Montreal Dream-Pop Artist Mekele Talks Binaural Beats and Working Solo
The solo ambience of Mekele plays like the soundtrack to a dream—waves of synths wash over you and soothing vocals ease your thoughts into warm bliss. The experience is relaxing and even healing—and that’s precisely Mekele’s intention.
Full name Mekele Morrone, the Montreal-born musician will be taking his dreamy and drone-y electronic melodies in a new direction for his upcoming album, Monolith.
“Monolith will be a full-length, and it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s inspired by frequency healing and binaural beats.
“I’m really inspired by New Age and healing music and the kind of frequencies that will alter your state.”
Frequency healing is a form of alternative medicine that entails listening to specific wavelengths to help bring mind, body and soul into harmony. Binaural beats utilize a similar method, said to help reduce anxiety by influencing brainwaves with audio.
Mekele hopes to incorporate these elements as undertones in his shoegaze-y style.
But he wasn’t always interested in creating such euphoric, relaxing music.
“When I was younger, I was in some metal bands, but it never really worked out because I would be screaming most of the time,” Mekele said.
“I thought I would do my voice some good and start a solo project that was kind of ambient and singer-songwriter-related.”
Mekele started making music at a young age and never underwent any formal training, saying it was “innate” for him to teach himself along the way. His solo artist persona began four years ago, with Mekele taking on all aspects of the creative process—playing keyboard, programming, writing lyrics and singing.
“I’m really inspired by New Age and healing music and the kind of frequencies that will alter your state.” —Mekele
In December 2012, he put out his first, self-released EP, Nocturne, which he produced himself.
“I mix everything myself. Writing that EP was basically just me being alone a lot. I decided to make something out of whatever I can,” he said.
Two months ago, Mekele expanded on this idea of the artist’s struggle in solitude with a music video for his single “Heaven,” in collaboration with art director and close friend Melissa Matos.
The video follows a naked, androgynous bald figure, played by Mekele, who wakes up on a beach, tethered to a boulder. The figure drags the heavy rock across the rainy shore, through the mud, open fields and forests, before finally achieving its freedom. In the end, the figure is shown standing alone in a nightclub—an ambiguous ending open to interpretation.
“The idea [behind “Heaven”] was to create a story with how I’ve been dealing with the whole music process of writing and producing and just being a solo artist,” Mekele said.
“We knew that the song and the process was always about a struggle that will bring you to a higher level of consciousness, and bring you to enlightenment, basically. It’s not without that struggle that you feel that release.”
He also mentioned that portraying the lone wanderer himself in the video was meaningful to him.
“I thought it was important to experience every aspect of the song in order to translate the mood visually,” he said.
Mekele recently relocated to Toronto “seeking a different scene,” and is now booking gigs around Canada, hoping to tour the United States soon. For live shows, he says he likes to create an ambience in the performance space that pairs with his ethereal music.
“I really enjoy creating a mood; sometimes I have incense burning. It really depends on the crowd, the space, the environment I’m performing in. If it’s a bar I usually try to find something interesting to project in the background,” he said.
“I had a friend of mine make some really interesting digital art, and that was projected on my body, and I was the basically the screen for that performance,” he said of a recent live show.
In his performances, Mekele will often remix his own tunes. He mentioned he has most recently revamped the single “Nocturne” off his first EP.
“Recently I’ve been performing a version of ‘Nocturne’ that is kind of hypnotic, and I feel like in my performance it just really grabs people. My communication with the audience is definitely felt throughout that track,” he said.
“It’s the last track of the EP, but I recently kind of brought it to another level. It’s electronic and pulsating, drone-y and hypnotic.”
As for the differences between Nocturne and the upcoming record Monolith, which is in its final stages, Mekele says the newer record will be even more intimate than the last.
“The first release was more [on the] surface from how I think about my music. It was more about the face of Mekele, and I think Monolith is more about who I am as a person and as a writer,” he said.
Mekele + Jacques Greene // Nov. 29 // Phi Centre (407 St. Pierre St.) // 10 p.m. // $15 first 100 tickets, $20 other tickets