Introducing Melodi: the British artist with an infectious energy for 2020
Get to know South East London based singer-songwriter, Melodi, ahead of her new single release, ‘Heroin’. From the beginning of her career recording in home studios to her most pivotal musical moments, Melodi shares with us her life through music.
A couple of days into the new decade on a fresh yet sunny January morning, I catch up with Melodi in a South East London coffee shop close to her flat. It’s almost instantly clear that our conversation will be far from dull as I’m greeted by her infectious laugh—she’s debriefing me on events from a launch party she’d been to the previous night. Heading for an intimate nook in the cafe, she sinks straight into a sofa. Her white fur coat and gold statement earrings embody her grounded yet bold energy, making her company feel almost immediately familiar. The room feels light and her drive for the year ahead is somewhat refreshing. Honest and self assured, she heads straight into conversation—“I guess I should start with where I get my music from.” She goes on to proudly share the talents of her late father, Jerome Hadebe, a singer, songwriter, poet and guitarist who’s dedication to music was always his bedrock throughout life. From a street-performing musician supporting his family back home to days on end in the studio blissfully unaware of the world around him. “He didn’t actually know I was born for 4 days because he hadn’t left the studio”, she laughs. However, over the following years Jerome’s illness saw him in and out of hospitals a great deal and this began to drive a real wedge between him and the family. “Everyone found it hard”, she tells me. Although communication with her Dad grew increasingly unpredictable throughout her youth, there was always one conversation that remained unbeaten in his absence. Reminiscing, Melodi speaks of the times her Dad would call and play his guitar at the other end of phone, the two would sing together for hours. “We always had that”, she says. In a humble moment, she describes one of the last times she saw her Dad as a turning point in her career as the two sat down together at the piano in her family home, singing to one another whilst Jerome taught her what he knew best. At 16 years old, Melodi’s Dad passed away and despite having lost touch with music through secondary school, her final moments with him would go on to arm her with the motivation she needed to get her to where she is now. “He was doing it whatever it took, so in that moment I promised to do the same… for him and for me”, she says.
In pursuit of her career in music, Melodi ditched conventional college plans and took up lessons in singing whilst learning to play the piano. It was her time spent at D&B and Dubstep raves however that surprisingly marked the beginning of her career in songwriting—“I’d put something on I liked and just began writing to beats”, she tells me. In the following years, her social life played a large part in moving her work forward from phone-recorded acapellas in her bedroom to her first fully produced track, released on SoundCloud. She goes on to speak about a former friend and fellow musician in her social group who was a major part of this journey. As she reminisces about times he’d get his guitar out and encourage her to perform in front of a small group of friends, I come to realise she wasn’t always the confident performer she is today. “For quite a while, I’d have to tell all my friends to turn around whilst I sang”, she says. She continued recording with him over the following years and in 2013 released her first songs on SoundCloud. “Those songs are still some of my Mum’s favourite songs” she says, someone I’ve come to learn is her biggest fan.
In 2014, Melodi was introduced to Jack Hobbs, a young music producer at the time who just happened to be grandson to one of the world’s most renowned film directors, Stanley Kubrick—from 1971’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ to ‘The Shining’ in 1980. Melodi recalls turning up at Childwickbury Manor, Kubrick’s family home in St Albans, where she’d been invited to record with Hobbs in his home studio. “I was like ‘hooooooooly fuck’” she laughs, as she stood outside the front gates. The two instantly clicked and went on to produce 3 songs together before he launched his record label, Jacket Records, in 2015 of which Melodi was one of his first signed artists alongside another young artist, Hope. This was the real beginning of the Melodi journey. Whilst with Jacket Records, Melodi produced and launched her first EP which featured 4 written tracks followed by live shows, radio interviews and radio performances.
Meeting Melodi now, I’m surprised to hear how reserved she was as a teenager as she tells me, “I was super, super shy”. Laughing she goes on to say, “that’s changed…now you can’t shut me up, I’m making up for those 17 years of not talking—LISTEN TO ME”. When Melodi was younger, the idea of performance was tainted with fear. “I hated performing but for some reason I still felt like I had to do it” she says. She credits Hobbs for his active role in the progression of her career, reluctantly looking back to the time he set her the task of doing one open mic per week. Heading off into London with her guitarist, Melodi would get up on stage, sing, hope it was over, jump off stage and immediately leave. Curious to know whether the open mics paid off, I ask whether it got to a point when she started to see progress but before having chance to finish, she abruptly stops me mid question, “no. not at all, I didn’t get less nervous for years.” Laughing at her upfront honesty, we celebrate how far she’s come since then; her bold and unapologetic rhythm now never failing to fill a room.
“I’ve definitely grown into myself…when I’m on stage now, I hate it when time escapes me”
Whilst her time with Jacket Records had its place in launching the beginning of her career in music, Melodi was still at a point in her life where she felt unsure about the work she was creating. She describes Hobbs as an amazing producer and although her first 4 tracks sounded incredible, she opens up telling me, “they just didn’t feel like me—they were my songs, his sounds”. So, in late 2016 Melodi cut ties with St Albans and moved to South East London where a year later she began working with music producer, Enz. “He’s my producer now” she tells me and her energy lifts as she continues to explain the pair’s unbreakable dynamic. “Before we did anything, Enz wanted to sit down with his notebook, ask me loads of questions, figure out what kind of artist I was and what kind of artist I wanted to be…I’d not had that before”, she says. Over the following months, the two went through endless different sounds—an ‘experimental period’ in which Melodi praises Enz for his undying commitment. “He saw my vision and that gave me such amazing freedom in figuring out my own sound”, she tells me.
In 2018, Melodi took a leap of faith after being relentlessly let down by management teams over previous years and despite the obstacles, she decided to take some time becoming her own boss. With Enz by her side as producer, she relaunched in November with her single ‘Dance With Me’. Reflecting, she tells me “this was a big milestone…from here on I knew that, despite the challenge, I’d be more consistent”. In the following months, Melodi went on to release three more songs. After releasing ‘So Good’ in December 2018, the single was picked up by BBC Radio 1Xtra and played on the show during January 2019. ‘This Bed’ followed with an accompanying music video shot in the grounds at Childwickbury Manor (a refreshing full circle that perhaps Melodi would only appreciate). As her music continued evolving, May 2019 saw a shift in sound as she released ‘Body Language’, featuring Hungarian rapper, Konstantin X.
“This felt far more natural…people really vibe with this one”
Although things were really beginning to pick up through 2018, music took more of a back seat towards the end of 2019 as her life became preoccupied. Juggling life as a model and personal trainer whilst processing personal obstacles in her private life, she describes it as one of her hardest years yet. “I was so exhausted by everything last year”, she tells me but just as she vowed after her Dad’s passing, she didn’t let this stop her—“in my heart I knew I would do it, just as my Dad did” she says. In October 2019, Melodi came out on top with her new single, ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ and in November, Wealth Nation approached her, giving her the kick she needed.
“I’m really grateful they came along…these guys are doing something very different to anyone else I’ve worked with before”
Reflecting on the inherent belief that pushed her through some of her darkest months, she reminisces on advice from elders. “One thing older people always say is ‘don’t give up’ and I remember always being like ‘what do you mean, of course I won’t give up’…Then it got to last year and I was like ‘fuckkkkk, how am I going to do this!’” she says, laughing “but even when I didn’t have the energy, there was this drive inside me to do it”.
As we move conversation back into the present, it’s clear how far she’s come—through loss, grief and pain, Melodi’s energy for music has proven unbreakable. From those once so dreaded open mic nights in London to performing on stage now in hope that the moment never ends, Melodi’s years of tireless perseverance are finally paying off. She’s come out on top with a motivation for 2020 that emanates brighter than ever—one I can assure is wildly infectious for anyone she meets. “When it got to the end of 2019, I was like ‘GOODBYE’…2020 is about movement” she says. As her talents are duly recognised by one of the world’s most major management teams, the new decade looks like it could be home to her best years yet. On a final note, I ask her about her vision for the year ahead. Her response is perhaps the most confident yet. “This year I’m going to be making big movements with my music—I’m releasing my music video for ‘Heroin’ this March, performing in Atlanta, my songs are being distributed through Sony Music Global and I’m signing with major US management company, Wealth Nation”. With lots of exciting things happening, this year Melodi decided to say no to New Years Resolutions telling me “I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing now; it’s working and I’m happy”.