Mel 4Ever is a creation all her own.
The self-proclaimed “tr***y pop star” has never played by the rules of the music industry. Her music is in-your-face with its pulsing synths and loud in its trans euphoria. Her lyrics are a rallying cry to rage against transphobia, keeping listeners hooked with lyrics that are equal parts humor and horror. Songs like “Go Bitch!”, “Big League Chew,” and “Treat Me (Like A Toilet)” put her chaotic musicality on full display.
Her upcoming EP She Culture Pt. 1 is all about womanhood. The first two tracks, “J.K. Rowling” and “She Culture,” serve as a thesis to the project, with Mel screaming at all the outside forces that shape what it means to be a woman — particularly a trans woman — in modern society. The horror-infused music video sees Mel turning her body into a literal weapon, ready to strike down anything and everything in her path.
Over email, INTO chatted with Mel about the real-world experiences that shaped her music, why she refuses to be boxed in by genre, and what she has in common with Britney Spears.
You’re known for your provocative song titles. How did you decide on “J.K. Rowling” for this intro track?
A large part of J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans argument is that trans women were not sexualized at a young age in the same way cis women are; she says we did not face the same dangers or traumatizing life experiences of being a young woman. On my EP’s intro track “J.K. Rowling,” I recount a story in fifth grade when I was being bullied by a bunch of upper-class kids. They were all boys. They were throwing handfuls of quarters at me, chanting, “This is for your sex change.”
This story is one example — out of thousands — about being sexualized, traumatized, and harassed growing up in Alabama. My body was ridiculed because of my display of gender and sexuality (even before I knew what those two things meant). So in the song, I am not comparing or conflating; I’m more so demonstrating that we have all had terrible memories and childhood traumas that have led us to who we are today.
We are all valid, our own truths, and no one deserves to be one gender more than another. Yes, my experience as a young child was not that of a cis woman but nonetheless, I was traumatized and sexualized in ways that clearly echo misogyny.
In “J.K. Rowling,” you repeat the phrase, “This is not hyperpop.” Why isn’t it? What sets your music apart from the genre?
I think that people are lazy and get confused; they automatically want to label something or categorize a piece of art as something they’re familiar with. I know I can be the same way sometimes. But just because I play with vocal production a certain way, does not mean I make hyperpop. It is, however, as I say on the song, “tr***y sh*t,” because I play with vocal production in pursuit of feeling less dysphoria with my voice.
My music is not hyperpop in the same way that SOPHIE or Ayesha Erotica did not set out to make “hyperpop.” They did not name the genre and they did not ask to be a part of the genre. They made what felt true to them, and their work was labeled by the music industry.
It’s the same for me. I did not set out to make hyperpop … I am being categorized the same way as they were and I want to push against that. It’s almost like we’re not validated as pop artists. We have to have a sub category because we are trans. It’s the industry, pushing against the idea that we could be mainstream, and I don’t stand for it. There is so much storytelling and world building with what I do — it is all made with intention. To categorize it at all I think is wrong.
The “She Culture” video ends with you turning your body into a weapon, repeating the phrase, “It’s only just begun.” Will we see more of this story? What else can fans expect from your upcoming EP?
Definitely. My body is the center of attention throughout my EP, She Culture Pt. 1. I live in New York City, and to get from point A to point B, I have to interact with hundreds of people who immediately size me up, project their preconceived notions onto me, and analyze my body without even speaking one word to me. It’s violent and dangerous.
The She Culture Era is my reaction to those experiences. And right now I cannot extract that from my art. It’s important for me as a trans artist from the South, especially right now, to not shy away from putting my body and my art. Obviously I dream in a world where I can be “regular,” but I believe I don’t have that luxury at the moment. Ask Dylan Mulvaney.
The music video for “She Culture” is brutal and visceral, incorporating a lot of horror elements. Are you a horror fan? What’s your favorite horror media?
I live for horror. It calms my anxiety. My favorite horror movie is The Witch. “Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?”
What’s the most underrated movie, music, or TV show you’re obsessed with right now?
Talk To Me, the new horror film. It’s redefining the genre and it’s brilliant. You must see.
This week’s mixtape features hot singles from familiar favorites, fresh voices, and a powerful new album as gentle as it is euphoric.
What queer pop culture moment defined your childhood?
Britney Spears bashing in a car window with an umbrella. I think that’s exactly what this EP is about — lashing out and trying to break free.
What’s your dream collaboration?
It’s Charli [XCX], baby. It’s always Charli, baby.
What’s your idea of the perfect night out?
OMG, going to see Bottoms (2023) with my girlies and cramming food after, then watching more Housewives of New York whilst vaping my face off.
She Culture Pt. 1 is out September 29.