Melaku - 10 Questions Interview
Melaku is a solo artist, songwriter, and record producer. Raised in a small beach town in northern California, Melaku began writing and singing as early as 5, picked up the drums at 10, and started recording himself at 13. Melaku went to Columbia University in New York City and interned at SONY Music, Jive Records. His original songs landed him a management deal that led to writing songs with producers for artists like Ke$ha, Flo Rida, B.o.B, Jacob Lattimore, Collie Buddz and various major and independent labels like Universal Motown, Atlantic Records, Tulsa Records, Easy Star Records, and G Note. After graduating, Melaku spent many summers in LA in writing sessions, while defining his own sound as an artist. In 2018, Melaku released his debut album "Golden Age.” The album received positive coverage from publications like With Guitars Magazine, Tattoo Magazine, The Indie Source, and Consequence Of Sound. In 2019, he released his sophomore album "Dream World," an album that dives into the awakenings that can come from the ending of relationships. Melaku writes and records his music in his hometown recording studio, Mowbray Studio, and releases his music on the independent record label, Angellion Records. In 2020, Melaku is continuing in the “pursuit of catchiness” with new releases.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it. I started writing music super early. I remember playing guitar, singing, and making up songs when I was like 5 years old. I didn't actually consider songwriting as a career until I learned about the top-lining world in college. And that was super exciting. But I suppose the greatest catalysts are often relationships. Whether you're falling in love or out of it, there's so much emotion that happens, and the songs just kind of happen also. But I make an effort to not only write love songs, as spiritual revelations, and moments of transcendence are often huge catalysts as well.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Hmmm. Well I guess I can tell one crazy story. I was working for Columbia University's bartending agency while going to school there. While I was living in New York, I would often carry around my guitar, just in case a prime opportunity to busk or something like that came up. The city is fun like that; you never know what's going to happen. And that night was no exception. I ended up bartending at a book signing at the VP of NoneSuch Records, and after the party, they asked about my guitar and I ended up playing a few songs. David told me I could live off my voice the rest of my life. I thought that was a good sign.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I don't think I've hit the high point of my music path, honestly. I've been plugging away at this for a long time, but I haven't played the huge shows, or hit the radio in a big way. All of my efforts are for those goals, and one day I will reach them, and then I'll know...ok this is the high point.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I'm generally a melody first kind of writer. I tend to kind of improvise melodies, usually on guitar, and then I figure out lyrics afterwards. A lot of times I will have an idea for a hook, or a tagline, and I will work around that. I'm probably closest to the Swedish school of songwriting; it's all about how it feels. But I make sure to put in deeper meanings into my lyrics, so that even though I'm writing pop songs, there is a higher purpose.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I think the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today is visibility, mainly. Or at least that's what I'm working on in my own artist career. Since we don't have the big budgets of the major labels, the question is how do we get our music and visuals in front of a large audience? There are shows like The Voice and American Idol that purport to do that, but those shows are more focused on cover songs, and not original artists.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
It really depends on the live show. A lot of the shows I've played have been solo acoustic shows, so it really just involves me practicing the songs in my studio before the shows. In the future, I'm definitely planning on having more elaborate stage shows, with a band, etc, but I'm not at that stage in my career yet. Right now I'm putting together some musicians to play some virtual concerts, so be on the lookout for that.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
To be honest, most of the songs that I've put out were pretty easy to write. The ones that are more challenging often get scrapped, because the flow just isn't there. Usually the songs I keep for myself come from a place of real inspiration, and they kind of write themselves. My job is to get out of the way, and let the energy and emotion just come through me.
What's coming up in the future?
I am super focused on developing my brand and sound as an artist, and creating music and visuals that really resonate with people. My plans for 2020 include a lot more video content, especially since live shows aren't happening that much right now. I have a home studio and know how to use video equipment, so I think social media and youtube are really where I'm wanting to grow a larger audience. And hopefully that translates to a live show presence in the future as well.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
All of my social media is: @MelakuOfficial
Connect on Instagram
Stream on Spotify.
Visit Online Stores and Streaming Links on DistroKid.
For more information or to contact Melaku, please visit his website.