Interview by Danielle Boise
Melanie Martinez recently released her debut EP, Dollhouse, out on May 20 with a retro vibe meeting broken doll as Martinez’s child-like innocence is both captivating and heart-breaking as the 18-year ingénue delves deeper look into what underneath the surface of “perfection.”
Before kicking off on tour, Martinez sat down with Target Audience Magazine to discuss what it was like to be on NBC’s “The Voice,” creating music and what we can expect from her full-length album.
How did being on the NBC smash-hit, “The Voice,” help prepare you as an artist?
The show really put me out of my comfort zone. I learned how to perform under pressure on live television, and not mess up! I also learned from all of the other contestants there who were more seasoned than me.
What’s your favorite element in the process of creating music?
The story! The concept is always the core of the song. I’ve always been a story teller and there is not one song that I’ve ever written that is like “wait what am I talking about?”
You sing about what’s behind the façade of a perfection set to pop notes, what made you decide to tackle these dark issues on Dollhouse? And will your full-length album contain more songs that push those boundaries?
When Kinetics, One Love and I wrote that song we wanted to explore a few things. A story of a dysfunctional family who’s hiding being a perfect plastic façade – which is something that a lot of families go through; kind of like “Edward Scissorhands.” The perfect home with the perfect lawn and they all look the same. But behind each house there’s a screwed up group of people who are hiding being wealth and perfection. “Dollhouse” also has a double meaning for how people view celebrities. They are so perfect on television and on red carpet events, but they just want to be themselves without people judging their every move as if they have made no mistakes themselves.
Which song on Dollhouse speaks to you the most in this moment? Where were you (emotionally) when you were writing these songs?
“Carousel” is my favorite of the songs on my Dollhouse EP. It’s a perfect example of how my full length album is going to be. All very inspired by childhood and the contrast between light and dark. The light of “Carousel” is the carnival theme. Carnivals were my favorite growing up and still are to this day. The dark part of it is the story lying underneath. It’s about a boy who tricked me into falling in love with him and led me to the carousel where we ended up getting stuck. I wasn’t able to get off of that same ride. I was never able to reach him and he was okay with that.
Who is currently influencing you right now – either in film, book, art or music?
Tim Burton is a huge inspiration to me. All of his movies have this cartoony child-like quality to them but have dark tones lying underneath. I think that’s why I’ve been into the whole contrast thing for my music.
You’re getting ready to hit the road for a tour in June. What are the highs and lows of being out on the road as a new artist? And how do you find balance between being out on the road and a family life?
Playing live is my favorite thing about being an artist. Seeing people smile and have fun, or cry during a really emotional song. Just watching them be so intimate and share their emotions in the moment. Music can do so many things to your heart, it’s incredible. My dad comes on tour with me so it’s nice to have one part of my family with me. I talk to my mom and brother a lot on the phone. It’s not too bad. Also since I’m a new artist I haven’t toured for that long yet.
When can we expect your full length LP to be released? Do you have a title for it?
Maybe sometime in September or October. Definitely by the end of this year. And it will be called Cry Baby. It’s kind of like a giant pack of very blunt children story books. I’m looking forward to seeing which songs stand out to people the most.
If you are fans of independent, strong-willed, artistic women, like Lana Del Rey, Regina Spektor or Paloma Faith, then give Melanie Martinez a twirl. Martinez will be heading out on tour starting June 4 at World Café Live in Philadelphia and will be making her way to Atlanta’s Vinyl on June 10.
Melanie Martinez Tour Dates
June 4 – Philadelphia @ World Café Live
June 5 – Norfolk @ FM Backstage
June 7 – Asheville @ The Lab
June 9 – Nashville @ The High Watt
June 10 – Atlanta @ Vinyl
June 12 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
June 14 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern
June 15 – Baltimore @ Soundstage
June 16 – Vienna, VA @ Jammin’ Java
June 18 – Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall
June 19 – Boston @ The Middle East
June 21 – Providence @ The Met
June 24 – New York @ Marlin Room at Webster Hall