A-Sides with Jon Chattman is a webshow hosted by Huffington Post blogger Jon Chattman. Melanie Martinez has been featured on the show various times doing interviews and performing.
Interview #1 Transcript
This is Melanie Martinez and you're watching A-Sides.
So many artists who come off singing competitions ultimately conform when their record finally hits the shelves. Not you. How hard was it to stick to who you are on your record?
It was actually pretty easy to stick to who I am. I kind of just know what I want to say and how I wanna say it so I'm just really focused on putting my vision out there and being as me as possible, if that makes any sense.
Do any of your musical influences cross over with your fashion/style influences?
I don't know, I think what I wear is kind of based off of how little girls dress which is kind of strange but not really cause everything is kind of based off of my childhood. So I just love really girly, frilly pink things and that also plays into my music too cause it kind of sounds like that. There's a lot of toys in the production. I just love when everything kind of fits each other so I just want everything to be as cohesive as possible so it's all kind of childhood-based basically.
Your music video sort of freaks me out in a good way. Is that what you were going for?
I was not going for freaking people out but I was going for telling a story. I guess it came off creepy just because it's like, I don't know why dolls are so creepy to people. I mean, they scared me when I was younger, not anymore obviously, but it's just really funny. Things that scare people are little girls and scary movies and stuff like that, like little kids and stuff like that and childish stuff seems to be creepy I guess in a weird way. So I guess that's why people find it creepy but I don't think it's creepy, I was just telling a story of a dysfunctional doll family.
What was the hardest part of being on a nationally televised singing competition? Was it having to listen to the brief theme song of The Voice? It kills me personally.
That made my stomach turn cause you get so nervous and all you hear is "This is The Voice!". That definitely was not a great feeling. It's just always nerve-wracking, you have to sing live and there's no going back, there's no re-doing and you can't really talk or explain yourself if you mess up. So you just gotta do it and if you mess up, that's it. I guess that's the scariest part about it is that it's live. I mean, I have no problem singing live, I love performing live and stuff, but on national television where a bajillion people are watching you? It's kind of scary.
What are your immediate plans - touring? Festivals?
I am actually finishing my tour, tomorrow is my last show. But I'm going to finish writing my album in July. I'll be in LA for the whole month and I'm just finishing it up. And then the album will hopefully be out by September-ish. So that's what I'm currently doing, and I'm playing ACL and that's all I know so far.
Tell us a little about your writing method.
I guess when I get into the studio, the first thing that I think about is the theme or concept and story and how I want it to be portrayed with production and stuff. I really love toy sounds and I really love weird samples that kind of match the theme that I'm talking about. It's like there's the song Cry Baby and the beginning is a really loud crying kind of sound and stuff. I love when things are super like this, the production hugs the lyrics and it's all one thing you'll remember and know it's a certain story and it's very specific. I just kind of figure out what I want with the sounds and stuff like that. With production, with the producer, and then think of concept and then write the story from beginning to end. So I hate doing the hook first. A lot of people, when they have writing sessions with me, they're like, "Oh let's start with writing the hook first, you gotta make it super catchy!" I really don't even care about that, all I care about is making sure that the story is a story, so I love starting from first to end. That's my writing process, I guess.
Do you feel more connected to your music with this process of writing?
Yeah, it makes me feel like all of my heart and mind is inside of it. Cause other than that, I'd get bored just sitting there for an hour trying to write a really good hook. I can't do that, it's stressful. I could do it for other people, but I wouldn't want that for myself. I feel like I would hate the song after that.
Interview #2 Transcript
Hi, I'm Melanie Martinez and this is A-Sides with Jon Chattman.
The Dollhouse EP was huge. Are you still surprised with how big that album and singles were for you?
I don't know, I guess I look at it as such a small thing. I mean, I did three tours off of it which was really insane to think about, off of a four song EP. I remember when I released it and I did a show very soon after, like a week later or something, people were already singing the words and stuff and it made me feel really great and it was an awesome feeling so I'm just super thankful and grateful that people like it.
Lesley Gore is an interesting choice to sample - how'd "Pity Party" come about?
So I really love songs from the 50s and 60s and that was my second day writing Kara DioGuardi and CJ Baran. I was super excited for the sessions because I mean, Kara's amazing, CJ is amazing, so it was just really awesome. I can't remember, I was telling her about the theme of my album and all the titles that I had in mind and what I wanted to write about. We were talking about no one showing up to my birthday party and then she kept saying that I sounded like Judy Garland and was saying that I had this old tone to my voice that kept bringing her to that era or whatever. So we were just listening to a bunch of songs from the 60s and we were just completely like "wait a minute, this is insane". We were talking about no one showing up to my birthday party and having that as a theme because it relates to the album and the story and everything of the album. When we remembered It's My Party, we were like "woah, this could be so cool to have that influence" because I love music from that time and it's already a huge inspiration for me just in life. The way I dress, I love vintage clothes and I collect vintage toys and stuff so it was just a perfect thing for me, I feel like it was just exciting for me to do.
Keeping with the "Pity Party" theme, what are some of your go to artists to listen to when you're feeling down? Radiohead is mine.
Honestly, I love music from that time. I love the song called Like I Do by Maureen Evans. I get super stressed out real easy and that song kind of calms me down for some reason and brings me to this happy new place. I don't know why, recently that's been it, but CocoRosie usually does it for me, I'm just instantly happy and kind of in my zone. I don't know, it's really weird.
As if it wasn't enough that you sing and write your songs, you just directed the music video for that song. Is that something you planned from the getgo?
Totally. That's the first video that I directed, but before that I'm always super involved with videos and I'm very particular how things are in video. So I just shot another one and since I wasn't in the video as much, I was able to kind of be behind the camera and I was able to direct it even more than I did in Pity Party. Pity Party was easy cause I was the only one in the video the whole time, I played out all the shot lists and the storyboard and how I wanted everything and stuff. But for this one I just shot, it was even cooler cause there are other people that I was directing, and it was so much fun. I definitely plan on doing that more.
Cry Baby and Pity Party make interesting titles - respectively for the new album and single. Is there any sense of irony or wink winks at the titles?
So Cry Baby is basically a fairy tale version of myself so it's not like the pretty princess sparkly perfect version of myself, it's more of the really dark, imperfect and kind of insecure part of myself. Throughout the album, when I first started it basically, I was super insecure and 'cry baby' was more of an insult in my head, that's what I was called as a kid because I was so emotional and got really stressed out about it because I hated how people viewed me because of that. You know, stuff like that, I was just super insecure. I was like that in the beginning of the writing process like when I wrote Dollhouse and all that and Cry Baby was something that I really wanted to talk about because writing's like therapy for me so I kind of just wanted to get that out. Once I figured out that I wanted to write about this, I kind of eventually started getting more and more comfortable with myself after writing these songs and just speaking about things that I was uncomfortable with and just letting them go and just putting them out there and writing it down on paper made me feel way better about it, singing about it and stuff, I don't know.
So basically Cry Baby, the character in the story, it's about her life and it's really about my life. She's a little girl so it's from her perspective so all of it is very little kid themes but it's super dark and very adult because it's my experiences. So it's adult mixed with childish things and it's the contrast of that. It's super dark and it's super explicit but it was definitely like therapy for me because I became way a more confident and comfortable with myself type of person or whatever, and she did too in the story so interesting that that happened.
American Horror Story tied in with your song in the past - have you lobbied for a role? You should.
No, I don't know how that would work out. If I ever had to act or anything or if I ever wanted to get into it, I would definitely start with horror movies 'cause I feel like that's the only kind of thing I could be in but I don't know. I feel like I would be too nervous. Jessica Lange is an insane actor, she's insane. I would feel uncomfortable being on set with her to be honest. She's just amazing. But yeah that'd be cool I guess, I don't know. I'd probably be the one in the corner eating stuffed animals and would be just there in the background.
Advice for my 8 month old son Zachary?
Alright so, I would say just go with your gut feelings on things. If you really want something, go out and get it. If you're really passionate about something then put all of your time into it 'cause it's so worth it. I think that's what I would say.