Melanie Fiona is back.
After delivering a series of show-stopping covers throughout the year, the soulful songstress releases “Remember U,” the lead single from her forthcoming third album, Next Train.
Produced and co-written by Jack Splash and Andrea Martin (“It Kills Me,” “Wrong Side of a Love Song”), “Remember U” finds Fiona at her most soulful, belting out a vulnerable track about love from her past. “All I do is remember you,” she sings, with an evocative sincerity in her voice. “All that I’ve been through.”
“Remember U” is just the first glimpse into Fiona’s upcoming LP, which is tentatively due next spring. “I’m really excited for this project,” she tells Rap-Up. “I’m so thankful for the fans that have been anticipating my music, staying with me through my personal journey as a mother.”
The new mom, who is planning to hit the road in January before launching a full tour in support of the album, spoke with Rap-Up about how motherhood has changed her life, the muse for her latest album, and why SZA is “fantastic.”
What inspired “Remember U”?
“Remember U” is what I felt had to be on the album and I’m excited about it being the first single. I think it’s classically and quintessentially who I am as a vocalist and as a singer-songwriter. I love to sing about love, the vulnerability of love, the truth about love, the ugly side of love sometimes, is what I’ve found people loved and appreciated from my music. I never want to shy away from that. “Remember U” is about the aftermath of love, being in a space where you are consumed by memories of someone that you love, but you’re mad and sad at the same time because you don’t want to be in that space anymore. You want to move on. That’s really what this album is about. This album is called Next Train and it’s about propelling forward, forward progression, leveling up, and moving on, getting over things. “Remember U” is just that ode to classic soul, artists I’ve always loved, who’ve inspired me, who’ve done an amazing job, dealing with songs of love and heartbreak, like Sam Cooke, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, to name a few of my favorites. That being the foundation of what I do, “Remember U” is really special to me.
Who did you work with on Next Train?
This body of work is really personal to me because it’s my first album as an independent artist. In that space, I’ve had room to create music that I’ve wanted to create, work with people I love to work with, take time to make a quality project, and even take time to make a life. As you know, I had a baby in the last two years so it’s been a beautiful journey and evolution as a woman and artist. I executive produced the album with Dre Harris, who is responsible for everybody from Glen Lewis to Michael Jackson. Him and I started this project together and released “Bite the Bullet” and “I Tried” back in 2015. From there, I just went as far and wide as I wanted with people I wanted to work with. Sebastian Kole is a collaborator on this album, Lil’ Eddie is one of my favorite songwriters to work with, Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, and SIR. There’s a really personal sound on this album because these are all people that I love, have history with, and personal relationships with. I’m working on a duet feature with Luke James at the moment and I’m hoping we could get that ready for the album sooner rather than later. The album is finished. I’m really excited about the concept of Next Train. The album was previously called Awake and now, ever since I’ve been living in that space of Awake for the last two years, now everybody’s doing that, so that word is not my story anymore. At the very end of recording this project, I did a song called Next Train with Sebastian Kole and really solidified what I felt I was saying on this album, which is progression, going full-steam ahead, like how a train is, fast, and all about forward movement, and progression. It’s really strong, all the songs are personal, and they’re all what people are expecting from me and a couple things that people maybe aren’t.
You welcomed your son, Cameron, in 2016. How has motherhood changed your life and impacted your music?
It’s definitely kept me a lot busier, because I’ve been recording this album, doing shows, and having Cameron with me. It’s been really fulfilling, to have a greater purpose as to why I do things. I feel blessed that I’ve been able to have a career, and set the foundation for myself as a woman and an artist, to do what I need to do for myself. Now, I’m giving of myself in such a different way, musically, and personally, helping raise this young man, knowing that I’m responsible for that, knowing that I need to be responsible for what he sees in me, who I show him that I am, as a woman, and as an artist, inspiring him to do his best at all times, to work hard, and explore all avenues of creativity. He keeps my art alive more than before because I’m setting an example for him. He’s the best piece of art I’ve ever made, so he’ll be my inspiration always.
What artists have inspired you lately?
There’s an artist by the name of Jon Bellion, who I love. Ironically, I met Jon on a writing trip overseas, in Europe together. We actually took the same flight and train and had to find our way through Paris together, to get to where we were going. Immediately, upon meeting him, I knew there was something very special about him. The week of being at the writing camp, I got to hear his work, and then, his album is a masterpiece, if you ask me. He’s rapping, singing, producing, he’s doing everything! Jon is such an amazing person, one, but two, as an artist…He’s so multifaceted. It’s really inspiring. With his album, it has rock, it has soul, it has reggae, it has hip-hop. It has all the elements I love and he’s heavily inspired, I feel, by Kanye West, and Kanye is one of my favorite artists of all time. [Another artist] is SZA, with [Ctrl]. I think she’s fantastic. “Love Galore” is one of those songs you never get sick of hearing or singing along with. I’m a purist, when it comes to music, and it’s nice when I can find artistry in a new wave, that pays homage to classic soul.
Can we expect any new collaborations?
Now that I’m back out and people see that I’m getting ready to release music, a lot of people are like, “Let’s get in, let’s do things.” I’m so open. The beautiful part about this part of my life is that [I can work on] anything I want, anything I want to do. That’s the beautiful part of being independent and having a wonderful team to support that. I look forward to collaborations at this point because I just feel like I’ve grown so much and I’ve evolved, and have so much more to offer in all aspects. It’s going to be fun.