The 25-year-old French vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Melody Prochet has played with several bands on the Paris rock scene, including the twee-friendly Narcoleptic Dancers and the psych-pop group My Bee's Garden.
With her new solo project, Melody's Echo Chamber, Prochet pushes her flair for dreamy pop and lush harmonies into more experimental, spaced-out zones, resulting in the best sounds she has created so far. Melody's Echo Chamber's self-titled debut album will be released on September 25 on the Fat Possum label.
With Melody's Echo Chamber's first U.S. tour starting later this month, Prochet spoke to me about how she learned how to play so many instruments and why she traveled to Australia to record the new album.
Did you grow up in a musical household?
Yes, it was a very musically intense home. My brother was really into Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre, and other synthesizer geeks. He built his own home studio when he was about 16.
I was younger, and we recorded some of my first songs together. My sister sung, too. My dad used to play bass in an Italian '70s rock band; he just played with friends at hotels. He wanted to be successful, but he stopped playing when he had children. My mom was in a choir. I was trained in really intense courses at the Conservatory, and I was sick of it at the end.
What sort of music did you listen to when you were younger?
We didn't have access to lots of music in south of France in the '90s. I didn't have Internet, and my friends didn't really listen to great music. We listened to a lot of dance music and French hip-hop, which is terrible. My sister was a big fan of Michael Jackson. So it was a weird mix of that and Vangelis. I didn't hear a lot of good music until I moved to Paris when I was 19.
"In bigger studios, the sound guy is gonna take fucking three hours to get the sound right, and by then your inspiration is already gone."
What's the music scene like in Paris?
The music business here is really complicated, and artists are trying so hard to get signed to labels. The bands are really quiet and afraid to take risks. It's not very inspired anymore. They care too much about what the audience is going to think.
I've always been like 'Fuck them, I hate them.' I've always wanted to get out of here and do something else. It's not very much fun to play Paris because nobody is ever there. But don't get me wrong -- I really love Paris. Melody's Echo Chamber played in Paris a few weeks ago, supporting Atlas Sound, and it was packed. That was fun, and we got a good reaction.
How did this new project start?
I had been writing music in Paris for a while under different band names, but for these songs I felt like I needed a new name. The earlier music was sort of like do-it-yourself, very pretty dream-pop. It didn't have the roughness and fuzziness my music has now. This band really began when I started recording songs with Kevin Parker [of the band Tame Impala] in Australia.
Were you a big fan of Tame Impala?
Two years ago I heard Tame Impala, and I went to see them play in Paris. I was blown away completely after the show. They went to play an after-party show at my friend's bar called Le Motel. It's a really small place so you can easily talk to everyone at the bar.
I was really fascinated with his guitar tone, so I asked him about it. I said, 'Dude, what is this pedal you're using? How did you get that sound?' He didn't tell me. Apparently, it was a secret, and a lot of people have been asking him. Now I know how he does it, but he wouldn't tell me at first. We just started talking about pedals and compression.
I gave him my old band's name called My Bee's Garden, he checked it out, and a few weeks later he asked us to support his European tour in 2010. It was lots of fun. Then we traded demos, and it blossomed into a collaboration.
How was it working with Parker in the studio?
It was really messy. I'm not a snob, but I used to work in a really big studio in Paris, so when I first arrived at Kevin's studio I didn't think it would be possible to make music in there. But it ended up being amazing.
He would throw a mike at the drums and put it on bricks or tape it to some metal thing, and after one take, it would sound perfect. After we recorded the first song, it was amazing, and exactly what I wanted. It's the sound I've dreamed of for so many years. In bigger studios where I've worked, the sound guy is gonna take fucking three hours to get the sound right, and by then your inspiration is already gone. This was much more organic and natural.
Usually, I write songs that use arpeggios and classical chords and harmonies. But I'm always a bit bored with my own songs after I write them. Kevin helped to destroy everything I've done, and add fuzziness and wildness to the songs. This whole album was about finding the right balance between beautiful chords and the destruction of them.
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