INTERVIEW BY NHI MUNDY
VIDEO & PORTRAIT BY MIKAEL KENNEDY
Gravure sat down with singer and songwriter Melaena Cadiz to chat about her latest project and creative process.
Gravure: How long have you been making music?
Melaena: I’ve been singing all my life. My dad brought home a classical guitar and some songbooks from a business trip and taught my brother and I some chords. I played on and off for years, but I didn’t really get serious about it until about four years ago. I had a bunch of songs written and decided to make an album of the best ones.
Gravure: How has your music evolved since then?
Melaena: My influences and interests always flow from one thing to another. I think you can hear that in the music I’m writing. My first record was very sparse. I was listening to lots of country music, reading Zelda Fitzgerald’s biography and Richard Brautigan and was obsessed with this idea of wild verses domesticated and what home is.
Gravure: Sharp White Teeth is a song from your upcoming album, Deep Below Heaven. What is it about?
Melaena: It was weird writing that song. It was like the words just came to me and I didn’t question their logic too much. Now listening back to it, I know it’s about things left unsaid, regret and forgiveness. I know I’ve heard a lot of songwriters say that the lyrics will somehow tumble out of some subconscious place and you don’t really get their meaning until later. I think if you rest true to that subconscious trail, it still creates a cohesive song.
Gravure: What kind of music are you listening to these days?
Melaena: I’ve been listening to a lot of pop music lately and I think it’s really interesting and valuable to look at what reaches and touches the most people. I watched this Springsteen interview and he was talking about the “pop song” and what it means to people. He was saying that what’s important is what’s happening “now” in this moment, and “now” in the next moment, constantly evolving, always making the listener feel like they’re living here in this moment. That’s where it’s exciting to be. Pop music is not disposable, it’s just constantly morphing into the next thing.
Gravure: Is there a song by another artist that moves you emotionally?
Melaena: Springsteen’s Thunder Road gets me every time, and Moon River. I think that’s my all time favorite.
Gravure: What drives you to create music?
Melaena: I just know if I don’t sit down and sing songs every day, I miss it. I guess it comes back to why anyone creates art – to make sense of our experience. Joseph Campbell says this great thing about mythology constellating our lives. And I think in making art, we’re drawing on and creating mythologies that are comforting and act as connecting forces between us.