We sat down with Melo-Zed recently to reminisce on the early days + discuss Eleven, his debut EP and what life is like these days for him in London.
So let’s start from the beginning. I first heard your stuff back in 2015 from Stwo. I wanna believe I hit you up that same night but I can’t remember..
I think the first time we linked up though was in London that same year on the HW&W Europe Tour. We were renting this weird apartment right above this Chinese restaurant.. Gravez and Tek.Lun were there. It was my first time hanging with Fwdslxsh and PYRMDPLAZA too. Hard to believe that was three years ago.
Yeah that was a big deal to me, connecting with you all in person.
The London show too man.. that shit was fucking LIT! PYRMDPLAZA that night, till this day was one of the craziest sets I ever witnessed..
It was my first show as well so for it to be that good set the bar high lol. It was sick to see how what was essentially a bunch of ppl from all over the world who got together because of music and the internet rocking a show like that. Golden era of all that SoundCloud stuff tbh.
So fast forward from there, in 2016 we drop a single on SoundCloud called “Stimulus”
I made that track in the Caribbean, Carriacou to be specific which is the island I’m from.
We didn’t think it would be two years after that we’d finally have the EP!
I didn’t think it would take me two years at the time haha. I thought I’d turn it round in a couple months.
What happened within that time? What were you going through personally, creatively, etc..
So for me, it was a thing where I felt myself go through changes as a person and musician. The early stuff I was doing was more a reflection of a person trying to master a certain style of production – like I was heavy into, Slum Village, Flylo, Madlib and I think at the start I was trying to emulate the style but as I got deeper into it I was less satisfied with that. It wasn’t enough to sound like the guys I looked up to so I started looking further afield for inspiration. Come to think of it, its been a very natural process – going from making purely hip hop to a sound that I could call my own… It gives me the space to get across a wider scope of feelings in the music.
Yeah I mean it’s quite evident
I was attending university at the time, going through that 17-21 age range a lot changes, I think I matured a lot and that reflected in the music I was making, there were just more experiences to draw from and my guitar became a go too. I just put hours and hours into practicing to try and achieve the types of sounds I was hearing in my head.
The rest I can’t really explain – but I think you can hear it.. my original influences are still there just meshed together with other stuff.
You can hear it in the music fam, it feels personal.. A slice of your life
Thats a big thing for me, connecting to a feeling.
You want to talk about some of the collaborators? How did you decide who to work with?
So I wanted only female vocalists on Eleven. I felt the female voice resonated best with the vibe of the project and the kind of things I was trying to get across, plus this EP, its a sort of genesis/start point for me as an artist. And I like to think of women as a sort of genesis.. of life. It was important that I captured the sensitivity.
Is there a standout feature/collab?
For me the lack of structure to the songs was part of the beauty. I was keen to emphasize that to everyone, like with “Here For Me” which features Cari, its just a refrain that gets repeated, but it works as a moment. I love how haunting “11am” is though, Dani really killed that.
As far as debut projects go, Eleven to me is incredible..
Some people might be bit caught out, because it doesn’t slap or the sound isn’t heavy but Eleven isn’t about that.
So then what is it about?
That’s for the people to decide.
How do you feel growing up in London shaped this project, if at all?
I’ve always been concerned with communicating my experience of black Britishness, as a person of Carribean heritage there is a unique relationship between race, music and Britain. Growing up in London you are constantly involved in that history. Creatively, the city keeps you on your toes though, everyone’s trying to do better.
Describe a typical day for you right now in London.
Get up, procrastinate, go for a run, make music lol. Occasionally you might catch me at couple events but yeah, thats me basically.
What were you making in the cooking scene in the Eleven visual? You a decent cook?
Lool.. yea I love to cook. Like just below making music and supporting Spurs (Tottenham), cooking is a big passion. Its cliche but there’s so many similarities with making music its mad. Its sweet potato, salmon and kale with some honey glazing situation on top. Made it off the cuff on the day, actually forgot I would have to cook for the video.
On some “I’ve been cooking up” type shit
Yeah and the idea that you have to prepare – which what i felt like I’ve been doing.
If you were cooking for a lady friend, what’s your go to dish?
Hmm cous cos with aubergine, tomatoes and raisins in it and maybe some kind of baked fish.
Who would you say are some of your biggest musical influences?
Aside from Flylo, Dilla, Madlib etc..I’d say D’angelo, Marvin Gaye, John Coltrane, Beres Hammond, Jon Bap, Omar , James Blake, Earl Klugh..
Talk about some of the relationships you’ve built over the years.
When I first heard Fwdslxsh, I knew we’d get on. I feel like he understands the idea of finesse in music so well, like taking care of the piece from start to finish. Whenever me Joey XL and Fwd have sessions it’s a vibe. Joey got dealt with on FIFA, but that’s another story…
Also guys like Obongjayar, Emmavie, Monte Booker, Cari.. just people I genuinely get along with. Its important for to have good relationships with ppl if you really want to unlock the best music.
Other than music, what has inspired you as an artist/creative?
My parents are both creative, my dad from an architecture perspective and my mum is a footwear designer, so quality design in any form has always been something that’s inspired me.
Last real question and it’s simple: what’s next?
I started working on a second project pretty much while we were mixing Eleven, again trying to go in a different direction – not really sure where yet but I’ll work it out. Goals wise, I want to win a grammy at some point – for my parents more so, they’d like that, going to the ceremony and everything. Apart from that, just to keep working, improving and challenging myself to make the best music possible. Trying to work out something new.. tbh I don’t know exactly what the next move is – but definitely more consistent releases.
Give me your top 5 English football players of the moment
Harry Kane Eric Dier Danny Rose Rashford Dele Alli
Top 5 films of all time
Orfeu Negro, Elite Squad, Mo Betta Blues, Shape of Water, City of God
Top 5 Cities you want to perform in
Tokyo, LA, Kingston, Rio de Janiero, Toronto
Top 5 Places to eat
Negril, Blue Jay Café, Franco, MancaJerk GardenPho
Top 5 Jazz albums of all time
Ah Um – Charles Mingus, Giant Steps – John Coltrane, Kind of Blue – Miles Davis, Black Radio – Robert Glasper, Night Dreamer – Wayne Shorter