For her Melody’s Echo Chamber project, French artist Melody Prochet spent years writing songs, leaving the comforts of a traditional studio to work with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker in Perth, as well as in her childhood home in the South of France. It’s a trickily raw record that sweeps you up in its layered psychedelic flourishes, with Prochet’s vocals floating and weaving their way through each track. On first listen, it sounds nice, but burrowing further, there are layers of tangled instrumentation and vocal tics to uncover. We spoke to her about what made her break from her previous musical background and how alienation and new surroundings factor into the writing process. Melody’s Echo Chamber is out right now on Fat Possum.
You have a background in music and have been doing this for a while now. What made you start fresh with Melody’s Echo Chamber? I didn’t over think it to be honest. I had been surrounded for many years by classicism—you know it’s about formal music. So when I started recording songs for the last years I was kind of stuck in that restriction, and I tend to not be extreme enough in sound, I think it had recently clicked, and I just naturally ended up collaborating with someone a bit different, like someone with a rock and roll background, and I think we worked as complementary opposites. It was really easy and natural to work with him, and it just happened really—I didn’t think about all this.
You’re talking about [Tame Impala's] Kevin Parker, right? He played on every song on the record. You say you felt restricted, did working with him on this help you let go a bit? I just needed someone to destroy my roots and put it back together. I just always write songs, but this time it was a bit different because I met [Parker] two years ago when we weren’t on tour and it just naturally happened.
Does that mean you’ve been working on these songs for the last two years? Or was it more like a quick burst of writing? I had a few songs when I met Kevin that were new at the time, and I played them to him, and he loved it and that’s when he said it would be cool to try and collaborate, and that was two years ago. That was maybe three songs. Then the time that we made it happen, I wrote new songs, and then I wrote a few songs in Perth while we were recording, and when he went on tour for a while and I was alone in his studio, I didn’t know at all how all his gear worked, so I just plugged my guitar in the pre amp which is really wrong, but I just did it, and it sounded really rough, and we ended up keeping that. It’s not a burst in the moment. It was like the last year-and-a-half that I wrote all these songs.
You did the bulk of the recording in both Perth and the South of France. Yeah exactly. We recorded all the instrumentals in Perth. I recorded some stuff in France that we kept.
Do you feel like the environments of these two very different places factored into the recording and songwriting? I think it did. I am not sure how. Well, Perth—it was winter in Paris and like minus ten, and I arrived and it was 37 degrees [celsius], so I had a thermal shock already. It was one of the things that made me a bit crazier. For example, you start finding Orion in a different sky, and you’re like, Oh wow. It’s weird, we are on the other side of the world. It’s that, and then there were all these new people around me. They were really influential. They do things and take risks in music. They were really inspiring people. Then, in the south of France, it was something else. I was in my childhood house, and my grandmother passed away there, and they are selling the house right now as I am talking, and it’s really painful. When I sung there, in the living room, I put the mic on the stairs and I was standing there on my own and it was really emotional, and I think it was the right thing. It was really natural to go there.
Had you recorded vocals at that house before? No. I never did. I was convinced that you couldn’t make music in any other place than a professional studio, and that was my precedent. I went to studios and worked with professionals, and I didn’t feel like it was the right thing. And with Kevin and the way I went in the house—to me it still sounds really professional.