Steve Madden is adding “music” to the front of his perennial mogul status after signing New York singer EZI as the first artist for his recently launched 5Towns Records, a venture with music industry veteran and frequent collaborator Steve Feinberg (Good Charlotte, Flight of the Conchords). The announcement marks a significant step for Madden as the businessman and fashion designer expands into a new venture, but also a personal one with the signing of EZI –stage name for Esther Zynn — a fellow Long Island native.
“I’m from the Five Towns, so naming a label 5Towns Records is definitely a nod to my past,” Madden tells Billboard. “Starting the 5Towns label with Steve Feinberg seemed like a perfect next step in my desire to always aim for the commercially viable cutting edge. Our first artist, EZI, fits that mission perfectly.”
With the signing announcement comes the first offering from EZI, called “REDEMPTION,” available exclusively to Billboard below. The minimalist pop jam stands as a perfect introduction to Zynn, who used a low moment last year to empower herself and accept “all I’ve got” as the chorus touts.
Zynn is perhaps best known for her role on Nickelodeon’s The Other Kingdom, which went on hiatus after one season in 2016. It was on that show that Zynn made her first impression on Madden, but their partnership was much more coincidental.
“My kids had seen her on TV and I was intrigued. Then quite by chance she came into one of my stores,” Madden reveals. ”When I heard the music I was hooked. She is wildly talented, and I think she’s going to be a mega pop star.”
Although EZI’s music career and 5Towns Records are both nascent in the industry, Madden has lofty expectations and even grander inspirations.
“I was six years old when I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, and from that very moment until right now, music has been a vital part of my life, and by extension an equally important role in the DNA of the Steve Madden brand,” Madden says. “I figured, if P. Diddy could go into the clothing business, I could go into the music business.”
With 5Towns’ first signing in the books and EZI’s pop star potential officially on his roster, Madden shows every sign of being ready to redefine the role of music industry moguls as we know it.
“REDEMPTION” is available through 5Towns Records, which has partnered with ADA, the independent distribution and services arm of Warner Music Group.