Sound Off: Melanie Martinez
Oct 13, 2020
Revered over the years as a visionary, at just 25-years-old, Melanie Martinez has devised a vision so unconventional that the world labeled it as surreal. Little did we know, through every song, lyric, and emotion, we were being given an unobstructed view to the larger narrative that is Melanie Martinez.
From the original release of Cry Baby, to 2019’s full concept album K-12 that released along side a film brought to life by the artist herself, to the September 25, 2020 release of the artist’s new EP After School, Melanie Martinez has created some thing that is evolutionary. Three years in the making, the ‘After School’ EP contains seven tracks that are all lesson based to the artist’s personal experiences describing songs like Notebook as “Queen of Swords Energy” and ‘Field Trip’ as “Empress Energy”. The unapologetic artist who uses developmental milestones like Cry Baby, K-12, and now after school can be seen as using this new title as more of an expression of self and a look at who she is “after school” giving her audience a different perspective. Melanie also noted that this album is completely based on her own experiences as opposed to a mix of influences.
Melanie chatted with Popular TV to give a bit more insight into the evolution of Cry Baby, her most personal body of work, and deciphering influences as an artist.
1. When you step away from the camera, who is Melanie Martinez the person behind from the persona?
I’m a sensitive person who is highly critical of myself. I’m always eager to look within to find aspects of myself that could expand or grow. Always wanting to learn from life’s lessons and apply the knowledge next time around. Obsessed with creating.
2. From the K-12 era to “After School” there was a noticeable difference in your look and aesthetic. How do you describe those tonal differences?
I just cut my hair and gained a new sense of self confidence. I’m also a more grown version of myself so everything new I put out will reflect my growth as a human.
3. How has Cry Baby evolved since the beginning of your career?
Crybaby has evolved so much. My first album was an introduction to the character and then K-12 was a more detailed look into her brain and experiences. Having a film accompany an album helps me give more context to who the character is, what her environment is like, and what experiences she’s dealing with. That’s why I love filmmaking so much. It’s giving you the clear story right in front of your eyes. With my next record/film there will be even more growth displayed within her character.
4. What do you feel is your most personal song and or lyric to date?
The entire [After School] EP is very personal, from Notebook all the way to The Bakery it’s all a much deeper look into my actual real life experiences and feelings as opposed to it being through the lens of the Crybaby character.
5. As a musician do you ever find yourself creating and realize that something you’ve written is heavily influenced by something else?
The only times I notice direct influences are when songs like Brain and Heart come about. Where I’m like, ‘I need to put this melody down, I keep singing it’ and then I’m like, ‘wait what melody is this?’ And then realize it’s a J.Lo song so then I make an interpolation. But if it isn’t an homage of some sort or an obvious thing like that I usually can’t tell who influences what.
6. Do you remember your first onstage performance?
Yes. Playing guitar in a tiny room for friends and family. Then after that I was on national television at 17 which was incredibly scary at that age lol
7. Do you think there was anything you took for granted as a smaller/underground artist?
The ability to talk to my audience in a smaller room and connect. Being able to sing a song on guitar in a room that is so quiet you can hear a pin drop. People sitting and listening to every word as opposed to being on their cellphones watching it through their screen and screaming every 5 seconds lol. But I also like that I’m able to put on a more theatrical show with dancing and more production. Hopefully one day I can do a bit of both.
8. Beyond music, you have passions behind the camera as a photographer, director, and screenwriter. What does a passion project within these areas look like for you?
A photography/poetry book, more feature films, designing a clothing line, & I’d love to write/direct music videos for other artists as well.
9. There’s always the question of “how does where you come from influence your sound”, but do you think your sound has had an influence on where you’re from?
I’m unsure? I don’t know about the music scene in the town I grew up in. I often wonder if people there even know who I am. My music isn’t blasting on the radio like that so I doubt the majority of people there have even heard my music.
10. Do the stories in your songs always draw from personal experience or are you also inspired by outside influences?
After School EP was all personal experiences, K-12 was a mix between my own experiences, Crybaby’s storyline experiences as well as other characters in her world’s experiences that are based off the world around me/friends/family/ anyone’s story I found to be inspiring.
11. With so many years creating, how do you still improve in your craft?
Creating every day. Whether it’s dancing, writing music, singing, writing scripts, poems, painting, costume designing, playing guitar etc. I think the only thing anyone can ever do to expand their gifts is practice, & be patient with yourself. Understanding that not everything has to be something you use but even just the little bits you do each day can lead to something incredible.
12. What part of being an artist came natural to you?
Singing, writing on instruments by ear, thinking of visual concepts for photographs/film. Costume designing. I wasn’t taught how to do any of the things I do. I just taught myself out of a necessity to create.
13. What moment of your career are you most proud of now?
Having a feature film out in the world that I put my blood, sweat and tears into.
14. What is something you’re looking forward to experiencing in your career?
Singing the After School EP songs live.
15. Are you happy?
I have moments of happiness, moments of sadness, moments of anger and moments of madness. BUT generally speaking, yes. I have reached a place in my life where I understand that the fullness of life’s journey and the feeling of desire is what happiness truly is.
- Photography Melanie Martinez & Jacqueline Molina