To some, the South of France is an idyll, a sunshine retreat within walking distance of the Mediterranean.
To others, though, it’s simply part of their past. Growing up in a sedate, Southern part of France, Melody Prochet knew she had to escape. “I was in a really boring village” she admits. “Really sweet but the opposite of rock and roll! I needed a reason for my parents to let me go, so I enrolled in this architecture school for six months. I started making music there, in Paris”.
Prochet has never looked back. A classical trained musician, the aspiring songwriter struggled to find her own voice in the competitive Parisian scene. Crossing paths with Tame Impala creative force Kevin Parker, the young artist decided to up sticks and move to Perth, Australia in order to focus on her music.
It’s a partnership which is bearing some tantalising fruit. Kevin Parker is able to unlock the songwriter’s musical vision, while Melody Prochet is capable of adding a European art-house sensibility to the Australian’s sun-fried psychedelic hymnals. “I had this click two years ago when I met Kevin” she admits. “I just naturally ended up working with someone who has a completely different background. He has put TNT in my musical tea, you know? He helped me destroy my classical roots. I still have the right amount, I think, of classicism but marry that with more substance and noise”.
Re-locating to Perth, Australia the French artist began living in the house / commune which acts as a base for several musicians. The rampant cross-fertilisation seems to have inspired her, with Melody’s Echo Chamber helping to refine the results. “We were living in this house they all shared, it was really big and they all seemed to come from the 70s – they had like afros and hippy clothes, crazy outfits!” she exclaims. “They are all really amazing musicians. In each room there was someone making music, being really creative and it just makes you want to craft something special so they admire you. It’s really pushed me to work hard on my songwriting, when I’m there”.
One of the most remote cities on Earth, Perth has a unique atmosphere of lawlessness and creativity. “I just remembered this morning - one time after a gig there were these friends in two cars driving side by side, the game was to throw things from each car into the window of the other. Driving beside the ocean – you don’t do that in Paris. You go to jail!” she laughs. “This city is a dream city to live in. But it’s really isolated, it’s a shame it’s so far”.
Essentially a studio driven, solo vehicle Melody’s Echo Chamber arrives remarkably assured. The involvement of Kevin Parker would suggest to some that it is simply a side project for the Australian songwriter, but the reality could not be further from the truth. Sure, his role as engineer ensures that some aspects of his work do appear, but Melody Prochet’s sweet, tender songwriting comes to the fore.
If anything, what Kevin Parker supplied was a sense of chaos, allowing Melody Prochet to push against her roots in classicism. “His studio is a glorious mess. It was just cables and trash everywhere. Half drunk bottles of wine. He would maybe have a drum kit installed and I was kind of worried when I came in, I thought: so this is where we’re going to make an album. OK... “ she gigles. “Then he just started playing drums, he didn’t have any stands for mics or anything professional – he doesn’t like that. He just taped the mic on the fireplace metal, he got bricks from his backyard and put the mic on it. But then I heard the first take of the drums and even dry the sound was exactly what I was hoping to get. I knew he knew what he was doing at the first take. He is amazing, a genius of sound.”
Lyrically, Melody’s Echo Chamber lean towards dark spaces while allowing the music to drag them back into the light. Switching between her native French and English, Melody Prochet often focusses simply on the sound of words – their innate music rather than their meaning. “The thing is when I start, when I find the melody I kind of mumble a few sounds which sound like English or French, it’s not a real language” she explains. “I guess you start with sounds and then you try to build a meaning after you get the sounds. On the song ‘Bisou Magique’ it was the first time in my life the melody and the lyrics and the song came at the same time. That was really magical for me, actually, I didn’t think it could happen – when you have the melody and the lyric at the same time. I guess it depends”.
Often built up from a simple drum loop, each track seems to be steeped in the intense heat of Western Australia and echoes with Prochet’s delight at being able to cut her ties with Paris. “It started when I broke up with my ex-boyfriend and I wanted to get really, really far away so I literally went to the other side of the world” she says. “This album is really about searching with the intention of finding something unknown”.
Alongside this, though, is a sense of self-exploration. “I agree that it’s a totally self-exploring album but also exploring new space” she says. “It’s really experimenting in sounds as well. Sonically I was really interested in finding dis-orienting noises and textures, making clouds of sound. I tried really hard to reach my greatest expressive intensity. I’m really proud of what we achieved”.
Now focussing on their live commitments, Melody’s Echo Chamber are tasked with turning a studio project into a performance act. Onstage at London venue Cargo recently, the band seem to be inching towards their own identity – the songs are there, for sure, and there’s an endearing fragility which is expressed through lack of experience. Continually looking ahead, Melody Prochet is already pondering her next step. “Definitely. I’m always kind of writing music when I feel like it, I always think it’s kind of in my last song. I write songs like in the van. When we were in North Dakota I wrote this song that I really like. Yesterday as well I got bored and I tried to write a song. I’ve no idea what kind of music it’s going to be like. I want it to be really different, like something else. Maybe it will be psychedelic hip hop – I don’t know, we’ll see”.
Photo Credit: Diane Sagnier
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‘Melody’s Echo Chamber’ is out now.