Exciting, Peckham-based newcomer Mellah is releasing his debut EP ‘Liminality’ tomorrow (12th May) via Lucky Number, and we’ve got a stream of the whole thing a day early on DIY.
Preceded by singles ‘Round’, a song written after the singer met an ex-solider in a pub, and ‘Nada’, a brutally honest reflection on the lost of Ramsden’s father, ‘Liminality’ is a frighteningly stark debut collection.
The three other tracks that make up the EP tread a similar path, pairing refreshingly up-front lyricism with music that flits between indie-rock and something more electronic and slinky.
Mellah’s set to play a headline show at London’s Montague Arms next Tuesday (16th May). Stream ‘Liminality’ and read a Q&A with Ramsden below.
Hi Mellah! You’ve emerged with debut EP ‘Liminality’ - tell us a bit about it.
I recorded it alongside friend and producer Oli Barton-Wood in a little studio I built in Peckham. I go through phases of songwriting where a number of songs all within one ilk will spill out in a couple of months. Because of this I have a lot of songs, so choosing which ones to put forward for my first venture outside the studio was quite daunting. I ended up choosing most of the songs I wrote around the time of my father’s death. Naturally, the songs are pretty weighted and emotionally charged. I wanted to make my first solo record as personal as I felt possible so although I set myself up to be quite exposed sharing it, I felt like we should start from the bone and work our way out.
You’ve played in bands for years now - what was the inspiration to start making music as Mellah?
Put simply it was the death of my father that drove me to pursue releasing my own material. I have written songs since I was little, I find it therapeutic, but I’ve never had the desire to share them until recently. My dad was a huge influence on me musically, in other ways naturally, but musically in a big way. He always wanted me to share my songs but I was quite happy playing drums in other projects. I guess after he died I felt like I had something to say that I didn’t feel like many other artists were saying.
I looked around or listened rather and felt unsatisfied. Not many artists seemed to be saying anything particularly poignant, or challenging any entrenched values whether political or emotional or otherwise. Most new music I came across seemed to serve only to fit into a certain transient, fashionable niche both sonically and aesthetically. This isn’t to say that I don’t think there are challenging artists out there, Kate Tempest to name one is leading the way this side of the channel in my eyes. It does seem to go hand in hand though that if you want to say anything remotely unorthodox, especially politically, you need to ram it down your listener’s throat, I guess it’s a hang up from punk. I want to make emotionally supportive music… partly because music has supported me my whole life and I want to return the favour but also so as to make people feel comfortable enough to let my music into their homes, where I can surreptitiously spoon feed them my own sociopolitical agenda.
From meeting soldiers in pubs to dealing with death, ‘Liminality’s subject matter is pretty heavy - is being upfront and stark with your lyrics something that comes naturally to you?
You also built the studio the EP was created in - are you trying to give Frank Ocean a run for his money in the carpentry stakes?
I was unaware of Frank Ocean was a carpenter… Maybe we can team up and cover a Carpenters tune together… I reckon we could do a pretty righteous version of ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’.
What’s next now ‘Liminality’ is out?
I’m currently back in the studio recording again with the intention of releasing an album in the near future.
Mellah’s debut EP ‘Liminality’ is released on 12th May via Lucky Number.