Petite Meller

By
Photography Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Published September 14, 2015

Petite Meller’s Kabuki-rouged cheeks, long platinum hair, and sweetheart frocks paired with her cooing falsetto and subtly sexual videos are undeniably evocative of Lolita. Her self-described “nuovo jazzy-pop” sound and choice to work closely with collaborators she meets online complete the idiosyncratic affect. But according to Meller, her intentions are simple: “I just want to make my music and make people feel better,” she says. “I believe in making fantasies a reality.”

The London-based musician and model grew up mostly in Paris and some in Tel Aviv, living with her grandparents and listening to records by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Fela Kuti. Those influences can be heard in the saxophone, piano, and percussion layered within her synth-pop melodies. For her videos, which are as important to her as her sound, Meller references French cinema (the clip for her song “Backpack” pays homage to director Henri-Georges Clouzot’s unfinished film Inferno). “After I create songs in the studio, I imagine the video and whole concept behind it,” she explains. “Every frame, I have in my mind.”

Meller’s most recent video, “Baby Love,” filmed in Kenya, depicts her wearing an array of pastel costumes in various beautiful locales, flanked by giraffes or ebulliently dancing with school children while singing, “I shiver / When I’m walking on the street / I’m tryin’ not to worry / Have mercy.” Like much of her oeuvre, the song is uplifting on the surface, yet also suggests unconscious desires and traumas. “It’s like a puzzle,” she says. “I can go back after a while and interpret myself and my childhood.”

This psychoanalytic inquiry is central to Meller’s art. (She put out a short video earlier this year titled “Dictionary: Petite Meller’s Guide to Freud,” and she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in philosophy at the Sorbonne.) But the intention of her girlishly sexualized persona is not simply to unsettle-it is to empower. “Wear your trauma proudly,” she says. “Take what’s holding you back in a positive way.”