Whatever you do, don’t think that Mel Dymond is just a dubstep singer. LTW’s favio db overclock finds out why before rooting through her record collection.
Favio Dezi: Some might not know but you are one half of Ink Project, surprisingly enough considering your trip-hop-ish sound has received support from the likes of Gilles Peterson and Mistajam. Please give us a little bit of background information about the band and previous collaborations for those readers that might not be familiar with your early works.
Mel Dymond: Me and Jez have been making music for a while together now, we started when I lived in London, didn’t really do any recordings but did a lot of gigging around the UK, then when I moved to Barcelona we had a break for a bit and then started doing some recording, ended up writing an album. Jez started his own label called Blind Colour so he handles the business side of stuff. He managed to get the album to some great people, including Gilles Peterson and Emma Warren. He really got our stuff out there. If it was down to me we probably still wouldn’t have played anything to anyone yet. We also got some great remixes done, which is always a bit of a gamble, hearing your voice on something when you’ve got real control over the outcome. But I love some of the remixes, so yeah, it’s been an interesting project so far.
FD: What does the future hold for Ink Project now that the collab with V.I.V.E.K is drawing greater attention to you and the band?
Mel: Well we’ve been working on some new material so there might be a new single out soon… really we’d like to work on the live side of stuff, as you know that’s really important these days, but pretty impossible when you live in different countries. We’ve both got a quite a few new projects happening now so we’re gonna focus on those for a bit and then start writing again together later in the year. I think the fact that there might be more attention on our music now means that we need to work hard to make it inventive and interesting.
FD: A quick check on your SoundCloud account reveals that besides being a singer you’ve been DJing and recording your own mix-tapes, so I take it you’ve been into electronic music and hip-hop for some time. Do you still get behind the decks on a regular basis nowadays? What’s your set up of choice? (1200’s, CDJ’s, laptop…)
Mel: Yeah, it’s just a hobby for me really, I don’t take it too seriously, but I love mixing and I love listening to electronic music – well all types of music really. I enjoy beat mixing or trying to mix different genres together and getting them to work together. Last year I did a monthly party here in Barcelona with some friends, which was great, we’ll probably do some more parties later this year.
I used to use vinyl when I was in London but had to leave it all when I moved to Spain so now I’m just using CDJs.
FD: How do you like the club scene here in Barcelona? Even though this city is commonly associated with modern, forward-thinking artists we’re probably ages behind London in many aspects. But is there anything about having a night out here that you like better than you hometown?
Mel: Hmmm… actually the best thing is the size of the city. It’s great going out, you can meet friends for a few drinks first, walk to a club then walk home at the end of the night… that’s pretty impossible in London where you usually go out then grab a lift with someone to an afterparty and then by the time you’re ready to go home you realise you’re about 4 hours from home and you’ve got no idea how to get back so you end up staying out for ages just cause you can’t be bothered with the journey home.
FD: What do you think of London’s dance music scene evolution in the last 10 years? What where your favourite nights when you got into clubbing and what nights do you like to attend to now?
Mel: Well my favourite types of parties and clubbing experiences have always been away from the big clubs; I think parties and music are usually a lot more interesting when there isn’t pressure on the DJs to make loads of money on the door or artists to make loads of money through sales. Saying that, the night I was always a regular at and had loads of fun at was Subterrain at The End when it was open, and I think Fabric have some great line ups but I sometimes get a bit lost when I’m there, it’s a bit of a labyrinth.
My favourite night in London at the moment is the Dodo club. I love electronica and electro and this party is amazing, it’s on a barge on the Thames… Plaid play there regularly and the resident Djs from Pyramid Transmissions and This Dead Planet are electronica purists. It’s a proper underground party, I played there with Ink Project last year.
In Barcelona, Nitsa at the Apollo has amazing line up – Blawan, Pariah, Machine Drum, James Blake – I’ve seen some great music there.
I think that music usually loses something when it becomes mainstream. Not always, but usually people are trying to please everyone rather than just making a good piece of music. I guess it’s pressure from the labels… I can’t say that I really like any of what would be considered mainstream dubstep. What attracted me to V.I.V.E.K’s music, especially ‘Asteroids’, was how minimal it was, the attention to the quality of the sounds, the rhythms and the space.
FD: How did you become involved with Vivek Sharda and his label? Are you a regular to his nights or did you know him already before System?
Mel: V.I.V.E.K contacted me about doing some vocals for ‘Asteroids’. I don’t really know where he heard my vocals before; this project was my first introduction to him… I was a bit wary, as dubstep isn’t really a type of music I’ve been into, although I love bass heavy music, but when I heard Vivek’s stuff and heard ‘Asteroids’ I was really into it and it was so easy to write to. I’ve also got to know Vivek a bit now on the phone and by email and he’s a pretty focused and upfront person, he just loves his music.
I haven’t been to his night cause I’m here in Barcelona but we have spoken about me doing a live PA sometime so maybe I’ll get to experience the sound system soon, from what I hear it’s incredible.
FD: A common problem with lyrics in dance music is that they usually are a bit shallow and party-orientated but yours actually work great with the deep mysterious tone of the original track. Can you tell us what’s the inspiration behind ‘Over My Head’?
Mel: It’s funny you say that as when I was first asked I wasn’t sure that they had asked the right person as I assumed they’d want some Katy B type party lyric which isn’t really where I’m coming from. But then when I heard the track I thought that’s not really Vivek’s vibe either. The inspiration for the lyrics was the music really, I think it’s really about deeper connections with people, not particularly romantic, and then this idea of floating through space … I dunno, I just like the melodies and lyrics together really.
FD: With all the positive feedback that ‘Over My Head’ is receiving, have you considered future collaborations with V.I.V.E.K or any other underground dubstep artists?
Mel: Me and Vivek have discussed working together so that’s a possibility. I’ve also been contacted by a few producers but I don’t want to just do dubstep or get labeled as a ‘dubstep vocalist’. I’m really interested in electronic music as a whole so I’m really open to most genres, it just depends if I like the music really… I have a new project that’s slowly coming together in Barcelona and I’ve contacted some producers I’d really like to work with, so it’s all quite exciting at the moment. Working on the track with Vivek has definitely opened up my mind for different possibilities for me as a vocalist.
FD: Time to dig in your record collection. Tell us…
The first record you bought.
Mel: shiiiiit, I can’t remember… My first 12″ I bought for mixing was ‘Icons’ by Derrick May on Transmat, it’s still one of my all time favourites.
FD: The record that made you want to start your music career.
Mel: I would say the music that made me love and want to be involved with electronic music was anything by The Black Dog. Their music really made me realise that electronic music could be really powerful emotionally as well as making you dance.
FD: That record you would always play in a DJ set.
Mel: It’s really obvious but Aphex Twin’s ‘Windowlicker’ is always a winner, I also love playing anything by Dorian Concept and last year I really loved ‘It’s That Bass’ by Machine Drum, although if I’m honest I think I may have actually cleared a few dance floors with that. I love dancing to it though.
FD: A record that brings back old memories.
Mel: I had the best time living with some friends in London and we had an open door policy so we had mates around all the time and would just have impromptu parties so something from then… maybe the ‘Black on Both Sides’ by Mos Def.
FD: A record you would play traveling to gigs or before going out on stage
Mel: Before a gig I always need to warm up my voice, I love singing along to anything by PJ Harvey.
FD: A record to listen to when making love.
Mel: Haha, that’s between me and my boyfriend…
FD: That terrible record you’re ashamed it’s in your collection.
Mel: That’s between me and my best mates… I’m sure there are quite a few…
FD: Thanks for your time Mel, that’s all for now. Anything you’d like to say? Any shout-outs?
Mel: Just thanks to everyone that’s been in touch and been so positive about my music. It’s really great when people appreciate what you do… and thanks to you, cheers!