo cabaret career, or stick with band stuff. All I know is that I want to continue with music,” she says.

“That’s what I love to do and people seem to enjoy it, so why not? What I love most about performing is seeing people smiling and enjoying what I’m doing, because I’m enjoying doing it and there’s a mutual love for music there.”

Having started as a 14-year-old gaining experience working with professional musicians in Raunchy Sugar, Madz is well on her way to carving out a successful career.

Already, she’s played a huge number of gigs, with the most notable for her being a festival spot this year in front of a substantial audience.

“We played at the Rock & Roll Rendezvous in front of about 7000 people this year in April. That was pretty fun. The crowd was really great. They enjoyed what we were doing and it was a great atmosphere,” she says.

With the onstage sass and panache of a performer twice her age, Madz is an old soul with an abundance of charisma, and a voice to match.

When asked who she’d love to support, if she could be the opening act for any musician, she chose some of music’s strongest leading ladies.

“If I could support anyone in the world, I would love to have supported Amy Winehouse, but that can’t happen. Lake Street Dive and Macy Gray are the singers I’m digging on at the moment. I’d like to support one of them,” she says.

Raunchy Sugar are gigging regularly, so check their Facebook page for dates, and keep an ear out for Madz Winter; it’s a name you’re sure to hear associated with music for a long time to come.

By Libby Parker
Photos by David Gartland