Sometimes, less really is more.
Austin-based singer-songwriter Melody Chebrellan has released a low-budget but whimsical music video for her new single Upside Down.
Made in collaboration with director Aaron MacCarley, the stop-motion video features Melody on a journey through various fantastical 2D settings. It’s simple yet it visually complements the artist’s lighthearted tune and lyrics.
According to Melody, they came up with the concept due to budget constraints. What they lacked in funding, they more than made up for it with creativity and hard work.
“Having essentially no budget was a blessing because we had to be super creative within those confines,” she told Lost At E Minor.
“I basically laid on the floor for four days in a row, moving an inch at a time and then tensing my whole body in various awkward positions for each shot. We took about 3500 photos.”
Upside Down is Melody’s first single off her debut LP Comets and other drifting bodies, which she described as “an exploration of the spaces between us, the vastness within us, and the little bits of magic that bridge the distance.”
Continue on below to see the rest of our recent interview with Melody Chebrellan!
Please tell us more about yourself. How did you become a singer-songwriter?
“Looking back I think I don’t think I could have avoided a life in music; my parents were street musicians and named me Melody.
“As a kid, I often crashed on piles of coats with tissue paper in my ears while my mom’s alt-rock band practiced late into the night. She exposed me to basically every genre of music — we would clean the house to the Gypsy Kings and then lay on the floor and listen to Leonard Cohen.
“Musical theater was also a big part of my childhood, which taught me how to perform and how to use songs as a vehicle for storytelling. I’ve been making up songs since I was a kid, I think I just always assumed I had picked them up somewhere or that they were somebody else’s songs. I had this idea that everything cool had already been written by someone else.
“It took a long time to trust myself and to trust that what I was writing was original and my own. Around that time I had just graduated from college and I bought a microphone to record my first EP in my bedroom closet.”
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LINK for NEW SINGLE in BIO!! First single dropping next week!! I’ve been working on my debut LP Comets and other drifting bodies since 2015. It has been a slow arduous process and a labor of love ❤️ I can’t wait to finally share it with y’all!! . . photo by @thomasryanallison obvi he’s fantastic! Follow him!
How would you describe your music?
“Well, I have this idea that the song is guiding me a lot of the time. I’ll start with a phrase or a riff or a melody and I’ll just follow it until the song begins to take on a life of its own.
“And then I try to just go with that and to nurture it along until the song becomes what it wants to become. Usually it’s guided by some feeling or kernel of truth that I’m trying to express. And sometimes it comes out indie-pop or straight-up rock or folk or jazz.
“I really try to treat each song as its own project, so the style shifts based on what I think would suit the song, or what I have been jamming to at that time, or who I am working with.”
Where or who do you turn to for inspiration?
“I really love turning to other artistic mediums for inspiration. I often go for long walks and listen to podcasts. I’m a bookworm and read a lot of non-fiction, poetry, and obituaries. I love researching and taking deep dives on subjects. My songs are usually rooted in whatever I’ve been working through but the details come from what I’m reading about or discussing with friends.”
Let’s talk about your music video for Upside Down. Where did you get the idea for it?
“I write a lot of my songs with specific images in mind. Some of the lyrics for Upside Down were things I had envisioned, for example hanging upside down and inside out with my guts exposed. It was essentially a metaphor for vulnerability but a very graphic one.
“So when I teamed up with the director, Aaron MacCarley, he proposed that we make it in stop-motion and the medium seemed to fit the whimsical lyrics perfectly. Having essentially no budget was a blessing because we had to be super creative within those confines.
“We spent so many hours tie-dying sheets for the background, cutting up pieces of paper and assembling props that we owned like the samurai sword!”
How long did it take to make? And how difficult was it to make it?
“Haha, it took forever. We spent four 8-hour days shooting. We set it up in an office with the camera suspended between two hanging fluorescent lights on a plank of wood with a hole drilled in it.
“I basically laid on the floor for four days in a row, moving an inch at a time and then tensing my whole body in various awkward positions for each shot. We took about 3500 photos. Aaron and a crew member would run around adjusting things, including myself like I was a mannequin, before taking each shot.”
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LINK TO FIRST SINGLE IN BIO!!. You guys!!! I am very excited to show you the completed album cover for my new LP ‘Comets and Others Drifting Bodies,’ photo by the incomparable @thomasryanallison and titling by the fabulous @ellemkauf. Album drops November 20th! What do you think?
Upside Down is part of your debut LP Comets and other drifting bodies. Could you tell us more about the album?
“I enlisted the help of my friend and producer João Fonseca to help me record Comets. He went out and enlisted a lineup of really talented musicians to bring it to life.
“I was living in Berlin at the time, which is super international, so the musicians he found came from all over the world – Bolivia, Israel, France, Germany, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, the US, the UK, and Hong Kong. Those studio sessions were really amazing because everyone brought his or her talents as well as the sounds and textures of their home country. Together we created this tapestry of rhythms and styles from all over the world.”
What are you busy working on now/next?
“I’m living in Austin, Texas and working on my next album. No rest for the wicked, as they say.”