What’s up everyone, I’m Melo, aka Melo Makes Music. My occupation is to make music. I was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago and I love pizza.
How was life growing up?
Life was interesting. I grew up in a single mother household, for the most part. My dad wasn’t completely absent from my life, but majority of my life was spent growing up with my mom and sister. A lot of moving happened during my childhood and it wasn’t until I was around 11 or 12 when it became stable.
When did you begin to witness you had creative talents?
I was always an artistic kid. I used to draw comic books with my homie Gianni when we were six years old. Gianni is still around. He helps me with creative consulting, videos and merchandise.
The day I started messing with music though, I’ll never forget. My little sister had this little toy keyboard and she figured out how to play the beginning of Fur Elise and I remember seeing her play that and thinking to myself how cool that was. I ended up ripping the keyboard from her, she was so mad, but from there I taught myself how to play a solid chunk of Fur Elise. A bit later, my Dad ended up buying me a Casio keyboard for my birthday and I taught myself how to play all sorts of music. I did that from the age of 11-13, and at 13 I got a guitar and taught myself how to play. I was really toying around with those instruments, making cover songs, nothing original. I never really had any interest in making any of my own songs at the time because I looked at music as a hobby. While I was playing music, I was still drawing and stuff on the side. You know, going through adolescence is a tough time.
If anyone has ever listened to your music. They can see and hear the variety of genres in your music.
My mom had a super diverse taste in music. I grew up on Sammie Davis, Isley Brothers, Nina Simone, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, George Michael, Michael Jackson, and Prince. All of that plays a huge part in my influence. I had a huge alternative rock faze. Nirvana was like the gateway drug in a sense. My mom used to blare Nevermind by Nirvana all the time in the car.
As I got a bit older, I continued to develop my taste in music and found a love for hip-hop. I really loved TI, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West. Hip-hop is something that I can never completely depart from because that’s where I feel the most comfortable. Where I bring in the other genres into my hip-hop sound is where the ‘makes music brand’ comes together.
Do people tend to just box you in as a rapper?
Yeah totally. They used to box me in even tinier boxes, which annoyed the shit out of me. I used to be annoyed when people would blatantly throw out, “oh you’re just a rapper”. I’ve come to this understanding where I’ll wear the name ‘rapper’ proudly. I think definitions need to change as times change. The music I make isn’t just rap. Iff that’s what’s being recognized as rap, I’m happy to change the genre and be a part of the wave of artists that change what it means to be a rapper. It’s cool to think of it in that light. I’m not going for any label. Plus, I think with the Internet age of music we will see genres get bent and fuse together. At the end of the day I’m a musician and I’ll make whatever I’m feeling.
What sparks your interest in starting to pursue music as your career?
It all happened when I was attending Columbia. I was at my friends’ studio one day and singing Frank Ocean and he was like, “you have a good voice, you should get on a song.” I was like naw I don’t do that. I ended up hopping on his record and it felt good, it felt freeing. I never expressed myself with my voice, and for a little while it felt like chasing the dragon. I wanted to feel that liberation all the time. From working on that song, it turned into me writing and wanting to be better at it. I spent an entire year figuring out what making a song was for me and how I could apply my voice to something that expressed my thoughts in ways I could be heard.
Lets look back on your first project, Sessions
Sessions was my first project and if I could go back and rename it, I would call it Practice, because that’s exactly what it was. Sessions was big for me because I was able to work with artists who are very pivotal with where my career is right now. This was the first time I was able to work in a real recording studio, network with other artists in the city, and get my name out there. My writing process was still very young; a lot of development was needed. I wasn’t as concise as I wanted to be. I dipped my toes in a lot of different sub-genres and I was trying to figure out where I sounded the best. That was a project that helped me get to where I’m at now.
We see a lot of your production done by Martin $ky
I met Martin $ky when I was 12, we went to the same elementary school. One of the last conversations we had before he transferred, he told me he was going to start rapping. At 12, I didn’t even know what that really meant, all of it sounded like a hobby. I didn’t understand the reality in it. Over time, I would start to see videos of him on the Internet and thought to myself; damn he’s really doing this.
When I started to attend Columbia, we ran into each other living in the dorms and begun hanging out. I wasn’t super deep into making music at the time. Our relationship developed over my ‘go and get it’ attitude. When I decided to start getting into music, not a lot of people were supportive of my choice, but Martin was one who was vocal with his advice to me. Over time we continued hanging out and he saw that I was really trying to do this. He ended up making the instrumental to Disguise. Disguise ended up being the standout song from Sessions, and it helped me realize that we had chemistry together.
What’s the creative process between you two while working on music?
It kinda varies. There are moments when we’ll sit down and he starts making some shit and I’ll start humming and recording on my phone. There are other times when layers build and have vocal implement components. Sometimes Martin will make a beat and tell me he hears me on it and then I hear it, and see myself on it as well. Like I said, it just all varies.
Almost two years ago you tweeted, “We are creating the new sound in Chicago” Do you still think that?
100%. I want my songs to always feel timeless, and timeless within a certain arena of time of course. For example, I feel like I could’ve dropped Murphy’s Law yesterday. The sound is always evolving with the times. I’m trying to mix in new elements and genres that I grew up on. The writing process and the subject matter will mature with my fan base and me. The more I see it grow and the more I see them interacting, the more I’ll be vocal with them, and share my life more with my music.
I’m very excited for your next project Nomads. What could we expect
The inspiration behind this project is life itself. I’m inspired by life everyday, it’s what gets me going. There are obviously some musical inspirations too; my peers in the city keep me motivated, always. As far as genre specific stuff, going back to what I said with my diverse musical background, which came from my mom, those diverse sounds will show its face, one way or another. Whether it is through the melodies in my voice or the melodies in my production. This project is going to be very light and very dark. The tones I want to hit are black and white in some degree. I always like to have subject matter that brings out those negative emotions and twists them into positive ones. The light at the end of the tunnel is the theme of the project. With time, the project will get deeper, personal and more introspective.
Who are three artists you are looking to work with?
I’m really trying to work with DRAM. I have this song I made that I hear Dram on. I want Femdot to spit some fire on one of my tracks.
One big thing for my project is that people will look back on it and see that I worked with Chicago artists over anybody else. I think it’s important to highlight the city and the artists I appreciate.
For people who haven’t heard of you, what would be three songs you want them to check out?
Go to soundcloud.com/melomakesmusic, spotify, or apple music and listen to Drain U, Murphy’s Law, and Evicted. Those three songs give a well-rounded view of my music.
When it’s all said and done how do you want to be remembered?
I want people to remember Melo Makes Music as an artist from Chicago that was for the world. I want to teach people that it’s okay to be yourself. I’m a big believer in creating your own reality, and I want to help people who deal with depression, that’s something I deal with. I hope people who listen to my music can relate, feel better, and understand there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Written By: Nico Rud