Meet: Indie Grunge Queen Melanie Baker

Ellen Dixon

Newcastle-based indie riser Melanie Baker began her career playing folk tunes at open mic nights in her home town of The Lake District. A deeply shy teenager wracked with anxiety, she found confidence and a voice for the first time via her songwriting before relocating to the North East. We caught up with the Newcastle based singer-songwriter to find out a little bit more.

Give us a potted history of yourself

I started self-releasing music as a teenager living in the middle of Cumbria with no idea what I was doing but I ended up playing a bunch of really cool shows like supporting Dodie, Maisie Peters, Will Varley, travelling up and down the UK and to Nashville for songwriting. Fast forward years later, based in Newcastle-upon-tyne, I’m gearing up towards releasing my next record and have just put out my newest single “All My Plants Have Died” which is the introduction to a totally new sound for me, it’s louder and bolder and I’m really proud of it. 

Who inspired you to start making music

It’s hard to pinpoint really, I’ve always written songs and poetry and stories ever since I could write. We had a piano in the house when I was a kid and I took lessons for a while but that didn’t really suit what I wanted so I ended up teaching myself so I could just write songs and play instead of learning to read sheet music. It wasn’t until I was 14 and my Dad took me to my first folk festival in Cumbria and after watching the young musicians’ showcase I remember saying “That’s what I want to do” and the next year I performed there with my own original songs. 

And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically

One of the biggest records that inspired me artistically with my new sound was “Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit” by Courtney Barnett. I discovered this album a few years ago and then quickly got into the rest of Courtney’s older discography. I would spend hours listening to it on repeat, going for walks, screaming along to the lyrics in the car. I think it was one of the records that inspired me to grunge up my sound and turn up the overdrive on my guitar. 

If you’re trying to explain who you sound like to someone who’s never heard you, what do you say

I’d usually start with the obvious comparison to Phoebe Bridgers because I feel like she’s an indie-alt artist with a foot in the folk world and a foot in the rock world,  singing about really sad, depressing things and she has made it to the mainstream. I’ve had the “you’re like the Cumbrian version of Phoebe Bridgers” a bunch of times now, which I’m not complaining about. 

Tell us about your new single

I’ve just released my latest single “All My Plants Have Died” on DuBlonde’s indie record label, Daemon TV. It’s a song I started writing a few years ago, in the dreaded lockdown years. I recorded a rough demo of it and then forgot about it until 2022 when I picked it back up again and thought “This could be something” and wrote the rest of it on my living room floor.

I produced it with my drummer at the time, Josh Jackson, with our best mates who I told to just shred all over it and make it sound cool. Which they did. We recorded most of it in a lighthouse cottage that I rented for a week on a remote island off Cumbria. It was nice just to have no distractions and focus on the song. Then we recorded the drums played by Adam Robson in Blank Studios in Newcastle, mixed by myself and Lisa Murphy. 

Tell us how you write

I enjoy writing with other people but for my own songs, I always write the lyrics and music totally alone and then when I’m happy with what I’ve come up with, I play it to my friends who make up my band and they contribute all of the cool musical elements like guitar solos, riffs, drums, bass lines, and that’s when it feels like it all comes together. But the lyrical process is always personal and isolated. 

Tell us your favourite records that are rocking your headphones/tour bus/stereo

An album I will never get enough of is “Uh Huh Her” by PJ Harvey. I only listen to it on vinyl but every time I do, I blast it as loud as it can go and it makes me feel all the emotions. I’ve also been loving the “Masterpiece” album by Big Thief and Indigo De Souza’s latest record “All of This Will End”

Check out Baker’s new single

Find out more via Baker’s Facebook

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  1. […] Meet: Indie Grunge Queen Melanie Baker […]

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