Melody Prochet (Melody’s Echo Chamber) Talks with Lila Ramani (Crumb) on the Talkhouse Podcast

A transatlantic chat between two leading lights of modern psych.

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got two leading lights of modern psychedelic indie-rock, Melody Prochet and Lila Ramani.

Prochet is the creative force behind Melody’s Echo Chamber, whose evocative name is taken from a dream she once had. Her debut album under the name, which Prochet recorded with help from Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, was released in 2012. She has since released two more full-lengths while bouncing around the planet and raising children. The new one, Emotional Eternal, was partly inspired by Prochet’s move from Paris to the idyllic quiet of the Swiss Alps. It features assists from members of the Swedish band Dungen, though it’s more spare and stripped down than that might suggest—and more spare than her past work, too.  There are bits of psych in there, along with echoes of bands like Stereolab.

Lila Ramani of the New York band Crumb shares some of those influences, and Melody Prochet’s music influenced what Ramani wanted to do in her band, too. Crumb got going while its members were still in college in 2016, but really picked up speed with their debut full length, Jinx, which came out in 2019. Crumb released a second album, Ice Melt, in 2021, further incorporating jazzy rhythms into their psychedelic stew.

In this conversation, the mutual admirers talk about their personal lives, including Prochet’s side gig as an art therapist as well as Ramani’s childhood growing up near the Gowanus Canal. They chat about Coachella, “grinding vs floating,” and Prochet’s favorite American city—which will almost certainly surprise you. Enjoy.

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Melody Prochet and Lila Ramani for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please subscribe to Talkhouse on your favorite platform, and tell your friends that we’re the best. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

(Photo Credit: left, Diane Sagnier; right, Xin Wang; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

 

Full Podcast Transcript:

[Talkhouse Podcast Theme]

Josh Modell: Hello and welcome to the Talkhouse Podcast, I’m Josh Modell. On today’s episode, we’ve got two leading lights of modern psychedelic indie-rock, Melody Prochet and Lila Ramani.

Prochet is the creative force behind Melody’s Echo Chamber, whose evocative name is taken from a dream she once had. Her debut album under the name, which Prochet recorded with help from Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, was released in 2012. She has since released two more full-lengths while bouncing around the planet and raising children. The new one, Emotional Eternal, was partly inspired by Prochet’s move from Paris to the idyllic quiet of the Swiss Alps. It features assists from members of the Swedish band Dungen, though it’s more spare and stripped down than that might suggest—and more spare than her past work, too. Check out a little bit from “Alma_The Voyage” from Emotional Eternal.

[Song Clip]

There are bits of psych in there, along with echoes of bands like Stereolab. Lila Ramani of the New York band Crumb did and Melody Prochet’s music influenced what Ramani wanted to do in her band, as well. Crumb got going while its members were still in college in 2016, but really picked up speed with their debut full length, Jinx, which came out in 2019. Crumb released a second album, Ice Melt, in 2021, further incorporating jazzy rhythms into their psychedelic stew. Check out a little bit of “BNR” from Ice Melt.

[Song Clip]

In this conversation, the mutual admirers talk about their personal lives, including Prochet’s side gig as an art therapist as well as Ramani’s childhood growing up near the Gowanus Canal. They chat about Coachella, “grinding vs floating,” and Prochet’s favorite American city—which will almost certainly surprise you. Enjoy.

Melody Prochet: I am kind of following all the traveling you guys..

Lila Ramani: the drama

Melody: It’s so intense for you guys.

Lila: It was a crazy few weeks. We were in, we flew into Berlin and then we were there for a few days and then traveling through Germany and we got to Brussels and I was sick. And I tested positive for COVID. And then we had to like cancel the rest of the shows—we were supposed to play Paris the next day.

Melody: So you didn’t make it to Paris?

Lila: We didn’t make it. It was really sad.

Melody: So sad.

Lila: We had a lot of friends coming to the show and stuff. I had to stay in Brussels because you can’t fly back to the U.S. right now, if you’re positive for COVID, so it was just me cause one of my other bandmates got it.
But then it was like, he wasn’t sick. So he just went home immediately. So I was in this like purgatory, Brussels hotel room for seven days.

Melody: And so could you get out in town or you had stayed in the hotel room?

Lila: I went on a lot of walks. I like, I think I went to every park that was in Brussels. (laughter)

Melody: That’s so nice.

Lila: Have you been to Brussels?

Melody: Yeah. We played a show in the Botanique. I think it was called.

Lila: That’s what, where we were supposed to play. It was really cool.

Melody: Next time. You’ll get there.

Lila: Yeah. I was actually staying across from the venue, so I would just like, pass it every day.

Melody: I don’t know if you went, there is a, I have a memory of, a super great Turkish restaurant just across from there. There was some amazing Turkish music…

Lila: Yeah, I went to so many like Middle Eastern restaurants. I probably went to all of them. It was a strange place to be a suspended.

Melody: But it kind of makes me resonate with your music, sometimes it has some strange-like purgatory kind of vibe. Like it’s this disturbing…

Lila: Definitely.

Melody: Just disturbing, just very, slightly disturbing me actually, because I’m from a classical side and that’s what I love and that it makes it resonate in a piece of my mind when I hear that, how you distort your melodies it’s really brilliant.

Lila: Thank you.

Melody: And that’s what I like, that kind of… little bit more urban and kind of odd sometimes, but very beautifully calculated It’s really wonderful. I love that.

Lila: Thank you. Yeah, I started working on a song at one point there. I think, I think it’ll, at some point it’ll come out. (laughter) My Brussels song.

Melody: The Brussels song.

Lila: I was just like, I need to, I need to do something because I’m so bored.

Melody: Do you write your demos actually on what kind of…

Lila: Uh, I use Ableton. And I have like a little makeshift studio in my house here. Right now I live with my parents in Brooklyn in like the house I grew up in. So I have like my brother’s old bedroom is where I have my music stuff. So I’ll work there, but in Brussels it was really bare-bones., cause I didn’t even have a, like a keyboard. I had my guitar, but no amp.

Melody: Do you play on your Ableton on your little keys?

Lila: Yeah, you can use the keyboard. It’s kind of fun.

Melody: Yeah, I do that.

Lila: And I’ll like download drum sounds from Reddit or something. It was a fun little thing, but I’m glad to be back, but now I’m actually leaving again tomorrow for Coachella and some like, a Mexico shows and a few west coast. It’s only 10 shows. So…

Melody: And you do the two weekends?

Lila: Yeah, the two weekend—have you done Coachella?

Melody: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Lila: Damn. How was it?

Melody: I really enjoyed it. The gig was great. And my favorite performance was at Pappy and Harriet’s.

Lila: Oh yeah.

Melody: That was in between the two weekends. Coachella, it’s an odd place. I’m not very comfortable with the whole environment, but the show what’s fun, so it was great. Yeah.

Lila: Yeah. It’s kind of a hellish desert environment. Everyone’s told me to wear like a mask for the dust.

Melody: I don’t know if you guys use computer. I know you use USB for like I thought the same thing, but we have a MIDI keyboard and a computer, and the sandstorm can be a bit, uh, tricky.

Lila: Ooh.

Melody: You need to think about the sand.

Lila: I didn’t even think about that. The sand like gets in the keyboard?

Melody: If you get a little sandstorm the [?], it happened once though.

Lila: Wow.

Melody: Anyway, anything can happen in the desert.

Lila: What have you been up to the past a month? I know you’re putting out a new album.

Melody: Oh man, yeah, the new album, exciting, a lot of promoting. But most my studies in art therapy, my work with… I work in a retirement home to do musical therapy and art therapy experiments.

Lila: Oh really?

Melody: So that two days a week.

Lila: That’s amazing.

Melody: Yeah, I love it. I love it. It keeps me grounded in, you know, kind of, ordinary reality.
I love the ordinary, uh, extraordinary ordinary kind of living style, but it cultivates that kind of poetry in my life.

Lila: So is it like one retirement home, or you go to different ones?

Melody: For now, it’s just one, but then I would like to work in different environments. Maybe, you know, mystic people or kids or whatever people need. I would like to keep on working on that on the special product we…

Lila: Yes, we were working on it and then, for me, like just chaos started happening and like

Melody: Same here. Ok. I think it will happen. It’s just the matter of

Lila: It will. It will.

Melody: being slow and welcoming the slow pace of time.

Lila: It’s so interesting cause we’ve never really like worked with anyone outside the four of us.

Melody: I was wondering about that. Yeah.

Lila: It was such a like exciting, yeah.

Melody: Strange.

Lila: Yeah. Strange.

Melody: Refresh.

Lila: Refreshing. Really, really refreshing. Yeah.

Melody: For me, it’s weird because I don’t have anything at home to work with, so it’s so lo-fi. I am kind of ashamed of what I sent you.

Lila: No, totally understand.

Melody: No, it’s terrible because I don’t have any tools, but I think it’s also kind of fun to be a professional musician and I have nothing to work with.

Lila: Yeah, totally. Do you usually, like when you go record the record, you go to a studio in the city you live at—where do you live in France?

Melody: Uh, I live in the Alps of Haute-Provence. So, I only work at a Stockholm studio with my collaborators.

Lila: Oh Ok.

Melody: My new collaborators. And so I go to Stockholm for a few sessions and then we work

Lila: Remotely.

Melody: and I also work on Ableton.

Lila: Is it a very small town? Like not a lot of people.

Melody: Yeah. It’s small. It’s remote. It’s small, but just enough to not be too isolated. Because I struggle, that tendency to go to isolation too much. So I just try to not isolate myself.

It’s the same thing as well about your music, it really resonates with a piece of my mind. And at the same time, I sense it’s more urban. How, are environments, natural environments inspire you?

Lila: I grew up like in the most intense urban environment, which is New York City.

Melody: Yeah

Lila: And I like went to high school in Manhattan and when I think of the things that shaped my personality and identity, it’s definitely just, growing up here is a huge part of it and obviously feeds into the music so much.

My other band members grew up kind of outside of the city, in the suburbs, but they would come in here a lot, probably. And then our drummer grew up in California, in the bay area. We recorded only in… Jinx was in New York. We recorded in like the really hot summertime, which was like, yeah, it was intense.

And then, Ice Melt was in LA in, also in the summer. But I feel like, especially our first EP, definitely was heavily inspired by the neighborhood I grew up in, which is around the Gowanus Canal, which is like the most polluted canal in the country or something.

But it’s really like kind of a magical place. My mom is a visual artist. She works in like right on the canal. So I would go there all the time. But the neighborhood is changing a lot and they’re about to build like 60 high-rises right on the canal. And they’re advertising it as like waterfront property. So it’s, it’s definitely a weird, sort of flux right now. But yeah, that’s where I came from. Where did you grow up?

Melody: Well, not far from where I moved recently in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. That’s very tiny village as well.

Lila: Wow. It’s the opposite.

Melody: Yeah, exactly. That’s why it’s interesting.

Lila: Do you feel like that feeds into the music at all?

Melody: Um, I think it’s sensing in myself somehow and springs into the music, of course, but I think you could just create other worlds. Nobody could really tell where you are from actually, so it’s kind of both (laughter)

Lila: What’s your relationship to the Stockholm?

Melody: I moved there when I met the band Dungen, I don’t know if you know that band.

Lila: I think I’ve heard of them.

Melody: Psychedelic rock band from Stockholm. And I heard their music because my first producer was a huge fan of their work. And when I played Levitation festival in France in Angers, we just saw each other backstage, then we recognized ourselves. And I was looking for new people to create music with, and we just really got along super well, naturally. So I just moved there for a year. And that was to complete opposite from where I recorded my other record in Australia, because it was like majestic, very epic, nature, but very cold, extremely cold and white and pure. It’s just like a new page, you know.

Lila: Where in Australia was that?

Melody: Australia was before. So that was really hot and very warm

Lila: Oh, okay. You’re saying Stockholm…

Melody: And then yeah, exactly, it was the complete opposite of that. Yeah.

Lila: Yeah, my first time going to kind of that part of the world, we just played in Copenhagen, which is really close to Sweden, I think.

Melody: Yeah, of course.

Lila: But I felt, the vibe like of Scandinavia, which I never had. Very clean and like pristine.

Melody: Yeah. Did you travel before for you were a musician?

Lila: I grew up going to Malaysia, like every two years because my dad’s side of the family all lives there. Cause he immigrated from there when he was 25 to here, but no one else had his family like left Malaysia. So we

Melody: Wow.

Lila: Yeah, we go there. I haven’t gotten there though in, I think almost six years now though, because of just the pandemic and life, but it’s a crazy, it’s a long, it’s a long trip. It’s like 24 hours of travel. And then when I was in college, I went to Europe and drove around, we drove from like Belgium through Slovenia and Italy. Did like a Euro trip…

Melody: You went to Slovenia. That’s big. I just went there actually.

Lila: Oh, really?

Melody: Yeah. Yeah. Last month. I really enjoyed it.

Lila: What were you doing there?

Melody: We were just on a road trip. We went to our children to Venice, and then we went to Slovenia. We want to see the big cave, the natural cave, there are one of the biggest in Europe. It’s like a cathedral of

Lila: Of caves?

Melody: Yeah, how do you say cave?

Lila: Yeah, cave.

Melody: Yeah. But they’re like crazy sculptured, and they’re incredibly long, and there’s a train that goes under Earth.

Lila: Oh, woah.

Melody: Intense, really intense.

Lila: I never heard of that. When we were on that trip, we went to Croatia to these like lakes—have you heard of the it’s like the Plitvice Lakes?

Melody: Plitvice Lakes. Yeah. They’re so beautiful. We went there also last year.

Lila: I think we went in the wrong season though cause I’ve heard you can like swim in them, but it was way too cold.

Melody: I think they don’t allow it anymore because people just polluting it’s too much. I’m not sure.

Lila: That’s a bummer.

Melody: Slovenia had some great lakes.

Lila: I need to go back. I’m kind of like traumatized right now by traveling. I’ve been having like all these travel stress dreams leading up to the tour. I don’t know when the next time I’ll go to Europe is.

Melody: I got these from visa getting, because we needed always visas to go to the United States to play. And you didn’t know if you were going to have it, so we had to plan a tour and then you didn’t get your visa, and it was canceled. That was…

Lila: Oh my God. That’s horrible.

Melody: Annoying. But you just got to let go, but still it’s.

Lila: Yeah. Touring right now is like, feels like such a risk that’s like crazy to take. But so many musicians are just doing it and having their things canceled. When was the last time you did a live show?

Melody: Ooh, it was a long time ago. I think it might’ve been… No idea. Maybe 2015 or 2016?

Lila: 16?

Melody: Yeah. It just causes me too much anxiety.

Lila: I feel you.

Melody: So I haven’t found a way to do it, you know, gently and not care about anything. And I’m just too perfectionist, and I want everything under control, and it’s impossible.

Lila: It also seems like you’re pretty busy with life and stuff.

Melody: Yeah. And my family, and you know, once you, kind of, done a little tour of this lifestyle, and if it doesn’t suit you, I think it’s interesting to, for me, it’s been interesting to explore other unknown worlds.

Lila: Yeah. The thing I love in music is more of the like writing and recording and that side of it, as opposed to the performing side, like…

Melody: To me, they are two different jobs.

Lila: Yeah, it really is. I feel like I’ve figured out how to do it, but it’s been a long journey.

Melody: But you guys are impressive, the independence. So, I mean, that’s such freedom somehow. How do you feel about it?

Lila: It’s nice. There’s still a pressure to play a lot of shows, which can be stressful, but it’s cool not having a label to you, like, okay, time for your next album. Are you ready?

Melody: Do you feel you miss the structure?

Lila: Well, I don’t know cause we’ve never been on a label, so maybe the structure would be nice. I don’t know. But we set all the terms, I think it would freak me out to have to like, be on a contract where you had to make four albums or something. It feels like it takes the magic away from the music. But I don’t know, you’re on a label, right?

Melody: Yeah. I was on Fat Possum and my European label Domino means four albums and a soundtrack as well.

Lila: Oh shit.

Melody: But I hear you. I just think you can create this space if you want.

Lila: Yeah.

Melody: I think it’s fine, but it depends when you decide to want to do the whole cycle thing.

Lila: Yeah. It’s, it’s probably not that like different our processes cause we still have like managers and stuff like that.

[Break]

Lila: What has… you have two kids?

Melody: Yes, yes, yes.

Lila: What ages are they?

Melody: Uh, five and three.

Lila: Wow, so tiny.

Melody: Yes.

Lila: My, my boyfriend has two little sisters. One of them is five and one is one, and I never had like kids growing up, like in my life, so they’re like the first children I’ve interacted with. Such a good age, five.

Melody: It’s very joyful and very alive, full of life. And that really changed my life actually.

Lila: Has being a mother changed your music making process or the way you think about music?

Melody: Oh, yeah.

Lila: That’s very open-ended but…

Melody: It actually structured my reverie, you know, because you probably do that when you are inspired and you want to make music. Time is different and you just can work overnight and kind of get lost or escape and create your other world. And, you know, you can almost get stuck in your reverie and now with my kids, okay, I have three hours to work. I need to want to work.

Lila: Yeah.

Melody: And I need to be very predictive and also go to the essence of it. And actually on the new record, it reflects the kind of essential and simplicity because it’s very opposite to how I used to work. I love layers. I love a lot of noise and now, it’s kind of really shaped it differently.

Lila: It’s more like stripped down.

Melody: Yeah. More simple. But it’s also something I wanted to explore because of my last record’s delirium and I just wanted to take everything out and see how that felt. It felt great.

Lila: I think that can go either way. If you have like limited time to work on music sometimes for me, that actually like motivates me to do it more with as opposed to having so much open-ended time. But I’m sure it’s, I mean, I would be exhausted. I don’t know if I could do what you’re doing.

Melody: Yeah, how old are you Lila?

Lila: How old? I’m 27. About to turn 28 in June. How about you?

Melody: I’m 34, 35 actually. I just turned 35. So what’s your guys’ future months looking like?

Lila: We’re taking a break from a touring, thank God. After this one. So I think we’ll have the whole summer and fall to work on some new music, which is exciting. We’re maybe going to go like go somewhere in the country or something and write which sounds ideal. (laughter)

Melody: Where are you going to record?

Lila: We’re trying to figure it out now, like economically it makes more sense to do in New York or LA.
Because three of us live in New York and one of us lives in LA. But it would also be nice to go somewhere and get out of the hecticness of the city for like a week. So we’ll probably jump around, do one in New York, do one in maybe upstate New York, and see what happens. We don’t have much of like a plan right now, just kind of open-ended working on stuff, seeing where it takes us, which is a good feeling.

Melody: Yeah, sure. Do you feel like the city is kind of, has become more hectic?

Lila: It’s, so what I’m used to that I almost don’t even register anymore, but then when I go somewhere else, I’m like, oh, New York is insane.

Melody: That’s so interesting.

Lila: People are just running around and just on the grind. Everyone is like grinding so hard. And my, I feel like my lifestyle is much more just floating, you know, not on the grind always or very intense periods of working and then just relaxing. So it’s kind of, it’s weird to be here sometime. That’s why I like LA a bit more cause feels like people they’re more floating, floating around.

Melody: Do you like the floating?

Lila: Yeah, I do. I like floating. But I also love living here. I was in, I was living in LA for like the first part of the pandemic and then I moved back last May back home and, I’m glad that I returned. I was gone for too long. Have you ever lived in Paris or another city?

Melody: Yeah. I lived in Paris for maybe six years, although I was always kind of moving around, but for me it was too intense. I wasn’t inspired or I didn’t create anything worth it in the city because I am hypersensitive because I think I grew up in countryside.

Lila: Yeah. Damn.

Melody: And then, yeah, I lived in Perth in Australia for about two years and then in Stockholm and in California a little bit as well.

Lila: In LA?

Melody: Yeah, in LA.

Lila: Where in LA did you live?

Melody: It was Echo Park.

Lila: Okay. That’s not far from where I was.

Melody: Yeah. I really enjoy LA as well, although there is a weird thing as well going on with image, you know, body image and superficial…

Lila: Yeah. The people are not the best.

Melody: Yeah.

Lila: I think the people in New York are better, but it’s so, like everything about it, is so kind of just beautiful that it’s hard to not like it.

Melody: No, it’s beautiful. I really enjoy going there in the nature around LA is epic. It’s so beautiful.

Lila: So crazy.

Melody: I really enjoy touring America. I did the tour with, for the debut album with The Raveonettes. And the thing was the first time we toured, and that was really magical. I have such great memories of the landscapes.

Lila: Damn. What was your favorite place?

Melody: There is a lot, I think Detroit…

Lila: Detroit. Whoa, I wouldn’t expect that.

Melody: Intense. I think it was actually intense ghost town and

Lila: Yeah.

Melody: And the smoke going out of the, I don’t know for us, it was very crazy. We have so many great memories. I think the last tour with the Coachella with the El Ray and The Roxy and all this stuff in LA was really fun. And the people were amazing, and in Mexico the people were…

Lila: You did Mexico? Mexico City?

Melody: Yeah, we did just one festival, like a big festival for the tour. It was amazing.

Lila: We did like the psychedelic music festival in Mexico City, in like the mountains outside of Mexico City.

Melody: We got offered that and like so many great stuff. And I was like, “No, I can’t do it.” Like this festival, or Desert Daze, all these things sound so fun. I don’t know, it’s a shame I didn’t do it before.

Lila: They’re fun. Do you have any other questions?

Melody: Yeah. We were just doing our little chat, chit-chat here.

Lila: I have no idea how much time has passed.

Melody: I could just, I just want to say how much Crumb’s music blew my mind. A little earlier this year, cause I’ve been sitting in silence for I guess two or three years that didn’t listen or play any music. And, you know, your music just kind of found me like the book finds you in the library, somehow you just reach your hand to a title and it’s just like, oh, this one resonates immensely. And so, it just kind of impulse me into creativity. And I think it’s going to inspire me, and next record if there is any. Yeah, amazing work and very inspiring. So thank you for your work

Lila: Yeah. Thank you so much. When you messaged us, it was like a crazy full circle moment because we were like obsessed with your music. When we were making our first EP, we were just like constantly listening to it and it was huge inspiration. And then. I don’t know, 5-6 years later to have you discover our music

Melody: Yeah.

Lila: and be like, this is inspiring me now. It was like, this is wild

Melody: Yeah. That’s a very full circle. Circularity of life is like the theme of my new record actually. It’s pretty, it’s pretty cool. Well, thank you for listening.

Lila: I’m excited about, maybe working on something in the future.

Melody: Yeah, totally, me too. It will happen.

Lila: It will happen. Give it time. It was so nice to meet you.

Melody: Yeah. Same.

Josh Modell: Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast and thanks to Melody Prochet and Lila Ramani for chatting. If you like what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite platform and tell your friends we’re the best. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan. And the Talkhouse theme was composed and performed by The Range. See you next time.

Talkhouse curates musicians, actors, filmmakers, and others in their respective fields to speak one-on-one with their peers via the Talkhouse Podcast and Talkhouse Live events. The Talkhouse Podcast offers listeners a unique insight into the creative work of creators across all genres and generations. Subscribe now to stay in the loop on future episodes.