Indie-Soul Band Melt Takes a Stand With 'Danceable' Protest Songs About Climate Change

Three photos: Melt performing on stage, a photo of the five-member band, and another screenshot of a Tiktok promoting their song "Walk To Midnight"

These days, it’s not uncommon for indie musicians to leverage TikTok as a way to spread the word about their new music

In fact, it has already been meme-ified, with creators filming parody videos with the now-cliche phrase: “You guys… I think I just made the song of the summer.”

But indie band Melt is a lot more direct and earnest: The five-member New York City-based band has taken to the internet with a different message.

“Hey, we’re Melt,” a recent TikTok says, text overlain on a clip of the band performing, “An indie band making danceable protest songs.”

A cover of Melt's single "Walk To Midnight," which features the five members of the band
Photo courtesy of Melt/Instagram

Melt has been in action since 2017, labeling themselves an “indie-soul” quintet. Members include lead vocalist Veronica Stewart-Frommer, vocalist and keyboardist Eric Gabriel, guitarist Marlo Shankweiler, bassist Lucas Saur, and trombonist Nick Sare.

While their previous tunes lean more in the direction of “sappy love songs,” a new album is incoming, according to the recent video.

“We’re making a whooooole album about love and friendship and heartbreak and power and the planet,” the TikTok continued.

In the background, Stewart-Frommer sings an upbeat song called “Walk to Midnight,” calling out people in power who have been complicit — or directly involved in — the destruction of the planet.

“Do you know what you did? / Did you have a good time while you threw it away? / You wanted to own it / own it / honey, it ain’t yours to take” 

Another TikTok video sharing the song describes it in more detail.

“We just put out a new song,” it reads. “It’s about nuclear war and climate change (something light). But also relationships and losing precious people and moments in time as we grow up.”

Stewart-Frommer also wrote briefly about the writing process for “Walk To Midnight.”

“Wrote these lyrics because I was fed up with ignoring my anger at the CEOs and politicians who profit off the destruction of planet,” she shared in a TikTok. “Being angry and letting ourselves feel this moment is so important.” 

Screenshots of TikToks shared by Melt
Photos courtesy of Melt/TikTok

Songs have a long history of defining resistance movements around the globe. In the U.S., this kind of social and political art is especially prominent in Black communities. In fact, much of America’s modern music and entertainment stems from the resistance art of enslaved people

However, more recent examples include songs like “This Is America” by Childish Gambino, or Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright.” Although many Black Americans and enslaved Africans paved the way for resistance music in the U.S., the torch continues to be carried by people of many diverse backgrounds. 

(Think: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” in support of the LGBTQ+ community, The Chicks’ anti-war sentiments in the early oughts, as well as famous folk tunes from Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie.)

Melt signifies a shift in this genre, as emerging artists contend with many issues of the day, especially the mounting impact of climate change.

In 2019, English band The 1975 used the voice of leading climate activist Greta Thunberg on a self-titled song called “The 1975,” with proceeds of the song going to the climate activism nonprofit Extinction Rebellion.

In the song, Thunberg’s voice is loud and clear: “We need a system change rather than individual change, but you cannot have one without the other.”

But Melt’s emphasis on “danceable protest songs” aims to bring these heavy-handed, intentional tunes to the mainstream, to play in everyday contexts and initiate important conversations.

A musician with pink hair sings on stage, a guitar strapped to her torso, and her arms in the air
Stewart-Frommer on tour in 2023. Photo courtesy of Luda Ronky/Melt

“To be a musician you’re exercising empathetic pathways,” Stewart-Frommer said in an interview with The Tufts Daily in 2022, calling on a piece of wisdom bassist Saur had said to her. 

“You’re envisioning a future, or you’re putting words to an emotion… and those pathways are the same ones we exercise when we imagine a collective future for society, for community, and engage in activism and advocacy.”

In the interview, Stewart-Frommer shared that touring plays a big role in how she sees music through a communal lens, welcoming a couple of hundred new people into a space “that has rules and norms where we’re all looking out for one another.”

In addition to community building at events, the band has also worked with Headcount to register voters.

“Musicians have always been activists and advocates,” she continued. “To be a musician is to operate in this language of love.”

Header images courtesy of Melt and Miranda Nicusanti

Article Details

January 8, 2024 9:49 AM
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