INTERVIEW: How Adam Melchor Embraced Vulnerability For His New Single, 'Cry'

  • INTERVIEW: How Adam Melchor Embraced Vulnerability For His New Single, 'Cry'

    Adam Melchor | Image: Daniel Topete
    Image: Daniel Topete

    For a few years now, the world of indie-pop has witnessed Adam Melchor embark upon a meteoric rise to the top. Growing up in New Jersey, Melchor first shared his music into the world quite a few years ago, with the likes of his 2017 EP The Archer and 2018 single Real Estate helping to make a name for himself.

    Since then, things have exploded. A myriad singles have arrived over the years, and in 2021, he revealed his first lengthy project by way of Lullaby Hotline Volume 1, a collection of the songs he had recorded as part of his weekly Lullaby Hotline.

    Now though, Adam Melchor is on the cusp of a major career milestone. Not only has he released singles such as Turnham Green and I'm Ready in the lead-up to his debut album, Here Goes Nothing, which arrives 21st October, but he's also embarked on his first Australian tour over the weekend.

    His first international trek, his local visit took place supporting Jeremy Zucker, and also coincided with the release of his latest single, Cry. To celebrate his visit to Australian shores (with hopefully many more to come), and his upcoming album, Cool Accidents spoke to Melchor about the vulnerable origins of Cry, his new record, and his rise to fame.

    You’re currently in the country for a brief run of shows with Jeremy Zucker. Obviously it’s only just begun, but how has that been? What has the response been like?

    Oh, the response is great. So we played in Perth a couple days ago, and the crowd was so nice. They feel like they’re very appreciative of people coming and whatnot, and they’re a very easy crowd to play for. Like, they're very good listeners.

    So it's been really fun. But just to be in Australia in what I have heard is your springtime is amazing. It's really special. Seeing like all of the… just like being outside, really seeing a lot of the sun. I  went to the zoo in Perth just trying to make the most of it. I feel like whenever I go to places, I try to make the most of it. Like, if I had like, only one day there, which is usually the case, you know?

    You would have been waiting a while for it to happen, so it must be a bit of a big moment for you as well?

    Totally, yeah. And it's always so gratifying to be able to like… you sort of see people online always be like, “When are you coming to Australia?” And then you finally are able to tell them. I've never had that experience before, but this is actually the first time I've ever played internationally like, overseas anywhere.

    I've played in Mexico and Canada before, but it's been mostly North America, so it's really special to be able to go and just sort of be able to do the same thing. And I wasn't really sure what the plane rules were or like, how it works.

    But now just like getting used to it, it's really nice to be able to open for somebody because then when I come back and headline, I'll know what to do and I'll know what to expect. 

    That’s great to hear the tour has been going so well. But alongside the tour, Cry is out now. How have you been feeling about getting this song out into the world?

    That song really means a lot to me. And there's so much about that song that was really one of the hardest things for me to write. Actually, to a point where we weren't gonna put it on the album. That was one of the songs that we had actually cut and then I went back to it because I was just really feeling it.

    There was something about it, just like the emotion of it. And what I was going through at the time was really poignant. So we put it back on the album and it's a single, so it's crazy how the world sort of works in that way, where it goes from not even being on the project to being sort of the last instalment of the story before the whole story's told.

    Well the next question that I did have was ‘What was the inspiration behind that song?’, but obviously do stop me if that’s verging on being too personal.

    So that song sort of stemmed from… I have this friend named Nick who I write a lot of songs with, and a lot of times I'll show him sort of a verse idea and then we'll come up with a chorus, second verse, sort of thing.

    And we started talking about just the idea of being sad in front of people and just, I think as like as a dude or a man in culture, it's sort of frowned upon to sort of show your emotions in that way; it's sort of a sign of weakness. And it's a completely wrong thing because maybe the strongest thing you can do is be vulnerable in front of somebody.

    It’s just a weird thing though, like growing up in the time that I did, it was just not the right thing, like, ‘There's no crying in baseball’. And it's something that my friends would always joke about with me because I just never cried in front of them, or never cried at all.

    Besides funerals or something, I would never let myself get to that point. And it was just something where I just really didn't know what was happening. I was talking to Nick just randomly this day about it and he was like, ‘Man, I started writing this song that I really wanna show you.’ But even he was like, ‘I’m not ready to show it to you yet.’ And it took about like a month and he would come over like, once a week and we would just talk about other songs because he's just an amazing writer. He's like, one of my mentors in LA.

    Every week he would come over for a month and be like, ‘I still wanna show you that song.’ I'm like, ‘Dude, I'm here. Whenever.’ And it just shows you that even in somebody you really trust, it's even hard to admit something like that. So then he showed me the first verse and I was like, ‘Man, I would love to finish this song with you.’

    It was sort of when the pandemic was a little bit over, but then it came back. So there was a lot of time to sit with my thoughts and I wound up finishing the song and sending it back to me. He was like, ‘I love this’. 

    It really was like a deep dive into why you sort of hold back feelings. I think the time I was going through a lot with an ex and I wanted to be there more, I wanted to be more present and be more in tune with my feelings. And this was sort of a really eye-opening way to sort of discover what the root of the problem is.

    And I think that's why it was almost too vulnerable, that's why I didn't wanna put it on. It was just like so much. But that's sort of the magic of songs where sometimes they just find themselves back on the docket, you know? But I'm very excited for this song to be out, and because it was about crying and everything, I wanted it to sound anthemic. So I would say it's, production-wise, maybe the biggest song on the album, sounding-wise. 

    That was definitely something I noticed when listening to it. There’s a lot of power in that song. And I guess it’s somewhat ironic too that for a song about being vulnerable, even Nick had that trouble with letting go and being vulnerable enough to show you the song.

    Yeah, it just shows you how honest it is. Honestly, like being vulnerable with your friends, it's really tough. And I grew up with… Like, my dad is very vulnerable, my mom is very vulnerable, my sister, everybody.

    I don't know what it was, just something about growing up in New Jersey, you’re sort of trained to have thicker skin and to protect yourself in that way. But there's so much you can afford yourself healing-wise by just sort of letting go of those things.

    So that song is on the new album which is coming up, which is again, a huge milestone, but how long has that one been in the works? When did you first sort of start writing and recording for the album?

    I want to say like the summer of 2021, that's when I started writing that song. But some of the first songs from that album, it's been a while. There's some songs that I've had and they sort of rear their heads in different ways and they get finished, some quicker than others. 

    There's a couple songs in there that I wrote on the day, and then the next day we recorded it while we were doing it. And then some that had been written maybe four or five years before, but sort of came back after being in this sort of relationship and just reminded me of certain things and whatnot. But yeah, that song started in like the summer before this year, so 2021.

    You’re also such a prolific musician as well. I mean, even looking at Spotify, I found myself saying, “How much has he got?”

    [Laughs]  Yeah, I think this will be my 50th song on Spotify, which is insane to me. I'm just like, “Man, I really have way too much to say. I should simply just start saying the things that I feel to people instead of just writing songs about it.”

    I mean, look, I'm yet to hear a bad song from you.

    Thank you for saying that. You know what? I have plenty of those, I just don't put them on Spotify. [Laughs]

    Well, that’s what I was sort of going towards. When you were making this album, did you have that trouble of being like, “I have too many songs to pick from”? Or were they all composed specifically for the album?

    That's a great question. I think that when we started, it wasn't that the songs were bad – the ones that weren't on the album – they just didn't fit the story. We recorded probably 20 songs fully. Like, they could be released and mixed and mastered and whatever.

    But then we just chose ten because those were the ones that fit the story that I wanted to tell. And the other songs we will probably use for something else; maybe, maybe not. I think it's good to sort of just go through and just maybe leave [those songs] in the era they’re from and move on.

    But I'm lucky that I'm friends with a lot of talented songwriters, people, and producers. So I'm able to just, whenever I have an idea, sort of write and just find somebody either to write it with or somebody to record it for me and whatnot. 

    For this album, there was a lot of recording things very loosely, whether it was a voice memo or just things with your phone. There's a great iPhone mic that I got that was like $100 that I  actually used for a lot of the vocals on this album.

    Like, at a certain point, it doesn't matter how the sausage is made, it just matters that it's on the plate, you know? I just trusted my gut and if it sounded good and felt good, then it was good.

    iPhone mics have had a bit of a bad name over the years in terms of having some low-quality aspects to them, but I guess it does add in a bit of a warmer lo-fi feeling, doesn’t it?

    Totally, and it somehow makes it feel so much more personal in a way, and more intimate. It's just like these things we’re sort of surrounded by. I mean, we're not even surrounded by phones, they have almost just become our life, you know?

    So it's like you're hearing some of your most emotional things, or life events are through the phone now. So to hear someone leave a really powerful voice message or something, it's like if you can use that same technology to record a song it's probably just powerful.

    It brings it full circle, doesn't it? And on that topic of prolific music, obviously fans did have something to keep themselves occupied last year with the Lullaby Hotline record which came out in early 2021. It was titled Volume 1, so is there any chance of a Volume 2 coming at some point? 

    Yeah, Volume 2 is in the works right now. I was sending songs out every Sunday for a long time, and I did it for basically a year, and then we put out the Lullaby mix tape. So that got us to like, week 52, and right now we're on like, week 76. 

    I've definitely taken some breaks from doing it, but the last couple weeks I've really been back on it and just been really inspired to write again and figure that out. So definitely, we'll have a Lullaby Hotline 2 coming very soon.

    Right now it feels like you’re in the middle of such a huge moment in your career. Like there's just so many positives happening. I mean, you're in Australia currently and all that sort of thing…

    Oh yeah, it's the best thing. But it could just be that and would be awesome [laughs].

    But looking back on where it all sort of began for you, did you ever feel like you'd be in the sort of position where you are now? When Adam was starting and making music, what was the goal?

    The goal was to do this. I guess I will say I knew I was capable of doing this, but I had no idea how. When I first was really trying to do this, everyone was like, “Oh, you gotta get a Facebook page.” You know? “You gotta do this sort of thing.”

    But then it was like doing it for Instagram and then even Spotify was like, “Make music that is like this thing” and then TikTok and all this stuff. I think that no matter what, with all of it, what really helped me was early on, I realised that in any business – but in music especially, which is such a collaborative thing – it’s almost strictly about relationships and songs. 

    So if you're really working on your craft, you're always writing, and you're always just being friendly just for the right reasons, just because it's a good thing to do for people.

    You know, just be nice and not expect anything back, and not do anything for any reason besides that you want to be kind and practice being kind. I think that was sort of the only thing that I had. You can only really control the things you do, so sort of get a smile on and try not to take the lows too low and try not to take the highs too high.

    I did think that this would happen one day, I will say. There was a lot of envisioning stuff, because there's not much hope in playing restaurants in New Jersey to the back of people's heads. So you sort of have to envision that there is that goal.

    But I've always wanted to do this, just travel and play music, and I feel extremely lucky to be doing it and just to be able to like, be in a position to put out an album and to tour and play music. 

    It's just the joy of my life, you know? I feel very lucky to do it.

    Adam Melchor's debut album, Here Goes Nothing, is out 21st October.

Submitted by ben.madden on

Adam Melchor | Image: Daniel Topete
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