Catch the exclusive interview above, filmed in London, where we got to talk with UK singer Meleka about her forthcoming Next EP, working with Basement Jaxx again, her love for the Spice Girls, and the fate of that guy at the end of her “Go” video.
Full transcript of the interview below:
LyricStatus: So, we’re here with the lovely Meleka. We’d say you’ve had a pretty good year so far.
LyricStatus: So, caught on tour at the MOBOs with Smiler.
Meleka: Yes. Lovely Smiler. Shout out Smiler.
LyricStatus: And, obviously, your track Love You Baby…
LyricStatus: …airplay on 1Xtra and Radio One. How does it all feel?
Meleka: It’s really good. I’ve been making music for a little while now and it is still nervous and nerve-wracking when you put something out because you’re not sure how people are going to respond.
But, actually, I’ve got a really great response with Love You Baby and, obviously, the relationships that I’ve built with other Artists which have enabled me to, kind of, work with Smiler and Wiley and Basement Jaxx and all these other people as well.
So, yeah, it’s going really well.
LyricStatus: The video, as well, for Love you Baby, that’s been going down a storm and you seem to have quite a loyal following as well on YouTube in the comments.
I mean, one here from a Nick Kabanda, “MELEKA….STRICTLY BANGERZZZZ…DAT SHOULD BE YOUR NAME…COULD OF GOT A BETTER DANCER..but, he did his ting”.
So, where did you find this crazy dancer in your video?
Meleka: The director, he found the dancer in it. The other extras and everything. So, um – but I – you know the dancer he was great. He was so lovely and it was more – he wasn’t necessarily supposed to be doing proper body-popping. Is that what it’s called? Body-popping?
LyricStatus: Yeah. So… Yeah.
Meleka: Yeah. It was supposed to be more fun…
LyricStatus: …seem like you’re taking the mick.
Meleka: ..and – yeah. A little bit playful. So, yeah, yeah, yeah. But he did very well.
LyricStatus: I thought he did very well.
Meleka: I thought he did.
LyricStatus: How did you manage not to laugh as well? I thought you’d done well not to laugh.
Meleka: No, I did. I was laughing and I – because we were, kind of, doing the acting. It was almost like he’d upset me and he was trying to be cute and make me laugh and so we made up. That was the whole point of it. So – yeah, we – he – I did laugh.
LyricStatus: Your videos, as well, they’re always very original. Like the plotlines that you have and the twist at the end of Go. So, are these plots that you come up with or it something the directors…
Meleka: I can’t take the credit for Go. That was the director and I remember getting a few treatments through and then getting that one. I was like, “oh my days” and exactly how you watch it and you don’t really know what’s going on until the very, very end. That’s exactly how I read the treatment and I just was like, “this is the best thing I’ve ever read in my life”.
So, obviously we did that. But I do – you know, Miss me, that was kind of my idea. Love You Baby, we had Jamal because he put it all together. We – that was more him, but we collaborated on a few bits and pieces and, yeah, I do like to be involved and I do have some ideas about what I like. Sort of things that I like.
LyricStatus: Were you quite up for killing the guy at the end of the video? I mean, we’ve got one YouTube comment here from a maxcharm12345 who says, “fam dont mess wid meleka or shees deading your life”.
You should get involved with your fans on this.
Meleka: Well, no, because I didn’t make – well it – maybe, maybe he died because I don’t want to say that I killed him and then next minute this goes online and the next minute the police are like [raps on table], “Meleka”.
But, yeah. No – you know we didn’t – I’m not promoting violence in relationships. I have to say that. I’m not supporting violence.
LyricStatus: It’s for entertainment.
Meleka: Yeah. And it was very light-hearted. He didn’t necessarily die. He just… It’s left very ambiguous and very open to interpretation and that.
LyricStatus: So, what can we expect for the video for Mr Appletree, assuming there’s going to be one.
Meleka: There definitely is a Mr Appletree video. I’m not entirely sure when we’re going to put it out. I think that we’re going to do some – like an EP and stuff like that and maybe stall it because I’ve also got another song coming out through Sony.
Meleka: Called Beat Dun Drop.
LyricStatus: What’s the influences then that you grew up with?
Meleka: Brandy, Whitney Houston, Mary J Blige, Joe. I had quite a varied musical upbringing because – like my Mum was quite into R&B and my Dad was really into Reggae. Then my Grandmother brought me up on musicals and things like Singing In The Rain and Thoroughly Modern Millie and Calamity Jane. So, I’ve got a real diverse musical palate. It’s a bit confused…often.
LyricStatus: No Spice Girls in there.
Meleka: Love the Spice Girls.
LyricStatus: Oh, love the Spice Girls. Okay.
Meleka: Oh my days! We went to – okay, I’m going to tell you this. We went to watch – I was actually with my best friend and Jamal from House of Alt – we went to Victoria Park to watch the closing ceremony. I was saying to Jamal, “I’m really excited about seeing the Spice Girls and seeing them performing”.
We got to the park and, obviously, the ceremony started and they said, “welcome to the closing ceremony and the Spice Girls are going to perform” and, literally, I just gave the biggest scream. I was like “Aaah, Jamal! The Spice Girls!” and I just ran off towards the screen. I I was just there watching the thing and the Spice Girls didn’t come on for ages, but I thought they were opening the closing ceremony. But – yeah, I’m obsessed with the Spice Girls.
LyricStatus: My personal favourite recording or yours is the track that you done with Basement Jaxx, Scars, alongside none other than Kelis and Chipmunk.
LyricStatus: How did that come about?
Meleka: Well, funny enough it was before Go. I was a student at Uni…
Meleka: and I…
LyricStatus: What did you study?
Meleka: Music and Media Management.
Meleka: I was calling round labels and sending them my tracks and I found this one label called Basement Records – or something. I called them up and it actually turned out to be Basement Jaxx – which is a bit mad – and I went down there and did a couple of sessions. We did some writing sessions, we vocalled a couple of tracks and then I went about my business, recorded Go, graduated from Uni.
Then got a call from them one day and was like, “we want to put this song on our album. We’ve got Chipmunk on it and we’ve got Kelis on it and we want you to be on it as well”.
That was, literally, how I happened. It was about 18 months after I’d originally recorded it and I’d, literally, forgotten all about it.
Meleka: So, it was a very – it is a very nice surprise and I do love the song and I’ve recently been recording with them again. So, hopefully, everybody will hear that.
LyricStatus: Is that an exclusive? Are you giving us an exclusive there?
Meleka: I think it maybe might be an exclusive. Quite possibly. Yeah.
LyricStatus: Okay. Right, awesome. Well we look forward to hearing that.
LyricStatus: You’ve collaborated with so many people. Obviously Basement Jaxx, Tinie Tempah, Donaeo, Wiley… Who’s been your favourite musician to collaborate with?
Meleka: I don’t want to say favourite because then people might be like, “well then don’t call me again”.
LyricStatus: Oh… hang on…
Meleka: The most – the producers that have maybe taught me the most are probably Basement Jaxx because the way they record is completely different. I don’t record like that myself. I’ve never recorded with anybody else who records like that. It’s just a completely different…
LyricStatus: Are you able to describe how? What, is it just so broken down?
Meleka: They literally – I’ll be in the booth and then…
LyricStatus: …your singing is on metronome? That’s it?
Meleka: No, no, no. They will – they just have whatever the music – because the music always generally changes after.
Meleka: But, one of them will just shout things through the booth at you. Like, “sing this” or “make this noise” or “say that” and “say it like…” and it’s really quite intense and you’ve got to really be on your feet and you’ve got to know what you’re doing and it’s something that…
I’m quite a perfectionist so I’ll sit and I’ll think and I’ll want to get all the notes right before we go in. Then we do it and I’ll practise…
But with them it’s not like that. It’s much more intense and much quicker and sporadic. They’ll just be there talking and you’ll be in the booth and then you’ll see them saying something and then maybe one of them will press the button and be like, “sing ‘there’s something in the air’” and you’ll just have to come up with your own melody, you know.
So, it’s definitely more intense. At first it was quite daunting and a little bit strange because I’ve been recording since I was six…
Meleka: …but it definitely – like, now I love it. I look forward to working with them because it’s completely different. I don’t – like I said, I’ve never worked with anybody…
LyricStatus: Yeah. It sounds quite challenging.
Meleka: It – do you know I wouldn’t even say – not challenging in a bad way. It’s just – it’s…
LyricStatus: No, no. A productive way.
Meleka: Yeah. I would say definitely.
LyricStatus: Pushing you to your boundaries.
Meleka: Pushing. It’s pushing you to – yeah. It will be like: louder, higher, bigger, wider, stronger. And just some of the thing that…
One – yeah… I was going to maybe – an exclusive of when we were recording the other day – they were like, “say ‘there’s something in the sky’” and I was like, “there’s something in the sky” and they were like, “say it like you mean it, you know, act”.
It involves acting and being involved – it’s just – yeah, it’s great. It really is really fun working with them.
LyricStatus: Is that going to be Basement Jaxx’s track or is that your track?
Meleka: I don’t know. I don’t know if he’ll give it to me.
LyricStatus: Oh okay dokey. Can you say what the name of the track is at all?
Meleka: No, because I don’t know what’s going on with it.
LyricStatus: Sure. Fair enough.
Meleka: So, I don’t want to…you know. But, yeah…
LyricStatus: That’s cool. Okay.
Meleka: They’re lovely guys.
LyricStatus: Now, if you could collaborate with anyone, who would you like to collaborate with next? Or eventually?
Meleka: I really would love to work with Labyrinth or Emeli Sandé. I love Labyrinth Production because it infuses so many different things and I really love Emeli Sandé’s lyrics and how she writes. I think it’s quite interesting and quite deep.
Or Brandy. I love Brandy.
LyricStatus: Stateside collaboration there.
Meleka: I love Brandy and Mary J Blige. Hi, if you want to give me a call.
LyricStatus: Yeah, go on. Call her.
Meleka: 079 me. But – yeah.
LyricStatus: Brilliant. Okay.
Are there any collaborations we can expect on your forthcoming EP?
Meleka: I’m not sure, because we’ve done quite a few tracks and the EP has been coming for a while and it’s just not been perfect or how I wanted it to be.
So, we’ve pulled some tracks and moved stuff around and pushed the release date back. But, I’m going to try and let go of that control because I know that once it’s out there, it’s out there. But I need to just let go and…
LyricStatus: Bit of a perfectionist, maybe? You’re trying to…
Meleka: I’m – yeah.
Meleka: I’m very much of a perfectionist. But, I think, that sometimes you just have to say no.
LyricStatus: Thanks a lot Meleka.
Meleka: Thank you so much.
LyricStatus: We’re done. High five.