Melanie Hammet has been part of the Atlanta creative scene since the late ‘80s when she first landed in Little Five Points. She’s performed her music as a solo artist, with Kenny Leon as composer on original work at Alliance Theatre, and has written and produced more than a dozen recordings including her two latest releases, Crooked Spoke and Edifice Complex. DeKalb County residents also know her as president of the DeKalb Municipal Association and as a Pine Lake city council member.
Tell us about your latest project?
I just released a CD called Edifice Complex—and other urban plans. The songs on the album explore elements of a subject I’m passionate about: land-use, land-abuse, and the future of our relationship with “the ground we walk upon,” as one of the songs says. I wrote it as a way to pinpoint and personalize subjects that otherwise seem too abstract: planning and zoning. It’s appropriate that we use the word “code” to describe these activities.
Who are your musical influences?
The Beatles always; Eliza Gilkyson lately; Bruce Springsteen intermittently; Walt Disney (soundtracks) frequently.
Has living and working in Atlanta influenced your style or creativity?
I moved here from a music scene where you couldn’t get a good gig if you didn’t perform mostly cover tunes. In Atlanta it was exactly the opposite; if you didn’t do original music you couldn’t get a good gig. It was a huge turning point. In the last ten years, I’ve been irrevocably influenced by living in Pine Lake, where the creative spark feels like an inferno – so many creative people of every description.
What’s on your iPod?
I just downloaded Betty Lavette and Janelle Monae to hear what they’ve created. I keep The Beatles and Springsteen in regular rotation as a constant study. Marina Day is a brand-new songwriter that I love. Chely Wright is smart and does good old-fashioned songwriting. All the Brit-pop retro stuff is great: Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Sharleen Spiteri.