“I was not good at singing until I was 25,” says 31-year-old Adam Melchor, smiling. He’s being self-deprecating, of course, like most of his songs that massage the line between off-kilter indie lullabies and the great tradition of classic LA singer-songwriters. It’s been quite the trip (sometimes literally) for this former slam poet and opera student, whose new Fruitland EP dawns a new era. Once splitting his time between the soothing folksinger on record and the jubilant rock ‘n’ roller on stage, Melchor on Fruitland presents his most complete self and thus Fruitland, Melchor’s new EP is not a live album but the trust distillation of what it’s like to experience the now more seasoned songwriter and performer in person.
It’s true: the New Jersey native really did study opera in college. While covering songs at restaurants along the Jersey Shore to help pay for school (including every Saturday at Hoboken’s Grimaldi’s for seven years), Melchor played in bands throughout Brooklyn. By winter 2018, Melchor decided it was finally time to go solo. By happenstance through a friend, Melchor connected with someone based in Los Angeles – Tobias Jesso Jr.’s manager. After hearing just three demo songs, Melchor was invited to meet in person in LA. Melchor said yes, I can be there. In three weeks. “I basically packed up my Camry and drove across the country just for this meeting,” says Melchor. “I had a good feeling about it. I showed up at his house at 7 o’clock on a Tuesday and told him that I drove here from New Jersey. He responded, ‘What if I canceled?’ I didn’t really think about that. He said, ‘You’re an idiot. Hang out with me this week.’”
And so Melchor was signed to R&R Records, an imprint of Warner Records, and began recording and releasing a series of mixtapes that captured the off-the-cusp, relaxed magic of his earliest demos – a sound, according to Melchor, akin to comfort music.
“I was lucky to have a team of people believing in my production abilities,” says Melchor, who self-produced most of his EPs along with help and mentorship from his new songwriting friends he found in the LA scene. With each new release, Melchor further developed his songwriting chops, including establishing his now calling card in the studio of doubling and sometimes tripling his vocals. His only hard rule for songwriting comes from a quote by the late John Prine: If you do the wrong thing once, it’s a mistake, but if you do the wrong thing twice, it’s a style.
His 2022 debut LP, Here Goes Nothing! was successful in many ways but not the triumph he was hoping for for one simple reason. There was a disconnect between his studio recordings versus his live shows. “When I play live, that’s where I do a lot of my best work,” says Melchor, who fleshes out his folk-pop on stage with a live band and no backing tracks akin to a raw rock outfit.
His powerful live show and his Instagram and Discord performances weren’t matched with the same excitement on record. “I was having a really hard time playing those songs as I recorded them,” says Melchor. “I wanted to have way more fun” and so the ethos of Fruitland was created.
If Here Goes Nothing! was an intimate collage or tapestry, Fruitland is a punctual snapshot of what an Adam Melchor song sounds like on stage.
“Big Time Good Time” depicts what a young Bob Dylan might have written in the age of information overload, which doubles as a mirror to the restless and often isolating life on the road. (“I get sent nudes, I don’t get laid.”) Though not one to write directly about politics in his music, Melchor doesn’t shy away from expressing what he sees in the world through his own spin on folk music, not because it’s going to change the world, but because it’s vital to express ourselves however we need.
Welcome to Fruitland. We’re glad you’re here.www.adammelchor.com/