Some are simply born to be in the spotlight, and Melanie Martinez is one of the chosen ones. You may recognize this New York native from being on Adam Levine’s team on season three of the television show, The Voice, where she was recognized for her incredible talent at the early age of 16.
Now at 20 years of age, Melanie Martinez came out with her debut album, Cry Baby, in August of last year. This creative work of art captures a persona that Melanie Martinez describes herself as after being called a “cry baby” while she was growing up. When she realized that being a “cry baby” isn’t a bad thing and how important it is to feel every emotion, she poured her heart out into lyrics that soon became extraordinary songs. She took her adult life struggles and put them into a childhood perspective with dollhouse-sounding instrumentals and soft but powerful vocals.
The past year was a significant one in Melanie Martinez’s career and her fanbase is growing every day with millions of views on her music videos, millions of plays on Spotify and iTunes, and over one million followers on social media.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance of catching up with this sweet girl right before she headed out on part two of her Cry Baby tour.
Your recent single, “Gingerbread Man,” keeps the Cry Baby dollhouse-like vibe for the most part. Are you keeping the full ‘Cry Baby’ persona and theme in your future music?
It actually wasn’t a single. It was a present for the fans for Christmas, originally put out on SoundCloud, and then they requested for me to put it on iTunes and Spotify so it was more accessible. But, yeah! The next album that I am just starting to work on and figure out doesn’t have a real time that I have planned on releasing it.
I am planning on making all of the albums connect to tell a bigger story. So, Cry Baby is just one character in this weird town, and the next album will take place in this one place in the town. Cry Baby will be narrating the album and will be introducing new characters, so that’s what I’m working on. I am definitely going to keep Cry Baby a character, because Cry Baby is me, technically, so I can’t really get rid of her.
Do you write your music aiming to reach a specific demographic, or do you just write and it reaches whoever it reaches?
I definitely don’t ever think about who’s listening. I’m always just kind of telling a story and whoever listens to it, listens to it.
You’re quite popular on social media with just over one million followers on Instagram and a bunch on Twitter, too. Do you think the internet and social media have a major effect on you as an artist?
For sure. Social media is one of those tricky things. I feel like it’s weird because back in the day, artists could survive without social media. Now, it’s really unheard of to hear of a new artist that doesn’t have a Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to promote their music. Social media is so important for promo.
To me, I absolutely cannot stand Twitter. I hate it more than anything. If it weren’t for the people who are always on there tweeting me, I know they would be really sad if I got rid of my Twitter, and that’s why I don’t. I obviously don’t want to make them sad. It’s so crazy to me that cyberbullying, sexual harassment, and stalking have almost become okay because of Twitter. People are allowing themselves to cyberbully people they don’t even know and are judging people so harshly, especially artists. It’s definitely really hard to be put under a microscope and to have other people expect you to be perfect when you’re just a human being like them. So, I’d say social media definitely has a lot ups and downs, especially with me.
It seems like Atlantic Records gives you a lot of freedom with your creativity. Do you ever find yourself asking for their help, or do you know what you want to do with your work for the most part?
I always know what I want to do.
Which of your lyrics do you find fans resonating with the most and what do you think about it?
I don’t know, honestly, because there’re so many different songs that people say is their favorite. Everyone relates to something different. There could be a girl who’s having her heart broken so she’s trying to get over it by listening to “Alphabet Boy” or “Soap.” There are so many different emotions throughout the entire album, so it’s whatever they’re feeling in that moment, really.
Do you have a favorite lyric you’ve written?
Not a favorite lyric, but I think “Mrs. Potato Head” is my favorite song I’ve ever written because I had that visual in my head for a while and the title can symbolize plastic surgery. With the whole childhood theme in adult situations, the adult situation would be not necessarily bashing people who get plastic surgery, but I really wanted to write a song that helps people get over their insecurities. I obviously have so many insecurities and this was a song that I needed to write for myself to tell myself that I should embrace who I am naturally.
As a girl, there’re so many things out there that tell us we should be skinny and beautiful and have big tits and a big ass and things that aren’t ideal or realistic. It’s better to embrace what you have and be happy with who you are, rather than masking all of your insecurities. I thought it was super important for me to write this song because I know there are other people encountering the same problem as me.
How do you think you’ve grown as a musician and as a songwriter from when you were on The Voice almost four years ago?
I think that I have learned so much about the world that I’m in. I’ve learned a lot about the annoying business side of it and, with that, comes knowing how to make sure that your ideas are heard and your vision is executed properly. I’m making sure I’m surrounding myself with people who are supporting me. It has all been a learning experience and it still is. I’m still learning so much. I think that I’ve definitely grown up as a human so therefore growing as a songwriter just naturally happens, at least for me.
A few of your songs like “Soap,” “Carousel,” and, “Dollhouse,” have been remixed by a bunch of different artists. What are your thoughts on that?
It’s interesting because I don’t even listen to my own music unless it’s new stuff that I’m working on and I’m trying to find out if I should change the lyrics or something. But music that’s already out, I don’t actually listen to. It’s not that I don’t listen to remixes, it’s just that I don’t like listening to myself. I like them, I just don’t listen to things that have my voice on it.
It’s like listening to yourself in a video and you’re like, “Wow, that’s what I sound like?”
Totally! Exactly, yeah!
You’re going out on part two of the Cry Baby Tour. What song do you think received the best fan interaction on the first part of the tour?
It’s really hard to say because if you come to a show, it’s very clear that every single person in the room knows every single lyric to every single song. It’s just really crazy and I don’t know if there is one song in particular that I could say everyone reacts to because everyone is screaming always. It’s really cool and fun and definitely keeps me going.
If I’m having a bad day or something, and I have to perform, it’s the best mood-booster when there are so many awesome kids and teens and adults with you, singing the songs that you wrote. It’s just all so personal. It’s so cool hearing people sing lyrics that relate so closely to my life. It is weird, but it makes me feel like I have friends and people who care. I’m very grateful for all of them.
That feeling is probably incredible. Is there a track that you haven’t played live yet that you’re looking forward to perform?
No, I don’t think so. We were trying to figure out how we could play “Gingerbread Man” on this tour, but it would have to be an acoustic version because we didn’t have enough time to program it and figure out all the logistics. It’s going to be interesting to try to figure out some sort of acoustic version of it. But yeah, maybe one night we will pull that song out.
That will be a nice surprise for the fans one night. Is there a certain city you’re most excited to revisit on this second round?
Hmm, I’m definitely excited for Chicago. I’m excited to go back to New York because that’s where I’m from. I moved to L.A. recently, so it’s going to be fun seeing family. I’m excited for the whole tour. It’s going to be really fun because this is the first time that we have a bus and I have my best friends on the road with me now. It’s really awesome coming from the first ever tour I did, traveling around the States with my dad in a car with my acoustic guitar. It’s just really awesome getting to do this and it makes me super happy.
What do you have planned once the tour is over, and is there anything else we should keep an eye out for in 2016?
Definitely visuals for Cry Baby, so lots of music videos!
The second part of Melanie Martinez’s Cry Baby Tour will be making stops at PlayStation Theater on March 24, Trocadero Theatre on March 26, and Starland Ballroom on March 31. Her debut album, Cry Baby, and latest song, “Gingerbread Man,” are available now. For more information, visit melaniemartinezmusic.com.