“EVERYTHING WAS DAYDREAMING” - A Conversation with Emerging Musician, Evan Melada

November 27th || by Sam Mackey

Twenty-year-old artist Evan Melada found himself in an unlikely situation of making music, something he had never imagined. With the upcoming release of his album MALADAPTIVE DAYDREAMS, Evan has worked endlessly revising his previous EP, Vegas’ Child, and creating all new content. Evan’s music flawlessly incorporates vivid imagery, painting a picture of his travels, dreams, and innermost thoughts. From the composition of his songs to the planning of his live performances, everything stems organically and manifests into an incontestable work of art. Without ever formally sitting down to write, Evan created a thoroughly coherent story. By combining practical intuitions with otherworldly reverberations, he creates a dreamlike atmosphere for his listeners. Realizing that music allowed him to express himself in a way he never had before, Evan found something that finally made him truly happy.

“It’s all 100% whatever comes to me when it happens. I wish I could sit down and say I want to write a song about this or that but I can’t. All of the songs I’ve put out have all been from being at a point where you’re about to break down so you pick up the guitar. It’s the same with the shows. I thought ‘School’s too expensive, I want to move to New York and do shows and see how that goes. This all came out of nowhere.”

With an initial interest in film, Evan enrolled at Emerson College in Boston where he is currently studying after taking last year off to pursue music in New York.    

“I grew up in Newtown, Connecticut. It’s kind of like a big, small town. There’s not much going on there. Nothing really happens. I started out really different. Me and my cousins all lived on the same street so we were always doing film projects and then I got really obsessed with that. When I was seven I would say I wanted to be a filmmaker and move to Times Square. That’s what I thought New York was.”

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Moving to New York later became a tangible reality when he took initiative to book gigs in popular city bars by any means necessary. Once invested in the scene, Evan rapidly learned the harsh reality that unfortunately sometimes it’s who you know not what you know in the music world. However, he used this realization to his advantage. “I started emailing all these venues and I lied,” he admits, claiming he’s played places he hasn’t by concocting numbers and names to support his story.

“Everyone buys it. That’s all you need to get in, and once you do no one cares. That’s what got me the most traction for absolutely anything. It’s hard to be heard, you know? I’ve seen really talentless people get pushed into way further spotlight than others. It’s just disappointing, it’s like nobody cares about lyrics. It’s interesting the way people can market themselves.”

With lyrics as evocative as his, it is difficult to not be hooked after first listen. Backed by haunting instrumentals, Melada uses unique, sinister imagery in his lyrics, creating an unearthly tone that resonates with the listener. “As I sit here in the dark, I let it wrap its arms around till i’m completely covered up. And it kills me, and I smile.” he sings in It Gets Dark, followed by, “Anatomy angel, dead rockstar, laughs with me in the E.R.”. Recurring themes are present throughout his work, establishing a distinct identity in sound and appearance. Through these lyrical patterns and graphic segments, he develops an inner relationship with the subjects of his writing.

“I think a lot of my interest came from Lana Del Rey. The way she writes is so personal and vulnerable...the way she wrote and spoke about certain places, I understand the connection she was talking about without having been to a place.”

Wrapped in neon colors, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe lies Evan’s fondest memories. Gifted with an epiphanizing opportunity to road trip through Vegas, he recalls the untouchable freedom of driving for five hours straight without another car in sight. This trip created an endless stream of inspiration, later serving as a prime component of his artistic visions.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life. I felt so free. We stayed at these adorable motels along Route 66. Everything was neon and these kitschy, beautiful places. It was an absolute dream. It was everything that I was obsessing over but in person. I met the weirdest, sweetest people. I used it to kind of serve as a lot of imagery for my writing. I put a song out called ‘Blue is the Night’ shortly after that was just about the pretty bars we went to and driving through the desert. Those places...they meant a lot. I always thought about places I could move to to escape and be by myself or take my friends with me. I really love everything deserty. Nevada / Las Vegas was always interesting to me. I was always watching videos of dashboard cameras driving through Vegas and sync it up with music.”

Melada creates a world in his mind inspired by the pieces of art that appeal to him. He  accompanies his tracks with enticing visuals consisting of nostalgic video samples.

“I was always setting visuals to other music. I think the vintage aspect is something that everyone can kind of relate to. For the EP and the album I created a world in my head I was living in... it made it so much easier to cope with everything going on. Everything was just kind of daydreaming about the places and things in the footage. Since I was so obsessed with film I got to watch a lot of good movies early. For my song ‘Inside My Dreams’ I used a lot of footage from Panic in Needle Park, one of my favorite movies. I connected with it seeing similarities in behaviors and mannerisms of the characters. I really related to that.”

Obscure, idiosyncratic dancing is also a trademark of Melada’s videos, which he independently films and edits. Submerged in colorful lights and projections, he slowly sways to the beats with a pensive gaze.

“I sat in front of my laptop and did ridiculous stuff...It’s always kind of weird dancing, because I never danced or anything like that. So I incorporated all those weird moves and visuals and they just became natural. Now they’re just traits.

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While making these abstract videos and creating the music, Evan uses the sources available to him to form irregular sounds and images. Being a young artist in the age of rising technology,  possibilities are endless. Certain opportunities are opened that were difficult in the past that can heighten outreach and broaden the musicians’ sound.

“Lorde’s album Melodrama was such a good representation of why it’s good we have the technology we have. I think it’s so interesting with the samples and everything she uses. I would love to do something of that style but just kind of darker with my own touch.”

But on the other hand, there are downsides caused by the expansion of technology.

“(On social media) we’re kids trying to get jobs based on liking and following things. I think all of us can relate to that. I just feel like there’s always someone bigger than you so you always kind of feel like shit, but at the same time it’s good because it’s a place to get all your stuff out. It feels good to be able to promote my music to everybody and get an outreach because back in the day it was a lot harder. But at the same time, there were way less people, so the most determined actually made it. Now you’ll get people that don’t really care about music or lyrics where it’s just….really nothing.”

Because of this, he’s learned to not set any sort of set expectations or definitive intentions for the future. With a brutally honest outlook on life, Evan is ready to accept surprises and eager to move to a new gear.

“I wish I had a plan. I’m ready to move past this album and get more creative. It gets dark throughout the whole album, being stuck in the same one for a year. Its emotionally hard and artistically draining, so I’m excited to move on and switch to some newer sounds. I’d like to do something more modern and disco. I’ll probably be playing more house shows now that i’m back at school. But I don’t know what’s gonna happen. It’s so intense out there. You can’t have a plan anymore.”

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Despite these doubts he may have about the future, his well deserved confidence in his work overpowers all. Behind every lyric, gentle guitar pluck, and alluring drum beat of the final product lies a universe of thought.

“I listen to my music a fuck ton. I make music that I want to hear...that’s the whole point. I’m always listening to mixes and mastering, different versions of things, etc. I think to myself, ‘I haven’t heard this yet, so I want to do this.’ I think it’s different enough from what other people my age are doing.”  

By maintaining his distinctiveness in sound and authenticity as a musician, his passion for his art is luminous. Surely the future is unpredictable, since as of two years ago music was not even in the question as a focal point of his life.

“I knew I could sing a little, but when you have voices like Amy Winehouse who have a clear gift...I just didn’t feel like I had that. I was doing open mics with my friends a little bit in High School just playing in bars doing covers because I thought singing was fun and I had a good time. My friend said I should start writing, but I thought I didn’t need to because I felt like other artists have already said anything I needed to say. I just didn’t have anything important.”

However, that all drastically changed over the span of a year.

“I was spending a lot of time with this one guy, where we would spend twenty-four hours a day together and just binge on everything. It got really unhealthy. Towards the end of it, he ended up getting both physically and emotionally abusive. It took a long time but I finally had to cut things off one night. I went into my room, and I just sat there and wrote what came out to be ‘Vegas’ Child’, and the rest just came from there. I would sit and I would put a voice memo on and just play two or three chords on the guitar and then sit and jot it down. I never really sat and wrote anything. It was something I was never going to pay attention to my entire life. It’s weird, it came out of such a nasty thing.

By learning to cope with trauma and personal struggles in a constructive way, Evan produced honest reflections of the events he endured. Through this, an introspective creation was born. With lyrics such as “When someone wants the best of me they get left with nothing. And i’ve still got my head, or at least what’s left” (from Inside My Dreams), he gracefully juxtaposes the effects of his battles with a sense of hope and assurance.

“This was for me to journal down and make something out of all this shit that happened to me because I didn’t want it to just happen for no reason or to be some learning lesson [which it is but] I wanted to have it documented and have the story in my own words and my own telling of it that was creative and interesting and it came out with really pretty songs. I wanted the worst to speak for itself and put it out so I have it for me. But then I just started posting it, so now we’re here.”

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