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She's been rated #2 Hottest to watch by the Seattle Weekly, her jams are all over Seattle radio. She performs at some of the coolest shows in the Pacific Northwest. And now, she's featured on The Banger Bros latest release, "Beep Beep Boom." We sat down with Melakai and got to know her a little better.
BB: What is your background in music?
MEL: I began singing as a little kid. My mind always had beats and music playing in the background. I skipped to a beat, brushed my teeth to a rhythm, and beatboxed while pushing air through my teeth and cheeks quietly during class while I wrote a song. I put together a girl group in elementary school, choreographed our dance routines during recess, and performed pop and R&B cover songs in front of our school, like En Vogue’s “What A Man," Mariah Carey, Madonna, Bryan Adams, ect. lol! I began taking professional voice lessons the year after I graduated high school which was a long time dream of mine. While attending college, I continued vocal training with the best vocal coaches I could find in the Seattle area, including Bernadette Bascomb, who studied under Stevie Wonder and Elton John, and Sue Carr, who trained Alice in Chains here in Seattle. I began recording songs I wrote in 2007 and later recorded an EP, “Brat,” which released in April 2010. I always felt I belonged on stage singing and dancing.
BB: You just "lol"ed in a conversation, lol. Tell us a little bit about your past. Where did you grow up, what brought you to this point in your life?
MEL: I was born in Edmonds, Washington and raised in the greater Seattle area. While growing up, I was very influenced by dance, music, and hip hop. As a kid, I was inspired by all kinds of music. My dad listened to lots pop like George Michael, Debbi Gibson, Janet Jackson, Expose, Prince, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I thought the whole pop scene was the coolest thing ever and loved watching music videos, especially ones with awesome themes and dance elements in them. My aunt listened to a lot of Motown, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, The Temps, The Supremes, and stuff with a lot of soul in it; I grew really close to that kind of music too. I’ve always been appreciated all kinds of music…(okay uhmmm, except for country, shhh! ) In High school I got into techno and dance, while Rap and R&B were always a main staple of mine. Those moments as a kid where I saw Prince’s music video for the first time, Paul Abdul’s video, went to the New Kids on the Block Concert -- ya, I said it! -- these memories still inspire me every day to deliver the best I can in my performances and what I do to and hopefully deliver a slice of what I saw in my musical icons to my audience.
BB: You don't like Country? You know, Beep Beep Boom was originally written as a Country tune on a banjo. Thank goodness you came along! Beep Beep Boom - What is it about?
MEL: Well, I was writing to the track you guys sent over to me and was just trying to let an easy phrase come to mind that described what I was feeling from the sounds I was hearing, and I wrote down “I like that sound of that beep beep boom.” To me, it describes a blend of the music styles I heard in their music and was like, “Hell ya, these guys know what the fuck is up!!” They are blending the fun and upbeat “beep beep” (from my techno/dance days) with that club style sick beat I grew up on..the “Boom!” (Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg hits). It’s like the Vengaboys meets Dr. Dre with a sexy vibe of Salt ‘n Pepa! I just loved the production of the track and was like how the hell do I describe just how off the hook this shit really is?!
BB: I know it sounds silly, since we are us and you are you, and we all already know this, but how did you end up working with us?
MEL: I met Scott one night at venue where Richard J Dalton of C89.5 happened to be spinning and he introduced us to each other. After chatting a bit about our music, we exchanged info and then a few months later, Scott sent a track over to me and said maybe I can do a lil rap or something on it. I took my ideas over to the “other” Banger Bro (the Seattle based one, to my surprise!), Naite, and the rest is history!
BB: Oh yeah, that's right. We remember now. So can we look forward to future collaborations? (We really hope so...)
MEL: The Banger Bros. and I are working on a second song right now, so stay tuned! :)
BB: PHEW! Hold on, I need to let the label know. They're going to be really happy about that. While Naite is panicking, tell me, who are your five favorite bands, singers or producers, and what do you love about them?
Dr. Dre – his ability to make clean, catchy beats that just feel good and are so versatile
Prince – his presence and sex appeal
Michael Jackson – His rhythm..his intensity in his dance moves, the passion he provoked through his songs, I’ve never been more in love with a song other than a Michael Jackson song
The Black Eyed Peas – their simplicity in making catchy, uplifting dance floor hits that put me in a great mood to partayyy!
TLC – this group among En Vogue, SWV, and Destiny’s Child – I related with these women since a young age, their lyrics, their strength, their beautiful voices and style inspired me to peruse my dream, seeing other women make it and hear their story made me believe it is possible for me too someday.
BB: c89.5 is one of the first radio stations to put The Banger Bros in rotation years ago. We know that it has a special place for you, too.
MEL: C89.5 worldwide means everything to me. I cannot begin to explain how much I appreciate them and their ability to play local artists, or whoever the hell they want for that matter, because they are allowed to, unlike the majority of other radio stations which are corporately owned. This gives artists such as me the opportunity to be heard without necessarily having a record label deal yet, who just need an outlet to have their music be heard. This means so much, it makes the dream feel at least within reach of reality..not some far away unrealistic planet only “certain people” go to. I could die a happy person because of C89.5
BB: What's next for Melakai?
MEL: I’m working on a second song with The Banger Bros. right at this moment. Also, this year I will be recording some new material with with Sammy LaForge and also doing a featured vocal on one of his tracks, which should be really fun! Last year was a year of “firsts”, where I just cracked the door open. 2011 will be about solidifying my place in dance music and making my mark in Seattle. I am super excited for 2011! I have met such wonderful people who are as passionate as I am about music… I have all the tools I need, and now it’s time to really let people know who Melakai is.
Find out more about Melakai on her website and her facebook page. BOOM!
February 17, 2011 | Share: