Pop Newcomer Melis Shares Her Favorite Berlin Haunts & The Exclusive First Spin Of Her Debut EP 'Parallels'
Meet Melis. The half Turkish, half Czech, and now Berlin-based singer-songwriter, previously one half of electro-pop duo IYES, has emerged as one to watch over the past year, with a potent cocktail of earnest, homegrown pop that fuses elements of folk and electronica.
The solo jump came after the songbird's move to the German capital, with the burgeoning upstart releasing a steady stream of hype machine darlings (and three No. 1's) like "Holding Hands," "Flower" and "Sober (Over You)," the latter featuring on Spotify's coveted New Music Friday playlist across several territories.
Today, the rising talent shares the first play of her debut EP Parallels, premiering one day ahead of its wide release on November 24.
The set, recorded in both her Berlin apartment and a small rehearsal/studio space alongside IYES' collaborator Josh Christopher, was meant to be a more DIY pop affair, until the duo linked with John Davis (Lana Del Rey, Led Zeppelin) to master the project. The result is something wholly pure, organic, and mesmerizing.
"After IYES, I had no idea what music I wanted to make but had started to write songs. I showed them to Josh and he told me we should make a solo record," Melis explains. "We began to work with the GarageBand demos I had made on my iPad, which were very rough, but once we got the structures down, we knew exactly what to do. It was meant to be quite a basic, homemade bunch of tracks as we didn't want a hugely shiny pop record that raised the bar too high."
For Melis, the songwriting itself remained paramount, over any specific "production or mix or any other glittery parts," she says. "All of the songs mean something dear to me so it's hard for me to pick a favourite and to be honest, the EP makes the most sense when you listen from start to finish: it's like a Melis story book."
The debut set, which includes unreleased cuts "Parallels" and "So Nobody Knows," is available via a limited edition hand-signed run of 10" Grey Vinyl. Melis will support El Perro Del Mar in Istanbul this Saturday (Nov. 25), and Michael Malarkey in Prague this Monday (Nov. 27).
In celebration of the release, Melis took Billboard on a spin through some of her favorite haunts in her new hometown for a glimpse into her expat life in the German capital.
1. Berlin Funhouse Records, Stargarder Str. 29, 10437
If you’re a lover of music and need a place to satisfy your urge for some fresh vinyl, look no further. The owners are really friendly here and they offer a great selection across all genres. I’m holding ‘Bookends' by Simon and Garfunkel because it’s an inspirational record for me. Paul Simon has had a significant influence on me as a songwriter.
2. Saint George’s English Bookshop, Wörther Str. 27, 10405
To get inspired to write lyrics sometimes, I love to read poetry and philosophy books. I’m currently reading Erich Fromm’s Psychoanalysis and Religion.
Recently, I stumbled upon this beautiful bookstore in my neighborhood which sells only English books. I could spend hours on end here, browsing through their massive selection while hiding away from the rainy and cold weather going on outside!
3. KunstHalle by Deutsche Bank, Unter den Linden 13/15, 10117
Visiting KunstHalle is an absolute must whilst in Berlin. Showcasing global contemporary art, this hall has left me mesmerized and inspired each time I’ve visited.
Currently, KunstHalle is displaying work of Turkish artist Fahrelissa Zeid. I feel particularly connected to this exhibition because of my Turkish roots which I share with the painter herself. Her work is outstanding to see in person.
4. Volkspark Friedrichshain, Am Friedrichshain 1, 10407
It feels so good to spend time in the nature and get some fresh air whenever the weather allows it. If the city gets too much for me, I try to go for a walk or run through the park. It helps me clear my mind.
5. Wochenmarkt Maybachufer, Maybachufer 1-13, 12047
I love Berlin because of its passion for organic and locally sourced produce. Berliners are self-aware and think a lot about giving back to the community. By far the best place to get your groceries is the Maybachufer market. It offers the freshest fruits and veg as well as street food stalls and a vibrant atmosphere you don't want to miss out on.
6. Auster Club, Pücklerstraße 34, 10997
Auster Club is located right next to Markthalle 9, a trendy food hall in the middle of Kreuzberg with lots of independently run food stalls making delicious bites to eat. After you’ve finished munching on your grilled cheese sandwich and doing a Photo Booth session (a Berlin tradition!), Auster Club is an awesome bar and venue with kind service and great beer.