Get To Know Mellina Tey [Interview]

Ian Hansen

There are not many artists who put such an emphasis on creativity and experimentation than Mellina Tey. 2023 has been a breakout year for the U.K. based R&B singer, as her songs “Obsession,” “2AM,” and “O.M.W.” found viral success on Tik Tok, which transitioned nicely to DSPs. Against the odds, she has found a blossoming career in music and shows no signs of stepping off of the gas. Get to know Mellina Tey below:

This has been a life-changing year for you. How have you taken in all of the success so far?

Before music, I was doing dentistry, so there was a lot of resistance to even start doing music. The fact that I am at the point where I am today is very reassuring.

Have they opened up a bit more now that there is some success?

It is weird. I would say a couple of months ago, I had conversations with my dad about music, and he started to come on board. He was more intrigued and was like, “Maybe she is on to something.” Honestly, as of recently, no. The short answer is no. They still don’t fully see it, and my dad just recently suggested that I go back to school for dentistry. It is okay because I know it is coming from a place of love. We have come up in a completely different generation than them, so it is understandable. It is a part of the journey.

When you saw “2AM” go viral on TikTok in August, take me through what went on in your head and what it’s like knowing that people are resonating with your art.

It is just reassuring. It has only been until this year where my music is being recognized by people. Prior to this year, there was a solid year where there were very few streams. I am still getting used to people wanting music from me and recognizing me as an artist. Calling myself an artist is a recent thing I have been comfortable saying. When I am having conversations with people, it has only been a recent thing where I am like, “Yeah, I am an artist, and that is what I do.”

What is the biggest message you want your fans to grasp from your music?

For my music, I am not sure if the message is clear just yet. I think one message I do want to start spreading is just following your gut. Even when people around you are telling you, you can’t do it, as long as you know, have that gut feeling, and trust yourself, just go for it.

How has that message applied to you when you started making music to where you are now?

From the beginning, my parents would tell me it is something I couldn’t do, and it isn’t something people like us could do. I had every reason to not do music. It was a shot in the dark. The reason I got introduced to the idea that music was a possible thing I could do was through Russ. I literally just had to follow my gut. I had no prior experience with the music industry, and I had to learn what the music industry was, such as producing. I had to learn all of that by myself.

You mentioned Russ, and I know 6lack and Kehlani are also inspirations. What got you into this dark soulful R&B sound that takes the forefront for you?

It was always something I listened to. I wouldn’t say I had a lot of childhood influences. Music wasn’t something that was all around me when I was younger, but I think once I started being inspired by music, that was the kind I would listen to. It was a natural thing. What I started to create was naturally dark. It has only been this last year where I have started to have that distinguished, moody, and dark sound. Before, I was experimenting, so it was just experimentation. I think a dark aesthetic and moody visuals have always been something that I love.

“Obsession” is another song that is a big part of your sound. How did that track come together, and what is the meaning behind it?

In terms of lyrics, I know a lot of artists write songs based on personal experiences. I, however, don’t. When it comes to songwriting and the creation of my songs, it is pure creativity. “Obsession” specifically, I produced that one. It was me sitting at my desk and playing around, experimenting, and whatever comes out of it comes out of it. When it comes to lyrics, it is whatever comes to me. In terms of relating, I wouldn’t say I relate to my music as much. I am inspired by things around me, such as friends, movies, or characters.

How do you see your sound evolving as your career evolves?

Right now, it is very dark R&B focused. It is a genre I listen to myself, so I will continue it, but I would love to incorporate other genres as well, such as Afro Beat, Reggaeton, and even electronic music.

When it is all said and done, what do you want your legacy to be?

I think I want to be known as someone who took the risk. I want to incorporate fashion into me as an artist as well. I make my own clothes, and it is something I want to work on alongside the music. I want to be someone who is willing to risk it and try it. I want to be an inspiration for people trying to do the same, especially those who have a lot of resistance from family, friends, or loved ones.

Go more in-depth with you making your own clothes.

It started out as a hobby, as does everything. I picked up a sewing machine and started learning about stitches and all of these weird and wonderful functions. I like to rework clothes, whether it is using old clothes or buying cheap thrifted items. I will look at what I have and see what creation I can make. From a pair of jeans, I made a laced crop top and a skirt. I do a lot of patchwork stuff too. I like having unique things that are one-of-one. I want to continue that into that and my music.

What is next? What can fans look forward to in the near future?

Obviously, new music. There will be more experimentation, and there will be a new project. It is inevitable. I am hoping next year. I won’t say when, but next year.

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