Meet Western Sydney's Mel Bailey, and the power of her therapeutic new EP, BLOOM
The five-track release is full of potent alt-R&B and pop, including tracks crafted alongside Kwame and XIRO.
You can find a lot of power when music is harnessed to its full potential, and the people that are capable of finding that power are those that Western Sydney musician Mel Bailey has long been inspired by. There is a broad range of empowering musicians in her playlists, from those that encourage emotional fragility and vulnerability - James Blake, Little Dragon, BADBADNOTGOOD - to those that empower things like femininity, whether it be through the lens of someone like Little Simz or Hiatus Kaiyote.
It should be no surprise then, to learn that Mel Bailey is making some of the most potent music in Australia at the moment - especially as somewhat of a new addition to the country's next generation. It's something that's been long central to her work, present right back to her debut EP - 2018's No Doubt, Just Questions - and the work she's been painstakingly working on throughout the three years since, something that begins to unravel in the form of her newly minted second EP BLOOM, which arrived last Friday.
It's a collection of work that feels synonymous to those Mel Bailey is musically indebted to, showing how she's able to take the groundwork of those she's inspired by and add exciting new twists to them, creating distinct edges that bring something incredibly refreshing to the table. BLOOM showcases how high they can reach, inspired by a trip to South America that - as she explains - brought a bit of life experience that helped trigger her songwriting, eventually leading to the powerful outpouring that sits within BLOOM's confines.
"The EP is heavily inspired by my trip to South America and the realisations I was faced with when coming home," she says. "I wanted to call it something that encapsulated each track's common ground, to find the strength to grow. I feel like the whole experience really helped me bloom into the person I want to be. I wanted those messages to be shared and I hope that everyone who listens knows that they are strong enough to trust their instincts."
Over the course of BLOOM, Mel Bailey showcases that sense of personal and reflective growth with music that shows her artistic growth too. Sonically, the EP veers between snapshots of delicate R&B and pop music, creating her own lane as she moulds together genres and textures to create something unique. However, there's a sense of intimacy and self-awareness that underpins the entirety of BLOOM, linking together even the most far-reaching of sounds on the EP - including those assisted by good pals Kwame and XIRO (on Wait, Stop., that is).
It's an incredible release that really showcases the heights of Australia's next-generation, and with plenty more to come, we feel like BLOOM is just the beginning. With that in mind, take a dive into the full EP below, and underneath, introduce yourself to Mel Bailey, as she establishes herself as someone well worth keeping an eye on in the future.
Tell us about yourself?
I'm Mel, a Filipina-Aussie artist originally from Western Sydney! I think one thing that keeps me completely grounded is family and Mother Nature. A lot of my art & music is always a reflection of those two elements and it's what's made me who I am today. If you were to REALLY get to know me though, I think my friends would say I'm a goofy-baby-giraffe, fun & energetic, terrible in the kitchen, uncoordinated but always up for a bevvie and a boogie.
What’s your music like? What does it sound like? What kind of themes does it usually cover?
My music at present is super experimental and I'm trying to delve into lots of different sounds with my voice & production. A lot of people say it's a mix between the vocal twangs of Little Dragon, Kimbra, and Amy Winehouse. I tend to write about past experiences, and my personal growth in life. I'm such a goof IRL people often get shocked when they hear the emotion/lyrics in my music because it's quite a vulnerable version of me. You could say I use music to journal and act as a personal diary. Looking up to artists like Hiatus Kaiyote who have created their own sound is something I've really admired, and something that gets me hooked. So, I guess I've been on a mission to make that my goal too. To create my own genre.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
Every song comes with a different process. There's not really a strict method, but I do journal a lot. Once I've got my poem/diary entry set in stone, I normally write to a beat or simple chords and then work with my extremely talented band and producers to bring the vision to life. They always know how to add dynamics where necessary and let my voice shine in the best possible way.
Can you tell us about your new EP, Bloom?
BLOOM is a follow up to my first EP No Doubt, Just Questions. When I released my first EP, it was the first time I knew how to open up and ask questions about myself through music. BLOOM is about accepting who I am, and finding strength to grow when dealing with my experiences.
We were reading about how a trip to South America inspired the foundations of this EP. Can you tell us a bit about that trip, and how it ties into the story of the record?
My trip to South America allowed me to experience new cultures and explore the amazing landscapes of The Atacama Desert & The Amazon. I know it's not niche (South America is a big tourist destination!) but something about these cultures and nature made me rediscover my inner peace & inner beauty. We actually sampled a lot of Amazon animals like toucans and crickets which can be found in Pachamama. We used a spanish guitar samples in Running to You and lots of fast-paced Latin-style percussion and brass in March and Maze.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2021?
There's a lot of uncertainty with lockdown in Sydney right now and it's hard to see my tour plans coming to surface. I guess the main thing to do is stay positive, keep writing a bunch and release a few more singles (with a few exciting collabs/projects in the works) to finish off the year! In 2022, I hope to do a whole lot more shows and bring my whole band to a festival in Aus to showcase all this new music.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
I remember playing a show at Factory Theatre in Sydney and I sang Pachamama for the first time with my band. I was so scared to play it because I knew how emotional I would get. After the show, a woman came up to me crying about her time in The Amazon and how the song reminded her of the connection she had with Mother Nature. I guess that's when I knew what I wanted from my music; for people to be able to relate to my music with their shared connections and experiences.
Where can we find more of your music?
Spotify, Youtube, Apple Music, Tidal, whatever platform you got!