Back in November of 2008, we did an introduction post on Melanie Fiona and posted her album sampler. At the time she was selected by Kanye West to open for him during his European Tour, what made this shocking was that she had never had an album released and her single wasn’t in heavy rotation…yet. But hey when you have ?uestlove and Jay-Z vouching for you and showing up to your showcase, not having an album out, doesn’t seem all that important. Fast forward months later and her single “Give It To Me Right” is getting mad spins as well as having the likes of Talib Kweli, Raekwon and Busta Rhymes on the remixed versions. We were able to catch up with Melanie for a quick interview.
Killahbeez: Hi Melanie, thanks for taking the time in doing this interview. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself for folks out there that aren’t familiar with your style of music?
Melanie Fiona: Melanie Fiona…singer/songwriter/supergirl. My debut album is releasing this spring through SRC Universal Motown Records. My single “Give it to Me Right” is currently being added to radio and is available on iTunes. At the risk of putting myself in a box, I’ll call my music Pop Soul.
KB: I’m a fellow Canadian and I read that you are also from Canada, Toronto to be exact. Toronto is quite well known for the different communities it has in the city and essentially a true melting pot, has this influenced your music?
MF: Canadians Rock!!! Toronto is definitely one of the most culturally diverse cities I have ever seen. Growing up in a Caribbean household, and interacting with so many different types of cultures really influenced the music I do. I knew I wanted to make music for all kinds of people, and you hear that in the songs. Some songs reflect my culture… so they might have a reggae/calypso feel. Others might have licks of hip hop, r&b, pop, rock….I think there’s something on there for everyone.
KB: Yeah that definitely comes through on the sampler that I was given.
KB: You mentioned your debut album, which is called The Bridge, is slated to be released in the Spring. Could you talk about what people can expect to hear as well as the album name?
MF: The album is called “The Bridge”. I feel like it bridges the gap between genres of music, ethnicities, age groups, and genders. People can definitely expect to hear soulful music with live instrumentation, and memorable and relatable stories.
KB: Speaking of memorable. The lead single “Give It To Me Right” is hella sexy and empowering for women, was that the focus of writing this song?
MF: Thank you! It is very empowering…I feel so strong every time I sing or perform that song. It was written by a super talented songwriter and producer on the album, Andrea Martin. She knows me very well, professionally and personally, it’s a real reflection of the type of woman I am. I feel like there should be no shame in expressing what you want, and not settling for the things you don’t. I feel proud to know that it will empower people….not just women, but everyone who feels the same.
KB: Keeping with “Give It To Me Right”, the song is sampled from the Zombies “Time Of the Season”, how was that sample or record introduced to you to be used for “Give It To Me Right”?
MF: Well I was already a fan of that song from time! It’s a classic! When we started working on the music for the album, we knew we wanted to pay tribute to the “old” by putting a “new” spin on it. That sample is familiar and easy to vibe with….it was the perfect fit for the lyrics.
KB: You recently came off of the Glow in the Dark Tour with Kanye West over in Europe. What was that experience like and how did that opportunity to work with Kanye come about?
MF: It was amazing! Kanye and I had never met before the tour. My management presented my music to him when he was looking for his opening acts. He really liked the music and gave me the opportunity. It was unbelievable. Here I am this unknown artist, with no music out, and I’m opening for Kanye!!! I learned so much from the tour, and from watching him perform night after night. He’s one of the best I’ve seen. It was such an honour cause he’s one of my favourite artists as well.
KB: Did he give you any guidance or tips?
MF: The best advice he gave me was “Whatever you gotta do to make people remember you, do it. Don’t be afraid to do it.” Priceless words of wisdom!
KB: Definitely. And a man true to his words. So is Mr. West doing any work on The Bridge?
MF: Maybe on album 2 or a future remix…[Laughter]. I would love to work with him!
KB: In addition to that tour, you also recently did a showcase in New York and had dudes like ?uestlove and Jay-Z out to show support. Did you know they were there? How’d that make you feel that you had that kind of support from fellow peers?
MF: Man! It was really overwhelming when I found out they were in the building. I’m signed to Jay-Z’s management company so it was a really honour to have his support that night. And ?uest is not only a great friend but an artist and musician I have admired for years. It was one of the happiest nights of my life….There was so much love in the room that night.
KB: Wow. That’s pretty awesome. So taking this on a tangent. What 5 albums can’t you live without?
MF: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Legend- Bob Marley
Portrait of a Legend- Sam Cooke
Full Moon- Brandy
The Best of Sade- Sade
KB: And your musical influences?
MF: Those are most of the influences with the exceptions of other greats like Whitney Houston and India Arie.
KB: Changing topics to fashion. What are some of your favorite pieces / pieces you couldn’t live without?
MF: As for staples in fashion, I’d have to have wicked pair of high heels, a fresh pair of kicks, a comfy hoodie, leggings and a dress that makes me feel like a woman! But my favourite article right now in my closet are my Tory Burtch leather knee boots.
KB: Any particular designer that you love to follow?
MF: Not one in particular, but any that can marry vintage and current…my style is something old and something new.
KB: Ahhh…similar to your music.
KB: Well this concludes the interview. Any closing comments for folks out there on why they should pick up The Bridge?
MF: I just really want to say thank you to everyone whose shown support. I really do this, not just for myself, but (also) for what I think you want to hear. When the album drops, GO GET IT!!! I promise you will not be disappointed…. It’s just good, classic, timeless music. Much Love!
KB: thanks again.
MF: Thanks for the interview!