“I first discovered Melaena Cadiz and her music six years ago on a fashion blog, and I have been a fan girl ever since. Her music is raw and real, its refreshing. Her voice is thoughtful and unforgettable... and her style is so unique and feminine. She reminds me of an old friend from Placerville that I just can’t stop listening to...”
- Christy Dawn
Story and Interview by Chasity Glass
How do you know Christy Dawn?
Christy reached out to me on Instagram and was so kind in her message. She said she loved my music and wanted to send me a dress. I had been following the Christy Dawn fashion line for a while and was delighted to receive such a wonderful gift, the Valeria Dress. Christy Dawn has created a world that you want to soak into, with beautiful dresses you want to wear.
For those who don’t know you and your talents, can you describe them?
[Big laugh] I am a songwriter, a singer-songwriter, what I create is folk music. I’m drawn to simple 60s or 70s music. Music that is lyric driven, with simple arrangements, letting the voice and lyrics be the center of it.
[Long pause.] I’m going to open some wine while I talk to you.
Please do. I’ve already cracked a beer.
Has your music evolved in this third album? If so, what inspired the evolution?
The first album was just a few songs that I wanted to record. I went into the studio for fun. Over time I became surer of myself and my vision. My work evolved as I began to trust my intuition. The second album I recorded with my full band, and most of those takes were live, in-studio. It was a bigger sound. After that, I wanted to go back to something that was more sparse and intimate. I had written these songs that were very much my own story, rather than inspired by someone else’s (like many of my older songs - although those stories were inevitably guises for exploring my own feelings and experiences) The songs on this album are about my own life, my struggles and what I was going through at the time. I very much wanted it to feel intimate and honest and as though someone was sitting in my living room with me and hearing my story.
Do you feel this album is at its rawest? Is it the biggest reflection of you?
Yes. Absolutely. My work has evolved as I’ve been more comfortable looking inward. As an artist, I felt it took a while for me to be confident enough to let down my guard. These songs I wouldn’t have written about six years ago.
How does it feel to tap into past emotions and feelings to help shape the lyrics and music?
I went to Joshua Tree with my husband and sat in a room for a month and wrote most of the songs; it was cathartic to go back to those sentiments with more understanding and compassion for my younger self. It was as if I was reminiscing with an old friend.
So you escaped NY and headed west, how is California treating you?
I feel like such a newbie (after two years). We moved to Los Angeles when I was seven months pregnant, so it was only two months before we had a child. Everything changed at once. In a lot of ways, it has been such an incredible transition because it’s easier to raise a child here with more space and nature. And, creatively people are very open to collaborating. The city has embraced us, and we are constantly discovering new areas to explore.
How is Los Angeles affecting your creativity?
I can be more still in the moment. Though, if I had a little more time outside of raising a toddler, I’d be more creative [big laugh], being a parent my creativity hours are limited. Though, I make sure to take a few hours each day to sit and write and play music. It helps me to not procrastinate knowing I have limited time.
Has your idea of art or creativity changed now that you’re a mom?
Before I had such tunnel vision, focused on my music. Now I find myself crafting and doing other things creatively. I find it liberating to do something creatively when you’re not attached to whether it’s good or not.
How do you stay true in all off it (raising a toddler, forming your art, loving your husband…)?
[Long pause.] My husband and I, as we negotiate parenting, we make sure to give each other time for ourselves to tackle the things we want to work on, or simply go for a walk.
I read another online interview you had done, and there is a quote, “a life well-lived is a form of art in itself...”
That is something my husband says all the time.
It’s a wonderful quote. I’m hoping you could elaborate on it and describe what it means to you and in your life.
It doesn’t matter if you’re super successful according to normal social standards. It matters that your day to day life is beautiful and an adventure and that you’re striving and growing and staying engaged. For us, our art is working toward something that is… true. Did you ever watch that Springsteen documentary? [Noises, big laugh. Husband’s voice heard in the background reciting the quote.] “More than rich, more than famous, more than happy even… I wanted to be great.” But, I want to be happy too. For us, a life well-lived is working toward something that you feel in your heart is true and great.
Is there a song that you wrote that represents that life well-lived?
When we got back from Joshua Tree, I found out I was pregnant. The song Last Night in My Dream is snippets of our time in the desert together and then the feelings of being excited and terrified at the same moment. It’s recounting the conversations of feelings, and what a life well-lived might mean now.
After our interview, I couldn’t help but finish my beer listening to her music online. Christy is right. Melaena’s voice is captivating. Her music echoes the unvarnished splendor of a life well-lived. An enchanting friend that takes you back to a time, “weighted and freighted by good times and bad / we’ve had lots of those / I don’t mean to sound cliché but just give me some / California sunshine / give me some reason to believe…” It’s not surprising that reviews of her music and songwriting are admiring. “Cadiz has a voice that grabs you within seconds." NPR “Cadiz’s unique take on these classic sounds feels like an evolution, the kind that will continue to win over new fans while maintaining the honest voice on which her music seems to build.” PASTE MAGAZINE
Trust the reviews and listen for yourself.
Melaena Cadiz will be playing on Saturday July 15th at 8 pm, helping celebrate the opening of the Christy Dawn factory in downtown Los Angeles. If you’d like to hear Melaena and celebrate with Christy and our team, please RSVP to RSVP@ChristyDawn.com