The Wedding Present bassist launches solo debut album

The Wedding Present bassist and Brighton resident Melanie Howard blends dark pop with twinges of quirky folk and electronica on her debut solo album.

Such Small Hands - Melanie by Jessica McMillan

Recording under the name Such Small Hands, she brings out the album Carousel, promising a collection of songs Melanie has been writing, playing, changing, hiding, throwing away and reviving again across more than ten years.

“While my life has changed dramatically and repeatedly across that time, so has my writing and my musical tastes.”

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But she still felt songs belonged together, on one album.

“It’s a journey back in time when I hear many of them and a reflection on my current self in others,” she says.

It’s her first solo venture: “It is something I have been sitting on for many years. I have never really taken myself seriously enough to do anything with the stuff. But with working with The Wedding Present for the past few years, it has given me the confidence in my own work and in my own musicianship. It has made me want to stop putting all this aside and it has given me a focus.”

The solo work will go alongside the band work; Melanie is delighted it is now out there.

“I would describe it as sad pop.

“But actually listening to it now, it is really more of a folk album. Maybe I am more of a folk artist than I thought I was.

“It is interesting how artists perceive themselves and how listeners perceive it.

“It is very melancholic. Very ethereal… and generally sad. I am cheerful most of the time, but sadness is not always visible.

“I have struggled with my mental health over the years.

“I have experienced lots of traumas in my past.

“It is all to do with my mental health and how it affects me today.

“Some of the traumas are very personal. Some of it is past relationships or issues with my family, coming of age in my early 20s when you are having to deal with life as an adult.

“Music is a way to work through that. It is the best medium to me to come to terms with how I feel about things in my past.

“I am a creative person and I see life in creative and artistic ways without having to explain it directly in words.”

It’s a relief to get the album out there: “It feels a bit cathartic.

“I feel I can move forward now that these songs have a space and are out there and that I can start to develop as an artist and try to move away from the traumas that I have been writing about, to try to move on in a good way.”

The work pre-dates lockdown which she admits she struggled with: “Seeing the number of artists and musicians talking about how much they have written and doing at-home stuff, I found overwhelming.

“I felt a bit stifled and found it difficult to be creative because there was too much anxiety in the air.

“It kind of made me recoil into my little dark corner. I don’t think I can be creative when I have to try to force myself.

“But with The Wedding Present it has been easier to talk about performance. I found that easier to focus on. It has been really nice to be part of that.”

As for the name, Melanie says Such Small Hands reflects two key influences. It comes a line in a poem by e e cummings she loves (not even the rain has such small hands); and it also pays homage to her emo days.

“To me, Such Small Hands is more of a strong identity as a solo artist, I have always thought.

“I don’t really want to have that image as a singer-songwriter you get where it is just the person’s name.

“I don’t really feel very connected to my own name, certainly my last name.

“My last name is not the name I was born with.”