Interview: Pete Wareham – Melt Yourself Down (May 2017)

Among the dozens of bands that claim to play some unclassifiable music, Melt Yourself Down are probably one of the most convincing, because with very good reason they can attest to being whimsical, original and unpredictable.

Since you need to display plenty of inventiveness and artistry to deserve those qualities, we warmly advise you, not to miss their next gig, only three days away, at Battersea Arts Centre in London. Melt Yourself Down are going to be one of Borderless festival’s real highlights and most intriguing acts amongst the rich line-up.

So, we donned our lab coats and tried to “dissect” and examine in depth; the nature of the project, interviewing Pete Wareham (the band’s founder member and sax player).

Despite or maybe because you’re all based in London you come from different backgrounds. When and how did you decide to form a project together?

“The project was formed when I was DJing at a party and played a track by Ali Hassan Kuban called ‘Habibi’. I realised that I wanted to make a sound inspired by that – horns, vocals, percussion, bass, drums, pentatonics and Nubian rhythms. I became obsessed with music from the Nile and started using those rhythms as inspiration for songs”.

Why did you chose Melt Yourself Down as your name and what do you want to express with your project?

“Melt Yourself Down is the name of a James Chance album. When I read that name I just knew that was what the band should be called – melt down your personality, your ego, melt down your patriotism and let’s merge all our energy to move forward together”.

You reflect many and diverse influences in your music. How did you build your sound and how has it changed since 2012?

 “The initial songs were started using the process mentioned above but then Kush would add to the demo and then we would rehearse the music as a band, the song detaching from my demo and turning into a living thing as all the band contributed their ideas. The songs would then develop more and more when we played them live.

Right now we are working on new music with a similar process but we are integrating electronics more”.

Can you tell us who or what are your main musical and/or cultural inspirations? 

“Ali Hassan Kuban, Mahmoud Fadl, Wiley, Anderson Paak. Most of the new music has so far been inspired by the people above, along with all the experiences of our lives, as well as skateboarders like Mark Gonzalez who mixes improvisation with street skating, art and poetry.

We have also been motivated by all the political stuff that’s going on at the moment”.   

Melt Yourself Down are one of the most interesting group of faces on the London music scene. How do you feel about being part of it? How has it developed in the last few years?

“The feeling in London is amazing at the moment. There is so much enthusiasm for music and culture – it feels so great to be involved in such an international, buzzing city. London feels so much more connected to itself than ever before”.

All of the band members play with other projects. How is this influencing your sound?

“The other projects don’t directly influence our sound but everything we do gets into our playing and we bring those things in. The challenge sometimes is not to fall back on those things however but rather look beyond them to find something we can’t already do”.

Would you like to suggest us any artist/band you are listening to at the moment?

“Right now I’m listening to Anderson Paak, Wiley, Gorillaz and Kendrick Lamar along with all the usual staples from my collection, as well as many playlists and mixtapes I can find, and the ongoing search for another Ali Hassan Kuban type figure”.

Your second album (Last Evenings on Earth) had its first birthday a few days ago… How did you celebrate? Jokes apart, how do you feel about it today?

“That album was written in a very turbulent time of my life and that is why some of the music is darker than the first. It was fun to explore the further horizons of our music on that record, and I still really love it. The pieces are starting to get better and better live, which is funny because we’ve been playing them for a while now”!

What are your plans for the future?

“To keep writing and recording, playing live and thinking up new ways to explore musically”.

On Friday 12th of May, you’ll be on the Battersea Arts Centre stage, playing at Borderless Festival. How would you introduce your band and sound to someone who never listened to it and will attend to the gig?

“Horns – drums – bass – vocals – percussion. High energy music from Egypt and London, designed to make you dance yourself into a puddle”.