Most people don’t know what to do when they get out of college; for singer/actress Temara Melek, it was a no brainer. At four, she was already singing and on her way to dancing as well. More recently, her song “Karma’s Not Pretty” achieved #8 on the UK MTV Most Watched Video Charts. The song was also in the top 10 in the VIVA online charts and won the Academia Music Award for “Best Pop Song.”
Now 19, the busy singer sat down with Moviehole to talk about the music business and what she’s learned to maintain her momentum, as well as what it was like to open for Demi Lovato.
Moviehole: How did you get started in singing and writing?
Temara Melek: Ever since I was four or younger, I was a fan of “Grease” and I would watch it almost every day — it was one of my favorite movies. My mom saw that I was so interested in it and that I loved it, and I was also dancing as my sister was a dancer. There was a vocal coach at the dance studio and my mom asked if I wanted to take lessons.
Moviehole: How did you break into the music business?
TM: I moved to L.A. when I was 12 and I found a vocal coach out here. At first it was a hobby; I was doing more acting, then I thought I could write a song so I worked with this vocal coach and wrote a song with him. He was in the industry and had worked with other young artists. I recorded it, did a first release (online) and started gaining fans. I was going to a lot of events and had friends in the business, so I continued writing more music and met other songwriters. Jonathan George was my vocal coach. I started writing together with him and found out what my style was, then I kept working with other producers and song writers.
My big release “Karma’s Not Pretty” was a really fun video that came out in 2013. Luckily I was working with people who had been in the industry and they knew how to get onto YouTube and ITunes. I released “Karma’s Not Pretty” on ITunes, the YouTube channel and it was a lyric video. It was made in a fun way. I followed up with a music video and that helped reach a broader audience. I have trained on both sides of my voice, soprano and alto, so I have a pretty wide range.
Moviehole: What are the charity organizations you are working with right now, such as the Ian Somerhalder Foundation?
TM: I have been involved with Ian’s charity and it’s one of my favorite ones. And I’m a huge animal lover and I will continue that. Another organization is UNICEF, I’ve been working with them for seven years — I hold an annual Halloween party with donations with UNICEF.
Moviehole: Why do you think “Karma’s Not Pretty” was so enjoyed by your fans?
TM: It’s a fun song and catchy, also I feel the storyline is one people can relate to. And I think the video was a big hit with the two cute guys, who doesn’t want to watch them? I mean I still watch the video (laughs).
Moviehole: What was it like opening for Demi Lovato?
TM: I opened up for her at the Belasco theatre in L.A., it was definitely one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had. I was a huge fan of hers already, she’s insanely talented and I got to meet and talk with her. People working with us at the time knew her manager, and knew about how they were looking for someone to open up for her.
Moviehole: What about your roles on “Modern Family” and “Westworld”?
TM: “Modern Family” was quite a while ago. “Westworld” was more recent — I was a part of the townspeople and there was a fight scene which was crazy because I never did anything like that! I had to jump into character that was different from anything I’ve ever done.
Moviehole: What about your studies in fashion?
TM: It’s on hold, but I did study at the Fashion Institute in DTLA. I would like to do something in fashion someday, do my own line — I’m very much into fashion. I think it’s a good thing it goes well with singing. My favorite fashion designer is Victoria Beckham.
Moviehole: What do you advise to newbies in singing about breaking in?
TM: My advice is just to keep going. There’s a lot of letdowns so take any opportunity that you can. Just write your own stuff, try to find other songwriters to collaborate with to get more opportunities, and you can release on SoundCloud if you don’t have a manager.
Moviehole: It’s hard to break into the music industry, what helped you to succeed?
TM: The biggest challenges take a lot of hard work and a lot of experience. It might take years — I’ve been doing it for quite a while and I’m never giving up, I keep going at it.
Moviehole: How do you get inspiration for writing?
TM: Either from personal experience or a story that other people told me or a made-up topic that I’m writing with someone. It’s important to have a song be relatable.
Moviehole: When does your main album get released?
TM: Right now I’ve been working at a studio, writing and recording on a single release in a few months, and hopefully there will be an EP by the end of the year.