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Petite Meller: I love it, everybody is so hippy and I’m really excited for my show. I just met Leon Bridges and we perform at the same time but we’ll have fun at the same time too!
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: Have you been to many festivals in the UK?
Petite Meller: No, it’s my first one! I’ve been in France and in the US at SXSQ and in New York but this is my first time in the UK and I love it… so many stages!
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: How does it compare with the ones you’ve been to over in the States?
Petite Meller: It’s more of a hippy vibe, everyone is on the grass sleeping and dancing and having fun. It’s very chilled and it’s how it’s supposed to be! It’s a bit Woodstock.
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: Your new single is ‘Baby Love’. I’m interested in the video and the African inspiration you mentioned on Facebook. What’s that all about?
Petite Meller: As a child I was really inspired by albums like ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon, Fela Kuti, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (they are actually singing on my album).
When I was in the studio recording the song… I don’t like the drums on the programmes because it’s a specific genre so I beatbox and then we added bongos, congas and saxophones and we knew in the studio that it was going to be in Africa.
When we arrived there it was so amazing. I knew that everyone would be dancing so when that little girl danced like Beyonce it was so natural; every move they make is perfect.
It’s a sad song, I wrote it when I was broken hearted, but the production and the vibe is uplifting. “Baby, love you don’t know what that means… you disappear while you’re here” – in the video I show what love means: to kiss a giraffe, to dance with kids. The African beat uplifted me from my sorrow – so it’s all about dancing the pain away.
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: I remember you saying that it was aimed at brokenhearted school girls, is that right?
Petite Meller: Yes
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: Which country in Africa did you film in?
Petite Meller: Nairobi, Kenya – you should go! It’s amazing. It was the world famous Giraffe Manor. You can sleep and wake up with a giraffe in your window, they eat with you at breakfast and then you can kiss them! But, they gave me a female giraffe and she didn’t want to kiss me and then they changed it to a male giraffe and he kissed me all over. It’s funny that the animals know how to communicate.
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: I’m interested where it all began and how you’ve blossomed into whom you are now.
Petite Meller: I’ve been in many bands and I looked for my own sound. I went to New York and I wrote the first song that I felt was my own genre and I decided to become a solo artist. I went on the street and I felt the saxophone and I went to jazz clubs and it reminded me of the jazz records I used to listen to. So, I started to make my own things and I shot my first video, “NYC Time”. A British manager was Googling, ‘What’s the time in New York?’ and when you Google ‘NYC Time’ my first video comes up, that’s how he found me! He took me to London and I moved to London. I live in Shoreditch and I love it. Everything became very serious from then because I appreciate that in London everything is about music – music is the news.
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: What do you think about what’s happening in the East End? There’s more money being poured into there every day, certainly after the Olympics. Do you think it’s becoming a bit more… commercial? Less individual characters?
Petite Meller: I don’t know, I think I’m an individual character and I live there. I think it doesn’t matter, it’s feels a bit like this festival!
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: Speaking of this festival, are you staying on after your performance?
Petite Meller: No, I have other recordings but I hope I enjoy here and see more shows like James Blake and Portishead who I’ll be seeing tonight. I wish I could see Leon Bridges because I love him a lot (and I love Sam Cooke and he’s inspired by him), but I just met him it’s good to meet artists backstage.
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: What’s coming up in the rest of the summer?
Petite Meller: I’m going to shoot another video which is really outrageous! It’s going to be a big production; the song is called ‘Barbaric’.
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: Some Googling taught me that you’re studying your philosophy post-Graduate at the moment. How do you do it alongside music?
Petite Meller: My Masters, I have to hand it in the beginning of next year. Philosophy is my inspiration to the writing of the songs, so without this I would go to a mic and it would just be silence – so, for me, it all goes together. For me, the ideas for my songs all come from philosophy and cinema.
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: So it’s at the heart of everything you produce.
Petite Meller: One… fits in with the other.
Jack Lockyer-Stevens: It’s been a pleasure to meet you, thank you again for speaking to us.
Petite Meller: Thank you! I hope you love ‘Baby Love’ and please dance with me all the way!
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