The talented songwriter Adam Melchor has been on our radar for a few years now, but we really think 2021 is his year. His songs are witty, charming, and can get your toes tapping. He toured with the incomparable Dodie Clark recently and in our interview Melchor credits her with giving him advice and direction. Read on for more information about how a college opera major ends up as an internationally acclaimed singer songwriter with an array of
rabid, passionate fans.
Before we get too far into this, let’s be careful not to bury the lede. Adam Melchor is releasing a new album this spring and he’s been
teasing us strategically sharing music for the past few weeks. I got a chance to digitally sit down with Adam and ask all the questions I couldn’t answer by “Internet Stalking” him ask a few questions about his musical influences and songwriting process.
I started in the most obvious place – how does a folk singer songwriter get started as an opera major? It was a wonderful story to hear from Melchor. If you’ve ever heard him speak, you’ll know that he has a very energetic and charismatic style. He explained that his family had a history in music performance, yet they encouraged him to study business. While in college at Montclair State, Melchor got experience with local coffeeshop and bar gigs to help get him through the financial burdens of academic life. But the school has an excellent music program and Melchor found himself getting tutoring from an opera instructor. There he learned about technique and other valuable skills, but he never got an opera role. Melchor tells the story with hilarious humility, knowing that challenges of inadequacy he received from his parents (especially) helped him to continue working at his songwriting craft through college.
So when I asked about what prompted his move into the “music industry,” Melchor mentioned that a guy heard him playing a bar gig and offered to help. How cool! We covered his first ever release here on EarToTheGround, an eloquent acoustic tune called “Brook Revisted.” Melchor has come a long way in his songwriting from that track, but it’s easy to hear that his sense of melody and clever lyricism were emerging even back then. He views songwriting as his job (because it is) and takes a serious approach to writing both his own songs as well as co-writing with others in LA.
His most recent single release, “Begin Again” has a snappier production than his first few tracks. It’s easier to hear the lyrics and the layered harmonies are a bit richer. But at the end of the day, Melchor’s songwriting charm comes through in it the same as that debut track. When I asked about songwriting, he explained that he likes capturing those small moments in life, like chipping a tooth, but then in production he hears all these layered harmonies to grow the song into a richer composition. The song’s theme is about self-inflicted wounds and finding out why we do what we do. He said it’s kind of a “hangover song” that helps the listener reconsider new beginnings. We tried to stay apolitical in our conversation, but suffice it to say that
after what we’ve been through for the past four years Americans are ready for a “hangover song.”
Melchor exudes a certain wisdom about being grounded in life. He explains that as a songwriter he has to be aware of his role. Good things, especially good songs, take time and don’t need to be rushed. The main point is to keep improving and have fun with your craft. His songs bounce back and forth between these moments of intense personal storytelling with overarching profound moments of connection that all people can relate to. That songwriting is rooted in both the sound and message of three of his musical influences he shared with me, Rufus Wainwright (probably most significant) as well as the harmony-laden Guster, and the iconic guy-with-a-guitar himself, John Mayer. None of these will come as a surprise to Melchor’s dedicated fanbase.
Speaking of fanbase, y’all (and I know you’re reading this) are absolutely crazy. Just check out Melchor’s Twitter feed literally any day at any time. It’s a wild ride of
New Jersey Devils obsession self-deprecating humor combined with his own fans openly mocking him. He seems to love every minute. It all goes back to that theme of not taking life too seriously all while asking hard questions and reflecting on life very seriously. What a gift, though, to have the humility as an artist to let people make fun of your love life (and other things).
When it comes to that remarkable social-media fueled fan connection, Melchor developed something called the Lullaby Hotline. It’s an actual number people can call to hear Melchor sing. Sound unconventional? It is! It gives fans a chance to WEEKLY(!) connect with a songwriter, while also giving the artist a chance to try out demos and new song ideas on his most diehard fans. In a world that is (temporarily) not allowing for live gigs, the Lullaby Hotline is a genius idea. The new album coming out this spring is a compilation of songs derived from that process of releasing songs via voicemail. It’s genius.
When I asked Melchor about this remarkable connection with fans and how it informs his work, he said, “my love language is joking around.” That’s a very evident characteristic for anyone who has chatted with him. His quick wit and clever writing in his music comes across even more evidently in conversation. So the banter of meme sharing and teasing on social media perfectly fits with his personality and therefore his “brand” as an artist. What I mean to say is that Melchor comes at this honestly. He’s very open and sincere with his life. He said, “I’m not a very serious person in real life, but with music I can be serious.” He added regarding his use of humor in songwriting and online, “without a light aspect you can’t feel the really dark.” Again, a bit of wisdom from someone who may be serving
a life sentence some serious time in a bad place.
If you’re not already a part of Melchor’s legion of witty and wily fans, you can follow him on Twitter or check out his website. His music is relatable, like talking to a friend. He is, in so many ways, the songwriter next door. To this point he said, “if you like stories, I’m your guy.” He couldn’t even self promote with a straight face and went with the joke instead. See why we like him?
If you liked “Begin Again” and want more of Melchor’s melodies, keep an eye out for his new album Lullaby Hotline Volume I, coming this spring.
Image courtesy: Adam Melchor IG