Melanie Fiona is back to satisfy our obsession with soul baring music. The Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter’s unrelenting passion is addictive and we have been feenin’ for her return. She is one of few artists whose vocals stimulate chills and fever simultaneously. Fiona forged a deeper connection with fans during her five year hiatus by sharing her maternal journey, and some in the meantime music, via social media.
She’s now poised to take us on a full throttle ride back into her melodic abyss. “It’s time for me to get back to my career and what I built my career on thus far and share the music I’ve been working on for the past three years,” she said. With the recent release of her new single “Remember U,” she reminds us of why we will never forget her bold, lyrical splendor.
Due out early 2018, her new album, Next Train, will likely transport us beyond the next level. As in the past, she is unapologetically exposing her vulnerabilities. “… all the songs on the album are reflections and progression. It’s about learning the lessons that we can take from the things that have either tried to stop us, have hindered us, have caused some hiccups, or have been low moments, and using those things to push forward,” she shared during an exclusive chat with ThisisRnB‘s Rocki.
Read the full interview below as the Toronto native discusses embracing her role as a multitasking mommy, the evolution of her artistry and her fearless creation and launch of Next Train.
THISISRNB: Welcome back! We were so excited to hear that you were returning with new music this year. How has it been taking time off to raise your son?
MF: I’ve prepared for this, as a woman, I’ve given myself so many years as the artist, as just the single woman to do what I needed to do for myself. It set me up to really understand and take the time that when I became a mother … I needed that time to then settle into that new role as a woman and to be there for my kid and not miss out on the super important things that working moms have to miss out on in that first year. When I was pregnant, I was touring still and even when people didn’t know, he was with me in the belly.
So now that everything is coming back around full circle, he’s been traveling a lot with me and I’ve just been figuring out how to make it work. I’m excited to get back and have him know that part of me and who I am. ‘Cause I think as moms, we forget sometimes and we get so caught up in being a mom. People make us feel guilty for wanting to do anything else other than be a mother to our kids and we have our own identities that we need to fulfill. I’m excited to be coming back because it’s really putting my life into motion of that next phase for me, which is being a working mom. I’m thrilled about it.
As working mothers, we show our children they can be more than what others think they should be. Your mommy VLogs touched my soul. It’s good when we’re vulnerable like that and we share our stories.
If there’s anything that being an artist has taught me, it’s that vulnerability is the truth of the art. It really is on all levels, on every level of artistry. I’m glad that you said that because I’m actually pursuing deeper opportunities and deeper connections and outlets to continue to service motherhood aspects of my life. I’m very passionate about it. Becoming a mother teaches you even more so how to work harder and go for it and expand. I don’t have an entourage, it’s literally me and I’m doing it. It just inspires you in a different way.
We love some of your acoustic session videos and the covers you did as well. What made you decide to do the vlogs on YouTube?
It was a way to stay connected to my fans. I haven’t been out in the public, per se, I’m not really an out there public kind of artist anyways. I definitely enjoy my private time, I enjoy my personal life. I’m not out at every party. I care more about the connection of connecting emotionally with people and through music as opposed to socially in a space. In the time of me being a mom, that was my way to connect with the fans … let them know, I still love you. I’m still doing music, these are the things that I’m doing right now. People always appreciate the covers. And the blogs and the YouTube, I’m still going to keep doing. They were like my personal creative outlets to keep in touch with the fans. It was awesome, the response was fantastic. I’m definitely going to keep connecting in that platform because now people are looking for me there.
Did you have the itch to work on new music during that time, or did you really just step back and enjoy being away from it, while you developed new inspirations?
To be honest, I’ve been working on the album simultaneously. Definitely in the first year, after I had him, I took some time where I wasn’t in the studio. But as soon as I could get back in, I was in. I went back into the studio again to push even harder to finish this album. Earlier this year, I didn’t reveal that and make it this soft, kind of casual thing. I wanted people to know that when I was coming back—I’m coming back. Here’s the album. Here’s the music, we’re really back in full swing.
I started working on this album at the end of 2013 and then most all of 2014, and then 2015, I was still touring. It just kept going for me. Now is the time, timing is everything. It’s time. It’s time for me to get back to my career and what I built my career on thus far and share the music I’ve been working on for the past three years.
Before you had Cameron you were working on an album titled Awake and had released a couple singles. Did any of that music carry over onto your new project?
Yes actually, “Bite The Bullet” is definitely still on the album. We had a body of work that we had already started. I actually just went back probably in the last year for sure. I was going really hard to try to outdo what we had. It took collaborating with some different people that I had never worked with before, that I had wanted to work with. I wound up with Sebastian Kole who did all of Alessia Cara’s stuff. He did “Next Train,” which was the name of the song, which then became the name of the album. That kind of solidified the change of title because I had been toying around with the idea for Awake since 2012, that was my mantra word. I was living my life based off of that. And then it became almost a cultural phenomenon, where everybody was like, “Oh, I’m woke now … are you woke?” I’m like everybody’s woke, we’re all woke—so where am I at now? Now, that I’ve been living awake for so long—where am I at? I’m like, oh, we’re on the ‘next train,’ we’re outta here, we’re leveling up, we’re moving forward. It’s about continuing to evolve.
When that song came along, as I listened to the body of work, a lot of the things that I had created for Awake, didn’t really fit the project anymore because I felt like I had outgrown it. So I wanted to make something that felt like Next Train, that felt strong, and felt sure, and direct and just forward motion. That’s what it’s about for me right now, my life is just continuing to progress. Becoming a mother, having a wonderful relationship that’s growing and blossoming. That family dynamic. My career as a woman. It’s all about the evolution and keep going forward and taking those lessons where we’ve learned and be on a train that’s going so fast that nothing’s going to hold you back. A train is unapologetic; it doesn’t stop. That’s where I’m at, I feel like it’s full force for me.
Tell me more about Next Train. What are the themes?
The theme is always, love. I don’t know how to sing about anything else. I am only inspired by love, I feel like love is the foundation for everything , if you ask me. All the hurt that we go through. We might feel anger, disappointment; love is the counteraction to that. It’s the first emotion we know. All of music is always rooted in love. But the idea of what Next Train signifies and all the songs on the album are: reflections and progression. It’s about learning the lessons that we can take from the things that have either tried to stop us, have hindered us, have caused some hiccups, or have been low moments, and using those to push forward. Every song is about that, pretty much.
“Remember U” is the initial stage of the aftermath of love where you wanna move forward, but these feelings are holding onto you, and what this person has done and what they’re still doing … it’s pissing you off. You’re like, oh my God, I just wanna move on from this; we’ve been through so much, but I am consumed by these emotions! And then you’ve got a song like “Next Train,” which is, I’m done with this s— and I’m out. I’m on the ‘next train’ and I’m outta here. And then I’ve got a song called, “Love So High” which will eventually be a single. I feel like it’s an evolution for me musically because Dre Harris and I did the bulk of this project together and he created this beautiful sonic which is very African-Indian inspired with like a really dope rhythmic beat, which is uptempo for me. It’s about being at the highest height of love, like going so hard for love that you just are so high. That’s a truth to where I’m at now, having a partner and a baby and a family and all of that. It’s all very real for me. It’s just all these different levels of how I have grown.
The first single, “Remember U” sounds great, you killed it. It’s a very commanding ballad, I was like, is this about Jared? Are they still together? Tell me more about that song.
We are still together. In life, I really do believe in drawing inspiration from all areas, ups and downs, past loves, future loves … it’s all everything. That song was actually done after the end of my last relationship. I worked on it with Andrea Martin, who is the collaborator I worked with on “It Kills Me,” and then again who produced it is Jack Splash, who I did “Wrong Side Of A Love Song” with. There was magic in what I wanted to reintroduce with, and that is true to who I am and what I do. It’s big production, it’s cinematic storytelling and big vocals. As my fans love to call it: “chest pain music,” something that makes you feel something.
“Remember U” is, I feel, at the true essence what I do best and what I do well and what people love from me. And it’s filling a void of what people have been asking for in music right now, especially R&B. I wanted to come back out giving my fans, that, true to who I am, true to what it’s about and then we can go on the journey the rest of the album together. I didn’t want to stray far from what I do. It’s easy to follow trends and do what everybody else is doing. When you know what you do best, the best thing you can do is stick to that.
Which other producers and songwriters did you work with on Next Train? Any features in the works that you can speak on?
I wrote the majority of the album with some other amazing songwriters. Little Eddie, Carmen Reece, Andrea Martin … Jerry Wonda produced on the album, he’s responsible for The Fugees to Miguel. And Jack Splash, who is behind all of CeeLo’s stuff. We got the Grammy together off of “Fool For You.” It was really nice to have a small tight unit of people that I worked with and then know that these are people who were on the journey with me personally, who’ve known me for a long time, who’ve had previous success and just know where I’m at and where I’m trying to go.
There is a very special duet that I’m currently working on, I’m not going to say. It’s so early because the album is not slated to come out till top of next year. But I have some great plans that I’m in the process of finalizing right now. It’s been a great process. It’s taken longer maybe than I and some people expected, but I’m so happy with the outcome that I wouldn’t change a thing.
If you could describe your comeback and new music to fans in just a few words, what would it be?
It’s elevated, it’s leveled up … we’re on the next train. That’s what it is.