Rachel Bache is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Melanie Martinez fans camp out before concert

You may not know her, but Cry Baby’s creator is drawing Kiwi crowds, writes Rachel Bache.
Melanie Martinez is genuinely excited about everything she does, especially coming to New Zealand to share her work with her Kiwi fans. Photo / Emily Soto
Melanie Martinez is genuinely excited about everything she does, especially coming to New Zealand to share her work with her Kiwi fans. Photo / Emily Soto

Teens are camping out on the streets of Auckland for a singer who you've probably never heard of.

Ahead of her show tonight some of Melanie Martinez's dedicated fans have gone the extra mile to get to the front of the stage at the Powerstation. Early this morning more than half a dozen fans were seen braving the winter cold for Martinez's first ever headlining show in New Zealand tonight, which sold out in less than two days.

Speaking to TimeOut Martinez revealed that although she has a lot on her plate, she is genuinely excited about everything she does, especially coming to New Zealand to share her work with her Kiwi fans.

"I'm super-excited to come back for my own shows - last time I was opening for Adam Lambert - so it's going to be fun to meet fans from that part of the world. I'm hoping to bring together a really special, intimate, unique show for New Zealand fans.

"I feel like it's going to be fun."

Martinez isn't just a singer or a storyteller, she's a Cry Baby - but she doesn't care.

The 21-year-old New York native took the thing she was teased for and turned it into something that has earned her millions of fans all over the world.

Cry Baby, the title and inspiration for her debut album, is a character Martinez created, an extension of herself, which comes out through the electropop singer's unique lyrics and look.

"When I was younger I was made fun of for being super-emotional and caring about things maybe more than I should," Martinez told TimeOut. "I feel like we're taught that being emotional is a weakness. So for Cry Baby - this character that is based on myself - I really wanted to tell her story, about how I really felt for my entire life and make people feel comfortable with how different or unique they are."

Martinez started posting videos of her music to YouTube when she was 14. In 2012 she got her break as a contestant on The Voice and was signed to Atlantic records not long after.

The singer - now covered in tattoos and sporting Cruella de Vil-esque two-toned hair - found the inspiration for her sound and style in vintage toys and says having a strong aesthetic is just as important to her as the songs themselves.

"Every time I write a song I kind of have a music video in my head while I'm writing it. If I don't have a strong visual like that I usually give up on the song, because I have to connect to it in a visual way. So making music videos is really important to me. I loved photography when I was younger and I think that's where it all comes from."

Music videos have been one of the keys to Martinez's growing popularity. Her song Carousel - which was used as the theme music for American Horror Story's fourth season, Freak Show - has more than 39 million views on YouTube, and singles Pity Party and Dollhouse have reached more than 53 million and 63 million respectively. Each video was conceived by Martinez and possesses her signature baby-doll image of bows and pacifiers.

Having that creative control is something Martinez says she values dearly, even though it means she ends up with an incredibly long creative to-do list that includes touring the world, more music videos, secret surprises for her fans and a second record.

"I'm working on a new album right now, it's actually kind of finished but I'm not gonna say that it's done. I'm a bit crazier when it comes to recording now [than I was on the first album]. I've re-recorded songs four times over - I'm just such a perfectionist now, I don't know what happened to me," she says with a nervous laugh.

"For now I'm planning how I'm going to introduce people to the next theme and just continuing the story. I'm just taking it day by day and as I grow, so will Cry Baby, and there will be more things to talk about in her story because more things will be happening in my own life. I'm really just seeing where it goes and I'm just going to write about it whenever things happen. "

Low down

Who: Melanie Martinez
Where: Powerstation, Auckland
When: Friday, August 12
Listen: Debut album Cry Baby, out now

- TimeOut

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