Melanie De Biasio: Brussels Voice Distils Haunting Jazz And Blues

Less-is-more singer-songwriter echoes Peggy Lee and Nina Simone: read MOJO’s interview here.

Melanie de Biasio

Fact Sheet

  • For fans of Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Portishead, Talk Talk.
  • A conservatoire-schooled vocalist and flautist transforms early listening to Maria Callas and RATM into crepuscular fascination.
  • KEY TRACKS: I’m Gonna Leave You/ The Flow/ Sweet Darling Pain

“I like the space in the blackness because you can imagine so many things,” reflects gamine, softly-spoken Belgian chanteuse, Melanie De Biasio. She’s referring to the brooding, nocturnal ambience that her second album, No Deal, raises with its sable-hued songs that wrestle existentially with themes of love and life. “When I go to the cinema that’s what I really like,” she continues, “to be deep in the black and I can imagine so many things. I think it’s luminous too – in the blackness there are all the colours.”

The same goes for No Deal. Despite its seemingly monochromatic tones, sombre atmosphere and minimalist, jazz-infused instrumentation, it’s flecked with glinting shards of diamond-like illumination. Shining brightly most of all is De Biasio’s mesmerising voice, which resonates with echoes of Nina Simone’s righteous soulfulness and Peggy Lee’s simmering sensuality, and holds the listener captive for the duration of the album’s seven songs.

Melanie De Biasio – No Deal
Melanie De Biasio – No Deal. The Belgian’s second album turns the dark on.

The singer – who also plays flute on the album, which she studied at the Conservatoire Royal De Bruxelles – was born in Charleroi, Belgium, to an Italian family originally from Venice and grew up listening to Maria Callas, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley and Rage Against The Machine. But you wouldn’t necessarily infer such diverse influences from No Deal. It’s a record that she produced herself and is steeped in the language of blues and jazz.

“Jazz means freedom,” opines the 35-year-old, whose debut album, 2007’s The Stomach Is Burning, was a straight-ahead jazz vocal album. “It’s freedom in delivering the mood you are in in the present. In my music there is a lot of improvisation – but it’s not jazz improvisation with many notes or virtuosity. For me improvisation means to build something. When we perform live we have a repertoire but the songs are chosen fifteen minutes before the show. All of my concerts are built by collective improvisation based on the music of No Deal but we don’t know how it’s going to be and it’s different every concert.”

“In the blackness there are all the colours.”

Melanie De Biasio

The album’s ‘less is more’ aesthetic imbues De Biasio’s music with a cinematic eloquence and perhaps unsurprisingly the singer says that in the future she would like to compose movie soundtracks. Above all, though, she wants her music to stimulate people’s imaginations.

“I want to spread good vibrations and to perform concerts and to share my music, and I hope that this record gives a space for the listener to dream, rest or have a good time,” she says. “What was important to me with No Deal was to create a space with no time, and to let the listener put his own emotions in.”

PIC CREDIT: FRANK LORIOU