WHEN Mel Kay wrote the singles Upside Down Town and Feel Alright, she’d stopped listening to the doubting Thomas’ telling her she’d never make it in the tough music industry.
“I had learned to value myself more than a society telling me what I couldn’t do,” the 22 year old says. It didn’t hurt that her first single Lonely Now (20124) made it onto commercial radio and was voted top ballad on online music store CD Baby.
Now she’s hoping to be a voice for other young women: “I wrote these songs with the intention to empower young women to know their worth…[To] encourage them to have the courage to stand up for themselves in a society that is often very focused on instant gratification and objectification.”
When her older sister started piano lessons, then three-year-old Kay was hooked, but had to wait a couple of years before she could do the same: “I had my first proper lesson at five,” she tells the Voice.
As a teenager the Bull Creek local wrote her own songs: “A teacher heard me sing an original tune and told me to apply to WAAPA [WA Academy of Performing Arts].”
She breezed into the prestigious college’s vocal program, aged 17, and recently graduated with a degree in music performance.
With a love of music that crosses genres, Kay’s “indie, pop, with a little bit of funk” is inspired by The Browhorn Orchestra, Lorde, Regina Spektor and Kate Miller-Heidke.
“Using these genres together helped us to achieve that aim as best we could,” she says of the band’s desire to appeal to a broad audience.
“We” refers to Liberté (pronounced libert-ae), a 10-piece band she regularly performs with.
“We decided to track the rhythm section live and the horn section together so we had to make sure there were no mistakes – we managed to get both tracks down in two days…we were stoked about that.”
You can hear Kay and Liberté at Jimmy’s Den, James Street, Northbridge, October 7. Tix $15 at events.ticketbooth.com.au/mel-kay-liberte
by JENNY D’ANGER