'I’m not a girlie-girl,' claims Madi Poncia, sitting before me with an armful of body art, a nose stud and Dr Marten boots.
The founder and front person of Brighton-based punk-pop/new wave band Dear Prudence is a disarming mix of feisty noir-ish pop songstress and charming girl-next-door. At her side are Rick Ahir (guitar/backing vocals), Alexis Nunez (drums), Paul Egan (bass/backing vocals) and Andy Highmore (keyboards).
'I got into Siouxsie, The Cure, Depeche Mode at school,' Madi says. 'Everyone else was listening to chart music and I was looking for something different. Those groups struck a chord with me. Their legacies are such an inspiration.'
Madi has an extraordinary, spellbinding voice, a giant, soulful siren that crackles with heartbreak and sadness, irony and elation. Lyrically, the songs have a bittersweet, lovelorn feel, a fact that Madi ascribes to events in her personal life. 'Songwriting is a form of escape for me.
'I grew up in a very quiet coastal town where I’d spend hours imagining the future. As I got older songwriting also became a way of dealing with the difficulties of things like love and loss.'
Powerful and dark, their recordings have a modern, mainstream pop flavour, underpinned with a strong undercurrent of moody ’80s electro. It subtly reflects other inspirations, too, such as Pulp, Blur and The Smiths, and more recently Biffy Clyro, Lower Than Atlantis and Twin Atlantic.
Clearly a band with big ambitions, Dear Prudence is named after the ‘80s version of the song by Madi’s heroes, Siouxsie and The Banshees. 'I love Siouxsie Sioux’s dark glamour and feisty attitude,' Madi explains.
'I really admire her.' Bright, bold and beautiful Madi has an endearing charm and confidence that’s likely to draw a crowd of her own female admirers, as well as cement her allure for a male audience. With their debut album due and a hunger to get out on the road, 2012 looks set to be a very exciting year.