Photo by Ismael Quintanilla III Photography
We’re excited to feature Mike Melinoe as our November Artist of the Month! The Detroit-born, Austin-based rapper and visual artist will be releasing his next full-length album ‘CLAJIDU’ on November 15!
Known for psychedelic sounds & lo-fi internet bred aesthetic with old-school lyricism, Melinoe deliberately swerves his way through dragged out ballads with crisp clarity. His music exists on a plane that marries boom-bap to the intricate chaos that can only be summoned by a computer. Melinoe raps with an elevated consciousness about his life, but eschews the narrative for a college of image with impressive vocal elasticity.
Get to know Mike in our exclusive AOTM interview.
What does it mean to you to be recognized as AMF’s Artist of the Month?
I’m very pleased and honored by any recognition I receive during this living creative experience. I’m not even from Austin and didn’t move here with any other intentions but to prosper so if this is what comes with it I’m honored.
You’re a creative individual working in several different outlets, from music and modeling to painting and design, are there any creative endeavors you haven’t explored yet that you’d like to?
Yeah, it’s a load. I’d like to direct visual more. Recently I’ve tapped into that creative side but I’m looking to turn things up a notch. Another thing would be an author side, but that’s another chapter, haha!
You’re known for having a super energetic live show. How do audiences in Austin compare to the crowds in Detroit?
Well I never had a full opportunity to be in front of large crowds, outside the underground, while coming up in Detroit. I have a feeling that the energy would be a bit similar to Austin’s though. The underground scene in Detroit was way more cultural base. Meaning that we had to wow people in many different ways, but I was trash back then so my live performances were energetic but very discombobulated. I wasn’t completely aware of who I was back then or where I’d truly be. So ultimately I never gave myself a full push and effort as I do now in Austin. So the crowds here are very receptive because of the confidence I possess, the range in music and soon I might be incorporating a band. Because what I’ve learned being in Austin is that people love and react differently to live music.
You’ve been playing bigger and bigger festivals recently, from A3C to SXSW to even playing abroad, do you have a favorite gig you’ve played?
Yeah, next is FADER FORT! But until I play at Coachella I’d have to say that Hip Hop Kemp in the Czech Republic was my favorite. Meeting people from around the world is totally different than over here. I have stories for days about that festival. And I played there twice so it’s lovely.
Let’s talk about your upcoming album, ‘CLAJIDU.’ Where does that name come from?
Well the name comes from a feeling and position that I’ve found myself in since I’ve been taking risk. The title is an acronym for “Currently Laughing At Jokes I Don’t Understand”. Lately, I’ve been in various different environments, all from my creative ventures, and find myself feeling out of place but I’m wanted in the environment as if I’m a part. I’m constantly trying to reinvent and identify with Michael, daily. And this particular moment in time is different and I’m enjoying it but very astonished.
Were there any overarching themes you considered when you were writing songs for this album?
I attempted to gather a load of emotions and experiences from my life to explain that no matter what time it is we still have a place to go and we’re marching at whatever beat we desire to be on but it takes life to experience death.
Have your influences and approach changed since your previous project “Oo”?
Tremendously. With “Oo” I found myself in a very unique place, and that EP was never supposed to come out. Those songs were all throwaways from another album. So that was a moment. CLAJIDU is more like a well thought-out plan that occurred when life brought the most painful and stressful circumstances and made me realize what I’m up against culturally and creatively.
You’ve talked before about being influenced by Basquiat, Andre 3000, and Lil Wayne. What were you listening to before you recorded ‘CLADIJU’?
Nothing, truthfully. I couldn’t. Currently, I only care to strengthen my mind, body and soul to better everything and everyone around me. I try to create what I see, hear and think. If it’s trash, it’s trash; but it’s my trash and at least I know what that feel and smell like. Once I turned my album in though I turned on The PNTHN and Sade haha!
‘CLADIJU’ Is coming out November 15th, what will you be doing to celebrate?
You obviously take the visual aspect of your work very seriously, could you tell us a little bit about your album art? Where did the inspiration for that come from?
My thoughts on the artwork was just to strictly focus on the moment I feel whenever I’m in a ‘CLAJIDU’ mindset. So I got a good friend and photographer Caitlin Rounds to snap a shot where I was making myself smile, highlighting just my grin and the sky. Showing that in these moments where I’m laughing, it’s an in-between perspective of potential outcome under a vague laugh out of discomfort or just me feeling out of place.
Your most recent video, 4:44, seems to be riddled with symbolism, is there any specific interpretation you want viewers to leave with after seeing it?
It’s many things but the main thing is TIMING, EFFORT AND RISK. We fight ourselves often about what we wanna do and end up missing out on those opportunities. So no matter what time looks like know that it’s more to go and more to come.