Melody Thornton has turned it on for the camera. Dressed in Sass & Bide for our cover shoot at Soleil Pool Bar, the aesthetic sets the tone with a chic palette of rich gold and white hues. The open air atmosphere and warm timber features wrap around the blue pool; nodding to an eternal summer.
Dripping in sheen metallic, Thornton confidently moves to the next pose at the command of the flash. Her gaze settles under the beaming sun as she laughs convincingly, only for the photographer to capture her pearly gleam.
It's this sort of physical composure that confirms the songstress has been in this business for most of her adult life.
The former member of the infamous girl group, The Pussycat Dolls, has been focusing on her music career as an independent, solo artist. Her last music project was released in 2012 and has since left fans anxiously waiting.
"It takes a really long time.... I ain’t putting anything out that isn’t perfect," she laughs. Her tune quickly changes as she continues, "It’s taken me 5 years since my last project to find the producer that I’m working with now."
Certain of her next move, she explains that she has been working tirelessly over the last few years. "There are some things in the works. I'm looking for as much visibility as possible to get my profile up and to get as many people aware of myself as an independent artist," she says.
Her new EP which is set to drop in early 2017 is a way to reset and cement her sound. "At the beginning it starts very dark with a song called 'Pray for Me' and by the end, the last song on the EP is called 'Phoenix Rise'. So it's really cathartic," she says. "It has to do with the ups and downs that life takes you through from a woman's perspective [and] my perspective."
A typical day in the life of Thornton is more game, guts and unpredictability, than on-stage glamour. "I literally have to meet a producer and come to an agreement and then work together... It’s like trying to find someone to marry. Or trying to find someone to leave your children to when you die. That’s the hardest thing about being independent."
She further explains, "The other thing is that I have to make the money and distribute it and take care of myself. Which in some ways is really empowering and the 21st century woman is really that."
The 'strong woman' persona is inspired by her fascination around 1968 to the early 70s. Her mother is her visual inspiration and style icon who she says dressed really smart. "She was always making her own clothes and creating her own patterns. She was like: 'I'm not going to buy it, I'm going to make it."
She goes on saying, "She's always done things her way but was inspired by other women and I find myself doing the same thing."
Often identified as part of The Pussycat Dolls, we delved into a deeper question of whether or not it gets exhausting and if the association will ever shift. She takes a minute and replies, "I don't think it will ever change. It's one of the things that I want to be identified with. I went through a lot with those women to build that brand. You can almost say it to anybody and they say: 'Oh yeah, I remember that' or you have people going 'fuck yeah, that was the shit."
Times have changed and social media plays a big role in the promotional strategy of growing her brand and reaching her fans. She's able to connect and communicate directly to her following but that also comes with its challenges.
"I feel from time to time pressure from Instagram or Twitter: 'Like, oh gosh, I need to get something up.' It has become part of the job. But I'll have a moment of clarity where I go ... I want to be strategic about what's going up on my Instagram - I want it to make sense."
How does she think that sort of social media pressure would have impacted her career when the girl group was together?
"I'm really grateful that social media picked up when the group was over. Because one of the things that people find themselves doing is kicking themselves - it's so impulsive and you send things out and then you're like, 'I didn't mean that.' I was in a girl group [and] there were emotions going around. There was anger."
She continues seriously, "I respect my band mates and I think that 'we' did such a fantastic job at keeping some level of respect for the brand and not going around and throwing allegations. Thornton takes a moment, "You know, I think we're really tasteful women but had social media been around at the time - we may of had some issues."
The well-trod road for the songstress is solidified with a clear direction of what she wants and where she's going. "Justin Timberlake said, 'I treat every project like I'm brand new and people don't know me.' It's true, there are some people who make it seem very seamless like Justin Timberlake. And then there are people like myself where there is a long period, it feels like a long period, from the last project to this one. It's really like I'm starting over."
She's confident, concise and clear about her image and is determined not to drift away from her influences. "I’m specific about sonically what I want as well as visually."
Maintaining the momentum and steering her way to success, she's ready to dominate her own way. "Well, opportunities ... come and you make the most of them and you either get on with your life and do it your way or sometimes new things come along," she says.
"Seal is a good friend of mine ... and he said what people don't take into account is that there is always a little bit of luck in every major success." She pauses and says, "I think that everything that is meant to happen, happens."
See the full editorial in our latest issue.
Credits | Model: Melody Thornton | Photographer: Daniele Sangermani | Stylist: Stacey O’Keeffe | Location: Soleil Pool Bar