Our next Spotlight – Melo. We got to sit down with this rising young hiphop artist to talk about his music. We discuss his aspirations and who would be his favorite collab. Take a look at what he has to say.
What was the culture at the university like? Were there artists similar to you
It took me a lot of time and hard work to get into the music program, I had to apply three times, but I knew it was what I wanted to do. I actually started off in law, so it was a very big jump for me, but it was a jump I needed to do. I would have regretted not switching, music saved my university career.
Personally, I don’t think so, there wasn’t anyone doing what myself and my band did, I was the only rapper that had a band at the time. I still don’t know anyone from the school that does that now, but I think that’s what gave Vibebymelo an extra flavour on top of everything else. I was involved in a singer/songwriter program, which most people thought that meant I needed to learn how to play guitar and learn how to play folks songs and I was like absolutely not, let me be me.
There are some incredible players that I still work with now and we started to build a good overall chemistry, myself and Ben Kissner have been working together even from afar. We continue to build off of that. One of the bigger things I had to figure out is how I was going to blend being a singer song writer and a rapper and preforming artist. Gotta thank my vocal coach for that because she instructed me on a few of the tools that helped make that happen.
You mentioned you work with a band, is that always a constant or do you have projects with your band and some projects by yourself.
So its not always a constant that I have a band but there are projects that I am working on with my band as well as sometimes having them preform live with me which adds another feel to what Vibebymelo can be and can do. And I think that’s part of the Vibebymelo experience, you never know what type of show you can get, but no matter what its always high energy with or without the band. When I’m with the band we typically do a lot of soul-y stuff and even throw in some blues music where its mainly singing and mostly unreleased music from the band project. So yeah, I hop back and forth from having them and not having them for performances.
Have you always wanted to pursue a music related career?
Yeah I wouldn’t say that I could sing from a very young age. It was something I was able to improve on over the years. I think the rap and poetry stuff is what really pulled me in and I kept going from there. I think I was maybe 12 when I wrote my first song. It wasn’t to a beat or anything, it was just me and a piece of paper. I just kept writing. I listened to a lot of Chris Brown back then. Learning from people who were already doing the things that I saw myself doing. And I just started to build my own style from there.
So, you always felt this natural connection to music?
Yeah to music in general, regardless of its connection. I started off dancing, so rhythm was always there for me. I realized I enjoyed being an entertainer, giving people stuff to laugh about or cry about. So in high school I took part in plays, and musicals and the high school glee club. The artistry definitely runs deeps so its always been a passion for me.
Any chance that there’s footage from your glee club?
Absolutely not. If there is anything out there, I hope it’s buried a million feet underground haha. I am considering acting again because tv and film is something I’m really interested in. I’m contemplating writing a short series screenplay on the side.
How would you describe your creative process as you seem very involved in different types of creative endeavors?
Well its so fluid I can’t say that its just one linear thing, there are some songs that I may start now and only finish it three months later. Something I’ve noticed is happening a lot lately is where I’ll have a song quote unquote in my heart and I’ll need to let it out, and I’ll just write and write and write, and it wont necessarily be on an exact same tempo or beat pattern. Then someday I might stubble upon a beat and say hold up I wrote something that matches this vibe or feeling of the instrumental track, and I’ll adjust what I wrote to a flow for the song.
I would say on the flip side, I may hear a beat and I’ll just start writing for the beat depending on what I feel from it, an alternative where there may have been nothing written prior to hearing the beat but ill start writing a storyline just off of the energy I’m feeling from the sound. I try and take one idea and focus on it instead of taking several ideas and trying to fit them all in one song.
So you’ve said some songs take longer than others for you to complete. How do you decide a song is done and ready to be put out to the public?
I think at the end of the day, I’m happy with anything that I make. Even if its shit, because its my shit. Its something I try to constantly remind myself of whenever I make anything. There are definitely times where I will be writing something and I’ll record it and take it home with me and just listen to it over and over again. I pick out the part that I don’t like, the part where I’m like nah something here has to change.
I’ll hit up the engineer, usually I work with one engineer, Alex Thompson. I make him take out the parts that I don’t like and test out different ideas that pop in my head. We do this until I find the thing that will give it the hit that I want. The part of the song that’s overlooked a lot is the hook I feel. I try to focus on that in any song that I want to create a hit off. Then I work on the Quotables, those lines in a song that you’ll never forget or when they hit as a punchlines. Something I like that would be written in a book.
Who would you like to collaborate with new or old.
Probably Pharrell Williams, actually not even probably. Pharrell Williams. He’s always been my number one influence, in terms of music. He’s been such a innovator and has had such a massive impact on my art form. Not in terms of how I sound but in terms of the stylistic energy he brings to his tracks, which is something I really enjoy. The fact that him and The Neptune’s were behind like 40% of music that was on the radio back in like 2000. I like what he was able to do for other artists. I like to do similar for artists who are coming up. Even if its just me helping artists find their own sounds and really get that energy. I think that’s what is looked for in a lot of artists, can you bring an energy that can be felt through your music.
You could say Pharrell produces music often considered to be outside the box and somewhat genre bending. Would you say that your music can be defined under specific genres or are experimenting with different sounds?
I think I experiment with different sounds, in the sense that most of the industry assumes that because I’m a dark skin male who can rap, That I should be doing trap music, where I’m more let me kick back and let me have some groovy chill sessions. Not to say I cant handle the trap realm and I like to dabble in there as well, but in my roots I know I have a much more soul-y and groovy sound. So, I’ve been working outside the line in that sense. The unreleased stuff with my band adds to that statement where it creates this very unique feel. I’d rather people think Melo is gonna drop something fresh, instead of okay we already know what Melo is going to drop next and we can put it in a box. I like having that fresh feel.
You mentioned the music industry and how it identifies individuals based off appearances. Can you talk about any challenges you have faced in the music industry?
Yeah, I think first off, I’m not the standard light skin. Im not over 6 ft with very nice eyes type of artist. I’m very comfortable in my own skin. The industry’s shaped in a way that it promotes what it promotes. For a long time that meant more fair skinned people to run the pop genre. Where as the dark skin or more melanated artists where led to run the more trap, gangster rap, drill sound.
My challenge is that I wouldn’t ever want to be classified as a trap artist, its not where I am. Giving out good vibes and sharing some light in an already somewhat negative world is something I enjoy. I want to give more of myself than I have. I know I am giving less of myself if I just decide “Oh because I’m black, male, and from Toronto, I should just do trap”. Even being from the city is a challenge as well. The recognition the city gives is more to people who are in the city that portray a more drug related, hood related exterior, whereas being raised in the suburbs, I’m not with the any gangs. I have my crew, my family and that’s my gang.
That’s where there’s a bit of a challenge I think. But I handle myself, because when it does come time to be in the booth and I’m there. There have been times where I hop in the studio and there are people in there who are more gang related or more hood mentality than I am. That’s okay, that doesn’t affect how I produce or preform when I’m in the booth. I go in and spit and lay my shit down. It shows them that even a kid from the suburbs can deliver the best flows.
Tory Lanez talked about how its too easy to be a Toronto rapper now. This formula of the high autotune, flash around the jewellery, and drive around in a Bentley. Its like a starter pack. Not to say I have anything against the trap sound. It’s actually some of the most fun I had recording is when I’m making trap music. I just wouldn’t let it define me in terms of my sound.
Okay on to some lighter topics now, out of the projects you’ve released which on do you enjoy the most.
Ooh definitely my latest project, The Caves Have Wifi. It’s produced by myself and my main producer Travis Thickle, based in Ottawa. That one is just so free. It really goes against the grains in terms of what Toronto sounds like. What Canada sounds like.
No matter where you go in Canada, whether it be Ottawa, Maine, Vancouver, they all really represent a similar sound. The Toronto sound of the Pressa, the Partynextdoor, Nav, and the people who give the more Houdini sounds. You don’t see another me in all of Canada which is something I think is kinda lit. It’s understandable if you could see another me and you gave me shit. I don’t want to see another me either haha. But yeah, the entire album is just a vibe. It was so fun especially because of all the different energy from myself and the sounds that Travis was able to make for us.
Okay, picture this: Covid’s over, concerts are back on, you have a gig, what’s the first song you’re preforming?
OOH that’s big. First song would have to be Throw It Up, it’s a good song to give the overall energy of who I am as a person, Its groovy, smooth and energetic. You automatically want to bop to it.
You’ve released how many projects now?
I’ve released 3 that are available on all streaming platforms.
Do you ever look back at your older projects and notice a growth or evolution in terms of your sound or skills?
Absolutely, from my first project to my last for sure, the production value has gone up. The rhyme scheme has definitely changed and evolved as well as the cockiness in the music for sure haha. I also think that I’ve tried some different approaches to my songs which have worked in my favor. Even the other day, I was talking about project M, the first project I made with my engineer and he was saying it aged very well, and every now and then a song will pop back up on my shuffle and I’ll smile and be like: Yeah I did this.
What do you have in the works?
Okay we have a lot in the works! We currently have 3 projects that we could release. I think based on how the world is right now and how content is being consumed, we’re planning on dropping a couple singles in a the coming months. Taboo is one of the trap singles I mentioned that will be dropping in the coming weeks. There a lot of video content coming up as well. I’ve been working on some my own video editing for some music videos and getting the help of an infamous PierceTheLight for an upcoming music video. Really taking my time to make sure anything I put out is giving me a good vibe, so that when I look back I’ll feel good about what I’ve put out. And getting ready for Fall, Fall will be a good time for Vibebymelo.
Where do you want to see yourself in 2 to 3 years musically?
I would like to be working on a project in LA. One of my goals is to have a project mixed and mastered in LA or just in California. That’s where I definitely see myself. We’re going to have a nice, little tour by then. A lot more touring. One of our tours actually canceled because of Covid. I’d like to get that one back and running, maybe add some more stops, throw Europe into the mix.
Spotlight – Melo is a wrap!
Big thanks to Melo for taking the time to chat with us.
Make sure to check out his music and follow the socials to see what he is up to.
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