No matter what kind of complex mood we are in, there is always a song that describes it well. Before a song becomes a part of our playlist, it goes through multiple series of iterations and reiterations. Over the last few decades, the music industry has provided us with some amazing songwriters of which Melanie Fontana is one. In case you don’t know about her, Melanie Fontana is a multi platinum singer-songwriter, singed to Universal.
Melanie began her music career as a child herself. Born in Newington, CT, Melanie first took the stage at age 5 with a solo at her local high school, then began singing in local dinner theater productions, and by her mid-teens was heading into the city to perform at renowned Manhattan nightclubs. At age 18, she moved to NYC to pursue a History major at NYU while working odd jobs at Sony Studios – but shortly after dropped her studies to pursue her dream of making music history.
After facing a lot of hardships, she finally experienced her first major breakthrough moment when she met Nasri Atweh and collaborated with him to write Home This Christmas for Justin Bieber and The Band Perry (“Under the Mistletoe”).
Melanie’s diverse slate of music credits include co-writing Britney Spears’ “Mood Ring” with DJ Mustard, Jon Asher, Twice as Nice and JGramm (produced for Travis Scott, Kodak Black, Wiz Khalifa, Kehlani, Chance The Rapper); writing “All Right” for Daya and co-writing her single “Words” with Grammy winner Ginno Barletta and Jonas Jeberg; co-writing Juan Magan ft. DJ Topic and Lena “Solo Contigo”; and writing Krewella’s “Fortune” ft. Diskord, “Ain’t That Why” ft. DJ R3HAB and “Loves Outta Me”.
Recently, the songwriter co-wrote BTS’ single “Euphoria”, which became the theme of their latest album “Love Yourself: Answer”. The official video for the track has over 34 Million views and more 2.5 Million likes.
In an interview with CelebMix, Melanie talked about her journey and about her collaboration with some of the biggest artists in the industry. She also revealed the original title for “Euphoria”. Check out the complete interview below:
Hi Melanie! Can you please tell our readers a bit about your musical journey and how has it been so far?
It’s hard to separate “life” from “musical journey” when my whole life has been enveloped by musical endeavors! That being said, it has not been in any way easy. I’ve felt hopeless for years and then other times it’s as though I am an unstoppable queen.
We read that you dropped your studies to pursue your dream. What kind of challenges did you face to achieve your goal? Would you like to share with us any moment from your journey that has stayed with you as a learning lesson?
In the first part of my journey into the music industry, I moved to NYC in hopes of becoming a pop star who maybe dabbled in some lead roles on Broadway. I can honestly say my nerves made me suck at auditions and it always felt like all my agents were too busy for me. I never felt fully “ready” for anything and my reps probably sensed my hesitation, however, I pushed forward in spite of those thoughts.
Starting out, I had to face a few emotional beat downs from people who promised me all and gave none. While my initial plans didn’t work out the way I envisioned, I discovered an even bigger dream: to write songs that make people get the feels. I definitely have learned not to make plans around things which I only feel so-so. If you let it, your life’s going to lead you exactly where you need to go.
As someone who is well versed in understanding a music lover’s psychology and what really suits the audience, we are quite intrigued to learn about your musical vision. That is, how do you perceive your art and what do you aim to achieve while working on the songs?
I view my songs as little 5-minute heart to heart conversations. I like to keep the lyrics conversational and relatable rather than overly poetic and wildly dramatic. Remember: there are actual humans listening to these songs while they drive to work, run errands and even work out. I am poetic to a point, but I’d much rather just say what I mean in a lyric than beat around the bush. Let’s call my songs “No B.S. Bangers”!
You are a multi-platinum songwriter, which is a big achievement. While watching one of your interviews, we learned that you started writing at the age of 5. So, how do you perceive your evolution as a writer and an artist over the years?
I definitely feel like the bulk of my growth as a songwriter happened after I’d been in the writing game a couple years with minimal results. That’s when I decided to pull my head out of my own @$$ and start truly listening to the advice of those who’ve been doing it even longer. Ever since opening my heart to the idea of allowing myself to be guided as well as absorbing other writers’ styles, it feels like my songs are getting better and better!
Being a songwriter is definitely not an easy task especially when it involves working with different people and in different genres. What aspect of your art do you like the most?
I like to think of myself as a “Swiss army writer”; I have a bunch of different parts and they all function well within different styles of music. I love successfully writing a folk song for someone like Maddie Poppe and then smashing it the next day, working with an urban pop artist such as DeathByRomy. I love the aspect of freedom.
From your pen until the final release, what kind of creative process do you follow to work on the songs?
I write all my songs in Apple notes, which I’m deeply regretting today; the new Apple iOS update has managed to delete ALL of my notes from Jan ’18 until today. UGH. Anyway, blank slate time. Haha! To answer your question: I tend to write best when I have a concept or a title first. The music usually gets built based on the emotion that the concept has given off.
Have you ever faced writer’s block? If yes, how do you try to overcome it?
I rarely face this evil curse. When I started off in the record industry, I never took breaks. I was a madwoman. Back then, I’d experience days where I just didn’t feel like I had anything to say. However, since getting married to my best friend (as well as main production partner Lindgren), traveling the world and experiencing all types of life events with friends, there’s a much larger wealth of inspiration to pull from. Crossing my fingers I never have to deal with any blocks!
Your list of collaboration says it all. How did collaborations with The Chainsmokers, Britney Spears, and Aaron Carter happen? We would like to know more about your involvement with the artists for their projects. Also, which collaboration/s has been your favorite till date and why?
I was introduced to The Chainsmokers through my then-publisher Ashley Calhoun with Rondor, who was close to their manager Adam Alpert. We wrote “Setting Fires” on FaceTime! Britney Spears’ “Mood Ring” was a much longer process; my co-writer Jon Asher and I were never in the same room with her. “Mood Ring” bounced from producer to a new producer then to A&R to management, then up and down and back and finally it made it onto her “Glory” album! Aaron Carter is a much more interesting tale. We met when I was a kid and featured on the MTV show “Say What!? Karaoke”. He was a judge and I was a contestant. We exchanged numbers, but never kept in touch. Fast forward many years and we end up with the same booking agent! He linked us up, thinking we could do great music together! Aaron and I reconnected and became pals; the rest is all history.
We would like to talk a bit about “Euphoria”. The song has been making rounds among BTS’ fans and the full edition has completely blown our minds away. Please tell us about your collaboration with the group for the single.
I (lamentably) never got to meet Jungkook or any of the amazing BTS guys. I did, however, see them at Staples Center last week; my GOD. Mind-blowing show. I cried for a solid 20 minutes after seeing them perform my song; I was just so touched. The writing process of “Euphoria” was actually quite simple! I was called in to write with a friend of mine from NYC, DJ Swivel. He and another producer, Candace Sosa, started an idea that I assumed would be great to send to The Chainsmokers, I was called in to work on it with them.
After the session, I heard nothing for a while and assumed the song had gone into a hard drive, never to be listened to again. BOY was I wrong. DJ Swivel had shopped it to the wonderful people over at Big Hit and the song was slated to be a single right away!
Thematically, Euphoria’s lyrics are quite poetic. Jungkook’s lively vocals give a positive vibe to the single. But before the song was released, how did you interpret the lyrics as a writer? What kind of narrative do you think the song was trying to put forth?
When writing Kpop, just be prepared to kiss all your original lyrics goodbye. The new lyrics to “Euphoria”, while nothing like the old ones, were written by a remarkably talented Korean lyricist; someone able to interpret my melodies into Korean words.
Fun fact: the original title of “Euphoria” was “Time To Kill”.
What kind of projects are you looking forward to? If you have to share one thing that you’d like to experiment with, what would it be?
I am looking forward to being in the same room with the artists more often! Some of my favorite in-the-room collabs include EDM duo Krewella, as well as EDM producer/DJ Topic. I also love to work with the utterly awesome boyband Pretty Much, as well as YouTuber extraordinaire Wengie. Sometimes it gets tiring writing songs for artists who may not want outside songs. Even if the artist likes to write their own materials, I still really enjoy being there with them to be a guide or even a sounding board.
The industry is evolving. Now, a lot of artists are writing their own music. How do you perceive the musical landscape at the moment? What are some of the important changes that you’ve observed both as a writer and as an artist?
I’ve noticed the structure of a song becoming much more loose. I no longer worry so much about fitting all the melodies and lyrics into a perfectly sized pop box. Songs can say random stuff and still be huge hits.
Apart from music, we read that you’re an active ally of LGBTQ+ community. We would like to know more.
Some of my closest friends are gay, lesbian, bisexual and so on. I believe in the freedom to have ANYTHING you want, regardless of who you want to make out with. To me, sexuality is really not that serious and has NOTHING to do with your day-to-day life things. Why should a gay couple be subjected to extra scrutiny because they fell in love and want to adopt a child?!! It’s crazy that we even have/had laws governing who a person can and can’t love. I co-wrote an album called “Løvë” with Aaron Carter. I have nothing but that.
Would you like to share with us your future projects or endeavors?
I have some cool stuff on he horizon. Keep your ears amd eyes peeled for Zafari Music. Zafari Music is a masked DJ duo; their first single was written by and is featuring me. I’m also going to be on the next Vindata album coming out on Owsla. Lastly, I’ll be featured on an upcoming John Dahlbäck single; should all be releasing soon!
Melanie is a experienced professional in her field and is doing a brilliant job in helping artists release the “right” track to connect with the audience. You can check out all the songs written/co-written by Melanie on Spotify.
We would like to know your thoughts about the interview. Share them via tweet @CelebMix.