Most people don’t realize what it takes to be an artist these days, especially a Canadian one. You might think there is glitz and glamour, but in reality, the industry seems more willing to be like a hammer to a nail, it wants to put you down until you get rusty and fade away. Say what you want, but determination is probably the biggest asset one can have to break free. Determination is both a weapon and a gift, and it is the lifeblood for both Melanie Durrant and DL Incognito. From different sides of the field, they’re both fighting the same battle, using everything they have to cut through the ties that try to hold them down. Because of that, they’re opening doors for themselves and future artists, and they’re doing it with style. And right now, it doesn’t seem like anything can stop these two from breaking out.
Combine energy, charisma and soul with a voice that could move mountains, and you will begin to understand the essence of Melanie Durrant. You may think that it’s our job to promote artists and that we’re only going to say nice things, but to that, all I have to say is get a dose of her live…you will be hooked. Simply put, Melanie is not what you might expect. Vocally, her range is better than my cell phone, style wise; she combines a beautiful mix of genres that allow her to produce a sound that is truly unique. That’s probably why her album has been so highly anticipated. While fans were salivating, Melanie had been meticulously preparing for the release of her first and very long awaited album, “Where I’m Going,” which is finally in stores. However, in the midst of putting the LP together, we were fortunate enough to catch up with the songstress and slip her a few questions.
BBM: How did you get your start? What was that key moment that got you into the industry?
Melanie: Watching my mother perform, I remember seeing her and being in awe of her. She was beautiful. I remember one time where she was wearing a black gold and silver sequence dress, the lights were on and it lit up the dress, her hair was shiny, and crowd eating out the palm of her hand.
BBM: What’s it like constantly working with your mom?
Melanie: Amazing, not one complaint in the world, it’s like no feeling I can describe, it’s wonderful. And this is not me sugar coating anything. The support she gives me, the comfort level being there with her, it’s like hanging with your best friend and doing fun stuff. Never had any different type of relationship with her, to me it’s all normal.
BBM: I also understand that you were formally trained, what has that experience done for you?
Melanie: It has taught me to separate the right brain from left in piano playing. Piano playing groomed me for listening and doing harmonies & stuff. Took a few classes with an opera teacher at Earl Haig, that’s where I got a little training in opera and singing.
BBM: What else are you trying to get into? Any thoughts of doing your own production?
Melanie: I’d like to, but things come to me really fast, most of the time it’s all together. I’d have to know how to work the equipment from the jump. It’s tedious work, I hear completed instrumentals in my head. For me, it’s hard to put it out there unless I have live players. Right now I’m about recording my vocals, writing my lyrics and writing melodies.
BBM: How do you come up with a song?
Melanie: It’s all different; sometimes it’s something I’ve seen or something I’ve lived. Some come to me in chunks, completed, and I have to hurry and write it down and sing it out before I forget it. The best songs are already songs and I just have to write them down.
BBM: Why Maxamus Entertainment, what makes them so special?
Melanie: Those were the people that I hooked up with, they believed in me, started helping me and didn’t expect anything from me but to do my best. Taj started off as my manager, and then we hit a pit stop, so Maxamus had to become a label, now it’s Maxamus records.
BBM: Tell me something that most people don’t know about you?
Melanie: I’ve always been very shy, I was a shy child but I found a different way to deal with it. I observe my surroundings and I don’t like to just speak out unless I have something to say. Sounds strange considering that I sing in front of thousands of people, but I’m still learning to break out of my shell. But when I feel backed in, I will speak up when need be, and when I’m really comfortable you can’t shut me up.
BBM: Who would you like to work with, if you had the choice to pick anybody?
Melanie: I’d love to work with Lauryn Hill because I feel like I can relate to her, what she does with her instrument being her voice, it sounds close to what I try to do. I respect her to the utmost, there are others that I want to work with but that name came first. When I think back to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album, I remember when I was with Jill Scott in Vancouver and she told me to “pick this up it’s so good”, so I did and I loved it since.
BBM: If you didn’t have the career as an artist you do now, what else do you think you would be doing?
Melanie: I’d be singing, whether it was in bands in Europe, Dubai, Japan….and I’m really in to live music, I really embrace live and real talent. However, I was a track star in grade school; there was no girl or boy that could beat me. 100m was my main one, but I could do 200, 400, long distance and long or high jump. Anything I put my mind to I end up being good at because I want it. I think it’s an example to anybody else out there, just do it, go for it, you can do it, as long as you try. It’s all trial and error if you want to build something, go ahead, you’ll figure it out along the way.
BBM: What does it mean to be a Canadian artist?
Melanie: Being a Canadian artist, I have to help pave the way for others who want to do what I’m doing; I have to kick down the doors to get respect. So much talent here in Canada, it’s unbelievable that were not in a better place in the industry. In the end, we all just need to pool together, that difference between the U.S. and Canada.
BBM: What are your primary objectives with this album, what are you looking to do?
Melanie: I want to prove to T.O. and anyone interest in listening that I can sing, I have a talent and would like to be respected as an artist. I’m trying to break down barriers, crossover to the mainstream stations….I’ll use any beats, give it all to me, not just Hip Hop, not just R & B, I want it all.
BBM: Who’s your favorite basketball player?
Melanie: Used to be Mighty Mouse (Damon Stoudamire), but then he left us.…
* Go out and get the album, “Where I’m Goin” at HMV and support our Canadian artists.*