It’s 10pm in Lenton and Melo-Zed, producer and recent University of Nottingham graduate, does not seem bothered that I just interrupted his movie. I am catching up with him in the limbo period between his final submission and results day, to discuss his EP, his time at Nottingham and his performance at Tate Britain.
Melo-Zed seemed ready to move on from student life, and somewhat excited to see what a career in music would have to offer him. Reflecting back on his time at University, he pinpointed balance as one of the most difficult aspects of being a sought-after producer as well as a University student:
“It’s been a challenge. When you feel that one thing on the uni side is going your way, time is being taken away from the music side [and vice versa]. It’s all or nothing pretty much, so getting the balance is very difficult.
“You have to just be aware of the fact that at the end of the day, you’re here to do university. I noticed that in first year I did more music, in second year a bit less but in third year I definitely focused more on [university] than the music side, but it’s about setting up the foundation in first and second year so you can do that.
So I didn’t find it too difficult… the hardest bit is just organising your time.”
“It’s like you’ve got all this time to do what you’ve wanted to do for so long and now you just have to do it”
With the war between music and education over, Zed has a new frontier to conquer, adult life. It seems like his views on what adult life will be like is something he shares with his musician friends in Louis VI from other soul and talented producer fwdslxsh:
“I was talking to Louis VI from Other Soul and even fwdslxsh, because like me he’s just finished university and he’s doing his thing. It’s like you’ve got all this time to do what you’re saying, you’ve wanted to do for so long and now you just have to do it.
“Obviously, they were saying that perhaps having something else to do could help my creativity where I’m not just solely doing music, maybe having like a job or some sort of a small thing, where I’m doing that and then go home and do music.
“Rather than just sitting at home, because you can waste a lot of hours, I’ve been free from UoN for the last two weeks and I’ve done very little music; obviously I need to motivate myself but at the same time I feel like it’s a big step, bigger than people think.”
“I saw a lot of other producers getting boxed in to a certain type of genre that was convenient but at the same time it doesn’t give a lot of freedom for varied expression”
Fears aside Melo-Zed, whilst less frequent with the uploads this year, has something up his sleeve with his upcoming EP:
“I’ve obviously been working on it for a long time now, and there’s been a lot of times when I thought it was done, but because I’m so precious about it I keep on adding things, editing, changing stuff, making more than enough songs and cutting down.
“It’s just been a long process, and I feel like I’m getting to the point now where it’s becoming clear that there’s a certain few that I definitely want and it’s just narrowing that search down.”
Much like many other musicians, in a day and age where everyone is a music critic, Melo-Zed aims to avoid getting boxed in. Melo-Zed fans can expect a different sound, with much more incorporation of live instrumentation as Zed makes use of his abilities as a guitarist:
“I saw a lot of other producers getting boxed in to a certain type of genre that was convenient, but at the same time it doesn’t give a lot of freedom for varied expression. I feel like there’s a lot more to me than what I came up doing, and I feel like, as I’ve gotten all my equipment, honed my skills, I’ve been able to experiment with new stuff.
“I want to express that stuff; I started with guitar so for me to ignore that would be foolish. But for a long time when I only had Garage band, I didn’t have the facilities to even plug my guitar in and record it, so I had to stick to samples and drum breaks.
“That taught me that side of things, and now I’m learning the more live element of things. I’m combining the elements putting them together, into something that documents that journey from the Dilla style beatsmith type stuff to the more acoustic vibey stuff like Bon Iver, James Vincent McMorrow and just mixing that and making something more authentic to me.”
But the EP isn’t the only thing Melo-Zed has in the works. He has a lot of collaborative work in the pipelines:
“I’ve got a track on this Nang EP that I did with Sipprell. To be honest there might be some stuff coming up with Huh What and Where coming up soon but I’m not really sure about the details of that right now.
“There’s also the Darker than Wax compilation with G-shock I’ve got a track on there. They’re releasing a watch with G-shock and they’re gonna put all the tunes on the compilation on a memory stick with the watch that comes as a kind of package which is kind of cool.”
As well as being an accomplished producer, Melo-Zed is also a talented DJ, with mixes on Cosy as well as a boiler room set and a set on Rinse FM, so I wasn’t surprised when he informed me he was heading to the Tate Museum on the 3rd of June:
“There was this artist [Wilfred Nicholsen] and we were supposed to like respond to her work, and it was done by an organisation called Late at Tate, which is organised and run by young people.
“They sort of look for artists that they enjoy and try involve them in the Tate, and try and sort of bridge the gap between the young generation and older people. Obviously, the people there were a lot older and all the artists were young performers.
“It was good to play sets of music that maybe at a club night wouldn’t be permissible. I was playing very ambient stuff sometimes, because the crowd was very receptive to that. It was a very cool experience and to be at the Tate was lovely. It’s a nice place and it sounds good on the CV.”
Image courtesy of The Artist