Fans of NBC's The Voice will surely recognize Melanie Martinez. With her two-toned hair and dark lipstick, the Long Island–born chanteuse doesn't resemble your typical bubblegum pop contestant on the singing competition show, but she quickly became a fan favorite after she demonstrated her haunting vocals (including some stellar Britney Spears covers), and consequently won the approval of her coach, Adam Levine, as well as the rest of the panel of judges.
"It was definitely a learning experience," Martinez told InStyle. "I’m not as nervous as I was before being in front of a camera." The stats speak for themselves: After her run on the series, the 19-year-old nearly broke the Internet when she unveiled the music video for her debut single "Dollhouse" (14 million YouTube views and counting). Her follow-up EP of the same name—a melange of youthful indiscretions and childhood idealism—was released to similar fanfare.
And with the new batch of songs comes the adoption of a new persona. To complement her overall goth-girl vibe, Martinez has noticeably started exclusively wearing frilly mini dresses reminiscent of those worn by vintage dolls. "I think I just go through phases and this is just a very heavy phase that I’m going through," she confessed. We caught up with the singer before her show at The Bowery Ballroom in N.Y.C. Here's an excerpt from our chat:
What was it like working with Adam Levine?
He was very supportive of everything that I wanted to do and very sweet. He seemed to genuinely really care about what I was doing. Plus, we listen to the same type of music, so we were on a similar page sonically.
Have you two kept in touch?
I haven’t talked to him recently, but we’ve definitely kept in touch.
You covered Britney Spears on the show. Are you a big fan?
When I was younger, I used to listen to Britney and Christina [Aguilera] and that whole pop diva kind of thing, but I also listened to Dido. My dad would play a lot of Beatles and a lot of Biggie, so I grew up on that too. It has a pretty big influence on my music currently. It’s a mix of lyrical content and heavy hip-hop beats.
You memorably performed "Toxic" in your audition. Why'd you decide to go with that particular song?
I thought it was interesting because it’s not something that people would expect me to sing. I arranged it by myself. I think if you’re going to cover a song, you should definitely take it apart and put it back together as if you wrote it. I don’t think you should sing it the same way that the artist sang it—that’s kind of pointless.
Have you always had a fascination with dolls?
I've recently been inspired by toy towns and all things that relate to childhood, and I think it goes into everything I do as a person—the way I dress and the music. The album is all childhood themes with adult situations. Every song functions like an individual storybook, and I think the album is a giant pack of creepy little stories that are very mature.
The theme seems to carry into your clothing, too.
It all relates to childhood. On this tour, I've been wearing adult baby dresses—they're for people who are actually into that weird fetish. I found them on Etsy from this girl who custom makes dresses for adult babies. I think it fits really nicely and I like how it feels, like a little girl's dress from the ‘50s, but for me. I’ll always cling to these little girl dresses at vintage shops and I can never wear them because they're so tiny!
Watch the music video for "Carousel" below, and buy the Dollhouse EP ($5) from the iTunes store.