Melody’s Echo Chamber: “I think the album evokes the eternal circularity of life”

Melody Prochet on how motherhood as reinvigorated her joie de vivre and helped inspire the album she thought would never happen

Today sees the release of Emotional Eternal, the third full-length from Melody’s Echo Chamber, but it’s one that for a long time she thought would never come. In 2017 Melody Prochet sustained a serious and painful injury that muddled and darkened the childlike marvel that had normally guided her life.

Her second LP Bon Voyage oddly foreshadowed this — a wondrously woven patchwork of psych-folk sounds, yet sewn together with a thread of chaos. But, as she tells us in a rare spoken interview, birthing her first child and moving to the idylls of the French alps, Prochet’s eyes broadened and her ears began to listen again, and soon found the beginnings of what’s presented to us today.

You called your last album Bon Voyage a “modern fairy tale full of duality: beautiful and disenchanted, happy and painful”. I loved that record but was struck by its sense of chaos, especially after the sunny and joyful melodies of your debut. Now on your new LP it feels like that’s been blown away now and there’s a lot more space. Can you talk us through this transition?

I guess you’re totally right. I think since Bon Voyage I really needed to sit in silence because of its delirium, somehow. It was very dense and intense, and it really felt like being the mad captain of a vessel in my own body that needed to be healed. So it was really a trip. I really embraced that, it was really fun to make and I enjoyed the process but also it was very much chaotic and an oddity.

I didn’t think I would make a new record, actually. So Emotional Eternal was a happy accident and I was very surprised. The tempest is still there in an undercurrent below the surface, because the new record sounds ethereal and more joyful but you can still feel a veil of danger. I’m comfortable with it.

The lyrics for the album opener, ‘Emotion Eternal’, read at times like a fairy tale of their own, with dragons, horses and cedar forest. Has motherhood turned the existence of modern life back to the magic of a fairy tale?

I think I’ve always had the eyes of childlike wonder, but I think I’m an inconsolable child somehow [laughs]. So it’s kind of a balance between childhood and the drama of adulthood, an equilibrium being found between my inner child and being a woman.

Of course having a child is the most personal miracle and in a way nothing to do with your art, but I feel like it has fulfilled your sound in a way, which has always had this feeling of childlike wonder, as you say.

Yeah totally, I like if the music reflects that, because it’s kind of the colour of my soul. It’s why I have so much natural metaphors as sanctuary in the music, because the natural world always enchants me. The forests are a place in my imagination but also now that I live near them, it’s special. 

Photo by Diane Sagnier

The song that started to snowball into the creation of the album was ‘Alma’, right? Do you feel like you were waiting for a song like that to arrive, or did it catch you by surprise?

[Laughs], I would say both! Yeah, it caught me by surprise for sure, a happy accident maybe. I really didn’t think I would make another record. I always get inspired by an emotional overflow, and it was this cathartic moment when my one-year-old daughter and I got separated for the first time time. It was really intense.

Some of the lyrics on the track are strikingly open and direct. Did that feel quite freeing?

I think so. It can sound naïve, but because I am a candid person, it was natural. I didn’t care, I didn’t over think it. I just needed to say it, and in a very simple way, and I’m very direct. It doesn’t sound cheesy, I don’t think.

The feel of the song reflects that sentiment. Do you think this first offering dictated the tone for the rest of the record naturally?

I think ‘Alma’ has that undercurrent, that veil of danger as well. You’re really happy, but also you know that there is the threat of losing that happiness hidden somewhere. Maybe, I have no idea. But it’s not just happy, I didn’t want it to sound like, what’s that song, “‘Cus I’m happy,” I just think with the whole record there was this whole equilibrium being found; I think Emotional Eternal evokes the spirit of the eternal circularity of life somehow.

Melody's Echo Chamber - Alma (Official Video)

Why was it important to record with Reine Fisk and Fredrik Swahn again?

It was natural, they’re just who I want to share creating new things with. Reuniting with them was the best part of the process and such a joyful surprise, because as I said I didn’t think I’d make another one. But it was also chaotic, because I think we started in February 2020 and I went once for a week, and then I went home and then we were stuck for the next six months or something. Each time the lockdown ended I would go back to see them in Sweden, I think went three or four times in the end, which for us is nothing.

Do you think it changed or developed with such a long time to breath?

I’m a very slow person, very slow. My rhythm, my inner pace, is completely the opposite of what modern society asks of us. So it was allowing us to digest everything and let the best ideas resonate. I always need time to see what idea stays, because my passion is timeless music. I love music of the soul, and that’s what I’m after.

Talk to me about some of the instrumentation on the album. I’m thinking in particular ‘Personal Message’, which is swathed in these almost medieval sounding string sections. What stage in the writing were these added, were they always planned?

This song is probably the most special for the three of us, actually. It’s the Swedes’ favourite. The music revealed very naturally and it started from them; I think the strings were there from the beginning. What I really loved about it was the folklore, but it’s also kind of modern too, but it feels very natural and organic. I instantly got the melody going, and I knew it was going to be in French, because it was very dynamic and a lot of work. But it all came together naturally, and I love it when that happens because it doesn’t happen that much. Bon Voyage was more of a puzzle, and we were just getting to know each other and Reine wasn’t as available. It was trying to work with what we had, but this time he was completely and passionately in the process and I think you can hear that.

There are traces of traditional folk sounds throughout. How do you keep an eye open for more global or historic sounds?

Even before I met Reine and Fredrik I was always open to folklore and world music. It’s like when you enter a library, the right book will find you, the right music will come to your ears: Bulgarian choir music, Éthiopiques, or Béla Bartók, the Romanian classical composer who’s always stayed with me. That’s what brings me to Reine and [Fredrik] Swahn as well, because they have this Swedish folklore that I really love.

You have a global following, and singing in both French and English certainly helps that, but is choosing a language for a song something you think about consciously?

I’m not sure, but I think it comes from the rhythm. When the flow is quite dense and rhythmic I will prefer to do it in French because I know more vocabulary, or maybe even it’s my thoughts are best expressed in my maternal language, I have no idea. But when it’s more flowy and poetic, I can be more ethereal in English. Again, I don’t overthink it too much.

Maybe this is just me being very English and not being well versed with French music history, but it seems sometimes like on tracks such as ‘The Hypnotist’, there are times that sound very ‘French’ in an almost Ye-Ye, Gainsbourg-esque way. Is that something you want to embrace as well as the traditional folklore you’ve talked about?

That’s a good question, but really strange because I haven’t listened to much Gainsbourg recently. I loved his work ten years ago and of course it’s a tradition in France, but I’ve never intentionally wanted to sound like that. But it’s funny because when Reine and Swahn are playing they can really sound like that, which is weird. But I think it’s more of the baroque-ness. I have something baroque about my songwriting, and Gainsbourg was also really inspired by Chopin, by Bach and a similarly classical background, so maybe that’s the bond.

I was more inspired by Sébastien Tellier, but he is inspired by Gainsbourg, so it’s a whole f**king circle again! [laughs]

Melody's Echo Chamber - The Hypnotist (Official Audio)

As you’ve told me, at the end of Bon Voyage you were hardly listening to music and were sure you wouldn’t release new music or tour again. Does it feel different this time around, is the new album bringing back that giddy excitement?

I actually think that being a mother triggered more life in me, and I feel more vivid and alive than ever. That triggered this record, and that triggered the desire for more. I have so many ideas but then again you never know what life has planned for you. But I’m definitely excited about making a new record.

Read our review of Emotional Eternal here.