Melanie Fiona: "This Time" Shows Different Side of My Artistry

The "4AM" songstress tells BET.com there is more to her creativity than fans may know.

Posted: 06/20/2012 10:33 AM EDT

Last Friday (June 15), Melanie Fiona premiered the video for “This Time” on 106 & Park. With an eclectic mix of visuals and an appearance by fellow Roc Nation artist J. Cole, the video was an instant hit with the 106 crowd and gave fans a fresh look at the soulful Toronto singer. With her album MF Life steadily rising up the charts and news that she is nominated for a BET Award for Best Female R&B artist, things are looking up for the perky songstress. BET.com caught up with Melanie to talk about her creative vision for “This Time,” her chemistry with J. Cole and how being a BET Music Matters artist kept her career alive.

BET.com: What did you want to say with the new video?

Melanie Fiona: “This Time” means a lot to me, not just because it’s a new single, but because it’s up-tempo and I feel like people need to understand the different sides of my music. It’s just got a good feel. It’s a good representation, I think, of just different sides of my artistry. It has that definite R&B hip hop feel. And the video itself, I love it. I just think it’s so dope. I think it’s so creative.

Who was behind the creative vision?

Collin Tilley directed the video. Me and my manager, Carmen [Murray], actually came up with a lot of the concepts for the visuals that you see. I wanted people to understand me as the artist, because I think they understand the song and I wanted this time — no pun intended (laughs) — for the audience to get a vibe from me and who I was. So I styled the video, all that stuff that you see in the video is me and my manager. The visuals, we pulled it, and Colin got behind that camera and brought everything to life.

It’s a lot different visually than your past videos.

I didn’t want it to be a relationship video even though the song is about a second time at love. I wanted this video to be really beautiful with real good elements of photography and great angles and just a good edge. I wanted people to get a vibe for me, and I think you get that. So we used different representations of time and different references to time (in the video). It’s just a good video for a good song. And Cole came through and brought his energy.

You play a role in the making of a lot of your videos. Do you have a film background or are you just very hands on with your work?

Yeah, actually. [I played a role] in pretty much all of them. From “It Kills Me” to “Ayo,” and then “4AM” and “Gone and Never Coming Back” — yeah, all of them. It’s really just me understanding the vision that I want people to get from these songs and I think we kind of made that mark when we did the “It Kills Me” video because it was like a mini movie. And I want these songs that have great stories already to have great visuals to match them. And I think I’ve given people a lot of story videos, and now it’s about people understanding who I am as an artist.

How was it working with your Roc Nation brother J. Cole on set?

First of all, I gotta just big him up for real because he came from South Africa while he was on tour with a show that night. And he came through for an hour and just did his thing. He came in like a champion — like, he was so tired. I can’t even begin to tell you what a star he was. He just came in and just nailed it and was positive. And I appreciate that as an artist and as my homie. I really appreciate him coming through and being able to give me whatever ounce of energy he had. We’re friends and we joke and you’ll see elements of that in the video where our chemistry, it just works real good. And I loved the verse he dropped on it so it was easy for me to kinda just sit there and listen to him. And we get in each other's faces a little bit and then we play around at the end of the video a little bit. But we just have great chemistry as people so, it’s really easy. And he’s really dope.

Is there a reason you keep working with director Colin Tilley?

When I work with Colin, it is the easiest videos I’ve ever done. They start on time, they flow and we’re all done by like 7 p.m., 8 p.m. I’ve done shoots where you go ‘til like two in the morning. It’s a 12-hour shoot and we get everything done. But this is something that’s funny, I actually had to lie in sand because I did an hourglass to represent time. I actually had to lay in a pit of sand, and they were pouring the sand from above, behind me. And there was a fan blowing and obviously me singing. And I’m supposed to be this beautiful sand goddess, but just know that I have sand all in my mouth and in my eyes (laughs). It was not fun to do but it came out really, really beautiful.

Now that you’re rising faster than ever, how has being a BET Music Matters artist affected the trajectory of your career?

For me, most important, it put me out on the road when I was in between albums. I had experienced a lot of label changes. It kept me alive, it kept me in the market. And it sent me out there with another very talented artist, Marsha Ambrosious, who had actually just released an album at the same time. So it was a beautiful thing for us to be able to get out there and do that. And it gave me the opportunity to remind people of the kind of artist I am and debut and showcase new songs.

How did you feel when you heard you were nominated for the BET Award for best Female alongside names like Beyoncé, Rihanna and Mary J. Blige?

It’s really an honor. There’s only five spots and I’m in there with the elite artists. I mean, when you’ve got the Mary J’s and the Beyoncé’s, I mean what can I say? It’s just a real honor to be considered one of the best in your field.

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