Nashville songwriter Melanie Dewey’s recent transformation to the musical alias MELD marks an evolution in identity that couldn’t be more aptly titled. By all accounts, here is an artist that isn’t afraid to break down the boundaries that too often limit and confine. The result is a soulful alchemy, a synthesis between electronic and traditional elements that blur the lines between past and present, balancing atmosphere with grounded force. More than anything, her voice trail-blazes through the layers, a velvet beacon that can swell from a lull to crescendos of power in a matter of seconds.
The songwriter has played in a variety of musical outfits over the years, and the culmination of MELD emboldens one of her strongest constants throughout: art for the sake of love. There is an undeniable honesty palpable in each breath, words that tumble from a wishing well of love that will never go dry.
BTRtoday sat down to talk about MELD’s upcoming single, “Easy on the Game,” which will be out on Spotify, Soundcloud, and iTunes on Nov 11th, and what this new musical chapter might reveal in the days ahead.
BTRtoday: For a long time you’ve created music under your name, Melanie Dewey, but a few days ago you announced a new step in your musical evolution. What is MELD, and what does this rebirth signify for you?
Melanie Dewey (MD): The evolution is about a lot of things. Firstly, it’s about my desire to fearlessly take on new and challenging personal roles within the scope of my music. As much as I will always love my birth name and appreciate the musical spaces it guided me through, it always felt more like a songwriter’s name than the name of a band or a collective project. I am a songwriter of course–but I know there’s so much more to be explored within the realms of art and sound. I want to be at the frontline, diving into the messy and vibrant creation of it all.
BTR: Why MELD?
MD: I chose MELD as the artist name to lead the charge because the literal meaning of the word resonates deeply with me and what I’ve been learning in the past few years of my life. It was my way of carrying nature’s concepts of oneness, unity, collaboration and fusion with me, to serve as a reminder whenever I am creating. With MELD, the goal is to create a fully-immersive and emotional experience for everyone involved.
“If my sound could be described in colors, it would be maroon, deep purple, and teal–melting into earthy greens, blues and browns. If it could be described in feelings, it would be naked honesty met with acceptance. It’s animal and primal, but in a gentle and curious way.”
I believe everyone is truly eclectic and complex by nature; I wanted to find a way to celebrate that instead of trying to place myself in a mold. Ultimately with this name, MELD, I feel like I don’t have to apologize for being eclectic. I can be everything I want to be, that I am meant to be, and that I was. I can just BE.
BTR: Genres aside, how would you describe this new sound?
MD: I think my songs capture the feeling of walking the line between nature and nurture. As we explore nature, it envelopes us and fills us with questions of existence. Like the very cells we came from, we are rapidly expanding and awakening. Yet nature also gave us nurture to slow us down and relax us. With our bodies we’re able to love and create warmth. We can heal ourselves, and meditate and sing through the confusion.
When I write my songs, I always begin with a question. And then, as the song transforms, I imagine that I am taming the question, and pushing past that point into the refreshment and comfort of nurture. That is how I want my songs to feel to the listener as well.
If my sound could be described in colors, it would be maroon, deep purple, and teal–melting into earthy greens, blues and browns. If it could be described in feelings, it would be naked honesty met with acceptance. It’s animal and primal, but in a gentle and curious way.
BTR: After playing in New York for years you made the move to Nashville. What was that transition like for your songwriting? Has the musical heritage of the city steeped into your songs?
MD: Ironically, when I wasn’t in Nashville I was writing country/folk inspired music. Then, once I moved to Nashville and saw how saturated it was with people aspiring to write top 40 songs, I realized that as much as I respect the craft, it’s not me. The coolest part about Nashville, is all the hidden pockets that it holds… and that’s what I wanted to explore. Maybe it’s the jam band kid in me, but the city of Nashville itself feels like one big improvisational song constantly building on itself. There are so many incredible small musical scenes to find if you look hard enough. After two years of immersing myself and following the beat of the collective drum, I have just finally started to find those pockets that feel like home.
I’m so grateful there is a thriving jam band and soul scene here, and it’s beautiful how they overlap. That alone has helped to shape my sound in ways I probably haven’t even fully realized yet.
In regards to the roots of Nashville, what has steeped into my music is the musical honesty and integrity from artists like Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Kris Kristofferson. I will always love an honest, stripped down lyric, and that is what built this city. It’s amazing to realize the history I’m lucky enough to be a part of.
BTR: Tell me a little bit about your newest single, “Easy on the Game.” How did it come together?
MD: The song itself came to fruition when I was playing with my loop pedal about a year ago. In fact, it’s actually the first song I wrote on my looping station. I turned on my Yamaha M06, found a vintage Rhodes sound, three chords that felt good (which I later found out are the same chords in “Althea” by The Grateful Dead), a simple R&B beat that I liked, and then I started singing over it. The melodies, harmonies and lyrics all stacked pretty seamlessly, and then after jamming for a long time over the chords for the bridge I settled into the idea of a musical interlude/bridge, which you’ll hear on the final recording as well.
“Even if the song has a sad or lonely tinge to it, suddenly knowing that someone else has walked through the same darkness you have makes it seem a little less dim.”
Since it’s birth, the song has truly felt like a continuously spinning wheel of musical ideas. It was also the very first song my producer Matt and I touched upon in the studio together, and now it’s going to be my first single. Hopefully it continues to loop into the world and touch even more spaces when it’s released this November.
BTR: The words seem personal, but also speak to a longing much larger. What kind of headspace were you in while writing the lyrics?
MD: I wrote the song about some feelings of frustration and sadness I was experiencing towards a lover at the time, but it’s truly blossomed into being a lot more about humanity, and brotherhood in general. There are simply some bonds we make in life that are sacred from the moment they’re made.
Learning how to honor those bonds though, especially on this earth, is a whole new challenge.
When we’re handed something so deeply honest and rare, I think fear can start to take over. Much like a mother to her child, or a twin to its flame… we are suddenly a vital part of the most beautiful thing we’ve ever seen and we don’t want to mess it up, or muddy it for the honest thing it is. It’s all so pure and free in the beginning, and then we have to learn human acceptance and coexistence and understanding. We have to learn how to be unconditionally loving, but also stand up for ourselves.
But there is a balance, and there is a way to do that. It just takes two. That’s what this song is about. It’s about the battle between one person who is willing to accept the dark sides of someone they love unconditionally, and how they seem to only meet resistance, lack of communication, or dishonesty from the other side. It’s my song about standing up to your fears in love, and being a warrior for acceptance.
BTR: What does storytelling mean to you as a songwriter?
MD: To me, storytelling within music has this ability unlike almost anything else–to transport anyone from a negative space into a positive and optimistic space. Even if the song has a sad or lonely tinge to it, suddenly knowing that someone else has walked through the same darkness you have makes it seem a little less dim.
I believe it’s those small moments of art revival, that give us boosts of hope to keep moving forward.
BTR: When can listeners expect to hear a full length release from MELD, and what’s in store for the rest of the year?
MD: Well, there will definitely be a full EP released very early 2017 (probably somewhere near my birthday so it can be released during Aquarius season). And I’m also currently in the concept stage of working on filming a music video for “Easy On The Game.” We’re aiming for a mid- December release of the video.
As for live performances, I’ll be having my single and EP release parties down here in Nashville, but I am making plans to do holiday shows at home in Syracuse, NY, and to do a full east coast tour (and hopefully a small west coast tour as well) this March and April in support of the EP.
The thing I might be most excited about though, are the visual artists I am planning on teaming up with for this juncture. I’ll be working closely with some incredible visual artists from all over the states (NY, PA, WA, TN, NC, AZ, etc.) to create a fully immersive art experience. The goal is to have one artist illustration per song on my EP. I will then take the designs on the road with me and sell them for commission, and also possibly feature them in my album art. Ultimately, I hope to have live painters and performance artists at some of my shows… but that’s something to look forward to a bit further down the road.
Either way, whatever the future melds into, I’ll find a way to make art out of it.