What’s Melanie Martinez Got in the Oven?

Fresh off the release of “The Bakery,” the dark-pop songstress is still cooking up new treats.

Melanie Martinez has always been a bit different. Now, the world is a bit different. So what happens when those two anomalies intersect?

For one thing, new music. Her After School  EP features some of her most personal tracks yet, opting to write and sing about personal experiences rather than through the lens of her famous character, Cry Baby. While the EP remains sonically consistent to Martinez’ trademark sound—ominous pop, something a creepy and misunderstood clown might blast to wake up on his or her morning commute—the subject matter is a more intimate look into the singer’s own life experiences.

The new music comes a year after the release of her sophomore album and its accompanying film, K-12. “The Bakery,” one of the tracks off the new EP, became the #1 trending video on YouTube in a matter of hours.

I caught up with the devilishly playful Martinez earlier this month to discuss music, the pandemic, and how aliens might as well just come abduct us all.

“Beam me up, Scotty.”

Check out the video and our talk, below.

Where are you? 

I’m in LA. I’ve been here for the whole pandemic, essentially. I’ve just been chilling in my house. Just trying to, you know, stay creative. There’s so much going on. It’s really hard when writing. I feel like lately, I’ve been so blocked. But visuals and music stuff have been easier for me. 

It’s good that you’ve been able to find ways to pass the time! It’s not easy to be productive right now. 

Yeah. I’m just trying to do low-pressure stuff, too. Like embroidery or like, you know, working with clay or painting things that I like. There’s no pressure for it to come out into the world. It’s just for me, you know? 

I do! I was just thinking before this call that it was going to be so interesting to catch up with you. Because you’re one of those artists that create their own world, and while it’s similar to ours, it’s not quite the same. Like a parallel universe. And now we’re really living in what feels like a parallel universe. 

Yeah. I mean, as far as the pandemic and stuff, it’s so interesting. I’ve been thinking about that, too. Even just watching commercials and stuff. Everything is like, catered towards masks. But I feel like I had so much planned out, the concepts and stuff. The next album and film are much more existential. I feel like K-12 was in the material world. It’s where we are now on Earth. I feel like my next album and film are more existential. I don’t want to give away too much. 

That sounds so nice. Because I mean, who wants to be on Earth right now? It sucks here. 

I know. Which is where I’m at. My brain is like, please, aliens, come down and save us. Just like come through and help us out, you know?

I’d love for them to just come and sort this shit out. 

That would be amazing. It would shake shit up for real if aliens came through.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, surprises me anymore. If you told me that an alien abducted you and that experience was the inspiration for your new album, I wouldn’t flinch. I’d be like, “Melanie, 100%.” 

I mean, I feel like it’s so hard to believe that they don’t exist. We’re so tiny. You know, in the universe. There are so many universes. It’s like, we’re like this little, little tiny speck, you know.

Well, assuming the new music wasn’t written while on a UFO, can you tell me about the inspiration behind it? Where are you coming from these days? 

At first I thought it was going to be a shorter EP like, maybe four songs or something. And then I kept writing music. It ended up being seven songs. The first track was in 2017, and the last track was in 2020. So there are a few years between those with just everything I’ve experienced, or lessons that I learned, and what I was dealing with, even if it was subconscious. It came out in a song. Like “Glued” for example. I wasn’t really thinking too much about the song when I wrote it. It just came out of me. And then I examined it after and was like, you know, this is exactly what I’m going through. Like that lesson of healthy attachment, or healthy detachment. And knowing the difference. And just dealing with that type of thing in relationships. It was lessons that were really personal as opposed to doing something through a character’s lens. It’s the first time I actually got to sit down and write songs about my own personal experiences. 

It must be a bit refreshing. I know you’ve said before that you wrote through the character because it was more of a challenge. But in a way, this is really challenging too!

Totally, yeah. It was challenging to be vulnerable, honestly, because I’m so used to telling a story through a character and expressing my emotions within a character. That character represents the extremes of my emotions, the depth of my emotions. So if I’m mad, she’s extra mad. It’s the waves coming off of projecting in this extreme way. This time, it was so straight up. It was like, “This is exactly how I feel right now.” It was really cathartic for me to be able to just express myself freely and not have the limitations of a storyline or a character that I have to play. You know, it’s nice to be able to also have music that I can write for myself. I think any album I put out in the future will have a film and an overarching storyline. But if I put out an EP, it’ll be more personal. 

It’s a nice change. And it’s not like you’re completely reinventing yourself or starting from scratch. It’s not like “Melanie Martinez is Going Folk.” 

Imagine the next album is a full country album. 

You never know…like I said, I’ll believe anything. And what about the visuals? What are you working on? 

I wrote a video treatment for another song on the EP, and it’s gonna be my favorite music video ever if I get to make it. I’m still waiting on budget to get approved from the label. They need to make sure we’re saving enough money to do other stuff. But I’m super excited about it. It’s different than any music video I’ve ever made. There’s this performance aspect. 

Fingers crossed! 

Yeah, we’ll see what happens. I don’t know. But that’s really the only music video that I have planned for the EP. And then I have the next film that I’m on page 50 of my script for.

It’s also just super hard to plan anything right now, really. Even shooting a music video. 

Oh yeah, it is very hard. 

You just never know what restrictions are going to pop up. 

There’s only so much you can do with the pandemic. Even with “The Bakery,” we took a ton of precautions. Everyone got tested. I had to refrain from having any cast members except my best friend who lives with me because I didn’t want to put anyone elderly at risk [to play the old woman]. I made her have prosthetics to look like an older woman [laughs]. I’m sure the next video will also be challenging because of Corona. But I’m hoping we can pull through and make it work. 

It’s been amazing to see how creative people have found workarounds this year. 

I mean, yeah, that’s what creativity is. Right? It’s like using the limitations that you have and making something work. That’s basically what being creative is.

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