INTERVIEW : MELAENA CADIZ X RYANN
For the next installment in our Sunday Night Live music residency at Ace New York, we offer you to wildly talented and beautiful women, Melaena Cadiz and Ryann. As we mentioned in our last interview in the series, March is host to rotating talent every Sunday, so we asked each of these curious and dexterous musicians to interview one another. Chris Tucci curates the residency and plays a life-affirming rack of rarities and B-sides before, between and after sets. Stay tuned for more next week, and do your research on last week’s line-up, Hallways and Drew Victor here. We’ll see you in the lobby Sunday night, but for now, settle in and read on.
So, maybe this sounds like a stock question, but I’m always truly curious about peoples’ artistic processes: How do you write your songs? What inspires you to create your material? Do you write & create all your own beats & music or do you have collaborators & if so who are they & how do you work together?
Also, I was listening to French Waltz — where’d you learn to speak French?
I actually really love this question. I’m glad you mentioned French Waltz because that was co-written by Mark Gajadhar who used to play drums in The Blood Brothers. We’re both from Seattle and had been in these really bombastic, loud, aggressive rock bands for years. We met at a party, and decided to make some completely different stuff together. He wrote all the tracks on the Singles EP, which was my first attempt at making pop music.
Mark stayed in Seattle when I moved to New York, so I ended up working with other friends on the new record- all from completely different musical genres. Zac Pennington of Parenthetical girls, designer/DJ/photographer extraordinaire Brad Walsh, Ashley Jurgemeyer of Cradle of Filth, and this amazing production duo Ryan Kelly and Brian Lawlor who I met while performing in a Robert Wilson theater piece at the Guggenheim last year. As far as process, I explain what I’m after sonically and then write words/melody to the track they come up with. After the initial round I edit and arrange with a producer, and that’s the song.
As far as the inspiration — I started working on my thesis for grad school last spring and thought it would be cool and weird to try and address some of the same things I was writing about for my paper on this poppy dance record. Ultimately, I make pop music because I love to dance, and hope I’ve made something that feels good, and literally, physically moves people. Tucked under the pop veil though, this is a real strange concept record about women and gender roles. Surprise!
I started taking French in school when I was 13! I try to keep it fresh with a lot of Godard and Truffaut.
Is it stock if I ask the same question of you? Would love to know how you work…
As far as musical process I’ll sit in my little music room and make up the lyrics and melody..often starting with just one lyrical or musical phrase that catches my interest and then build out from there. Often I’ll just have that phrase ringing around in my head, I have no idea what it means until I piece the song together and discover Ah! This is the spine, the center of the song and I’ll figure out a way to complete it that serves that nucleus. Once I feel a song is ready I’ll bring it to my band. I play with three amazing musicians I met here in NY: Arthur Vint on drums, Adam Lomeo on guitar & Scott Colberg on bass. They’re all insane at their instruments and have a lot of their own composing/writing/performing projects they’re working on. So I’ll bring a tune to them & usually we’ll play it though a few times, they’ll improvise with me and find parts & we’ll collaborate in shaping the whole song together.
For inspiration, it always varies. Sometimes it will be very directly personal, like this person hurt my feelings, I’m going to put it in a song. Sometimes I’ll see a friend going through something and want to write about it. Or often it will be a line out of a book that will send my imagination wandering. Like I’m working on a song now for the new album that was inspired by a passage from Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, where she talks about night in a big city being the closest thing to a waking dream — “There is activity on all sides and it is none of your concern” — I love the idea of walking the streets at night like a ghost, witnessing the going-ons of strangers. When you observe strangers closely and imagine what’s going on with them, what do they need, what drives them.. they’re always so touching and curious.