This story originally appears in the December 2017 issue of Jerk Magazine. It was written by Jake Smith and all photos were provided.
Mélan might still be a student at Syracuse, but she sounds like a pro. Boasting sultry songs that blur genre lines, she’s destined to find an audience beyond campus. We think she’s reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, Jorja Smith, Jhene Aiko, but she Jerks to Erykah Badu, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and DMX.
Jerk Magazine: How did you get into performing as Mélan?
Mélan: I was doing spoken word a lot on campus as part of Verbal Blend. I started playing around with GarageBand and recording on a $70 mic. I was just excited to hear my voice on some beats and letting my friends hear it. I’m not new to the stage, but engaging music was definitely new.
JM: How has your background in poetry influenced your music?
M: What’s funny is that I freestyled first, just doing my thing. I didn’t write music yet. When I started writing music, I was already writing poetry, so they kind of just met each other. Early on, it was like poems on beats. That’s why some parts of my songs are very soulful and subtle but have hard-hitting cadences. It’s unorthodox, like, “Did she rhyme that with that? Is that even a rhyme?”
JM: Does going to school at Syracuse affect your sound?
M: I create a combination of somewhat talking about how I grew up in the Bronx and mainly talking about what I’m experiencing in college, going through what I’ve been going through. Surprisingly, you find so many diverse artists in the Syracuse area. Everyone loves music. Being around different ears and seeing how they reacted to my music, I knew I was getting somewhere. It’s cool to see how far it’s going.
JM: What do you want your music to say?
M: I definitely talk about positivity and self-motivation. I found myself in a low place, not seeing anything for me, and I talk about getting out of that. I have a lot of metaphors in my tracks, which I kind of have to simplify a bit now, so people can be like, “Oh, I get that.” It’s definitely … it’s something.