Meliha: The Acoustics of Coffee & Cigarettes

Detonate #2: Meliha from JUICE Magazine on Vimeo.

Frequent patrons of Artisan Roast TTDI might have noticed a taller-than-average girl with striking yet unobtrusive tattoos behind the counter. Adding more to her femininity than belying it, you could tell this wasn’t someone who’s going through a rebellious phase and trying to come off as edgy; she carries them like they had always been part of her body for years. Decide to speak to her and you’d be surprised to find out that she’s only 18 years old – Meliha is exactly as precocious as her looks would suggest.

To the uninitiated, Meliha has been garnering buzz in the singer-songwriter circuit for a while now. JUICE doesn’t blame you if the phrase singer-songwriter induced scoffing and incredulity, the whole Moonshine scene is filled with bland guys and girls with acoustic guitars. You can hardly differentiate one from the other, and it doesn’t help that the subject matter – swagger, even – is cloying at best, calculated at worse (see; every male singer-songwriter singing about being broken hearted).

However, the females usually fare better. Meliha in particular is immediately noticeable among the newbies, partially due to her unique singing voice. To paraphrase one member of the JUICE team, she sounds like a deaf Irish pixie singing in the meadows, lulling your ears into submission like a good coffee & cigarettes conversation. There’s something to the way she enunciates – or rather, her lack of enunciation – that communicates a feeling when words fail to come through. Then there’s also the depth of maturity in her singing voice, the experiences she shares sound earned, not fictionalised.

“A lot of people tell me the way I sing and the way I talk is very different, but it’s a bit like that with most singers, isn’t it?” she questions us – validly. As it turns out, her singing voice wasn’t a premeditated choice, Meliha picked up the accent accidentally due to the vocal restriction from her (at the time) newly pierced tongue. By the time it healed, she already grew into it, it helped that the voice complemented her heavy indie folk and jazz vocals influences.

Her original numbers, such as ‘Monday Blues’, ‘A Man with a Good Heart’, and ‘Kuala Lumpur’, are folky acoustic songs that, aptly, have the makings of a good coffee & cigarette conversation. The topics of choice might not be original, but neither do they sound like the musings of a teenage girl. Yet as we discovered through our chat with Meliha, being someone who has always had to defend herself against the growing-up-too-fast accusation, she doesn’t deny the disingenuity of her supposed maturity.

“I have to admit that it was much more pretentious at first because I didn’t know everything I know now,” she tells us, inadvertently revealing the true sign of growth.