The musician tells PEOPLE about how mental health struggles, family healing and her romance with boyfriend Nick Austin inspired the new project
At just 24 years old, Madison Beer is more reflective than ever.
Over the past two-plus years, the musician has processed and written through traumas she endured — largely as a result of childhood fame — for the lyrics of her vulnerable new album Silence Between Songs, which was released on Friday.
The project arrives months after Beer's debut memoir The Half of It, which found the star looking back on launching her music career at age 12 and its affect on her mental health and family life. "I have lived a very interesting, special, weird life," she tells PEOPLE. "I'm really grateful for everything that's happened but I also mourn my childhood sometimes."
Beer's career origin story is widely known: after uploading a video of herself covering Etta James' 1960 classic "At Last" on YouTube in 2012, the clip was seen by Justin Bieber, who posted it to X (formerly Twitter). Needless to say, she found some fans. Since then, she's earned several RIAA-certified singles as well as upwards of 37 million Instagram followers and 14 million monthly Spotify listeners.
The road to success, however, wasn't without its bumps. In the midst of Beer's childhood, her dad Robert and mom Tracie (who divorced when she was seven) became responsible for guiding their daughter through an unknown industry. Her younger brother, Ryder, struggled as a result.
"There were so many years where he was just a bystander and whatever was happening to me had effects on him that we weren't even aware of at the time," says Beer. "As we've both gotten older, I've been able to look at our lives objectively and be like, 'I had a hand in you having an unstable childhood.'"
Growing up, the pair fought often — to the point where Beer anticipated they'd have a lifelong "distant relationship." But as they've gotten older, they've become closer. "He's one of my best friends," she says. "I honestly never though that day would come."
As a marker of the positive space they're in today, Beer wrote a song about their relationship called "Ryder" that appears on Silence Between Songs. She describes the heartfelt ballad as a "love letter apology."
"I just wanted to give him that confirmation that someone has empathy, and someone is thinking about how he's felt all these years," explains Beer, who watched her brother get emotional upon hearing the track for the first time. "I think that was really big for him."
One of the reasons it took years for Beer to fully come to terms with her career's impact on her brother's life, perhaps, is that its effect on herself was even harsher. She's previously spoken publicly about enduring extreme online hate, including a nude photo leak when she was a minor.
At times, her mental health became so low that she was unable to even imagine the existence of a light at the end of the tunnel, let alone actually see one. "I remember saying to my therapist, 'I'm prepared to live like this forever, and I'm not excited for that life,'" recalls Beer, who wrote about the struggle on album tracks including "Spinnin'" and "17."
She's since been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder, which have helped her to better understand her own mental health, as does writing about it. "I feel like the worst part of it has passed, but it's just scary to think I can go back there at any point," admits Beer. "That's what frightens me the most."
Throughout many of those tough years, the singer-songwriter felt as though a lot of the powerful male figures she encountered in the music industry didn't look out for her like they could've. Still, such individuals went on to achieve massive successes — often at the expense of others.
"I've known a lot of those people who are at the top of the world, some of the most powerful, famous people, and they're unhappy. They don't have a lot of people close to them because they've burned and hurt a lot of people to get to the top," Beer says, describing a realization that inspired the album's triumphant closing track, "King of Everything."
Today, Beer holds the reigns on her career. She also has a strong support system around her, including her family and boyfriend, Nick Austin, whom she's been dating for three years. They weren't together when she wrote her debut album Life Support, so Silence Between Songs features her first-ever song about the social media star: "Nothing Matters But You."
"I'm overdue for somewhat of a love song. I want people to see the love-y side of me," Beer says, noting that she wanted to recognize the light Austin's brought into her life. "He's super supportive, and I think that we just have this relationship where we can lean on and be there for each other."
Another individual who's provided comfort and guidance for Beer as of late is one of her all-time favorite musicians, Lana Del Rey. Last year, the "Video Games" singer approached her in a Los Angeles cafe and expressed love for her music, potentially unaware of how much she's inspired its creation.
"She's just a very special person, and I really, really adore her," says Beer. "The phrase, 'Never meet your idols,' that's just not true when it comes to someone like her. She's incredible, and she's been so supportive and so there for me."
Beer's not yet worked up the courage to approach Del Rey for a collaboration, but she's gained something much more valuable from their relationship — a vision of how she hopes to carry herself throughout her career.
"[Del Rey] knows she's f---ing amazing, but she doesn't have this chip on her shoulder where she thinks she's better than other people, and that really inspires me," she says. "Even if I'm, one day, one of the biggest artists in the world, please knock me the f--- out if I ever start acting like I'm better than anyone."
It's a good lesson to learn, as Beer's profile could rise with the release of Silence Between Songs, especially following a co-sign from someone like Del Rey. Beyond commercial accolades, however, her goal for how the deeply personal album will be received by listeners is simple: "I hope that they feel some solace."
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