Inspiring through the power of Wine & Music.  Pairing wine + music + artists’ stories.

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Maddie and Nick sitting against a black and white checkered background.


Meet SENSES, a dynamic duo blending powerful vocal performance and infectious melodic hooks. Maddie’s musical journey started with bedtime lullabies from her mom and some teenage angst strumming on an old guitar. Meanwhile, Nick’s dad’s guitar gigs initially sparked his interest in music, but it was the drum kit that stole his heart. Their paths collided in Los Angeles, thanks to a Craigslist ad, kicking off a musical adventure that led to hitting the road as SENSES.

From jamming under Maddie’s name to becoming SENSES as we know it today, this duo’s bond grew stronger with each milestone they achieved. Their debut tour, packed with quirky RV tales and brand new experiences, cemented their place in the alternative music scene. With new music in the pipeline and a passion for storytelling, SENSES invites you to join them on a journey of raw emotion and friendship that’ll leave you craving more.

We crashed their RV for an interview before their March 13th show at the San Diego House of Blues VooDoo Room on their full US tour with Charlotte Sands. We hope that by sharing their story and music, you’ll be inspired to make your own dreams a reality.


Interview with Madison Taylor (Vocals) & Nick Sampson (Drums)

1. In HEADLINERS UNTAPPED, we want to highlight the musical journey of the artists we interview: where you started, where you’re going, and the hurdles you’ve faced along the way. Tell us about your first steps into your musical lives.

Nick: Yeah, okay, so my first steps in music were probably influenced by my dad. He plays guitar in church. He sings and plays guitar, and that was actually what made me want to be a guitar player first. But then I started playing guitar, and I hated it because my fingers hurt, so I quit after like a few lessons, maybe like a month or two. Then a friend of mine in school said, “Hey, you should come try the drum elective.” I was like, “Okay.” So I went and did like one month of this drum elective, and as soon as I could play anything on it, I was like, “I really like this,” and that’s kind of what got me going. It was just like the only instrument I was good at.

Maddie: I guess a similar thing happened to me. It was my mom; she always sang to us to go to sleep. Like, any lullaby or bedtime prayer or story she would turn into a song. That’s actually how my parents met, as she was a singer in a band at my church. So, very much a musical family growing up. She gave me her old guitar when I was 15, so I was kind of playing around with it, you know, very angsty teen girl writing poems and stuff like that. So, it kind of just grew from there. But yeah, definitely, it came from my mom for sure.


2. You two met on Craigslist in Los Angeles. How did you both end up in LA?

Maddie: Yeah, so I graduated high school. I found out that I had enough credits to graduate, and I didn’t even know that was a thing. So when I learned that, I was like, “Oh sweet, I’m out of here.” As soon as I turned 18, I was like, “Alright, I’m moving,” and I was gonna move to New York because I was very into musicals and that side of things. Then I came to LA my junior year of spring break and I just loved it. I think I saw one of my favorite shows being filmed, and I was like, “This is so cool. Like I need to move to LA now.” And so yeah, then I just was here. So I’ve been here like 12 years now, I think. Yeah, dang.

Nick: I moved… Well, I originally moved from Fresno to San Francisco because I was working this one job, and they wanted to put me up there for like half a year, and the trade-off was if I went and did that, then they would move me down to LA, and I was like, “Okay, fine.” That was my way out of Fresno; like, I wanted that. So, I went and lived in San Francisco for like half a year. I didn’t really gig at all because I didn’t know anyone; it’s kind of hard. It was really hard to meet people up there. And then I finally was like, “I’m ready to go to LA.” They’re like, “Okay.” So I moved to LA working this job, and I just started meeting people. Like, the roommates I was living with at the time were my co-workers, and I just asked them, “Hey, do you know anyone in the music industry that I could, I don’t know, I could just pick their brain?” And one of them had like a friend of a friend, and we connected over email, and they asked me to go meet them for coffee, and I did. And that’s kind of when I ended up meeting my two best friends at the same time. Like, it was very weird; The person I went to meet, Mario, his car broke down. Mario’s manager at the time, Ryan, came and picked him up, and that’s when I met my two best friends: Mario and Vince. And then they started inviting me to like Berklee nights around town and all these gigs. I started meeting people. And then I also was looking for jobs on Craigslist ’cause you’ll look for anything when you don’t know anyone. I’m like, “Drummer? Yeah. Show? Yeah, we’ll play.” Yeah. I mean, that’s kind of how it happened. I just kind of did it. Yeah.


3. You guys went on your first tour as SENSES last year with Carlie Hanson, and then with Boys Like Girls. Tell us about the time leading up to that. What happened in the years between you meeting and embarking on those tours?

Nick: Well, first, Maddie had an EP out already as a singer-songwriter, so we just started playing those songs. That’s how we just kind of started, learning those at first. And then we started doing shows with those songs.

Maddie: Yeah, we were playing under my name for a while.

Nick: We didn’t actually call ourselves the Madison Taylor Project, right?

Maddie: I don’t think so. It was just like… I think we made a joke about the Madison Taylor Project.

Nick: We would advertise shows, and it would just be like the Madison Taylor band.

Maddie: Yeah, we could not think of a name, and we just didn’t know what we were doing yet. So it was a lot of just jamming at a rehearsal space and yeah, mostly just learning the songs that I had. That was like a good jumping-off point.

Nick: We were like, “Well, let’s just learn the songs that you already have and then we’ll, like, see if we all like each other then.”

Maddie: Yeah, and then as I kept writing, like, lyrically and melodically, then I would bring those ideas to practice, and instead of me just doing it on the acoustic guitar, they would build music off of it. And so, yeah, it kind of became this other thing. It was just a lot of finding ourselves and what we wanted to do. Then we went through a couple band names and a couple different things. And now we’re here.


4. Just to put things into perspective, what year did you meet?

Maddie: Did we meet in 2017? 2016?

Nick: Not 2016. I think we met in 2017. I want to say that it was February of 2017.

Maddie: Wow, specific.

Nick: Yes, exactly this time we had booked the rehearsal studio at 10 a.m. Just kidding. I think it was 2017. Yeah, and then we released a different project.


5. What were your expectations for your first tour, and what did it actually end up being like?

Maddie: It’s crazy because touring is like the goal, you know what I mean? Once you’re like, “Oh, we’re a touring band,” you feel so successful. So I was really nervous going into the first tour. I didn’t want to get sick because everyone’s like, “You’re gonna get sick, you just deal with it.” I didn’t know what to expect. This is the wildest thing; I thought that everyone on the bill got together and rehearsed together, like for the changeovers and to get everything right. I hadn’t met Carlie yet before the first tour. We met on the first day and that was crazy for me. I’m like, “Well, we don’t even know… I don’t get it. What’s going on?” And so I thought it was so crazy to just show up and just know what you have to do. That was really nerve-racking to me. Then we got there and you do the first show and you’re like, “Oh, okay. I get it now.” I thought there was way more prep time that went into it. And it’s really just… You kind of are winging it. You’re like, “Okay, here’s the show. Let’s do it.”

Nick: I don’t know if I really expected anything, except just… I had a feeling of how it would go and it kind of did. I was also, at the time, a hired gun, you know? So it’s like being a hired gun versus being a part of the band. It’s different. 

Maddie: I also think you’re really good at just being thrown into a situation and being totally chill. I don’t feel like you ever feel out of your element. Just being like, “Okay, here’s a bus or van full of people you don’t know. Have fun.” Like, that would scare the shit out of me, but I feel like you’re really good at doing that. 

Nick: Thanks. Yeah, I mean, I like people, so I get along… I feel like I try to get along, especially if we’re about to work with each other for X amount of time. I’m very much like, “Okay, let’s all be friends. Let’s all get along. Let’s understand each other. Let’s be personable.” Yeah, but I think the biggest thing was just knowing your place and when to do things, when not to do things. I think about the difference between being a hired gun and being in a band. They told me I’d be playing the headliner’s drums, so that’s what I do. Don’t try and make waves, don’t try and do anything else. But when you’re in the band, there’s like a lot more decisions that have to happen, and a lot more, like, “I gotta go help with merch. I gotta go set up,” you know? I mean, there’s a lot more moving parts, I think. That’s what the biggest difference was. It’s like, “Oh, shit.” Yeah. And if something bothers you, you can kind of say, like, “Okay, change this.”


6. We usually ask bands what advice they have for artists just starting out. Do you have any in regards to how you should act on your first tour?

Nick: I feel like when you first meet people on the first day of tour, it’s very… political. Like, introductions, you know? It’s just trying to get the machine to run that first night. So I think it’s definitely about knowing when to talk to the other people on the touring party, and like knowing when to kick it… you know? I feel like everyone’s working. Your downtime might not be someone else’s downtime. It’s knowing when the time is to go and try to be buddies and hang out.

Maddie: Yeah, I think for me, my social meter runs out fast. And so I’m always caught between, “Oh, I want to go and do that fun thing,” or like, “Do this.” But then I know that I need to chill. So, I’m still trying to learn how to be like, “Okay, when can I say yes, let’s go do something fun and cool or explore,” and when do I need to tell myself, “just go lay down for a little bit?” Be by yourself, know limits. It’s hard because you’re on tour and you just want to make the most of it. You want to see everything and meet everybody and do everything you can, but I know for me, sometimes that leaves me more exhausted than even playing the show. Sometimes I need to say, “Okay. I need to chill for like 30 minutes. Just let me be in a dark room and recharge my social battery.” Because you want to be a good hang. That’s what makes tour: being a good hang and wanting to do things. But at the same time, you got to know when it’s a good time and when’s not a good time.

Nick: Because if you get sick, everyone’s sick… and if you’re patient zero…


7. How did your first tour compare to the next one?

Maddie: It was a long tour. We had a lot of days off, and then we had to loop back around the country to go to the Boys Like Girls shows on the east coast. But the first tour was this time last year in the winter. This is number three for me, five for Nick. Maybe five or six. But honestly, our biggest anecdotal stories are all having to do with this RV. Oh my gosh, how we’ve somehow managed to survive driving it around the country three and a half times. I love this thing. I’m so grateful for it. I’m so grateful because we’re both nesters.

Nick: So it’s like… I like sleeping next to all my stuff, you know what I mean? It just feels safer, especially on tour, rather than having to carry all your gear to wherever you’re sleeping. It has its pros and cons, but holy shit.

Maddie: I mean, actually, it’s never broken down. We love you, big girl. We love you so much. Yeah, things within it will break; like the generator broke, so we had no power. The water heater broke, so we had no hot water. And it was in the winter, so freezing cold water. The stairs got stuck out, so we’re like ice picking away. There’s always something… We were joking about the slide one day just falling out, and then we’re just driving on the highway with a huge hole in the side of the RV.

Nick: One day we made that joke, like, I made a turn or something and it literally moved and we were like, “It’s happening. It’s happening. It’s gonna fall out.”

Maddie: You have to be really careful what you say to her as she’s driving.


8. When we interviewed Unwritten Law, they were talking about how they rented a sketchy tour bus that had spiders raining down from the ceiling.

Maddie: I’m not kidding you, if that were the case, I would walk.

Nick: There is no way on this earth that I would let spiders rain down on me, and I would not spontaneously combust. I would put a brick on the gas and send it off the cliff. Yeah, just right off. Let it burn. Oh, that sounds awful.


9. Do you have anything new to promote coming out soon?

Nick: Well, our new single just came out, “Better Than This.” We’re super proud of it. We have new music coming soon that you might be familiar with. But we are still working on it. It’s done, but we’re just working on the artwork now.

Maddie: Yeah, if you have any cool ideas that you pictured, let us know!