Melanie Martinez’s After School EP arrived today (September 25) and it’s another thoroughly demented collection of pop songs from the genre’s most original voice. Apart from being exceptionally good, the 7-song set is also notable because it finds the 25-year-old side-stepping Cry Baby — the usual lens through which she creates. Instead, this is 100 percent undiluted Melanie Martinez. Everything is based on her own experiences and expressed without needing to slot them into a larger narrative.
I fired off some questions about the project earlier this week and Melanie kindly gave a little insight into After School. For starters, there is at least one more video in the works (she’s just waiting on the green light) and the singer/songwriter picks “Brain & Heart” as the EP’s hidden gem. Other topics of conversation include K-12, 2020 and the progress of her third album. Catch up with Melanie in our Q&A below and be sure to check out her mind-melting visual for “The Bakery” at the bottom of the post.
How does the After School EP fit into the Cry Baby universe? Is it an extension of K-12 or a completely separate body of work? It seems more personal.
It is the result of me stepping outside of the confines of the Cry Baby character and just solely writing songs about my own personal experiences.
You are the visual queen… will there be more After School videos?
I wrote a video treatment for “Test Me,” which is going to be my favorite. I hope I get to make it! It all depends on how much people connect with it/stream it.
Now that K-12 has been out in the world for a full year, have you been able to process the astonishing feat of writing and directing a film as well as recording the entire soundtrack?
It still feels like I released it yesterday! Can’t believe it’s been a year but I’m feeling incredibly proud of the work I’ve put out and feeling grateful to be able to create so much this lifetime.
Would you do anything differently in hindsight?
I’d promote my stuff more and be less anxious about self-promo lol. I feel like it is an aspect of my job I have to get more comfortable with.
Will we get K-12 on Blu-Ray at some point?
Congratulations on your BBMAs nomination! Were you surprised?
Thank you! I was very surprised because I’ve never had a nomination for anything before. Super excited about it!
“Numbers” really showcases your vocals in a new light. Do you enjoy pushing yourself vocally and experimenting with distortion?
“Numbers” was experimental for me. The way I describe that song when I play it for people is “you gotta get through the hike to get to the waterfall.” In my mind, the waterfall starts at 2:36!
“Glued” is one of the more upbeat songs in your discography. You even sing “I don’t wanna think about the morbid parts of life anymore”… is Cry Baby due for a little happiness on your next album?
There’s always bits of bliss sprinkled into my music even if it’s darker sonically. And vice versa. “Glued” is definitely more happy sounding and though I usually stay away from those (because they never immediately spark attachment for me) this one has many facets. There are very clear feelings of sadness within it even if it sounds happy. That exact contrast is what made me feel like it needed to be on the EP.
Which song on After School do you think people will discover five years later (like “Play Date”)?
“Brain & Heart”!
How are you coping with the hellscape of 2020 America? Is it impacting your art?
Lyrically/writing-wise yes, I feel a bit blocked right now but I think it’s because I need time to chill out and experience life. There are many things going on in the world and I want to express how I feel about it all but also feeling overwhelmed like there are no words to articulate the feelings right now. It’s always important to be patient with yourself when creating. So that’s exactly what I’m doing. In regards to Visual/Film/video art though it has been a completely different story. I’m feeling more inspired than ever in that regard and taking time to write my script for my third album/second film.