On the 5th of September, Perth’s Ellington Jazz club is going to be host to something quite special. That something special being Mel Kay and Liberté! In a jam packed two-and-a-half-hour set, audiences will hear a vast variety of original music, some pieces specially written for the show, as well as some reworked covers. The show has a key focus of mental health, with Kay intending to showcase songs covering the taboo topic. I spoke with Kay to find out more about the show, her career thus far and what defines her as an artist:
What brought about the idea of bringing mental health as a focus in your music and upcoming gig?
I experienced a lot of it through seeing it around me with friends, family and other encounters with people over the past few years of my life. It started to become part of my life and I thought it would be a good thing to start tackling in our music.
What can the audience expect at this upcoming show?
We’ll be doing two hours of original music and taking some songs back from when I was 17 and we’ve revamped them. It will be a bit of a journey over the past five to six years of my life and our journey as a band.
You just released your new single Let It Burn, what does this song mean to you?
It’s about standing through the fires that life throws at us. I guess growing up and over my life I’ve always related to people going through struggles. The song is a statement about not letting these struggles get the best of you, being true to yourself in spite of everything around you.
You wrote songs specially for this show, was this a quick process?
Some of the songs have been quite quick, I wrote about four or five in a week. I was just really inspired by the actual topic and when I get inspired I just can’t stop writing.
Did you collaborate with anyone to write music for the show?
Not really for this show. As far as the band goes, some of the parts they’ve written themselves when it comes to the musical side of things. But as far lyrically and the general chord structure of all the songs that’s been me.
What’s the writing dynamic like with your band when you’re not writing for a specific show, like this one?
Often, I’ll get an idea for a guitar line and what the drums will be doing, sometimes a bass line and the key parts. Then I’ll rehearse with the horn section and often I’ll have a vague idea with them and there will be some embellishments added on top of that. Then I go to backing vocals.
Where do you pull inspiration from when you’re not writing for a specific show/reason?
Everyday experiences, my life, the TV, what you see around you. Often, it’s strange things that I’ll pick up on, like an interaction with someone at a coffee shop that you’ve never met before. There’s something about that you take from that then turns into a song. I feel like there are so many songs walking around us every day and it’s just about which one pops into my mind.
As a graduate of the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, how do you think your time there shaped you as an artist?
Over the course of my degree I was definitely taught grit and work ethic. Those two things are huge when it comes to music because the industry can be quite gruelling at times and you need to be very on the ball. They also taught me amazing things when it comes to technique and vocal skills.
How do you view the music scene in Perth?
I think it’s growing. It would be lovely to have even more of an outburst of original music here.
How should we go about nurturing the music scene in Perth so it’s able to grow?
It would be fantastic if we could get more funding in the arts in Perth. I think it also comes down to people, as musicians, being enthusiastic to create that life. I think we can all do that, it’s just about creating our own opportunities.
How do you think your music and sound has evolved over the course of your career?
I think it’s constantly changing. It never really stands still. I think it’s grown with me, as I evolve as a human being so does my music. It’s a bit fierier and mature now than it was a few years ago.
What plans and/or goals do you have for your music?
We want to empower people with music. It’s not so much about the hype, I would rather the music to reach the people it actually impacts. We want them to feel like they can get through the day and to be themselves, that’s a big thing for me.
What’s your favourite song to get down to on the dance floor?
That’s a hard one! I’ll be honest, it’s a great driving song, Chocolate by the 1975.
Mel Kay & Liberté plays at 7.30pm September 5 at the Ellington Jazz Club. Tickets are $15 seated, $10 standing – book at www.ellingtonjazz.com.au.
The Ellington Jazz Club is at 191 Beaufort Street, Perth (just north of Newcastle Street).
More information about Mel Kay & Liberté is available at: