Proving that those dutifully handing out towels have a lot more going on than meets the eye, Mel Mohlkert juggles her work behind the desk at Gymbox with making music under the moniker CRONICLE. Her new single ‘Head Up & High’ melds alternative pop with the honesty and attitude of your favourite emo legends, the result being a heartfelt and uplifting anthem that’s guaranteed to get you out of any foul mood. With a new single set to be released on the 15thof June, I met up with Mel to find out what life as a musician is really like, and what her plans are for CRONICLE.
So tell me about CRONICLE, how did it all start?
My entire life I’ve been a performer. I started performing on stage when I was 5 years old, and I was also acting in TV and movies when I was a kid. I went to music college when I was 16 and started a rock band, and that went on for 6 years. We got to do amazing things like tour Scandinavia, Europe, the UK, and I even got to go over to Asia. It was an incredible time in my life! But when we were finally doing what we were supposed to do - aiming towards the right crowd, doing the right tours - we split up! I didn’t want it to happen, and it completely broke me. I put my whole life into it for so many years, so when it disappeared it was just heart breaking.
I still wanted to do what I felt like I’d been born to do, which was music and performing. So I decided to start thinking about a solo thing - not because I want to be a solo artist specifically, but because I was scared to end up in the same situation where you invest something in a group of people and then, because of one person, it doesn’t work. I just thought, “it’s up to me now, I want this to happen and I’m going to make it happen.”
It’s been a long journey, and there’s been a lot of struggles, but I’ve had highlights. I got to support some of my biggest role models, like K Flay. That was my first ever show, it was awesome! Then I got to support Lights, so that was incredible as well. And then in September I got to support Enter Shikari. The Shikari guys all came out to watch my set and they were really impressed, that was a big deal! I’ve been doing a bit of writing with Rou [Enter Shikari singer] since then, which has been cool!
So how has 2018 been for CRONICLE so far?
I got to release my first single in January, and it ended up on Swedish radio! I don’t have a label, I don’t have money to do PR, I haven’t got anything other than my manager, and somehow it ended up on Radio 1 Sweden’s ‘Best New Music’, so that was incredible. And then I had my first headline show at the Old Blue Last in February which ended up being sold out. I played Liverpool Sound City festival, and I’m about to release my second single on the 8thof June. Then on the 11thI’m playing my first hometown show [in Stockholm] at a place called Obaren.
I love playing shows, and that’s really what I’m trying to do with this project. I know the music sounds very pop, but live it has a very different punch to it.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe it as emo-pop! All my songs are very emotional, and most are based on something true. I’ve had writing sessions where you go in with someone and they just want to write a pop song – I could do that, but it wouldn’t feel like my music. So CRONICLE’s definitely very real, and very honest. It’s electronic pop with electronic guitars, so it ends up as alt-pop with an emo vibe.
Who’re your influences?
I’d definitely say K Flay. It’s quite bizarre that supporting her was my first ever show - I love her! I got this opportunity to open up for her, and I didn’t even have my live set together so I just had to make it happen! But I listen to a lot of pop: BANKS, Robyn, Broodes, Grimes and FKA Twigs. They’re super original, and you can tell they do what they want to do.
As a kid I used to listen to Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child, and going into my teenage years I started listening to Nirvana and rock music. Then I got super into the whole emo scene: Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Circa Survive, Panic! At the Disco, all of those bands, and my heart is still there! I still listen to those bands today. Taking Back Sunday is still my favourite band!
How’re you finding juggling making a living and working on music?
It’s really hard. Especially because I’m so determined about how I want to do it. I even argue with my own manager! We’ve just been arguing over the mix for this new single - I’m like “I want it to sound like this” and he goes “no, it should sound like this”. And it’s the same with basically everything. I produced my own music video myself with barely any budget. I’ve worked so hard to put this all together and I’m very determined with how I want to do it. I want to start touring and building a genuine fan base, and I want to build CRONICLE as an alternative act rather than a pop thing.
What are your dreams for CRONICLE?
My dream would be to do music full-time; it doesn’t really matter at what level.
I would just love to play shows (preferably all over the world), make music and make my creative visions a reality, and constantly develop as a musician and as a person in general - connect with people and see the world through music. I’d be happy to live out of a suitcase if I got to do that. I don’t have a goal to become a big famous star, I would just like to be a genuine artist and inspire people the way the artists I look up to inspire me.
‘Head Up & High’ is on Spotify now, whilst CRONICLE’s second single Otherside will be out on June 15th. Happen to be in Stockholm on June 11th? Then get yourself a ticket to Mel’s show at the Obaren.