Interviews

MeLa Machinko: What a Knockout!

Today’s technology is a powerful medium that pumps multiple access lines from artists to fans, be it the internet, cell phones, iPods’, or TVs. MeLa Machinko uses all these platforms to connect fans with her real self, giving listeners a piece of her life and music. MeLa’s musical resume has years of experience that have allowed her to put pen to paper and energize stages through experience and tutelage gained working with world music group’s Zap Mama, Talib Kweli, and Pharoahe Monch. Now pushing her solo career MeLa has garnered praise from Babyface and Wyclef on her ability to bring fans into her world. Get to know MeLa…

Singersroom: You went on tour with Pharoahe Monch and you wrote a letter to groupies with your laws for them to abide by. Did they listen to you?

MeLa Machinko: It is funny because I only got six or seven comments on my (Myspace) blog but I know I have a bunch of subscribed readers…usually it’s just my friends who post comments; it is more of a conversational thing. But Pharoahe told me that he got a couple of phone calls from random chicks saying “she wasn’t talking about me was she.” (laughter). Apparently people are paying attention because groupies really weren’t bothering me. I was getting along with everyone because they were leaving me alone and acting like normal people.

Singersroom: Was that your first time going on tour?

MeLa Machinko: Nah, I [have] been on tour with Pharoahe for five years. I toured with Zap Mama, which is with Afropean World Music Group. I sang background for Bilal; I have been touring for a while.

Singersroom: Where is your name from?

MeLa Machinko: It is completely made up. The “La” in MeLa is actually my nickname. I used to be a group and when I was in the group because of the group’s name, “La” was fine for people I guess. But when I went solo the one syllable short name was too short for people. When I would perform they would add stuff like “the lovely La”…and make me sound like a magician. I wasn’t digging that so I wanted to add a syllable to the first name but I didn’t want to add anything that was not me. So I just add “me”, so that’s where “MeLa” comes from. The Machinko is purely aesthetic. I like the way it rolls off the tongue.

Singersroom: What got you into World Music?

MeLa Machinko: I wasn’t doing world music. I was singing background for Zap Mama, they were doing world music. It was bananas, they had me singing three different African and French dialects.

Singersroom: Did that give you incite into different cultures?

MeLa Machinko: Yea, definitely. I learned so much from Marie in regards to showmanship because she has the type of show that is so rare in America urban music; even if you don’t like the music you can still completely enjoy the show. She is such a performer and the music is alive and she taught me about improve. You be on stage and she would switch the show completely, give you new notes, new parts and a lot of it was African call and respond and it was really dope. Also the way they sing is so different than how we sing; we are so nasal in America and she sings from the back of her throat. It was a different kind of skill that I learned. But in terms of the actual music it is not so much my thing…it is not the expression of me.

I can definitely relate to what I’m doing with Pharoahe because I’m a hip hop fan and a songwriter; I love words.

Singersroom: So we might see you rapping?

MeLa Machinko: (laughter) Nah, I’m not gonna rap. I’m not gonna disrespect the art. I could rap better than a lot rappers that are out but there not rappers I consider good so until I’m good as the rappers I consider good, I’m gonna just sing.

Singersroom: How does being a hip hop fan affect your music?

MeLa Machinko: It influences the way I pick beats. I love hip hop beats. I fell in love with the idea of being a singer when Mary [J. Blige] came out and changed R&B; In terms of being the first singer to integrate hip hop and R&B in that way.

My music has an attitude that is slightly different from the conventional R&B singers and definitely I know who I am as a person is heavily influence by Hip Hop; it naturally takes on a hip hop sensibility. It is more aggressive in your face style, not so much the delivery but what I’m actually saying, it feels like hip hop. Not too many singers pop sh*t in their songs the way I do. R&B music is all about love; “I want him to love”, “I love” but my music is like “I’ll smack the sh*t out ya’ll.” (laughter)

Singersroom: Are we going to get the love ballad side too?

MeLa Machinko: I am gonna sing love songs because I’m human and I’m a girly girl. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not walking around slapping everybody all the time. (laughter) I write about what moves me in any particular moment. I don’t feel like my music is just [love] I don’t feel caged in by those parameters. I feel the freedom to write an R&B song about whatever it is I feel like, may it be about a boy I like or I want to slap this dude that cut me off on the highway.

Singersroom: People are looking for artist who are there self and real, are you ready to give fans yourself?

MeLa Machinko: The thing I love about performing my own music is that it is so me. I think most of the point, performing for me is giving myself. I feel like I’m almost a songwriter before I’m a singer and even my songwriting is performed in the service of telling people what I want to tell them. I think mostly this whole thing is about saying what I want to say and getting away with it and having people actually want to listen. I feel like I have a lot to say and I want people to listen all the time. (laughter). I feel like I have fresh and interesting perspective on life and things in general. —— By: Interview By Adeniyi Omisore

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