Melody’s Echo Chamber on “Emotional Eternal” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024  

Melody’s Echo Chamber on “Emotional Eternal”

Renewed Resonance

Apr 27, 2022 Photography by Diane Sagnier Web Exclusive
Bookmark and Share

Melody Prochet is an architect of euphonic sanctuaries. Listening to her music, produced under the moniker Melody’s Echo Chamber with co-conspirators Fredrik Swahn and Reine Fiske, is to enter an enveloping, otherwise inaccessible sonic reverie—an escape from the real world, a place in which to idle and fade away for a few minutes. That may sound highfalutin or imprecise, but one of Prochet’s primary inspirations is the natural world—a peninsula in the south of France near her grandmother’s house, a forest of pine trees in the Alps. In that way, she invites parallels to songwriters such as Cassandra Jenkins, whose 2021 album was titled, very literally, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature.

As the project name suggests, Melody allows ideas to resonate. And the title of her last album, 2018’s Bon Voyage, implied that the resonance would be indefinite. Once inspiration drifts into view, though, she will follow it at her own pace as far as it’ll take her. In this case, it led her to her radiant third album, Emotional Eternal, out on Domino this Friday. It’s her first release in four years and the first since she became a mother, a life change that not only guides the music and lyrics but was the impetus for their existence.

During our Zoom conversation, Prochet spoke with unpretentious humility. Words such as “transcendence” crop up a few times, but they are supported by substance—the proof is in the pudding, as they say. She was warm and thoughtful as she told me about the new album, the meditative spaces where she finds solace, and life’s circularity.

Hayden Merrick (Under the Radar): The new album is stunning—it’s hard to find the right adjective. Your approach to making music is unhurried and you’ve said that you’re open to the possibility that there won’t necessarily be an album that needs to be made. When did you know for sure that Emotional Eternal deserved to be made? Could you take me through its origin?

Melody Prochet (Melody’s Echo Chamber): Yes. First of all, thank you so much. It’s really moving for me to hear you talk about the album because you guys are the first to hear it—the journalists—so it’s my first echo of the record.

I thought Bon Voyage was gonna be the last record, and after Bon Voyage delirium, I kind of sat in silence for a year or so. But there was a lot of theta waves, soundscape music, and ambient music played at home—bands like Sigur Rós and that kind of meditative music that my partner was listening to. The origin of the record was in the song “Alma,” [which] was the first to arise since I sat in silence. That happened the first night that I was separated from my daughter. She was one year old, and it was an emotional overflow at the time. The only familiar way I had to… it was a cathartic, spiritual, purification moment of the overflow of emotions.

I just made the song “Alma” and then I felt, “Okay, I kind of love that song. I want to share it with Reine [Fiske] and [Fredrik] Swahn and my label.” And that was the start, the trigger of the musical spiral and cycle. And to me, this song is a butterfly, a little poem to my daughter and to life, in a way. So that’s how it started.

The lyrics to “Looking Backwards” were written after you saw a man at the airport using his watch to reflect light in creative ways. I wondered what other non-musical influences made their way onto this album.

Yes, that’s a good question. So you mean, like, little vignettes of inspiration? I suppose I’m very into metaphors and poetry that I find most of the time in my reverie, when I am in a sort of absent state and wandering in my psyche landscape. I don’t know where I am. The music, the ideas, and the inspiration kind of comes from natural sanctuaries I have found in places of nature.

Like, for example, in the song “Personal Message,” there was this peninsula. There was this pine circle, a little forest, where I used to go when I really felt disenchanted. I went there and did my little prayers and wishes that I sent to the shore, and I was soothed by the horizon and the beautiful sea. And that happens also in the forest where I live now and in other places like that, usually where there is no human beings around. I kind of create little refuges—sonic refuges—and landscapes that don’t exist to wander and feel good.

Is there much of a gap between those experiences and your knowing that there’s a song? Or are you ever in the moment thinking that this is something you want to get across in your music—the feeling of being where you are, of refuge?

It’s strange—it feels like a portal between two lands, those moments. There is a time between the two. I’m slow, so I need maturation, I need time for all these ideas to arise. Sometimes they are spontaneously there, but sometimes it’s been years they were bubbling in the undercurrent.

You’ve called your previous album Bon Voyage an “adult promise to my inner child’s heart” and said that when you’re old you hope to still have a child’s heart. How do you feel that your relationship with your inner child manifests on the new album?

That’s a good question. I think it’s a record that evokes adulthood in the eyes of a child’s wonder. I don’t know how to put it into words, but I’m still chasing butterflies in the record. [Laughs] But someone said that they hear the tempestuousness of my past and that more of a dark side of my nature is still there. But I think it’s a really great equilibrium I’ve found. And also I still have the playfulness when I go to the studio. It’s been a joyful process—it was already for Bon Voyage. It was very joyful. But this time it was really peaceful, and I really enjoyed getting reunited—there is such a deep friendship with Reine and Swahn. I think I took my inner child by the hand and tried to soothe it when it hurts.

You sing in both French and English. Does the nature of certain lyrics influence the language in which you sing? Does it feel like French can give you an extra layer of privacy, for example?

Yes. [Laughs] I think it’s an odd dance between languages—a fun one, though. On my debut album, I went to Australia—and I had started to sing in English when I was in France—and when I went [to Australia], I started to sing in French. Exactly—maybe a self-consciousness or intimacy… I don’t know. It’s funny—it started like that, and then when I went to Sweden, I started to sing in Swedish too. I knew what the words were, but it was more about the melodical, mysterious, poetic way it sounds in Swedish. Although Gustav Ejstes’s words were perfect and beautiful, I had no idea what he was saying at first. And then when I came back to France and found my own, other world in the south here, in the Alps, I started to feel comfortable enough with myself, I guess, to just sing more in French—it’s the source of my expression, maybe, my maternal language.

I think that my favorite song on the album is “A Slow Dawning of Peace.” It feels like a good way to describe what it’s like to listen to your music. What do you hope listeners will take away from the album?

That’s interesting, too. Well, I am happy if the record has a sort of uplifting quality to it. I think it evokes the circularity of life. It has very soulful movement and moments of some sort of sonic transcendency that could hint at the eternal, and to me it sounds organic and luminous. I hope the record will reflect that and that a person will feel soothed. I hope it has some space for the listener to get lost in some nice landscapes that doesn’t exist. I enjoy when music takes me to other worlds and I can just wander and dream, and it makes me less scared of the unknown. I want to embrace the unknown in the songs.

What music does that for you at the moment or around the time that you were writing?

We’ve listened to a lot of music in the studio, and as I’ve said before I didn’t listen to much music while I was [writing] this record, but I have listened to so much music that all my cells are impregnated with so much. One of the biggest, recent other worlds was the Sigur Rós influence on the electric guitar. [E] Bows was such a great thing for us to explore. I know it was done a lot before, but I just love those landscapes they created with that effect. It made me go through, like, whales and dolphins—I love that aquatic world. What else? Jonny Greenwood’s recent and old work with strings and ondes Martenot—There Will Be Blood or “Present Tense” [Radiohead song]—pieces of instrumental are absolutely wonderful to travel.

I read that for Bon Voyage you learned drums at the conservatoire that you attended as a child. I wondered if you learned anything new this time around—an instrument, a studio technique, or something about yourself even.

First of all, yeah, the drum thing at the music school, the conservatoire, was really amazing to go back to. I played drums on “The Hypnotist” this time, and also I played more strings, which I was very shy about before, so I play the strings on “The Hypnotist.”

But the new thing was to open up to Josefin Runsteen on strings—on violins—and she really transcended the whole thing to another level, for me, of virtuosity. I was really amazed by her appearance on the record. I wasn’t even there when they recorded her because I was in lockdown, so that was really strange. I had written a little, simple arrangement for “Alma,” and they really transcended it; that was really cool. And to work from a distance and have people record organically what you had written on MIDI and make it so much better was kind of magic. I didn’t think that could work from a distance, and it just did.

That must’ve been amazing to hear back her playing after only hearing it on MIDI.

Yeah. And just one other new thing—I’m studying art therapy to become an art therapist, and that’s really cool and fascinating for me. I love studying new things. It feeds the brain.

That’s so cool. This might be another tricky question, but Bon Voyage was described as your comeback album; what do you think that makes Emotional Eternal?

[Laughs] Hmm. I don’t know, but there is definitely something about going back to the origins and the circularity of life. It’s funny because Bon Voyage was already the third one because I had a second record that I scratched that I had produced with my former partner [Kevin Parker of Tame Impala]—that’s why it took so long—so I have no idea. So it could be, actually, the first from a new cycle and not just the third, if you know what I mean. It could be the start of something new.

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.