If you’ve been paying attention, then you probably know this guy. His signature look and sound have exploded all over NYC and the surrounding area. His face has graced dozens of photoblogs and magazines. He is rocking and his work deserves the attention. Read on and find out more about Brooklyns own, DJ / Producer / Photog / Graphic Designer, Ryan Rhodes aka Melo-X.
TONE: When did you start your grind in the music world and how have you grown since then?
MELO: I started rapping between the ages 7 – 9. At age 13, I started recording music and by the last year of High School my best friend and I were making DJ mix-tapes and selling them in our High School’s. This was around 2002 and that’s when I started recording my first album. Since then I’ve become a well rounded musician. I have alot of work to do and plenty to learn, but I’m making good progress.
TONE: There is alot of talk about Genre’s these days. THENEWPOP.COM, recently sat with some artists and had a lengthy discussion on the topic. It’s become a point of contention with many artists and musicians. Whats your feeling on the process applying a genre to music.
MELO: Genres and sub genres are for big corporations to package an artist and sell them to a certain market. This pigeon holes the artists into that certain box. But it’s also something we do mentally ourselves. When we have an artist that we’ve loved for years their style stays in our head. So if we hear a new artist and they give us the same feeling, we automatically assign the sound to the other artists we love. We do this over and over, so in a sense mentally we have all our music grouped into genre’s, sub genres, and categories.
TONE: Lately, some very cool musicians like Santo Gold have sold songs to big companies like Apple and Ford Motors for advertising purposes. Some people see this as selling out, but it seems fewer and fewer fans and musicians are turned off by it. Personally, Im cool with it depending on certain conditions. What’s your feeling on the term “selling out”.
MELO: These are the conversations that I usually get misunderstood because there is no official definition for what selling out is. If a dude who is broke, doing drugs, and selling drugs too survive, gets a record deal and blows up and sells a song to Pepsi, is that selling out? Is being financially successful selling out? I think selling out has nothing to do with big corporations. It has to do with the individual in question. Selling out can be a pop artist trying to be more urban because his or her record label wants to move more units. I think that’s selling out. I want to be a philanthropist so if selling my music to a big corporation will help me get more money and be able to help more people, is that a bad thing?
TONE: I agree by the way. For me, what determines whether or not one is a “sell out” is their motivation. If they are changing their music or art solely to make money, then I think that is selling out.
TONE: What conditions do you prefer when beginning to work on a new song. I used to like red lights, a full pack of cigarettes and a cold Heineken when making beats. Do you have any kind of rituals?
MELO: I like dark rooms when I write. And drinking wine of course. I like too have my room clean. I can’t work when it’s dirty, that’s the reason I take so long to do shit, because my room is always a mess. I got guitars, drums, records, cameras , jeans, clothes, teeth and all kind of shit laying around.
TONE: A common thread in all my interviews is the question of inspiration. As an artist we all go thru the ups and downs of being creative. We have moments, sometimes ages, when it feels impossible to create. What do you do when you are in one of these ruts? How do you get yourself out?
MELO: I like to solve the Rubix Cube, and play guitar. Doing those two things usually gets the brain working. I also play piano so I go through runs and chords to get my brain into music mode. I might watch documentaries on music. Sometimes hearing a new song that gives me chills inspires me. Often times just talking with an artist helps. I can’t just work to work. I never make beat CD’s for artist. That shit never works. I like the artist to be there with me working on the music. It always creates better shit yo.
TONE: You’re CD DJ. You don’t use Serato or Vinyl. You’re making noise all over NYC and your name is growing more and more and very quickly. What made you choose the CD route in an almost all Serato and vinyl based scene?
MELO: Shit!!! I used to have 7 crates of records I would take to the city to DJ. This was in 2005 when I started. I would pay $30 to goto the city in a cab and maybe get a ride home. But, I got tired of breaking my back and moved to CD’s out of convenience. Since then, I mastered every type of CD Turntable out there but I love my Numark’s because they have looping and cue pads that are similar too drum machines, so I get to freak that shit like I’m producing a beat. Recently, I got my Laptop, and I’m going to use both. I have too many CD’s and some are too old or scratched up. With Serato I can add a midi drum pad or keys to my set. I plan to start using that kind of setup so I can freak the shit retarded!!!! But, the main reason I didn’t get Serato when I started was because I was broke. That helped me to develop my own style. However, I dont want to get Seratoizm. It’s a bad disease you get with Serato. What it does is make DJ’s switch songs so fucking fast the audience never gets a chance to get into the groove. SHIT IS WACK!
TONE: So, you have a new mixtape out. Tell me about it?
MELO: The Mixtape is called “Mustafa’s Renaissance”. It’s a mix-up of original material, remixes and instrumentals. I’ve been working on it for the past year. It’ a big accomplishment and I’m very proud of it.
TONE: I know early on, you had some mentor type cats in your career, can you talk about them and what they mean to you?
MELO: My main mentor, who is also my manager, is Claude Dary. He taught me how to DJ and put me on to alot of music that helped mold me into the artist I am today. He heard my first beat, my first few rhymes, everything. He was always str8 up with me. Like, “you could get that scratch out”, or “you could do more with that beat”. Also I would say my boy Freddy, because we grew up together so it was a constant exchange of knowledge. He was always str8 up with me too.
TONE: Tell me a little bit about your current production projects. I think people know you more as a DJ then a producer and your production credits right now are actually very deep. You are working with some very relevant artists that are on the come up.
MELO: Yeah meng. Right now I’m working with Mickey Factz as his DJ. I also have been DJ’ing for a few other artist like Outasight, Theophilus London, and Rah-saan. As far as music production goes, I’m working with Theophilus London, Jesse Boykins III, Nikki Ntu, Marty MCfly, Outasight, Print, Shyvonne, Jasmine Solano and myself of course. Me and Nikki Ntu have produced and recorded an EP which will come out early next year. It’s called “A History of Dreams” and it’s a concept album based around different dreams and visions Nikki Ntu has had since we started working together. Its Incredible.
TONE: Whats it been like working with Mickey Factz? Dude is quite a character.
MELO: Mickey is my brother mang. We done toured together, chilled, got drunk, bagged shorties and so on. Thas my dude man. He is a true EMCEE. He is always writing and always coming up with different ideas for his band. Just very forward thinking. Alot of times at our shows out of state I just DJ and play his music however I want and he performs. That’s when we have the most fun. Wisconsin was the BEST!!!
TONE: ALIEN is a name that is very respected among a niche group of people. They have a huge following in Japan and you have been down with them for some time now. I’m curious what the deal is with them?
MELO: We are a collective of individuals with open minds. ALIEN is always morphing and evolving. It just does that naturally. We chill and talk about worldly things and put each other onto different ideas and books, etc. So i guess thats why there is a mystery around us. People can never put a hold on how we look or who we are. ALIEN has birthed so many looks and so many movements in the NYC inner city youth culture. Now we are just planning our next step to make ALIEN even bigger than we are now. We have a cult like following because we are more than just clothes, we are a collective of forward thinking creative minds. Who can beat that! We got music, art, fashion, everything and we try to input some knowledge into everything.
TONE: Electric Punanny has become a staple party for many young cats emerging and following the scene. From day one, it was bonkers at Sway. When you and DJ Jasmine Solano started coming up with the idea, what were you thinking?
MELO: Well one night a while back at 205. After a great TASTE party with DJ Equal spinning. I was in the basement and it reminded me of the old Bashment Reggae parties in Brooklyn where you were able too bang on the ceiling and walls. Then the way the lights were flashing it reminded me of an old rave. So I said, that’s a sick ass idea — Reggae vs Electro. I hit up jasmine cause she was the only cool female Reggae DJ that I LOVED and was a good friend with. We had lunch and I gave her the idea. Then I dropped the name, Electro Pum Pum. We paused for a minute and she said how about “Electric Punanny”. It was like magic! We saw big punannies flying in the sky with electric WINGS and all that. We plan on taking this shit on tour and also paying for some of our NY followers to come with us. The Punanny team (EP) can’t be Stopped. It’s Me, Jasmine Solano & Roxy Cottontail.
TONE: I was a fuckin terror when I was in high school. I skipped class all the time, never did my homework, played baseball tripping on acid, dropped out and so on. What were you like in high school?
MELO: In high school I was good and bad. I did my work because I didn’t want to get left back but I hated school so much that I did good just so I wouldn’t have to stay extra time. Don’t get me wrong, I cut classes, made fun of the teachers and all the regular shit too. Then in 12th grade I got on my grind and started selling Mixtapes and boxes of canned soda to everyone including the guards and teachers. Battling cats at lunch time and having dance clashes on the top floor where there were not alot of guards. It was a good time!
TONE: If you could be anything in the world other then what you are, what would that be?
MELO: Hard question because I do so many things, but I’d say a movie director. I mean I am going to be one some day, I am just not there yet.