IN CONVERSATION WITH
M E L O T O N E
PHOTOS BY JADE AYINO
About your sound… you’ve described yourselves as ‘an imperfect lens upon the roots of Latin-Jazz’. I gather that it’s quite difficult for you to relate your sound to a genre; can you talk me through your thoughts on this?
We think our sound’s ‘imperfect’ because of the way we stumbled upon it. Our singer is half-Brazilian, and his Portuguese definitely lends itself to our style. But we never made a conscious effort to idolise staccato rhythms and plastic guitars or anything like that, it just culminated after years of us jamming and experimenting. That’s the thing; we all have different tastes, some of us with creative interests in genres that others don’t share. All of a sudden there was this sound which really harnessed everyone’s musical interests, and it came out of nowhere. So I guess putting a label on such a natural process can be pretty strange! We just surrender to the muse, baby.
The Nicklin Show, your live lounge-in-isolation, is shot from your living room, and it makes the video that bit more special as the stripped-back ness is emanating through your music. Can you describe what it’s like creating from home, and have you noticed any changes to your creative process during lockdown?
A living room setup is lovely. The Nicklin Show was a unique performance because we managed the recording ourselves; we’re not studio technicians, and we had some pretty frail equipment, so we played a hushed, reserved version of our music. Again, the show was just another of those beautifully unexpected things. Whatever magic was drawn out of that space was Tom Whitson’s good eye and his ATMFilms, who shot and edited the whole show. We have a good friend and soon-to-be studio conglomerate called Sam Brown, who did a wonderful job of mixing the whole sound.
There’s something really quaint about producing music to the standards of bedroom recordings, which is how we’re filling our time. Tapping into the subtleties of percussion and quiet rhythm is what carved out our track Quero Dancar. Luckily, our sound thrives from the kind of ambient atmosphere you can capture with low-budget mics and amps. It’s gonna be exciting taking this kind of reversed revamp of our sound back onto the stage.
All of a sudden there was this sound which really harnessed everyone’s musical interests, and it came out of nowhere.
It’s gonna be exciting taking this kind of reversed revamp of our sound back onto the stage.
We’re all missing gigs right now, and their absence is especially evident in Bristol where it was so lit up by the live circuit. Can you reminisce for us on some of your greatest gig experiences?
We hosted a night at Leftbank in December 2019. That was something to remember with the help of Chicken Picnic, a killer neo-soul band who seem to mesh incredibly well with us on a line up. Our friend, Brad Perry, shot and documented the night and crafted a lovely little compilation which we’re gonna release online. It’s also a glittering memory now considering their closure, it will be a sorely missed place! As will their Shangri-La draught.
We played at The Sunflower Lounge a few months ago in Birmingham alongside some up-n-coming quartets. BBC Introducing were there which ramped things up a little, and we were honoured by a review who compared us to Liquid Liquid, who have since become our favourite punk band. Speaking of punk, there was a night at Mother’s Ruin where we played with bands like Grandma’s House, Football FC and Sapphire Blues. We’ve been good friends of the Blues since we played a couple of gigs alongside them last year. Somehow, this relationship got us drafted into a pretty heavy punk night where we shared the stage with some real high-energy, charismatic performers.
What other artists do you miss collaborating with and hope to in the brighter future?
If all is well by Autumn, we’re looking to support MarthaGunn in Birmingham. They’ve got some real vigour in their music and it’s looking to be a strong jump back onto the live stuff. Phil Madeley, an indie rock act on NiceSwan and brother of our vocalist will be touring his new EP whenever he can; that would mean us playing in London, Bristol, Birmingham... The future of gigs might be a bit of a slow start, but it feels like we’re going to be branching out and playing with various types of artists.
For collaboration, we’re raring to create stuff with brass sections. Knomad, a friend of ours, has just released his debut jazz-hip-hop song and it bangs, so kudos to him. We’d love to work with him on some brass sections in our home tracks. HANAH, a dear friend of ours, is also killing it at the moment.
What can we expect of Melotone in the future?
We’ve got a single to release as soon as we can start playing live again, so we’re gonna have some fun preparing videos and art for that, due (hopefully) for a late summer release. When we’re all allowed to breathe the same air, we plan on rolling out another livelounge with ATMFilms, this time in the grand summery outdoors.
In the meantime, we’ve made a few tracks from home that we’ll be releasing in the next couple of weeks. We’re experimenting with short films that stretch the extent of our abilities within a home environment. But these are gonna be nice, cool little projects that channel music in the current climate of creativity.