“We Want to Do Everything on Our Own Terms”: Melody & Christine on Their Artistic Vision and New Passion Project
Melody & Christine open up about their musical upbringing, life since Melody’s J-pop hiatus, and the values that guide their music.
Please describe your new single, “Halcyon,” and what the process of making it was like!
M & C: “Halcyon” has quite literally been a decade in the making. It is all of our musical backgrounds, influences, and experiences put together, kind of like a culmination of both of our worlds. “Halcyon” is about finding our calling and following our instincts, reflected in the notion of days filled with peace and eternal love. What we really want is for our music to bring a feeling of fullness, happiness, and healing. The process of making our music is quite simple: Christine, who is the track-maker, usually starts by composing on the piano. Then, we put a melody line to it, then start writing lyrics while Christine produces the track. We recorded this song mostly in her home studio, which really is our creative workshop. It’s always the best time!
Does “Halcyon” represent what your signature sound will be, or are you still experimenting with what future singles will sound like?
M & C: “Halcyon” is a good introductory song. It really captures the fundamental sound and depth that defines the message we want to convey. As is the case for all musicians, we want the audience to feel what we feel, and we believe “Halcyon” captures that well. In terms of our signature sound, most of our songs will mainly be centered on the piano. As a result, we plan to release a stripped-down acoustic version with Christine’s piano and our vocals. This may not be the case for all [of our] songs, but we [think] it will be for most releases. These acoustic piano versions will provide a raw glimpse into the foundations of our signature sound.
How has music influenced both of your lives? Where does your love of music come from, and did any specific events lead to that love of music turning into a desire to be a musician?
Melody: Music has always been a huge and important part of our lives. Melody is my real, legal name, so clearly our parents loved music. We learned to play the piano, the clarinet, and the harmonica from an early age, and we [have] all loved singing! One of our favorite childhood memories is figuring out harmonies and singing songs over the piano together. We have always shared the stage singing and dancing together since elementary school, and it just feels natural.
My motivation to entertain came from a deep place of wanting to make this world a brighter place. After high school, I moved to Tokyo after a successful audition and became a pop singer. Christine also moved to Tokyo, to write music for my projects. We [have been] in the studio together throughout most of our careers.
Christine: As Melody mentioned, music has always been an enormous part of our lives. My three sisters are Melody, Harmony and Rhythmy. Why I am not named after some kind of musical element is a mystery, LOL! My earliest memories are of my sisters and I playing the piano and singing together. Our mother would always have music playing, and the genres she would listen to spanned from classical music to pop, new-age and folk/rock. She was a huge influence on our musical upbringing. Also, when I was about eight years old, I saw Yanni’s “Live at the Acropolis” on TV. I was so moved by his music, and that’s when I realized I wanted to write music that inspires and moves people.
Once Melody moved to Tokyo to become a J-pop singer, I joined her to pursue a career as a songwriter. I was fortunate to have been able to write many songs for her during her time as a J-pop artist.
What made you decide to team up on music, and why did this specific time feel like the right one to start?
M & C: It is just natural to be teamed up! There is no question about it, since we’ve always been really compatible and we always understand each other. The timing just felt right. We are both mothers, but we thought if we don’t do this now, it may never happen. It was our dream for a long time to do music together again, so this time around, we want to do everything on our own terms. No pressure from record labels, no rules. Just truly [being] us, and we hope that some people will resonate with it. It really is our DIY passion project.
What specific strong suits does one of you bring to the group that the other does not? In other words, are there certain skills or traits that balance each other out and make you a compatible duo?
Melody: Christine is the talented one, I always say. She is the one who plays the instruments and produces everything. She does the vocal directions, records everything, and mixes and finishes the songs. Also, she is the one who is really tech-savvy. She works with Photoshop to make our artwork and lyric videos, and [she] sets up everything on our socials.
Christine: Melody leads the vision of this project. Our whole project wouldn’t be possible without her direction. She comes up with the ideas, and I create the sound and imagery according to those ideas. She also writes the melodies and lyrics with me, so she doesn’t give herself enough credit in that department. She’s a great songwriter! Also, the fact that she once was a professional singer means that she [has] a treasure trove of knowledge about the music industry. We really make a great team!
What was the reaction like from family and friends when they first heard “Halcyon,” and who got to hear it first?!
Melody: I honestly don’t remember who heard it first… probably the kids?! And if we decided to release it, the reaction must have been good?! Christine, do you remember?
Christine: Yeah, I remember. I let my husband and mother hear the demo first. Mel, I think you let your husband hear it first too! He offered to play the guitar for the track! Our families were so thrilled and excited that we were finally going to be releasing a song together.
Will there be a music video for “Halcyon”? If not, what would be your ideal music video concept?
M & C: We haven’t planned a music video for “Halcyon” yet, but if we were to make one, it would ideally be animated. Some game lore, or an animated storyline, most likely CGI. Anyone interested?
Melody, congratulations on your recent 14th wedding anniversary! What have you learned are the keys to a long and happy relationship?
Melody: Thank you! I don’t think I’m in any position to be able to give advice, but what has worked for us is communication. We talk a lot! Also, [we] express our appreciation for each other every single day and do not expect anything from each other.
Are you interested in collaborating on future songs with MIYAVI, or would you prefer to keep your music separate from his?
Melody: We are both very open to collaborating on something in the future! Although our music tastes are very different, I think there is something we can do together for a specific type of sound. We’ve talked about it a lot.
Can you give any hints about what is next for you?! Are more singles already in the works? M & C: Yes, we already have songs ready for release in the near future. But first, we plan to release the stripped-down acoustic piano version of “Halcyon.”
What are your short-term and long-term goals as a group?
M & C: Our short-term goal is to stay on schedule for releases - it can be quite challenging with kids! [Our] long-term goals are really just to be able to continue writing and composing more tracks and to spread love and positivity to anyone who listens to our music. The ultimate goal is to do anything we can to make this world a brighter place for everyone through our music!
What is your advice to someone who wants to pursue a music career but is nervous about it?
Melody: If you think you [have] what it takes, just go for it! There is nothing to lose! We can’t ever please everyone, but someone might need your music.
Christine: Agreed! I think that if you have a dream, you owe it to yourself to give it a try! It’s better to know that you pursued your dream than to always live in regret. It's never too late to try!
Lastly, is there anything else you want to say about yourselves or your music?
Melody: I always tell myself, “Smile and be thankful to be alive today. Every single day is a blessing.” Thank you very much for reading our interview, and I hope you enjoy the music. It means the world to us!
Christine: I hope our music will go on to reach many people’s lives and offer listeners a sense of hope, peace, positivity, and love. We truly enjoyed making this song and are excited to release more! Thank you for the interview, Hope! And thank you, readers!
Answers have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. Photos courtesy of Melody & Christine.