Jonah Melvon: From Ghostwriter to Solo Artist

Jonah Melvon Artist to Watch

Have you ever had a kick yourself moment when someone tells you an artist is going to blow up, you ignore it, and then they do? Well, listen up because Jonah Melvon is one heck of an artist to watch. Plus, you can enter our giveaway* to hear his new single before anyone else and cop some merch from his latest album!

*All details, requirements, and rules for the giveaway can be seen here on my Instagram post.

San Francisco Bay area artist, Jonah Melvon has been making waves in the music industry for quite some time now. Starting his career as a ghostwriter, Melvon quickly realized his passion was in songwriting and artistry. He has since gone on to release his debut album Rain Water Project in January of this year. He plays countless live events and is currently gearing up to release his new single “Sunday Mornings” on September 15th. Today we talk with Jonah about his tireless journey with songwriting, tour success, and the direction of his new music.

‘Rain Water Project’: The Drought is Over

PoetryDansLaRue: Tell me about the concept of your album Rain Water Project that you released in early 2019.

Jonah Melvon: “When I began writing for this album, I was writing this other project called Dreaming Again to help save a non-profit organization. One of the songs that I was writing for that project, “Knockin,” became the last song on Rain Water Project. That song felt very much like rain to me, almost Sade-ish. As I transitioned to writing the album, I started writing more songs with very reflective and thought-provoking arrangements. The chords were feeling a lot like rain in the harmonies.

When it came time to choose the title, I thought of my now 4-year-old daughter and the difficulty of getting her to go to sleep. I discovered this ‘rainwater app,’ and it worked wonders. There had also been a bit of a drought for me musically. As a ghostwriter, I could not even claim my work. These concepts all came together as well as adding the symbol of the cover art. The idea of the umbrella makes sense because I enjoy helping people, and I’m big on equity and empowerment.”

PDLR: It’s cool to hear how all of those pieces came together in the right order and how the album has multiple meanings to it as well.

Renowned Songwriter

PDLR: I did see that you have toured with some insane artists in the past, Miguel, Black Eyed Peas, and T.I. to name a few. Do you have any interest in collaborating with them or other similar artists?

Jonah Melvon: “I’m open depending on the message, the sounds, and the vibes. I’m more into the vibe than the message at first. Then I’m into what the song is saying. If it is an inspiring song that puts you in a certain mood, for example, I’m more into that. Being in the Bay area, there are a lot of relatively unknown artists, but all it takes is someone in our group to make some noise. I have been collaborating for the most part with my close community. As far as specific artists go, H.E.R. and Daniel Cesar would be on my radar. Sade would be a bucket list collaboration because I grew up listening to her music. I’m fortunate to be working with my sisters on my music as well.”

PDLR: You mentioned before that you were doing some ghostwriting for other artists. Do you do all of the writing for your projects?

Jonah Melvon: “Oh, yes! If I’m gifted with something, it’s the ability to be able to write songs. I have no shortage of words *laughs* and I love to connect with people and engage. There are a lot of things that I’m passionate about and want to share. So, yes, I have written all of my songs. If someone else wrote for me, I would first want to see what it is. Also, with jumping genres from soul to hip-hop, it probably wouldn’t work for my autobiographical style. Now, having an editor and people to bounce ideas off of will certainly help to define what you are trying to say.”

From The Bay to the U.K.?

PDLR: You look so busy with live performances! How do you prioritize the shows that you play?

Jonah Melvon: “We have a great thing going on here in the Bay area. The tech-craze boom has taken over. We are playing everything from tech companies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pandora, etc. These are elite types of shows exclusive to those employees. Although my friends, family, and fans are thankful for these types of opportunities, they can’t get into the shows. So, my sister and I have decided to do a lot more specific cities, venues, and festivals. It’s a lot of art and culture that celebrates the African diaspora and all of these different walks of life. So, we play a lot at the moment, but I am trying to slow it down a bit. I recently had an offer to join a tour in the U.K., but we turned it down. I want to focus on new music and recording first before we get there.”

PDLR: Have you done, or do you plan on doing any shows on the East Coast?

Jonah Melvon: “It has been a while since I have played out there. We played in Rochester at Blue Cross Arena with a friend of mine, but it has been a long time. Ironically enough, all of the new works that I am producing are with a guy in New York. We have the coast to coast thing going on. I will probably reach out to him in the future and start doing more out there. L.A. is right around the corner for me, which provides a lot of opportunities. I might end up playing in the U.K. before I play in New York, though, we will see.”

PDLR: It seems like you have a connection in the U.K. having mentioned a tour opportunity and playing over there.

Jonah Melvon: “They are playing my project there more than anywhere else, specifically in London. I’ve done a million radio drops for the DJs out there.”

PDLR: I love the U.K. radio! I think they are so progressive. The concept of Beats 1 on Apple Music, coming from Zane Lowe (formerly of BBC Radio 1), is so innovative. The hottest records that they release daily are always the next big thing. It’s a perfect market for artists!

Jonah Melvon: “The U.K. is very passionate about the arts in a very raw sense. It’s not as commercial. They love songwriters, innovation, artists getting paid their due justice. I would share with them some of my Spotify or Apple Music links and some of them would say they don’t even use it and would prefer the MP3. They didn’t want to promote all of the streaming services. I don’t think it’s how it’s being received (streaming, download, CD, etc.), but more that music is a piece of art and the value should reflect what it is worth. That way, artists can stay creative if we give them the space to do it.”

The Calm of “Sunday Mornings”

PDLR: I heard your snippet of your next single “Sunday Mornings” on Instagram. Is this new track branching out in a different direction from Rain Water Project? Or is it stemming from the sounds on the album?

Jonah Melvon: “It could be an extension from Rain Water Project. I enjoyed making the sounds that we made on that album. I felt like it was a cool place for me to be as an artist. The fans are asking for more of this type of material. This song, however, and these new songs that will be coming out, are lyrically infused with rhyming, but have a lot of singing tones. I think people are intrigued by the title of the song and they will understand it as soon as they hear it. Sundays, traditionally speaking, are the days that we allow ourselves to be most calm. Everything from the melody to the delivery is saying slow down with me like Sunday morning and take the time to engage each other.”

PDLR: Anything else you would like your fans to know about your new music coming out?

Jonah Melvon: “I’m just excited for everyone to hear it! This campaign is the most strategic I have been because I haven’t posted the whole song ahead of release. Before I would be so eager to share my work with promoters, curators, and editors that my songs would end up being shared before they dropped. This time I’m proud that I’ve held onto it, and I’m grateful that fans are so supportive and engaged.”

It is apparent that Jonah Melvon, having dedicated an endless amount of time to his work as a songwriter, should be on your radar as an artist to watch. You can check him out below and stay tuned for “Sunday Mornings” to be released on September 15th!

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SAINT SLUMBER ‘YOUTH//3’: The Culmination of ‘YOUTH’

saint slumber youth//3
Photo by Keira Zhou

New Jersey indie-rock band, SAINT SLUMBER, completed their YOUTH// EP trilogy Friday with the release of YOUTH//3. The three-piece, made up of lead vocals Josh Perna, guitarist Aaron Brown, and drummer Matt Carpenter, has focused on the concept of youth and its fragility throughout the trilogy. Today I chat with drummer Matt Carpenter about why YOUTH//3 is “brutally sad,” finding their sound, and what’s next for SAINT SLUMBER.

‘YOUTH//3’: Grieving the Loss of YOUTH

PoetryDansLaRue: So, the EP is out now, which is very exciting! I know it was mentioned that YOUTH//3 is “brutally sad,” can you pinpoint one of the five songs that was more emotional or difficult to write?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I would say, “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” It’s a big, sad ballad. I think it’s going to tug on the heartstrings of people. There are a few lines in there that make you want to tear up. Josh writes all the lyrics, so it’s more personal for him, but we can all relate to what he’s talking about.”

PDLR: Is that the [only] one that sticks out as “brutally sad” or is the theme to the EP more emotional stripped-down songs?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I’d say that there is a more emotional theme to the whole EP. Especially since it’s a culmination of the whole topic that occurs throughout the YOUTH trilogy. YOUTH//3 is a final statement, grieving the loss of youth.”

PDLR: With it being five years since the beginning of the trilogy, has your perspective of the concept of youth changed?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I’m the oldest member of the band. I’m 28 years old, but at heart, I always feel like I’m a 14/15-year-old kid. I think it’s holding onto that aspect of wonder and awe of life and the innocence of being young. It never really goes away. You have to grow up and mature a little bit, but it doesn’t entirely go away. I don’t know if too much of my perspective has changed. I think in general, we did our best throughout the trilogy to encapsulate that feeling. Some of these songs aren’t very old, so they are pretty fresh ideas.”

Finding Their “MANTRA”

PDLR: Is there a defining song from the trilogy that you would recommend to new fans?

SAINT SLUMBER: “For me, I’d say it’s “MANTRA.” What we thought was interesting throughout the whole YOUTH trilogy was not only topically, that it’s about maturing and the loss of youth, but that by YOUTH//3 our sound has evolved the most. We feel like this EP is the sound that we’ve been trying to reach for the past five years. “MANTRA” was the one that immediately, once the song was in its finishing process, that we were like, “This is it!” Although I do think people are going to like “BIG BIG LOVE.” I think it’s the most unique song that we’ve written so far.”

Coincidentally, “MANTRA” was the first song that I heard by them. The theory checks out, in my opinion.

Before ‘YOUTH//’

PDLR: In the early days of songwriting before YOUTH//1, what artists did you draw inspiration from to create your sound?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I think it’s been a long process of the development of our sound. We all grew up playing in metal and hardcore and post-hardcore bands. So that’s our background, and I think that will always be part of us. It influenced our current sound and especially our live show. As you get older, as you mature, you want to create music that is a little bit more you. So, we grew up also with The 1975. We were on the earlier end of The 1975 (THEY STAN AND WE ARE HERE FOR IT). We looked up to bands like Imagine Dragons that were redefining the indie sound. Radiohead has been a big influence to us as well. I could name a million bands…”

After ‘YOUTH//’

PDLR: So, I hear that the 4th EP is already in the making? Does EP 4 have a completely different vibe? Or is it stemming from the momentum from the 3rd EP?

SAINT SLUMBER: “The next batch of music is coming from what we’ve been writing throughout the YOUTH// process. We didn’t necessarily think that they belonged on any one of the albums. They still fall within the same vibe. Not that these are leftover songs, but they are other ones that we had in our pocket. Then we have some MORE songs too for the future that kind of break away from that vibe a little.”

PDLR: Aside from EP 3 and 4, what’s next for SAINT SLUMBER? Can we expect any shows soon?

SAINT SLUMBER: “We are right now, most focused on getting tours. We are hoping to book some shows soon for the fall. We do want to get some live shows in New York and Philly in the earlier fall.”

We will be on the lookout for sure! Check out YOUTH//3 and the trilogy in its entirety with this SAINT SLUMBER playlist below!

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PLAKE Nix the Filter On Raw New Single “Bleeding Out”

Plake Bleeding Out

Hunter Plake made his break-out debut on The Voice Season 12 by turning the chairs of Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani. Initially joining team Alicia but later stolen by Gwen, he made a lasting impression on Voice fans nationwide. Today we talk about his band, PLAKE, with brother Dakota and their newest track, “Bleeding Out.”

Recommendation: If you haven’t already, listen to the song NOW! Try to focus on the lyrics and the message and your overall first impression of it without context.

On New Single”Bleeding Out”

PLAKE dropped their new emotionally transparent single “Bleeding Out” on August 2nd after a ten-month hiatus from releasing music. Upon asking about the concept and process behind the making of the song and his struggle with depression here is what Hunter had to say:

PLAKE: “I mean, people don’t really write about it [depression] because you feel like it’s an embarrassing thing. Honestly, I think being a creative person, when I experience emotions, I don’t feel half-assed with any emotion. If I’m experiencing love, I experience it very intensely, anger, etc. When I wrote the song, it’s about the feelings of depression. It’s constructed in a way where it talks about the different stages of it and where you end up mentally at the end. At the end, the reason why I switched the lyrics up, the reason why I did that is because that’s how you get out of depression. You start to care about other people instead of just yourself.”

“This is the first time that we released a song that’s so intense. I like to say that we have pretty different sides to our band: our happy side with songs like “Eden,” and then “Bleeding Out” is the most extreme sad version of our band that we have.”

Unfortunately the music video for “Bleeding Out” was recently removed, but Hunter describes it as “very dream-like.” He explains that the video paints a picture of your average person struggling with day-to-day life and using devices as a distraction to escape depression. In the video, his brother, Dakota, is “trying to get him out of the virtual world and back to reality.” We will be on the lookout for the repost in the future!

On the Songwriting Process

PoetryDansLaRue: Can you guys talk about your songwriting process? Who does most of the writing? Who does the producing?

PLAKE: “I write my best when I’m honestly by myself. I do like writing with people too sometimes. With an emotional song like “Bleeding Out,” I wrote the song, and then after that, I had ideas of where I wanted to go with production because I’m producing as I write too. I start with a melody, and I have that melody in my head. That’s kind of how our song begins. Once we start recording it, we start picking it apart. When we’re doing that, both of us are in the studio. Dakota is playing guitar mostly and helping me get a fresh perspective on what’s inside my head.”

PDLR: So, “Eden” was the first song that you released as a band and you released eight songs after that, correct? For some reason, I could not access “Hurricane Lovers” on Apple Music…?

PLAKE: “We released seven songs after “Eden,” including “Bleeding Out.” We released “Hurricane Lovers,” and we pulled that one down, “Scared,” and “Cold Vibes,” we pulled down. So those, that we pulled down, there’s different reasons behind each one, but we just realized it was a hard left. We see ourselves as what we’re gonna be in the future and anything that might hurt us, we eliminate.”

PDLR: Which song do you feel represents your sound the most and the sound that you’re going for in the future?

PLAKE: “My answer is going to be the same as every artist. Whatever we just released is gonna be the answer because we just did it. But, it’s a journey, if we look back on it in twenty years, we might see a different version of us. Right now, “Bleeding Out” is exactly what we want.”

On The Voice

PDLR: Can I go back a little and talk about The Voice? Do you keep in contact with any of the coaches/contestants?

PLAKE: “I stay in contact with the contestants. As far as the coaches go, the show and my relationships with the coaches are not as personal as you would think. So, I haven’t stayed in touch with them. There are a few people from the show that I stay in touch with.”

PDLR: I feel there is a little bit of a disconnect from following some of The Voice contestants throughout the years…

PLAKE: “Honestly, unless you’re an internet meme, blowing up overnight doesn’t happen. I made the decision that I was doing music full time before I even auditioned. So, when I went there, I thought it was convenient, and I could get a little bit of attraction. Since then it’s been making connections with people in the music industry. A lot of our connections came from the show and us just reaching out to people. It helps being on the show to reach out to producers, etc. I think the disconnect you’re talking about is the fact that people don’t blow up overnight. They might go there and expect that they will. That’s not how it works if they don’t put in the work like every other artist, building your sound and building your image.”

Coming Soon

PDLR: What’s next for PLAKE?

PLAKE: “We’re about to release the rest of our projects and are planning that out right now. Probably going to be a single next month and a full EP in October. The rest of the EP is more based on relationships with kind of the same sound as “Bleeding Out.”

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Check out this PLAKE playlist below for more!