GroundSounds is a website bringing upcoming independent artists from around the world. They interviewed Melanie Martinez in 2014.
These days Melanie Martinez is all work and all play.
After working with Adam Levine and company on the third season of the NBC singing competition “The Voice,” the 19-year-old singing sensation signed with Atlantic records in April and released her debut EP Dollhouse earlier this month. She spoke with GroundSounds about the child-like inspiration for the record, transitioning from “The Voice” to her own music career, and plans for her upcoming full-length studio LP later this year.
GS: Your Dollhouse EP came out recently. Can you tell us a little bit about working on this project?
MM: I’m pretty excited for people to listen to the story of each song. It’s definitely like a giant book with different stories in it. They are all very child-like but also a balance between light and dark.
GS: How did you decide on the title Dollhouse?
MM: I think because “Dollhouse” was the first story that I put out. It was the first thing that people were able to listen to and find the aesthetic of my music, so I figured we could use that as a title.
GS: You worked on “Dollhouse” with Kinetics and One Love. What was it like working with them?
MM: That was my first writing session with them actually. It was really exciting. I just wanted to get into more sessions with them. They are really awesome, we worked really well together.
GS: You have also worked with Robopop. How was that experience?
MM: He is amazing. He is a great writer and producer, and it was really easy working with him. We got along so well. Coming up with stories with him was great. He is brilliant. With “Dollhouse,” we wanted to tell the story of a functioning doll family that hid behind a picture-perfect façade.
GS: What was one of your family memories from childhood?
MM: I think honestly when I was younger I use to love going to carnivals in Long Island. I use to love carnival season; I would drive to every town going to carnivals. That was definitely a favorite memory.
GS: Can you tell us about transitioning from the “The Voice” to signing with Atlantic? What did you do during that interim period?
MM: It was a year of transitioning. I think the transition between singing covers on a reality show to being able to do my own thing was really exciting. I’m no longer singing covers every second, and people are actually getting to hear my own original music. On the show I obviously wasn’t allowed, because it’s not that type of show. I think it’s really cool that I get to do my own thing now.
GS: What was it like when you signed with Atlantic?
MM: It was really exciting. When I had that meeting with them it just felt right. You know when you have a good instinct about something? That’s what happened. It was the right time, the right people, everyone was so amazing, supportive and helpful and really genuine about trying to get my vision out there.
GS: Dollhouse is really creative in the fact that it uses toy sounds. Whose idea was that?
MM: I always mention toy sounds when I go into any session.
GS: You’re starting a Summer tour soon. What do you enjoy most about being on the road? What are you anticipating most about this tour?
MM: I’m really excited for this tour because Dollhouse is the first EP that I’ve put out and I haven’t played a show yet. I’ve only played one show and it was like six days after “Dollhouse.” More of my fans know the song now so they can sing along. It is going to be really fun to see people sing my songs word for word. I am really excited.
GS: Can you tell us about the day of the music video shoot for “Dollhouse”?
MM: It was a three-day shoot. “Dollhouse” was really insane. We shot it at this top house studio in Brookyln. It was really cool. I designed a mini dollhouse that we used. I made it all by hand and decorated each room, and we based the actual set off of that. The Dollhouse was just plain wood and I put roofing on it and everything. I got real carpet for it. It was crazy. It was definitely an interesting experience. It was the first music video I’ve ever made. It was definitely stressful but awesome. Everybody was really amazing on set; we just had a blast doing it.
GS: Are you working on a debut album?
MM: I am currently writing songs and finishing the album, which should come later this year. I have a lot of songs but I’m still writing and seeing where it goes. I think the EP is kind of like the beginning of that album. It’s the same kind of vibe, just more intense stories. It’s going to be really cool to see people’s reaction to it.
GS: What are some of the topics of the stories?
MM: One of the songs is about no one showing up to my birthday party and I’m like tearing everything down. I’m throwing everything and laughing and crying at the same time. It’s really crazy. Another is about a teddy bear trying to kill me. One song is called “Milk and Cookies.”
GS: What is “Milk and Cookies” about?
MM: Milk and Cookies is almost like a weird sequel to “Dead To Me.” They are really dark and kind of strange but have that child-like quality.
GS: Do you have a name for the debut album?