"It’s really about living in the moment."

Music

6.20.2017

Premiere: Mélat Drops "The Now" & Talks 'Move Me 2'

When it comes to summer’s roundup of artists making moves, Mélat serves up a sweltering array of power-packed harmonies drizzled with soul stirring realness and positivity. The Austin-based artist is the inimitably soulful vocalist that you didn’t realize you were missing…until now. Her most recent 11-track project, titled MéVen, highlights the always-relatable topics of love and self-awareness. Akin to nothing we’ve seen, heard, or experienced, Mélat manifests the talent and qualities it takes to achieve ubiquitous success.

Below, listen to Mélat’s hypnotic new single “The Now” (produced by Jansport J) from her forthcoming Move Me 2 album, premiering today exclusively on Milk.xyz. Then keep reading as we catch up with the soloist to discuss her approach to songwriting, the Ethiopian roots that keep her grounded, and the inspiration behind the brand-new track.

I’ve always admired your confidence and vulnerability as an artist. How did you get to this place? What challenges do you face in being such an open artist?

Oh man! Well, that’s great to hear. It’s honestly been a super long process. It’s actually a work in progress now. I was always terrified to share anything with everyone. That was really what started this journey for me because I never thought I could share what I actually thought, so I’d write it all down in my own journals and diaries so that I’d have an outlet that no one else could hear or no one else could judge what I was thinking or feeling. It took a really long time, a lot of soul searching and a lot of, “Oh my God! Do I really want them to hear this?”

The craziest thing is that the most addicting part of making music for me is being able to write something that is personal to me and then having people actually relate to it. That just kind of changed everything for me. It went from me being the voice that isn’t heard and nobody really cares to, “Oh my goodness! I’m not the only one.” On top of that, it’s helping someone with their situation and they can feel it. In coming to understand that we all share these experiences and no matter how alone and isolated we feel, we’re all pretty much in the same boat. I think that’s kind of helped me walk through life a little bit more confident and kind of understand the human condition whether it’s happiness or sadness—we all share these feelings. You have to be able to accept yourself and then you can accept other people as well. So, its’ just been this whole process of understanding that it’s not just me and it helps other people. It promotes positivity in this world that we so desperately need.

Yes, we do! The opening track on MéVen, “May I”, has the lyrics that state: “May I never love again.” It sets the tone of the whole album. What’s the experience behind that particular track?

That particular track is a mini cover of this really old, kind of obscure jazz song that I really love. It’s been one of my favorite songs for a really long time. Honestly, it wasn’t even made to be on the album, but it wouldn’t stop playing in my head. I started singing it and I couldn’t stop building harmonies around it. It kind of set the tone for the whole album. Originally this song is like, ‘I love you so much that if this is isn’t true, then may I never love again.’ To me in this particular instance, I’m just so appreciative of everything that I have and I love everything that I have, then if this isn’t my truth then may I never love again. It was a nice way to start. Not only is it a cappella—so it’s only me—but it really sets the tone of this is all I am and all I have. I’m glad you feel it!

Yeah, I love that track. The album in general explores the topics of love obviously and identity. Overall, are you happy with the outcome? What track is most dear to your heart and speaks to you the most?

Like you said, the album is pretty much an exploration of love in different facets and identity—understanding yourself and not letting other people put you down or let that affect you.

The song that’s nearest and dearest to my heart is “Negn” which also means “I am.” That’s another a cappella song oddly enough. That song is totally in a different language, not English. It’s in the language of Amharic, which is the language of Ethiopia. With that song, I wasn’t setting out to do anything to be honest. I really was just sitting around and certain words just started flying out of my mouth and I hit ‘record’ and I started saying these things. It really affected me because I was talking about the state of the world that we’re in where kids are losing their parents or there’s people starving and there’s people dying. In the music there’s always been this feeling of ‘you gotta stay true to yourself’ and stuff and the song was really me coming to terms with who I am and how I fit in this giant, crazy world. It was the names that my grandmother had given me that made me understand my identity and kind of help me pull together all the different things that I am and to understand what that one thing was.

It was really hard for me to record that song. It actually took me two or three weeks simply because I kept bawling every time I went to record it. It was so deep, moving and so unexpected on top of that. To me when things unexpectedly happen and they feel right, it’s like man, this is where I’m supposed to be right here, right now. There’s nothing more powerful than feeling that there’s a path that you’re walking that you don’t even understand and you don’t even know—it affects you and it feels right. That song means so much to me and was one of the best surprises that I had writing it.

Very cool. You touched on your Ethiopian background and heritage. Your parents actually had to flee a communist government to get over here. How has your background and your upbringing influenced you as an artist?

It strongly affects who I am and how I make music and how I think about the world. There is no way for me to understand what my parents went through. I’ll never have to go through anything that difficult. I understand that for me everything that I have is a huge opportunity and a huge blessing that they sacrificed a lot for. Without them—their trials and tribulations—I wouldn’t be where I’m at. I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I do. For me, it’s a constant thing that I carry with myself. I have this huge opportunity. I don’t have to flee a government. I don’t have to fight for anything. My life is not on the line. I can positively impact this world because of that.

So, let’s talk about the track that we’re premiering, “The Now” off of your upcoming Move Me 2. Tell me about the inspiration behind that track and your creative process in putting that song together.

Move Me 2 is so much about love in all of its aspects. I really believe in putting out positivity. We can talk about the negative things that happen, but I really want to bring that feeling of love and joy and Move Me 2 is definitely a love story. In light of recent events—we’ve had a lot of stuff go on in this world in the past few years—I think it’ll definitely have a bit more of a serious tone, but still be light and lovely and just fun and have those awesome Jansport J beats kind of moving things along. I’m really excited to bring that summery, fun lovey-dovey feeling back. However, there are undertones that highlight the times that we’re in.

What would you want the listener to take away from that track?

It’s really about living in the moment. We have so many distractions and so many things going on, but sometimes you really have to pull back and not worry about what’s to come or what has been and just really live in the moment and embrace it for everything that it is.

I love it. Also, congrats on getting booked for Austin City Limits! That’s major.

Thanks, thanks! Yeah, I was really excited when I got the ask for that. This will be my first time at ACL and I’ll be performing at ACL!

That is great! One thing that I noted from a few weeks back, you mentioned via Twitter that you have faced your share of “No’s”. I’m sure the good ACL news helps, but what’s kept you positive and optimistic about your career?

I think it’s having this faith that I will be at the right place at the right time. Everything happens for a reason. As long as I’m doing my best and as long as I’m pushing forward and staying active and positive, the right doors will open up when it’s time. Not letting anyone’s no’s effect what I’m doing. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and the best will come of it.

Images courtesy of Sarah Jasmine Montgomery

Stay tuned to Milk for more rising stars.

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