Premiere: Mel Bailey Strikes Neo-Soul Gold With Debut Single “Better Days”

Sydney’s soul scene is brimming with fresh talent, and newcomer Mel Bailey is diving in head-first with her sultry RnB sensibilities. First turning heads as the support act for Auckland electronic producer VILLETTE at The World Bar, Bailey has quickly cemented a spot as one to watch, and her first single is a slick neo-soul slice to start with.

Taken from her Kwame-produced debut EP (due out early next year), “Better Days” sees Bailey’s gossamer vocals swoon over lush jazz-flecked layers from a live six-piece band. Complete with a soul-stirring hook and sunkissed keys, the track also showcases both Bailey’s understated elegance as a lyricist and her melodic flair.

Speaking about the single, Bailey says, “I am in an endless desire to wander the intricacies of the world in the hope of developing and being in control of myself. A bad day is always coupled with a better day, if you search for it.”

We chatted to Mel about how it all came together, the music she cut her teeth on, and her plans for next year.

Best Before: When did you start making music?

Mel Bailey: I started making music about five years ago, when I was 18. I was in a blues-rock band for about two years. I also have a lot of producer friends who would get me to collab on their projects. It wasn’t until last year I met some musicians who really understood the kind of music I loved and brought the best sound out of me. So I started writing for myself.

Can you take us through your songwriting process?

It all depends on how I’m feeling on the day and the environment I’m writing in. Every time is different and there’s not really a strict process I run by. Usually, I will create a melody that follows the beat and the keys, then words will come after. There are also other times, where I’ll be sitting on a bus or chilling on my own and I just want to write down how I’m feeling at that exact moment. So I will write poems, which will either never be looked at again or sometimes warped into a song.

There are some stunning jazz and soul elements in “Better Days”. Which artists and records did you grow up listening to?

When I was a kid, my mum would blast Stevie Wonder nearly every day. She also shared her love for Brandy, Toni Braxton, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston with us. Then, as I started selecting my own music taste it’s gone from Erykah Badu, to The Black Keys to Amy Winehouse.

What’s the story behind the single?

This year has been quite challenging for me. There were a few moments where I really didn’t feel myself, and all I wanted to do was essentially fly away and travel to find myself again. I guess this song is about doing that. Everyone just wants to explore, whether it be the world or themselves, in the hope of understanding life a little better.

Which artists are you digging at the moment?

Kaiit!! She is killing it at the moment. 30/70, Wallace, Sampa the Great and Jordan Rakei are also always on repeat.

What are your plans for 2018?

My debut EP is set to be released in January which I’m super excited for. Then I’m actually travelling for a couple months, visiting my family in the Philippines and the US. When I come back I’ll have a few more shows lined up with the band and work towards the next release. It’s going to be a crazy year, I can’t wait!

Listen to “Better Days” here: