Is there anything Melanie Martinez can’t do? She parlayed her time on The Voice into a major-label record contract. She embarked on sold-out tours. And for her second album, K-12, she created a full-length motion picture counterpart which she wrote, directed and starred in. Clearly, the 24-year-old Martinez is a contemporary polymath.
Now she can add magazine editor to her list of accomplishments. For our next issue (AP 375), Martinez worked with AP to capture the essence of her new album, K-12—and more. It was her vision that fostered all the images in October’s cover story, overseeing the complex shoot and taking the stunningly elaborate photos.
But Martinez’s participation goes much, much further than the AP cover story. She worked closely with AP’s editorial team to determine all the features and sections for our next issue. From the slightest details of approving the pool of 12 Bands to discussing the nuances of K-12 in Album Anatomy to determining features (Lauren Ruth Ward, Tierra Whack) to assuming the role of journalist (interviewing attitudinal rapper Oliver Tree), she took over the issue in the most diverse way possible. And we are totally stoked to present it to you.
There’s no question that Martinez has been able to laser-focus on the realization of her various creative visions. But just as important, she’s also been able to add her attitudes into the mix. She has strong opinions about the industries she works in and how they helped shape her worldview. She recalls moments on the K-12 film set that were anything but helpful.
“Being an artist as well as a director was already challenging,” she tells Maria Sherman, “but being a female artist and a female director, being so young—I really saw people’s true colors. Working with producers who have ego, they try to control you or baby you or belittle you, make you believe that you don’t know what you’re talking about. You know exactly what you want, but hearing that over and over again, it’s tiring. It’s exhausting. But it really does build thick skin.”
Martinez also takes aim at the pop music industry and how the attitudes within it need to change. But most importantly, she hopes that her creative high points will inspire everyone who feels marginalized for whatever reason.
“As an adult, I’m more and more grateful that I kept my name, and I can shout it from the rooftops,” she says. “‘I’m Puerto Rican, I’m Dominican and I’m doing this!’ It really will help and inspire people who need that representation, especially that quirky little girl from [a] random small town who is Latina and feels like they aren’t going to make it or they’re not going to achieve anything because they don’t look like ‘this girl.’ Having me as an example, I’m this weirdo who is just creating and expressing myself. Hopefully, that can inspire people to feel good about being their weirdest and most crazy self. Just express whatever is in their heart.”
Whether you’re a casual listener or a die-hard Mel Mar stan, the new issue of AP is an ambitious deep dive into the world of Melanie Martinez. No half-gestures, only half-heads. Order your copy here.