Essential Simplicity: Interview with Melody’s Echo Chamber | Characteristics

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The whimsical sound banter of Melody’s Echo Chamber resulted in a slim but enchanting catalog.

A project led by Melody Prochet, her fantastic psych-pop debut album released in 2012 was followed in 2018 by the excellent ‘Bon Voyage’, a record that showed lasting maturity.

But then silence. Moving to the French Alps, Melody Prochet seems to be leaving music behind, settling into family life with her partner and newborn baby.

Except – sort of – the songs kept calling her. Jotting down idea after idea a new project emerged, with the French musician teaming up with Reine Fiske (of Swedish rock band Dungen) and Fredrik Swahn (of indie rock band The Amazing) to bring it to life.

New album ‘Emotional Eternal’ drops April 29th, and it’s typically haunting, the work of a singular artist who seems capable of rendering psych-pop tropes weird and seductive.

With their new single “Personal Message” online now, Clash has caught up Melody’s Echo Chamber to discuss the impact of motherhood, broaden her horizons and maintain minimalism.

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You refer several times to becoming a mother in the file. Has having a child changed the way you approach art?

Well, it sort of started the whole musical spiral, actually. The song ‘Alma’ was ‘Arise”s first song since ‘Bon Voyage’. For me, this song is a kind of butterfly. In a way, it sounds more like a poem than a song. It was born from the first night I spent away from my daughter, separated from her after a year of intensity and love.

The schedule was different this time around. I was not delirious! Containment arrived, and I was able to take my time. Which helped, when we were working as a mother.

Many people have embraced the slower pace of life during lockdown!

You have no idea… I’m such a slow person! It never worked for me in the pace and pace of modern society. We actually started this record in February 2020 – we had a week of sessions and then we broke for months. It was actually nice to digest and let the good ideas resonate.

I mean, nothing is pure flow… there are ups and downs, and sometimes you’re not inspired. But the process this time around came from the feeling that there might not be another record. I don’t know, I just enjoyed it! I felt grounded.

There’s an old saying that when you become a parent, you see things in a new light through the eyes of a child. Did you find this?

Yes! Absolutely yes. But it’s not just that, I took a step back in this musical world, and I was able to find my sense of balance and harmony. I can see more clearly as a result. It’s childish wonderment, yes. I just think my life decisions have taken me to a peaceful place. I think the dossier reflects that – the sessions were guided by this idea of ​​essential simplicity. It was like a slow dawn of peace.

That’s a nice way to put it. It’s a very fresh record, are you guided by the melody during the studio process?

I can be. With ‘Looking Backwards’ for example… it’s kind of a funny story. The producer had made this demo, of this idea, and he sent me. I just never understood it! And when we got to the studio, he started playing this song… and I was like, wow, what is this? And he said, are you kidding me? I sent it to you and you never replied! Haha! But for the lyrics, I saw this guy playing with the reflections of his watch on the wall, and I thought that was cool…so I used that image.

Reine Fiske helped produce the record and you worked in the suburbs of Stockholm.

Yes, it was so much fun! But first we spent weeks sending files to each other, him from Sweden and me from the Alps. I was literally in the Alps trying to get enough Wi-Fi to download a .WAV! But we got there.

It just started with a few demos, then we exchanged more and more ideas. Some songs we kept, some we edited…it was very organic.

What is it about Reine that makes him such an apt collaborator on this album?

Oh, his amazing record collection! But not just his taste in music, but what’s inside him. He knows a lot about music, and we are sensitive to the same kind of music and sensitivity. He brings different elements – he plays Turkish instruments as if he was born there, instead of Sweden! And he’s very, very passionate. But we also had Fredrik Swahn, who’s great…he’s such an optimistic person.

It’s more of a groove-based record…

Rhythm is so important. In the studio, it’s all about the moment and that feeling of catharsis. But for us, the rhythm is very important. I want people to dance and lock themselves into bass and drums. It really colors the disc.

It remains a minimalist disc, but it is full of curious sonic details. How did you find a balance between the two?

It’s a good question. I was actually 19, and I went to architecture school. I had a design teacher, and he asked us to make a chair. He came to my house and started removing pieces – he said, you can keep removing pieces until it’s not a chair anymore. And that impressed me! It’s a real influence in my ideas.

With this album… I had such a good time, putting my ideas down, in a kind of creative delirium. I really wanted to get to the essence of the emotions I was experiencing. Instruments like strings, keys… they all seemed like a portal to another world. I like all kinds of compositions, but you can’t control anything.

Did you have a clear idea of ​​what you wanted to accomplish in the studio?

Probably…but I feel like I’m so focused it’s kind of become self-hypnosis, you know? It’s funny, listening to these takes again, you could hear me counting down in French, as if I was in the right state of mind to deal with all the emotional outbursts I’m going through all the time.

Do you believe that music can put us in different states of mind?

You know, it’s strange. When I finished my last record, I wasn’t listening to any music at all. I sat in silence…for years, in fact. But my partner meditates and listens to ambient music on different frequencies. So I guess I absorbed that!

I think for a song to work, the artist has to create space for the listener. And it’s hard to do. I always try to do that, really, I try to achieve silence.

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“Emotional Eternal” is released on April 29.

Words: Robin Murray
Photo credit: Diane Sagnier

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