Following the release of the bold new album Masquerade, we caught an interview with songwriter and artist cvmeleo, to dig into the stories behind the songs, the creative journey, and how military deployment to Afghanistan impacted the process. We also talk family matters, live shows, and plenty more. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi cvmeleo – thanks so much for the interview, and huge congrats for the beautiful new album. For those new to your music, how would you describe the sound?
My music is a Rollercoaster ride – exciting, unpredictable and full of surprises.
Tell me about Masquerade – what inspired this project, and what was the creative process like?
Masquerade‘ is a musical odyssey that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions and genres. It begins with Their Eyes, a song about overcoming anxiety and emerging as the best version of oneself. Suffocation introduces an intriguing love interest, igniting a spark of curiosity, while Hey There and Come Over explore the quest to hold her attention.
The narrative unfolds further with I Can’t Get You Off My Mind and So In Love, illustrating the infatuation phase. However, the euphoria fades with Raindrops as she reveals she doesn’t feel the same way.
Dance The Hate Away and DVNCING VLL NIGHT LONG are about healing through movement, finding joy in the night despite the heartache. My Feet Hurt encapsulates the struggle of persistence, and You’re So Beautiful reveals lingering thoughts of her. Nevermore… and Sad Boys Revelation are about acceptance and introspection, while Hurting Myself and Burn It All Down address societal pressures and self-destruction.
Space represents a psychedelic self-confrontation, leading to the rebirth in Keep Me Down. Twisted Cabaret unleashes the enigmatic ringmaster of my mind, and the album concludes with CHRISTMVS TIME MVCHINE, a darkly twisted Christmas song. Each song in Masquerade is a chapter, inviting listeners to experience this journey with me.
The album showcases everything from passionate vocals to evocative melodies, strong grooves and immersive sound design. What came first in the performance and creative journey for you?
My creative journey usually begins with a hunt for the perfect instrumental. This serves as the canvas for my lyrics. After securing the beat, I head to my studio of choice, InTheMix in Burbank. Working closely with a skilled engineer, we shape these initial beats into the evocative melodies and immersive sounds that characterize my music.
Their Eyes is intensely beautiful. What inspired this song, and why did you choose to open the collection with it?
“I still struggle with stage fright, and I wanted to beat it. So, I thought, if I put it into a song, it might help. In a weird way, it does. That’s why Their Eyes is the first track – it’s about overcoming that fear.”
On the flip side, the unmistakable So In Love stands out as a bright and uplifting hit. How did this one come about, and how do you decide which direction to take a new song in?
So In Love was inspired by a magical evening spent with a crush. It was such a lovely experience that I wanted to capture my emotions in a song. As for the direction, it’s often guided by my emotions – I wear my heart on my melodies, you could say.
Which other song from the project would you recommend to new listeners with limited time, and why?
I’d highly suggest giving Burn It All Down a listen. It’s a collaborative piece with my talented friend Phil McNair, who truly shines in it – his raw emotion is palpable. The song serves as a defiant salute against the 9-5 grind and the status quo
You were something of a late arrival to music, first getting involved during your army days, in 2017 – what was that experience like, and how did music come into play?
“Being in the army, particularly in Afghanistan, was incredibly tough. I was often engulfed by loneliness and fear, not knowing if each day might be my last.”
It was in these difficult times that music became my solace. It healed me, motivated me, and revealed a strength within me that I didn’t know existed. That’s the power I want to share through my music.
In what way does your experience in the army feed into your writing and performance style, or your musical preferences?
Lol, My Army experiences didn’t directly influence my style, but they did fuel my motivation. As for my musical preferences, my deployment was an awakening. I was introduced to numerous genres and artists I hadn’t known before. These musical journeys, shared with my comrades, shaped my taste and appreciation for diversity in music.
You now describe yourself as hooked on music – how did you express yourself before 2017, and how much of the process is therapeutic for you?
Before 2017, I used to express myself through writing stories and poems, drawing pictures, and even dabbling in acting. Although those acting dreams haven’t quite taken off yet, there’s still time. Music is another avenue for me to explore my creativity, and it’s filled with goals I’m eager to reach
Are you performing live much in the coming months, and what’s the live scene like in Oklahoma right now?
I currently reside in Burbank, CA, although I was born in a small town called Idabel in Oklahoma. As for the live scene, I’m relatively new to it with just one performance under my belt. However, this year, I’m looking forward to bringing the multitude of songs I’ve created to life on stage.
If you could sit down for a chat with anyone at all, past or present, who would you choose, and what would you ask them about?
As cliche as it might be to name an influential artist, I’d rather choose someone close to my heart – my mom. I haven’t seen my family in nearly eight years, and I’d love to change that. I yearn to know her thoughts about the path I’ve taken and to apologize for my abrupt departure. Even when weighed down by the world, I never stopped caring about my family.
What’s your biggest ambition at the moment?
My biggest ambition right now is to find success with my music. Despite releasing my album, Masquerade, last week, I’m still figuring out how to navigate the industry, particularly self-promotion. I know I’m relatively new to this, with just two years under my belt, but my father’s words about being in my prime and seizing the moment have resonated deeply. It’s challenging not to feel the pressure.
Is there anything else we should know?
“My goal is to make music that encourages people to bob their heads and momentarily escape to a realm beyond the routine – an oasis amidst the hustle of our very, very annoying world.”
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