Most people hate being called cry babies. But for Melanie Martinez, that’s a fantasy.
That’s right, that little 17 year old from season three of The Voice now has released her debut album, Cry Baby, and it’s as thrilling as ever. Written as a fantasy story based off of Martinez’s life, graphic images of kidnapping, poisoning, plastic surgery, and the worst imaginable fate of all, no one showing up to your birthday party, are all abundant in album. With such an exhilarating album enjoying the #1 spot on the iTunes Alternative chart, check out our EXCLUSIVE interview with the up and coming super star and how she made the story come to life.
What was your inspiration for the Cry Baby album?
Melanie Martinez: I was definitely inspired by toy sounds and childhood scenes and I guess just story telling really. I wanted to make the whole album cohesive and tell a general story throughout the album.
How did you come up with the digital storybook idea for the album?
Martinez: Well each illustration is part of a song from the album. So Track 1, Track, 13. It’s sort of a visual for the album really. And the physical CDs are also storybooks as well, and it tells a story of the album.
You also played a big role in how the CD’s were sold in special physical packaging.
Martinez: It was definitely interesting because it obviously cost a lot to do that but I definitely worked a lot so that I was able to pay for it and get the best product out there for people. I just really wanted to make sure that I told the story of the album in anyway possible and I thought the packaging of the storybook for the CD definitely fit perfectly.
You often mix childhood images with morbid thoughts in the albums, so how did you make the connection with the two?
Martinez: Well when I was starting to write this album and throughout the whole process, the whole process was basically just me writing titles down in my phone and I just wrote a bunch of scenes down and tried to relate it to adult situations as best as I could. I would just go down the list of things that I thought of and just try to make the scenes out of them. One of my songs on the album is called “Mrs. Potato Head” and for that one, I had a very strong visual of like, for a long time before I wrote the album, I thought it was really cool how you could just pull apart Mrs. Potato’s pieces off of her face and that could present plastic surgery. And that was something I thought about because I had a strong visual in my head from a long time.
You described the songs as a fantasy childhood you had.
Martinez: Well the Cry Baby album is based off a character that was based off of me so Cry Baby is a character who basically is me but there are a lot of things that she goes through that I have not been through so that is the whole fairy tale part of it. Like she gets kidnapped and escapes and poisons him with milk and cookies and obviously that didn’t happen to me so that’s the whole whimsical fairy tale part of the story but then all the stories about like break ups and falling in love and stuff- that’s all real stuff that I went through so it’s a little bit both there. But I really just clung to children themed things- I love collecting toys from the ‘50s and my apartment literally looks like a nursery where a baby just threw up everywhere. It’s like pastel pink living room with fake grass and a mobile hanging on my fan and just vintage toys everywhere. I don’t know, I’ve just always been obsessed with vintage little kids’ stuff. I don’t know why.
You’re entire apartment looks like a baby’s nursery?!
Martinez: Yup basically.
Did that help inspire anything with the album?
Martinez: Well it was kind of after. I started decorating the new apartment after the album was done but it’s just new things that I naturally like. Like I love pastel colors and I wear pastel colors and things that are inspired by vintage little girl outfits. I don’t know, I just like it. I think it went hand and hand with the album and I don’t know if it was a subconscious thing but I just kinda like it.
You also have a unique style with your hair and makeup. How did that come along?
Martinez: I don’t know, I died my hair when I was 16, I was inspired by Cruella de Vil. And that was the first time I ever bleached my hair, when I did the half half, and I started putting color in it just to experiment and have fun with that. Makeup was just something that I’ve been working on just from doing my own makeup every day and stuff and I love doing makeup on other people whenever I can. I love it, I think it’s just like painting and it’s really fun for me and I love doing new things. I just recently shaved off half of my eyebrow and now I’m rocking this angry, straight brow. I love doing stuff like that because it keeps me entertained.
Well you have a Cry Baby tour starting next week. How’s that?
Martinez: I’m really excited– it’s going to be really fun.
You also directed several of the videos. How was it like directing along with writing several of the songs?
Martinez: It was definitely something that I’ve been more and more interested in and I’m working on making songs for all the videos on the album. It’s going to take a while but I’m definitely going to try to do that. I definitely want to make them into little short films and make them all connect just like the story does. It’s really fun- I’m obsessed with making music videos because it’s another visual on top of a song and I’m just really excited because I used to take photos because I used to be a photographer and I think it’s just something that I’ve always been interested in. I love visual art.
Did any of your photography techniques help you in directing the videos?
Martinez: Yes I think so because with like composition and figuring out shots and what I want to be happening in that shot and telling that story. When I used to take pictures I was also really interested in making the story come across in the photo and creating these whimsical pictures. I think it really helped in the process of directing and making music videos.
Is there anything you had to cut from the album? Like fans were wondering about “Where Do Babies Come From?”
Martinez: Yeah I mean there are a lot of songs that I wrote for the album that got cut just because I can’t put 30 songs on the album. Hahah that would be amazing and I wish I could. Yeah I don’t know, I definitely want to eventually put out the songs I wrote for this album, maybe for another project if it fits but “Where Do Babies Come From?” is one that I was going to put as a bonus track on the album but then I kept writing and it just didn’t work out. Maybe in the future I can put it out for fans or something. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens there.
You were working with American Idol judge Kara Dioguardi. How was that like?
Martinez: It was really amazing working with Kara. She’s a great writer obviously and she was really down with my ideas and she was so much fun to work with. I had a great time and I look forward to working with her in the future.
For “Pity Party,” how did you use Leslie Gore’s “It’s My Party” as inspiration?
Martinez: Well basically we were in the studio and it was the second day writing with Kara and I was telling her about the whole theme of the album and we were writing a song about no one showing up to my birthday party and she was telling me that she thought my voice had similarities to artists from the ‘50s and ‘60s. So we were just listening to music from that time and “It’s My Party” obviously came up and we were like “Why hasn’t anyone sampled this and if they, why isn’t like a thing?” This would be a great sample and we just went with it and we wrote a song about no one showing up to my birthday party and it was a lot of fun because I love music from that era.
You played a big part in the outfits that you wear on camera.
Martinez: I didn’t make any of the outfits but they are outfits that I just wear every day anyway. I just love Japanese Lolita style. I love that whole thing. So I was just inspired by that whole thing. I wear a lot of vintage dress and I also wore Viseto which is this one brand that I really like and Angelic Pretty, which is a Lolita brand. And “Sippy Cup,” that pink outfit that I was wearing was made by my friend Stella who is actually the mom in “Sippy Cup.” She’s a clothing designer and she’s amazing and she made a whole lot of outfits that I wore for on tour and stuff. But she’s incredible.
Are there any metaphors from the album that you want to make known?
Martinez: I mean there are definitely a lot of things that- like there are a lot of reasonings for writing the songs that I wrote but I mean, I like for it to be open and be open interpretation for some of them because I want people to relate it to whatever they relate it to in their life. That’s the really cool thing about music, for one person it could be something and for another person it could mean something totally different and the songs are so heavily story based but I think it’s interesting that people can find songs that relate to them in whatever way. And I think it’s cool that people are relating to them anyway because it’s so specific.
What’s next besides the tour?
Martinez: I’m just planning on writing the next album and writing stories and to make more visuals for this album. And I just plan on writing a lot.
Watch Martinez’s “Pity Party” below: