TTG catches up with Melat, a musician from Austin, about her musical journey and the appeal of her city
How did you get into writing music and performing?
My parents put me in piano lessons when I was four years and though by the age of nine I had stopped, music was infused in me and I began singing in choirs. I began writing when I needed a way to express how I feel, and journal entries turned into songs. As I was so shy I’d never put myself on the stage, but it was where I loved being the most. After many serendipitous occurrences, I eventually began to bring my own music to life and it has fuelled me and connected me with people in a way I could only dream of.
How long have you been doing it for?
Since I released my first EP about five years ago.
Who are your greatest musical influences?
Ella Fitzgerald was a powerhouse and a pioneer for black women in music. Jazz music is my core and her efforts and amazing voice led the way to me being who I am today. Mariah Carey has a voice and range that stops me in my tracks every time. When she came out people kept trying to compare her to greats like Whitney Houston but she made her career her own and became a diva in her own right.
What’s your favourite thing about Austin?
The people. They are the essence of the city and without their friendliness, weirdness, music and commitment to hometown vibes, Austin wouldn’t be what it is.
What’s your top insider’s tip for visitors to the city?
Take some time to see our nature. It’s so relaxing to visit Lady Bird Lake by kayak, to sit on the bridge watching the sunset, or to visit the botanical gardens. Find a moment to be peaceful with the city and you’ll really feel what it’s all about.
What’s your favourite Austin music venue?
I love Stub’s because there’s so much history in that building. It’s one of our longest standing music venues in its original location. I does great BBQ, has a smaller music venue on the inside, a large amphitheatre on the outside – what’s not to love?!
And your favourite restaurant?
Right now I’m hooked on Green Mesquite BBQ. It’s delicious; can’t beat it.
What do you think about the music focus of Brand USA’s new film, America’s Music Journey?
I loved it. As a jazz lover, I think the path that the film takes is such an important one, and it’s one that we forget about much too often. In a day and age where music is consumed and produced faster than ever, I think it’s incredibly important that we remember why music was created, how it was created and how it influenced society and the norms that we have today
Aside from Austin, what’s your favourite music city in the US and why?
I’d say Detroit because of Motown Records. So much amazing music was created by that record label. The iconic nature of the music that came out of Detroit is remarkable.
Do you have any plans to perform in the UK in the future?
Nothing is set in stone, but let’s just say I cannot wait come back!