11 July 2012
Articles | Interviews

Interview: Melody’s Echo Chamber

Parisian Melody Prochet makes psychedelic pop shrouded in secrecy

Words Cian Traynor
Photography Dennis Shultz

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One night in Le Motel, a cramped Parisian hotspot, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker was cornered by Melody Prochet, a breathy pop chanteuse determined to get some answers. She drilled him about his idiosyncratic production techniques, hoping to wear down his resistance, but it was useless.

“He wouldn’t give me anything,” she says of the meeting, two years ago. “That crazy space-guitar sound? It’s his big secret.”

Still, she slipped Parker a CD and he got in touch three days later, inviting her old band My Bee’s Garden to open for the Australian neo-psych group on their next European tour.

Songs were swapped, ideas traded, and the rapport blossomed into a collaboration. Prochet spent two months at the band’s house-cum-studio in Perth, recording a solo project of fizzing dream pop with Parker on production, filtering heartbreak into a snappy reworking of Stereolab’s hypnotic psychedelia.

Perched on a high-stool in a Brixton market café, the 25-year-old Parisian glows at the memories of marathon studio sessions interrupted only by sun and cider. But when it came to recording her airy vocals, Prochet felt too self-conscious to sing in a house full of insane musicians. “I needed to be on my own, so I went to my grandparents’ beach house in the south of France, which is a special place to me. My grandmother passed away and the house was up for sale. I’d been going there since I was a kid, so I decided I had to use it before it was gone. It was intense, emotionally, but it was the perfect place to write and sing. It meant a lot.”

It’s now two days after her second-ever show as Melody’s Echo Chamber and an earnest Prochet — peach blouse, black skinny jeans, plimsolls — is sipping apple juice as her cinnamon eyes skitter through the market. She seems tentative at first, describing herself as romantic and hyper-sensitive, but she lights up at the mention of Puyricard, the tiny village she grew up in.

“It was so boring, you have no idea. I didn’t have access to any music; no internet. When I was 18, I moved to Paris and I hadn’t heard much. Maybe Radiohead. Then I remember hearing Blonde Redhead and thinking, ‘Fuck! This exists? This is what I want to do.’ I had no idea. It sounds crazy but it’s true. I missed out on so much.”

Dropping out of college and abandoning 12 years of classical violin training, Prochet formed pop outfits My Bee’s Garden and The Narcoleptic Dancers, placing songs in advertisements for Canon cameras and Johnson & Johnson moisturiser — a track record she’s reluctant to discuss. “It was completely different,” she says with a shrug. “I’ve grown up. I got better at knowing what I want.”

Prochet certainly has a shrewd handle on branding. She adopted the alias Melody Van Kappers as part of The Narcoleptic Dancers’ dubious back-story (they claimed to be the half-sibling children of a Dutch footballer), garnering considerable press coverage last year. After returning from Australia with a solo album, Prochet avoided record companies in France, knowing bands are normally only celebrated there once they’ve made it somewhere else. Instead she targeted her favourite labels, suspecting she’d stick out amid piles of unsolicited submissions.

“To be honest, I think the fact that my songs are produced by someone in Tame Impala made them listen to it. The thing in this business now is they need a name to get their attention, which is annoying, but fair enough.”

It worked. Prochet is now managed by an A&R at 4AD, has the same booking agent as The xx and has a deal with Fat Possum to release the album, tentatively titled In King’s Park (Perth), in September. With just four songs shared with The Stool Pigeon, and future tours kept under wraps, plans for Melody’s Echo Chamber feels as guarded as Parker’s production techniques. Can Prochet at least reveal whether or not she uncovered his secrets? “Oh yeah,” she says with a grin. “I know everything now.”

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