In Conversation with Mella of Medea Electronica
As part of the Art In Brighton bi-weekly podcast, Chris spoke to Mella from Pecho Mama, the creators of the sold out show Medea Electronica. Here, is a snippet of that interview they talk art, music and synth; a lot of synth.
If you would like to listen to the full interview, there is a link at the bottom of this page.
What is Medea Electronica the show and album about?
Medea Electronica was a way for us to come together (Pecho Mama), in this formation, somewhere between live music and theatre. It is part gig and part theatre show where we are telling the story of Medea, which is one of the most horrific Greek myths there are.
Nice and cheery for Sunday then!
Yep, about as dark and tragic as you can get! We are re-telling it through music, like a live concept album – based on this greek myth, but set in the 1980’s.
How did you come up with the idea that, ‘you know what a greek tragedy needs? Shoulder pads!’
I did definitely say that at some point and there are shoulder pads!
The reason to go for the 80’s was partly a musical choice, because it felt as if all of a sudden we were making that kind of music, which is very synth led and it had a very 80’s feel. The more we ventured down that lane, the more we were enjoying it and the references we were using were very 80’s.
As we were getting into the story more, we realised that our version of Medea was that she wasn’t a goddess as much as she was just an average housewife. The story of Medea is that her husband betrays her and goes off with, in the original story, a princess, but in our story he runs off with another man. We thought that if we were playing this out in present day, she would be able to uncover the details very quickly because of social media and how easy it is to just log-on and find out anything you want.
We thought if we took it back to the 80’s we would have the sense of isolation really emphasized, so Medea just has an old rotary telephone and that is the only line out of her house, off her little island and into the world. Once we decided that, everything slotted into place and we got the shoulder pads in!
So tell us about the band itself, how many of you are there?
We are a three piece and we’ve been working together in different forms and guises. Alex and I have been working together for 20 years, which is shocking! We have played and toured together in a band back in the day and we’ve done bits and pieces over the years together. Sam, who is on the drum kit, he came to work with us on the Hurly-Burly, which is a travelling theatre café about 20 years ago.
We’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time and finally we managed to get it together and we’ve created this show with the sense that the music is happening at the same time as the story. Every time we came together we tried to be as free and open to possibilities in where we went creating the music and in terms of the story.
Had you guys recorded an album before?
Yeah, the first ten years of my performance stuff was all live music based and we created a couple of albums which Alex made with me, we were called Mella Faye & The Big Band - we did kind of Jazz, Funk and original stuff and we created a couple of albums under that name.
What were your musical influences growing up?
I know that you have Janis Joplin lined up next, she just blew my mind – she is so raw, gutsy and powerful and the song ‘Summer Time’, I heard so many times. When I was about 15 or 16 I would go out and busk quite a lot on the streets and it would be a buskers favourite to sing ‘Summer Time’. When I first heard Janis Joplin do it, it was like the first time I had ever heard the song and it’s the only one I can listen to now, it is just so heart-wrenching, powerful and unapologetic in the way that she performs it.
You can really hear the influence of Janis Joplin in your voice, was that intentional?
Oh no, I don’t know how you could begin to come near that! I hadn’t realised that she had died at the age of 27 because that voice is that of a 50 year old whiskey drinker.
Can you tell us any other influences that went into your music?
There are all sorts, that we felt when we were making the album, like a lot of Pink Floyd noises with the synth and drum kit, which was really fun.
If you enjoyed reading this, you can listen to the full interview below with music selected by Chris and Mella of Pecho Mamma.