Interview: An LA Evening with MeLo-X

By | January 29, 2013 at 9:20 pm | No comments | Featured Post, Interviews, MUSIC | Tags: , , , , , ,

Conversations of Taco Trucks & Being the God of your own Destiny Interviewed by Elainne Dizon

The city lights of Los Angeles was the backdrop of the evening as I sat down at a small coffee table. Across from me was MeLo-X, the artist who first captured my attention from his amazing rendition of “Maxwell’s Bad Habits,” it was unlike anything I’ve ever heard. To be blunt, it takes a lot for me to invest interest in an artist, because originality and substance is rare to find. However, lucky for us: MeLo-X, is an exception to that rule. Garnering a co-sign of approval from Maxwell himself as well as press from Jay-Z’s Life+Times blog, it’s no surprise that MeLo-X is able to grab international audience’s attention. After all, the self-proclaimed “Renaissance Man,” admits “my goal in life is to fully explore the depths of my minds creativity.” Something that his fans have learned, results in the blessing of their ears and eyes, considering that MeLo-X is not only a producer, but also a visual artist, photographer, and emcee.

His creative spirit has be an instilled habit that cultivated itself since his childhood in Brooklyn, from emceeing at the age of 9 to his appreciation of dance hall waves at neighborhood block parties, MeLo-X understood the importance of true artistry at an early age.

Tonight in Los Angeles, MeLo-X is here to display that artistry. I look across the table as he settles in, his back on the stoney-brick wall and the light from the coffee table illuminating his attire: a worn-in leather jacket with a striped black and white shirt peeking underneath. He’s got an “it’s des godgod” beanie resting on his head (an ideology celebrating being the god of your destiny). I can smell incense across the table, as if he just came from a moment of mediation before we met up. I openly greet him, ready to talk about how Brooklyn inspired his eclectic music palette, his top emcee choices and what it takes to be the god of your own destiny.

ISM: How’re you enjoying L.A.?

MeLo-X: I love it here. This is the most fun I’ve had so far.

ISM: Is there a specific spot you hit up when your here? Like, you think, “I’m in LA. I gotta go to–.”

MeLo-X: [Contemplates for a bit] Is there a spot? Nah, I just be wanting to get tacos. Like, “Yo, let’s go to a taco spot real quick.” My friends tried to take me to a shady spot, I’m like, “Nahh, son. I wanna hit the legit spots. The taco trucks, that’s my go-to.

ISM: Ok, cool. That’s definitely our specialty here. I like how you came up with your name. You got that “mellow” side to you while you got that crazy “x factor” performer side of you. What would be your thing that makes you different from other artists out there? How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

MeLo-X: I describe myself as a creator. I create art in numerous ways and forms. I’m just a human, man. We got ying and yang, up and down, I got my mellow side and I got my x side- extra, extravagant, extraordinary. That’s what I would say. I’m an artist that has a balance of real high energy and real cool mellow sh-t to vibe too.

ISM: That’s a perfect combination.

MeLo-X: Just a little bit of both, ya.

ISM: So I know you described yourself as a creative artist and you like dabbling in everything.

MeLo-X: Word.

ISM: With photography being another avenue you express yourself in, what made you want to pick up a camera and start shooting?

MeLo-X: Since I was kid, my friends and I used to always run through disposable cameras, that was our thing. Every day we would do two or three a day and just have a stack of photos, just watching ourselves grow up and whatever. And then I got really more into it when I started with mixtapes, I would make exclusives and I had to make a cover… and I had to learn photoshop. I would need a photo of this, and I’d be like “ok, I need to learn how to take photos.” Even the credits for certain albums, I’d buy the album and see all the lining notes and I would see like, Jonathan Mannings and other photographers that interest me- seeing that enforced my creative side to learn more about the culture of photography.

ISM: Now with the deejay-ing aspect, I particularly love the variety of songs you do mixes to. With Inside the Mind of MeLo 3, you picked artists from Marvin Gaye to Fiona Apple to Rihanna, how do you go about picking a song to do a mix to? What makes you say, “This song would be even hotter if I did a mix to it”?

MeLo-X: I approach it as if I’m creating a new product. So with the Fiona Apple remix it’s kinda like I acted like I’m in studio with Fiona. I take her song, I chop it up, and I’m like, “iight. This is how I would create something with Fiona if she was in the studio with me and we were working together- same thing with the Marvin joint. A lot of the times it’s like me vibing out. Certain things that hit me, I never deny it. Some people wouldn’t do a Marvin Gaye.. it’s cliche in the rap world but you know, I felt the vibes so I just did it. Naimsayin?

ISM: I know what you’re saying. I felt it, so you’re doing exactly what you needed to do with that.

[We both laugh.]

ISM: Brooklyn has produced an amazing roster of artists. How do you think growing up in Brooklyn helped to shape the way your music sounds?

MeLo-X: I grew up in East Flatbush Brooklyn it was a lot of Caribbean community, so I grew up listening to a lot of bass. I could be in my crib and I can hear a party two blocks away blasting the latest you know… dance hall tune, I can hear the bass, I can feel it. Definitely bass and rhythm, Caribbean rhythms, influenced my music a lot. It’s about having a vibe and feeling it… I carry that in everything else I do. And the grittiness, I don’t like my things to be too clean, I like it to be a little gritty.. I guess you can say that’s the Brooklyn in me.

ISM: Definitely. I know you’re well-versed as an emcee as well. Who would you consider your Top 5 favorite MC’s who influenced you to wanna rhyme? Who inspired you to spit fire, basically.

MeLo-X: Top Five emcees? Man, I can’t say five. I would say.. not in any order, but some that would be in that five would definitely be.. Eminem. He would probably be up at #1. Very influential on me, because before than… I started rapping because of DMX, Big Pun and Cash Money. They made me wanna rap, and then when I listened to Eminem it made me see a different side of it: story-telling. And also growing up with Nas and Biggie. So I guess, those five would be on my list.

ISM: Very nice list, there. [I clap.]

MeLo-X: All the Cash Money though of late 90s.. [soft laughter] not like, 2010 Cash Money. [Laughs again].

ISM: Ya, I know what you mean. [I laugh at this point too, just so we both match.] With your fan-base so broad I know you get to travel all over the place. What’s place you haven’t been to, that you would want to go to? What are your plans for 2013? How do you plan on taking it to that next level?

MeLo-X: (No hesitation) I wanna go to Japan. Since I’ve been DJ-ing in the city, I’ve been part of a few collectives and clothing lines, my following in Japan is real, real dope. I would love to go to Japan. And my plan for this year is consistency, I have my March 2013 to March 2014 plan of attack.

ISM: Go get it 2013, right?

MeLo-X: Ya, I’m just going to work towards that plan and have a consistent release of music and concepts and art and shows and things like that. That’s the plan for 2013: consistency.

ISM: I like that plan. With the whole “Zulu Guru” concept being a duality of acting as a warrior and a teacher, I feel you apply a very warrior spirit to your music. My question is, what do you want to teach to the younger generation of aspiring creative artists?

MeLo-X: The main thing I would say is “Be the god of your destiny.” No matter what you believe in, or whoever you pray to, you still have to do something. You have to put in the work to receive something. I would say put 100%, I know it’s cliché to say this, but it’s very true.

You have to know that you have it already. Whatever your goal is, you’ve already done it already. Life and universe will bring it to you because you’re already comfortable. You have to have that tunnel vision like, “I have it.” Like me, I already have my Grammy. I’m on Mars performing now. I have to have that confidence, especially being an independent artist you have to be 100% confidence in what you’re doing. Just be consistent. There are some artists out there that are corny and whack or whatever, but they have consistency. They consistently put out corny stuff so they blow up. If you have something that a good amount of people think is good, and you’re consistently putting it out, you’re consistently being creative and re-inventing yourself. Eventually, you’re gonna get to where you tryin’ to be.

ISM: Ya, because they keep building.

MeLo-X: Everybody starts from that one point; you just need to be consistent. That’s it.

Conversing with MeLo-X was not only enlightening but it gave me a perspective of what we should all aspire to be: passionate about your craft. The night’s lesson: Don’t stop building.

So MeLo is asking y’all: What did you build today?

-Elainne Dizon
Photos taken by Elainne Dizon

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