INTERVIEW: Melodie Nelson

DARK END OF THE STREET

WITH HER SOPHOMORE ALBUM AS MELODIE NELSON, LIA TSAMOGLOU HAS CREATED A MORE DETAILED AND COHESIVE SONG CYCLE WHICH, AS SHE EXPLAINS TO CHRIS FAMILTON, IS BASED AROUND HER FASCINATION WITH THE CULTURAL SHIFT OF LATE 60S SUBURBIA.

In 2011 Melodie Nelson released her debut album Meditations On the Sun, a collection of songs deeply indebted to the sound of late 60s girl groups filtered through the glow and haze of 90s Mazzy Star. Now, only a year later, she is releasing its successor To The Dollhouse which takes the premise of that first record and expands it with confidence and clarity. Although the gap between releases seems short, the new album was in fact recorded only a few months after her debut release and finished early in 2012.

“It’s been about a year since we went down to Melbourne to record it which is crazy, I can’t believe how quickly the year has flown by. I mixed it in January and then I wasn’t 100% happy so I took it to Chris Townsend in Tasmania who mixed the first one. That was a little bit time consuming and then we got caught up in doing a single and video clip and I was still looking for a label as the last one dissolved a week before my album launch which wasn’t great! It was those types of things that delayed it. My manager even wanted to push it out to next year but we thought it’s done and ready to go out so we may as well just get it out. A year is still quite a quick turnaround and I’ve noticed a few others doing that. I mean really, what else are you doing? I didn’t pick up massive tours and I wasn’t traipsing overseas all the time so what else am I going to do other than hang out at home and write some new songs,” says Tsamoglou.

Heading into album number two Tsamoglou had a much clearer view of what she wanted to achieve  in terms of the narrative of the songs and how they would sound. “I had a bit more of a plan with this one. I had a deadline and I stuck to it, I made notes and I had more of an idea of what I wanted. Now looking back I can see that the first one is more of a collection of songs over a period of four years so I knew I wanted a particular theme on this one. I knew how I wanted the songs to sound, with a suburban, late 60s/early 70s vibe. I recorded the first album in the country so there were themes of nature, if there was any theme that tied those songs together. This one I actually had an idea that because I was recording it in suburban Melbourne I wanted a seedy, suburban side to it like the Polanksi movies Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion. The concept was the seedier side of the late 60s and that shift in western culture. It is a fascinating era. I realised I’d been interested in the pop culture around that for years so it made sense.”

Musicians often talk about records that loom large during either the writing or recording of their own albums and for Melodie Nelson there were a number of important influences that soundtracked the making of To the Dollhouse. “I couldn’t stop listening to The Beach Boys Surf’s Up because it is such a weird album. I think that is where Brian Wilson had pretty much lost his mind and only contributed a few songs but it has these insane four part harmonies and some great songwriting by Carl Wilson. I was listening to Isaac Hayes which influenced the bass lines and Serge Gainsbourg was a big influence as always, even more so on this album. Another one was The Manson Family album which has these crazy girl harmonies. Listening to that got a bit scary after a while though.”

this interview was first published in The Drum Media.

 

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