Photo by ANDYMKOSI.
Interview: Melo B Jones Muses on Love in New EP
The dynamic singer and songwriter's boom-bap soul EP 'The One' is abound with experiential musings on love and relationships.
In March, the self-proclaimed "boom-baptist", Melo B Jones returned with her new EP simply titled The One. The soulful singer, whose real name is Boitumelo Mpye, is a niche artist whose music is a motley blend of soul and R&B, heavily steeped in hip-hop sensibilities.
Melo B Jones introduced herself to the music industry, in 2011, when she released a collection of acapella songs, aptly titled Acapella Fela. Continuing on the same path, in 2014, she released a series of acapella covers of popular hip-hop songs — from AKA's "Run Jozi" to Chris Brown's "New Flame". Her official debut EP, titled The Start, would later be released in 2017.
Between then and now, she has maintained an online presence through freestyles and impromptu performances and covers. Activity and presence of this sort has incubated Melo B's relevance in the music landscape, all while earning her a modest but loyal fan base.
She has previously lent her vocal services to artists such as Kudz, Khuli Chana, Ill Skillz, Flex Boogie, rkls and several others.
The One is a concise five-track EP that showcases Melo's remarkable singing and songwriting, which is anchored mostly by relatable musings and ruminations pertaining to love and romantic relationships.
On the EP's title track, she sings from the perspective of a jilted lover lamenting unrequited love. Soon after, she's the one rejecting a lingering ex on "iVibe". "Monate (Do It Again)" is a seductive cut in which she urges her suitor to taste her love juices, whereas "Dala" deviates from the album's love theme — and is instead an empowerment anthem in which she encourages the listener to block out the noise and pursue whatever they desire. In the song, she repurposes Lebo Mathosa's "Free", interpolating parts of the kwaito classic into a refrain.
The One is underscored by lazing boom-bap beats; head nod-inducing rhythmic melodies, with the occasional understated synth nestled in the bass on most songs. Melo B has found a sweet spot in how her voice melts into the entire soundscape characterising the project. The music is soothingly soulful yet hard-hitting.
Closing off the EP, "Here" is an endearing love song that illustrates the yearning of love, as she earnestly sings: "Why can't we be back to you and me? See, I'm willing to put pride aside and tell the truth babe, see I only, only, only wanted you with me here…. Ke nna ya go ratileng, through the fire and the rain, know that I'll remain the same for you, see if you come back to me… rest assured that baby I adore you."
We caught up with the songstress and spoke about The One, her inspirations and independence.
NB: This interview has been slightly edited for clarity and length.
Is there a connection between The One and The Start? Are they, perhaps, part of a series?
Not necessarily a series, but definitely a progression or growth. With The Start, I was still exploring different types of sounds and feelings. With The One, I tried to hone in more on a specific sound or feel.
You built quite a formidable fan base over the years through the covers you were known to do. How has that fared now that you are releasing original music?
I've found that posting covers has grown my fan base, but has also been a great way to introduce my music. People love familiarity, so making covers is a great way to get people keen on new musicians.
How did the GoFundMe undertaking go with regards to financing this project?
As you know, when the pandemic hit, many artists took a heavy knock. I had friends and loved ones concerned and wondering how they could help since they couldn't support at shows anymore. When I considered that people wanted to help but didn't know how, I thought of crowdfunding. I was surprised to see how much people really jumped at the opportunity and really supported the cause. I used this money to fund the sound engineering costs as well as a music video, which will be released soon.
Photo by Ramsy Pictures.
You released The Start EP with the label Stay True Sounds. How did that relationship work out?
That relationship was and will always be a great one. Kid Fonque, the founder of Stay True Sounds, has a great ear for music and releasing my debut under his label was one of the best decisions for my career. To this day, he is still supportive of me and my music. I released the project with the help of Africori as the digital distributor, but I still do everything else independently.
What informs your subject matter?
My music is inspired by my own life experience in some cases — but in others, I'm inspired by the people around me and their love stories. I love expressing my real life through my music, but I also live vicariously through it.
If I was asked, I'd say Jill Scott is the most apparent influence of yours. Is this correct? Any other musical influences that you'd like to speak on?
It is correct. However, my influences span from Rahzel to Sibongile Khumalo to Sarah Vaughn to Monique Bingham. Even though I'm a soul singer, I'm definitely inspired by multiple genres.
Hearing you sing in Setswana on "Monate (Do It Again)" was a pleasant surprise. Have you considered singing in your home language full-on?
I've always wanted to introduce elements of my home language into my music and have it sound as natural as it does in my everyday dialect. I think I'm still working on balancing that out and including more Setswana in my sound.
Are there plans to release a full-length project soon?
I definitely want to release an album, but I won't be giving myself any time constraints. But it's in the pipelines.
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