Although battling with current anxieties, home-schooling and juggling two children under twelve, like blood through veins, crucial creativity is finding its flow through Mel Xkejfa during this necessary incubation period.
Canadian born Mel Xkejfa is an artist at her core. She moved to, Gozo when she was seven and made Nadur her home for the last few decades. One half of Chasing Pandora and a solo album to boot, since the birth of her children, life has looked a little different until lately. These last months had seen her working on new tunes and a brand new live set with a musician friend after many years of hiatus. But alas…Corona hit with a bump and so for now, her plans to return to the stage have been scuppered and replaced with trying to keep sane and the children focused. ‘Distractions at home make it challenging’, she confesses. ‘Some days they accomplish a lot, other days not so much but having to stay away from their Nannu and Nanna is the hardest part’.
She has a close-knit family who are used to seeing each other every day. That connection has now been replaced by daily video calls to mum and dad who are high on her current priority list, making sure they have everything they need and are staying healthy. Mel is a self-confessed story-teller and in between her new normal, which involves working from home, schoolwork, crafts, cooking, writing, reading and watching movies, believe it or not, she still has time to get her thoughts down, whether it be through music or poetry.
What’s endearing is that although now ready to return to her first love – music, there seems to be confident non-urgency about it all. Certainly not lackadaisical, but that only true artistry navigates. A ‘you can’t force the egg out of the chicken’ and ‘everything has its time’ vibe. She gives off the elusive understanding that there could be a different way of doing things. In short, the Corona virus pandemic has gifted her time to reawaken. Hot from feeling like a robot in the daily grind, she is now finding time to think and like any true creator in fight or flight, and the most exciting part; her music seems to thrive in crisis.
‘When I am scared or uncertain, the creative parts of me start to flow again. So apart from the scary parts, I’m inspired to write more poetry and music.’
She’s deeply proud of her roots and feels there will be some welcome changes in our community once this is over. ‘Gozo has really come together and helped out those in need. It’s amazing to see that and I can only hope that this remains when the pandemic is over.’ She’d personally like the environment to take precedence by reducing traffic with more work-from-home options but believes we will experience a lot more social distancing in the future. She also explained that although she’d like to see less hysteria across social platforms, complaints that the digital world has taken over will no longer be valid due to tech being the only thing presently keeping us united. Of course, we tend to agree!
Reinvigorating a remote community through isolation is the only way to go. We are humans and we need to connect. So despite the lockdown she has taken to sharing her latest set of recordings in realtime via her Facebook Page with the occasional ‘of the moment’ cover – and they could arguably be her most vulnerable offerings to date.
Her voice is peaceful, serene and utterly connected to truth. Sweet but not saccharine and exposed, emotive and strangely powerful. You almost get the feeling that a new artist is emerging with a completely different perspective. Overall Mel’s words are clear and her appreciation takes centre stage. Once her deepest thoughts have been expressed, she gets to look on the bright side eventually.
‘Be grateful every night before you sleep because this life is not for the faint-hearted and you do not know what you’ve got until it’s gone. But as uncertain as this current situation is, it won’t last forever!’
Through freedom of expression and words mainly keeping her steady, when times get tough she asks herself a simple question. ‘Where will I be in a years time?’
These potent eight words surely pack a punch and offer her an opportunity to riff on balance with focus on possibility and hope. And when this time next year arrives, she will look back at April 2020 and say ‘ I made it through a very hard time and it is now in that is in the past’. Wise words we can all be inspired by.
Although I’ve only just met Mel and digitally at that, it feels like an exciting time in her career. Her Facebook page utters ‘Many many moments await’. Perhaps lockdown will be a grateful source of inspiration that unveils the next chapter in her artist journey and the subsequent phase of her writing. No doubts it will be fuelled with transparency, maturity and class.
Who knows where she will be in April 2021.
Author: Andrea Britton @andreabritton