A multi-instrumentalist, producer, photographer and filmmaker currently living in Margate, UK, Melinda Bronstein is a musician with an impressively eclectic CV. Her musical journey began as the keyboardist and backing singer for the acclaimed Americana-tinged band Absentee, before playing drums for grunge band Wet Paint and indie-pop heroes Singing Adams, as well as adding percussion and backing vocals to the drone-pop sounds of The Leaf Library. After years performing other people’s songs, she recently took to songwriting of her own as part of the duo Sea Glass, starting an outpouring of creativity, that led to the debut Melinda Bronstein album, In Reverse, released in October last year via Objects Forever / Metaphysical Powers.
Began in February 2020, In Reverse was recorded in Melinda’s home studio over the course of, “a year of massive shifts”. The key to In Reverse’s undeniable charms is the instinctive approach Melinda adopted, embracing improvisation, as she recalls, “I approach making music without any expectation, plan or idea of what will come out. The un-knowing is the exciting part which allows me to surprise myself”. As you’d perhaps expect from that freeing approach to creativity, In Reverse is a genre-blurring collection, there’s a touch of Grouper’s vocal-led compositions, alongside ethereal electronics reminiscent of Cross Record or Laurie Anderson’s more song-led offerings. While this could come across as cold and conceptual, at the core of Melinda’s music is something distinctly human, from the way voices are layered and processed to create the music, through to the almost conversational lyricism, it is a record that seeks connection, exploring universal themes of love, hope and the interrelation of people that makes life a shared experience, not a lonely journey.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Melinda Bronstein?
I would describe myself as an artist. I studied art but then spent the next 20 years playing in lots of bands. I’m now focussed on my own outpouring of work…. I also take photos / make weird films and generally dabble. My approach is intuitive and always led by the moment, following an unknown thread. I prefer to plan nothing. My first solo album ‘In Reverse’ came out this autumn, I’m chuffed. I used the X-ray from my shattered wrist to represent the openness of this record, I reveal my insides to you!
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
The first ever show I played, I was in a kind of rip-off velvet underground band, with me as ‘Moe’ on drums. We played at the NUS bar in Stratford, London around 1997/98 (I’m showing my age!). It was a blur of nerves, confusion and cheap beer.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I grew up in a house full of older brothers blaring out records at every hour. My parents also had a record shop so we were running around amongst the vinyl and music lovers. It just made sense for me to make music, but interestingly I ended up going to Art College. I get a lot of inspiration from visual art and poetry and different approaches. I will always make stuff, right now it is music and photography.
FTR: What can people expect from the Melinda Bronstein live show?
This is something I’m getting my head around at the moment! As the tracks on this album were born out of improvisation, they are somewhat hard to recreate. My ideal situation would be to keep the fluidity of improvisation, with live looping and drones alongside vague song structures! I really don’t want to end up Karaoking my own songs! Perhaps there’ll be a visual element…watch this space.
FTR: What’s next for Melinda Bronstein?
Earlier this year I received some Arts Funding that has allowed me to upgrade my recording set-up and means for the first time I have a studio outside of my home. All very exciting. My aim is to just keep on evolving from this album, developing in this dedicated space.
There’s the beginnings of a new Sea Glass album, and I’m part of The Leaf Library collective, these are both on the horizon.
And I am planning to make a small book with a selection of my abstract photos.
They Listen To…
The Passions – I’m In Love With A German Film Star
Nico – Frozen Warning (Peel Session)
Laurie Anderson – O Superman
Talking Heads – Listening Wind
Faust – Jennifer