“I’ve never walked outside in London and taken a deep breath, it’s crazy,” says Mellah, as he sits on his balcony during our phone call.
In the days of coronavirus, his schedule hasn’t changed, as he admits to spending most days inside creating in his studio anyway. But, even if his flat life is the same, it seems London has had a change of heart.
“I go down walking on Deptford beach, which is a beach you get at low tide on the Thames, and you can now see across the whole city because the smog has lifted. It’s strange, like I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never felt the city like this. The city and the people are just calm.”
Mellah, also known as Liam Ramsden, has been taken by music since he was a kid, even getting kicked out of some schools in the process because of his habit to drum whatever tune came to mind. As he grew up, he delved into carpentry and filmwork, making sets for shows such as Black Mirror.
With these carpentry skills he created his own studio, which has since been home to artists such as Nilufer Yana, Alaskalaska and Sorry, and began creating his own music.
“For me, the reason I make music is because sound carries the most feeling for me, even in a small noise someone makes or the creak of a tree, it’s everywhere. Art is about expressing emotion or transferring emotion, and for me the easiest way I hear emotion is through sound.”
“’Mellah’ exists to have a message or a statement that’s important. If I didn’t feel nervous about making a song and releasing it, I don’t think I’d want to put it out.”
Latest release ‘Family Fun’ is the epitome of Mellah’s songwriting – saccharin sweet pop with an underlying message into the workings of the society around us. In a neon-lit parody of ‘Family Fortunes’, he is a host that could make even Vernon Kay blush.
“Life is satire really,” he tells me, as I ask him about the videos upbeat nature while giving subtle nods to the hard-hitting reality we live in. “Its crazy that people comsume this shiny façade, because underneath it’s a pretty dark beast. We exploit half the world for our own gain, but we’re fed this hyper colourful advertisement of how things are everyday.”
Mellah isn’t a stranger to infusing a statement in his music, from the political in ‘Family Fun’ to more personal matters, such pushing those close away in ‘Death, Pillage, Plunder’. Throughout his discography, the importance to pointing out the dichotomy of society is clear, but sometimes this gets miscontrued. People often class Mellah’s lyrics as ‘dark’, something the musician just doesn’t understand, saying instead his words are earnest.
“If you wanted to make a political statement or message it had to be punk or aggressive, but that immediately rules out half the population. My aim was to make quite accessible happy indie-pop music that had a message that could slip in the back door so when people actually listened to it they realised its saying something.”
Since his debut, Mellah stated he aimed to make ‘compassionate punk’ (even coining the phrase). Similar aims can be seen in IDLES, who instead use the aggressive style of punk to highlight issues with masculinity and class -“IDLES can use the phrase too, but they’ve just got to credit me. I’m copywriting it”
We are fed this lie that its dog eat dog, its not. People actually care about each other.
After living in London all his life, Mellah has created many connections in the city and it’s creative scene. In it’s current state, although people are looking at each other more, it’s hit muscicians hard. With rent averaging at around £700/£800 a month, friends have gave up their houses just so they can keep their studios and left in a positions they can’t make money. In their struggles though, they keep their hopes up for those fighting on the front lines.
“It’s astonishing what health workers are doing. If there’s one thing this pandemic is doing is making it abundantly clear whats been relevant this whole time. The people that are keeping us alive now are people who have been ignored for the last decade.
“Workers are going in without being paid to help out. People are like that. We’ve been fed this idea that they’re not, or that everyone is not inherently good. But people are good and they care about people. We are fed this lie that its dog eat dog, its not. People actually care about each other.”
To stay up to date with Mellah, keep watching his Quarantunelivestreams and his Tasty Toosdee Tunes playlist on Spotify. (“Do you actually update it every Tuesday”/ “Yeah … well I haven’t yet, but I will add another one today“)
Listen to Mellah on Spotifyand Apple Music. Get the latest edition of our print magazine featuring cover star Soccer Mommy, grammy-nominated Black Pumas, Alfie Templeman and more HERE.