The past year we have heard enough about the negative influences lockdown has on artists, fans and the creative industry in general – but what happens when you find inspiration in an unfortunate situation like this, and develop some kind of ambition to create something, something bigger than you’ve ever done before? It becomes the origin story of Melina Blanco’s first EP ‘i told myself i wouldn’t write another sad song’.
Blanco, born in Buenos Aires, raised in New York City and now based in London, has been into music since she was very young because her dad “LOVES music and is the biggest Beatles fan”, as she claims herself. A significant childhood memory of hers is seeing The Little Mermaid on Broadway and being completely fascinated by it. She always loved singing and writing songs and learned how to play the guitar when she was ten years old, releasing her first original song at the age of 12. Since then she has released a few singles on Spotify but never a bigger project – until now. “Quarantine made me do it”, Blanco laughs and explains “I was always at home anyways so I had no excuse to not be creative”. ‘i told myself i wouldn’t write another sad song’ is more personal than any of her prior releases, which makes some lyrics come across as very specific, because they are, and Blanco herself more vulnerable in facing criticism. The overall theme of the EP is sad, nostalgic and melancholic because, as the title says, Blanco had a very hard time to come up with just one single happy song – “I wrote 15 songs and all of them were sad, I literally told myself I wouldn’t write another sad song”, she remembers. The first three songs – ‘bus 139’, ‘slow motion’ and ‘mistake’ – are all about real life experiences, her songwriting telling their stories and functioning as her personal copying mechanism. The last song ‘love in the time of corona’, inspired by the book ‘Love In The Time Of Cholera’ (Spanish: El amor en los tiempos del cólera) by Gabriel García Márquez and the loneliness she experienced during COVID lockdown, is her “most relatable” one as she claimed, with lyrics being less specific and melodies being more upbeat and happy, even though it is obviously yet again a sad song. A common thread throughout the whole EP is also her love and appreciation for her friends, with whom she shares insiders to the second song ‘slow motion’ that she also dedicates to them. The cover art portrays two of her friends from a distance as well, a picture that Blanco took herself with a disposable camera and the EPs title was edited on it in her own handwriting as “it’s just more personal, even though it’s not that pretty”.
Her biggest inspirations for ‘i told myself i wouldn’t write another sad sing’ are the soft sounds and immaculate vibes by Harry Styles, Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridges. Blanco is a massive fan of Harry Styles ever since he was in One Direction and admires the way he handles being a pop icon, without making typical pop music. In lockdown she fell in love with Taylor Swift’s storytelling on ‘folklore’ and kept listening to her on repeat, same goes for Phoebe Bridges. “My friends say that this is my ‘folklore’”, Blanco laughs jokingly, even though there is a real resemblance noticeable.
I feel like Harry Styles stole that from me when he suddenly started naming songs after fruits, that should’ve been MY thing
Blanco would describe her own musical style as Indie Pop; fashion wise she is into pastel- and colourful designs, aiming for a “cottage core” aesthetic, while also being a lover of fruit accessory and owning almost every fruit known to mankind as earrings. She laughed, “I feel like Harry (Styles) stole that from me when he suddenly started naming songs after fruits, that should’ve been MY thing”.
Regarding songwriting she found more motivation and confidence ever since she started studying at BIMM London last September. “It really got me into the groove”, she explains in appreciation for her teachers who are continuing to open new horizons for her and challenged her throughout the first semester. When asked for any kind of advice she would give kids out there who just started writing their own music or people that want to improve their abilities, she replied: “Just don’t be too hard on yourself. Even if you hate the song you are writing on, power through it and finish it because only two things can happen: one, you decide to love it or two, you rid yourself of a bad song so you will be able to write better ones in the future. Let yourself write shit songs!” And it’s exactly that kind of rawness and honesty, hiding behind a sweet sugar-coated front, that not only represents the kind of music Blanco makes and the kind of artist and person she is, but also what makes her interesting and exciting to find out more about.
Written by: Vicky Madzak