Major thanks to Santa Cruz based singer-songwriter/producer Melaku who connected with DCWS for an exclusive interview to discuss his new video “Home”, his upcoming project “Dream World”, and much more.
After reading our Q&A with Melaku, be sure to stream “Home” on Spotify, and connect with this talented artist on his website and social media!
Tell us about your journey to this point as a singer-songwriter and producer. When did you realize that you were talented enough to create music on a scale beyond it being a hobby?
Honestly, I remember singing as soon as I could talk. I picked up guitar at around age 5, and pretty much started making up songs since then. When I was in my pre-teens I started recording myself, first doing cover songs where I would play the instruments, and then recording originals. So I guess you could say I started producing around then. However, the journey to feeling self-confident enough to create music as a career has been a long one. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a music artist, but it’s something that I think I repressed since I heard from a lot of people around me that it wasn’t practical. But I have finally gotten to the place where I don’t care what people thing, and I just care what God thinks. And I think it’s pretty clear for me, spiritually speaking, that being a singer/songwriter and producer is what I’m meant to do.
How did you come to describe your music as “Spiritual Pop”?
Figuring out my brand identity has also been a pretty long journey, but a rewarding one ultimately. I have always been a fan of pop music, and especially catchy choruses. Towards the end of college, I started working as a songwriter for other artists in the pop world, and got a good grasp of pop structure and how to make songs catchy. But I think that deep down, I knew that I wanted to be the artist myself, and not just work behind the scenes. Also, at that time I started going through a spiritual awakening, and so it was just kind of a natural progression to start incorporating what I was going through in my music.
In the last few years, I coined that term “Spiritual Pop,” and I think it sums up what I’m going for sonically and message-wise.
Congratulations on the release of your video "Home". Who directed the video and why did you select this single to create a visual for, out of the 7 songs on your debut album "Golden Age"?
Thank you! I directed the video alongside my friend Dave Jeffords, of Gorilla Tornado Photography. It was basically a collaborative effort between me and him. I have known for a while that I wanted to create a visual for “Home,” because I think that the song is super relatable. The feeling of finally getting home after a long journey, especially one where you have to face a myriad of challenges, is something that a lot of people go through, and I’ve heard many people even say the tagline of “feels so good to be home” many times, who have never heard the song. Like I mentioned in the other questions, I have been on a super long journey, so it is a relief to have a home where I can kick my feet up.
Speaking of albums, you are already at work on its follow-up, entitled "Dream World". How will this upcoming project be different than "Golden Age" from a thematic and sonic standpoint?
“Golden Age” mainly represents my awakening journey since college, and in the few years after that. “Dream World” is the continuation of that journey, but goes into more depth regarding pain, loss, trials, and redemption. I’m really proud of the songs I have written…there are so many songs I haven’t put out yet. So it’s exciting to be moving into this next project.
Sonically, this sophomore effort is a little more complex, but still retains the aesthetic that you can find in my debut. I wrote these songs on acoustic guitar mainly, and so I still incorporate that sound into the album a lot, although I fill out the sound bed with bass, drums, strings, etc. My goal is to maintain my signature sound, but elevate and sculpt it a bit more.
When someone listens to a Melaku song for the first time, what do you want them to take away from the experience?
Hmmm, that’s a good question. When someone listens to my music, I want them to take away a feeling of hope about their own future. I want them to experience Pop music that has built-in Logos, which basically means the spiritual laws of the universe. I purposefully keep my songs family friendly, because I think it’s really important that we have Pop music that’s good for the soul. Whether the song makes them laugh or cry, I want it to inspire them spiritually, and to be a catalyst for their next growth point. And even if it doesn’t do any of this, at least I want them to walk away saying “that song is stuck in my head.” As I like to say, my American Dream is the “pursuit of catchiness.”