album receipts interview
By Jaclyn Fan
Transcribed by Grace Davis
Published October 8, 2021
Jaclyn: “Hello everyone! Today I am here with a very special guest, Melody from Album Receipts. I’m super excited to be interviewing Melody today on behalf of Live Life Music, so Melody if you would tell us a little about yourself?
Melody: “Yeah, sure. So my name is Melody and I just graduated from Boston University where I studied Advertising and International relations. Right now, I’m just currently in my house in Georgia - I’m from Atlanta. And a little bit about me - I guess I started this Instagram account called Album Receipts about six months ago and am currently working as a freelance graphic designer and yeah, it’s just been quite a great experience so far. But yeah, I’ve just been doing a lot of social media graphics and I’m in the process of doing some more exciting things with the music industry so yeah.”
Jaclyn: “That’s so cool! I swear I see something new happening with Album Receipts everyday and it’s so amazing, I mean. So how did the idea for Album Receipts kind of come about?”
Melody: “So I was inspired by a graphic that I saw on Reddit when I was browsing through; I’m a huge Frank Ocean fan so it actually was a graphic that was designed by a friend of mine, Pepe, who created this awesome receipt graphic of Frank Ocean’s "Blonde" album and I saw it and thought it was really cool, I found it like I hadn’t seen anything like that before but I thought it was such a brilliant concept to, you know, visually showcase an album and its track list and its liner notes and such a cool way. So yeah, I saw that and I decided to create my own versions of it using my favorite albums as well. Through this process, I’m glad to have been able to connect with him as well and worked with him on a collaborative project we’ve done to recreate the original Frank Ocean Blonde receipt: we made our own version, a newer version of it, which was cool. But yeah, it was very much inspired by his brain child, like this is definitely his idea and I just decided to make my own versions of it and create as many versions as possible, I guess.”
Jaclyn: “Yeah, that is so cool! The concept is so different because you see people making graphic edits of music all the time, but I had never seen a receipt type of graphic done before and I remember over quarantine, I just saw all these people on my feed reposting those receipts on their stories and I was like, “Oh my gosh, what is this? I have to check it out.” And then I discovered your account and it was just so inspiring to me. And I guess my next question is kind of, has the Covid-19 pandemic changed the way you listen to or kind of rely on music in your everyday life?”
Melody: “Yeah definitely. I think that I find myself listening to music a lot more and I honestly don’t think I would have come up with this Instagram account idea had it not been for the pandemic because I’m just staying home on lockdown basically. I started it in May when I had just finished college forever and I had nothing to do with my free time. I found myself, you know, just engaging a lot more with music and exploring different genres and I feel like I’ve spent a lot more time on Spotify just because that’s the only way I could really stay sane when I’m quarantining. And I found that also, within social media as well, so many people had been sharing - I don’t know if you saw, there were a lot of Instagram story trends where it was like “this is what I listen to when I’m sad” or 'this is the song I listen to when I’m in a hype mood.'"
Jaclyn: “Right, like the Bill Clinton albums.”
Melody: “Exactly, yeah. I started seeing a lot of that and I was like, “Wow, this is really fun,” and it seemed like a lot more people were just, while they were at home, doing little Instagram challenges like that where they shared what type of music they listened to and Album Receipts kind of came from that as well, where it was a cool way to share what music you listen to.”
Jaclyn: “Yes, definitely. Just hearing about how you came up with the idea and everything is so crazy that, I mean, taking what was a trend and making it your own, I mean, that is just so inspirational. I literally love it!”
Melody: “Thank you so much!”
Jaclyn: “So do you kind of think that you would have the outreach that you have now, like being able to work with - I think it was MTV - and a lot of artists are noticing your account and everything - did you ever think that it would grow to that level?”
Melody: “Not at all, no. Yeah, I definitely didn’t, you know, I never really thought that I would work and do anything music related even though it's such a big part of my life. But yeah, it really is a dream come true and I was super shocked - I was just super hyperventilating when I received an email from the social team at MTV when they emailed me. They reached out when I was not really that popular on Instagram, so it was just kind of crazy to me that they would want to collaborate with me on a partnership and have me create social media assets for them. So that was one of my first introductions to working with the entertainment music industry, I guess. But yeah, since then it’s been great. I’m really happy that I get to work with so many labels under Universal and Sony and it’s just- it’s honestly just this passion project that unintentionally turned into a job, which is great.”
Jaclyn: “Yeah, that’s amazing, especially that you didn’t even set out with this goal of working with those music labels or anything, it just kind of came about because you were working so hard on it and just your talent really came through and they really saw it and that’s amazing.”
Melody: “Thank you, yeah it’s crazy, it feels like a fever dream, but yeah.”
More On Album Receipts!
Jaclyn: “So what’s been your favorite theme that you have done for your receipts, because I see you do rainbow or color themes, which one do you really think spoke to you the most?”
Melody: “Honestly, I had - thank you for noticing - I think that I had the most fun doing the different decades, I was trying to do that - I’m still in the process of creating a series of 90s albums, which I think will be my favorite one yet because there are so many albums that I grew up listening to that are nostalgic for me. But yeah, so far what’s out, I think I had a lot of fun doing the 80s albums, the 70s albums, you know with the 70s, it was Queen and Fleetwood Mac - I enjoyed making those so much because those are awesome bands. I think that a lot of people enjoyed it too, which was shocking to me because when I see Instagram insights, the majority of my followers are like 13-17, but there’s this deep appreciation for older music, which I found super awesome.”
Jaclyn: “Yeah, that is so cool, and me myself, I’m 16 but I love older music too and I think it’s so cool that people nowadays are appreciating older music because, I mean, it’s kind of controversial, but some people think that music is going down a bad path now, but either way, there’s some things that you can learn from older music and newer music, I think. And I think your different themes are just so cool because you can see how different albums might be connected in ways that maybe the artists didn’t see themselves, so I think that’s super cool that you did that.”
Melody: “That’s awesome, oh my God, I didn’t realize you were only 16, you seem so good at interviewing."
Jaclyn: “Thank you, I haven’t done any interviews before actually, but I’m just having a lot of fun - you’re such a good interviewee.”
Melody: “Wow, thank you, I don’t know what I’m talking about but thank you so much.”
Jaclyn: “Okay, well the next question would be - who have you been noticed by and who do you think you were most excited to be noticed by?”
Melody: “Yeah, I feel like that ones like I can’t come up with just one person because I think every single time I freak out, but Ariana Grande noticed me very early on. She’s honestly - well she’s like definitely the biggest artist to share my work but that was within the first month that I had started Album Receipts and I feel like she’s a big contribution as to why it became viral because she shared it and then my “Thank you, next” album receipt has 85,000+ likes or something like that. She shared it on her story and I gained 30,000 followers that day - it was crazy. I remember when it was blowing up, I was just in disbelief. I was taking a nap and my mom woke me up and was like, “Ariana Grande shared your post,” and I was like, “Holy shit,” and I think that was the most memorable for sure. But other than that, SZA commented on my “Control” album receipt and I want to frame it because I love SZA. Yeah, so Ariana Grande, SZA, I think also when Dominic Fike followed me, I kind of died a little inside. So I think it’s just - I’m so grateful all of them have been awesome and I’m a big fan of all the artists that I have done so far - like I’m a huge fan of all of them.”
Jaclyn: “Wow, it didn’t even happen to me and I’m fangirling, it’s so cool that that happened, I mean thirty thousand followers in one day because Ariana Grande reposted your post?
Melody: “Yeah, she’s like - her fans are so loyal, I mean for a good reason - she’s awesome - but yeah it was really insane."
Jaclyn: “And I love Dominic Fike, that’s so cool! I’m just really so jealous but I’m really glad that it’s happening to you because you’re working so hard and I feel like they’re really appreciated everything that you’re putting into those receipts because I’m sure those take so much time, so just to have that validated, I bet that is the best feeling ever!”
Melody: “Yeah, for sure, it’s crazy. But yeah, thank you, I really appreciate it.”
Jaclyn: “Okay, so what are some of your favorite songs?”
Melody: “Well recently, I’ve had “Self Control” by Frank Ocean on repeat.”
Jaclyn: “Are you kidding, I literally have been listening to that everyday!”
Melody: “Yeah, so I think that’s my favorite song right now, but also I discovered SZA’s unreleased tracks on Spotify, there’s like a playlist called “SZA’s Barbie'' and it’s all her unreleased tracks, so I’ve been listening to that playlist every single day as well. It’s all the songs that she, you know, didn’t publish, but they’re great. So if you like SZA, you should look into that as well. I don’t know if it’s allowed - I don’t know how somebody found it but”
Jaclyn: “That’s so cool, what a hidden gem. I feel like there’s always stuff on SoundCloud or Spotify, Twitter -maybe sometimes they shouldn’t be on there, but it’s cool to listen to it.”
Melody: “Yeah, definitely.”
Jaclyn: “Okay, well my next question is kind of a little bit deeper, so have you noticed any sort of issues in the music industry, for example, like exclusion of certain races from certain genres or maybe toxic masculinity in lyrics and things like that - have you noticed any issues?”
Melody: “Definitely, I mean, I think that representation is probably a huge thing that I am glad, at least now, you’re starting to see a lot more representation within Asian Americans, Asians in general with 88 rising artists becoming more popular. I’m glad that there’s labels like that that exist and are dedicated to representing certain demographics that aren’t represented. So I’m happy that we’re taking a lot more steps towards the right
direction, in terms of that, and also I had a conversation with one of my friends earlier about how there’s so many more amazing female rappers in the game right now and they are getting the recognition that they deserve - I mean, when I was in middle school, all I knew was Nicki Minaj. In the early 2000s, it was like Missy Elliot and people like that, but there really hadn’t been that many female rappers that were hitting the billboard top charts and now we have Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, like there are so many more amazing female rappers that are getting awesome recognition, so I’m happy to see a lot more of that - females in a more male-dominated genre getting the hype that they deserve. So yeah, I mean, we’re definitely, I mean I’m proud of the direction of music and where it’s going right now, but there needs to be more.”
Jaclyn: “Yeah, for sure. If you didn’t know, our non-profit, Live Life Music, it’s all about raising awareness for social issues within music and the arts industry, so I feel like I’ve definitely been noticing that there are strides being made in the music industry, but we still have a long way to go. I feel like one problem I really see is the double standards for women and men, especially in, for example, the rap industry or the rap genre. The way that they speak about women in songs and then it’s unacceptable for women to speak about men in the same way - I think it’s just so - It’s really an institutional problem that’s probably not going to go away for a very long time, but I feel like now, with all these movements going on, it’s a really good time for us to start making change within that sort of issue.”
Melody: “Yeah, definitely. I mean, it’s awesome that Live Life Music is doing that, like raising those issues that need to be talked about more, so that’s super cool.”
Jaclyn: “Thank you! Okay, my next question would be - what is the importance of music in people's lives? - Do you think it could help shape their future, their interests, anything like that?”
Melody: “Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think that music’s always been a huge part of my life and when I’m going through hard times, especially with teens and young adults, we go through a lot with, I don’t know, you face a lot of peer pressure in school or you have a lot of anxiety because you’re not happy with who you are - you know, there’s a lot of that, so I went through a lot of that too growing up, so I would turn to music. I was a huge Beetles fan and I have all of their records, so I would just listen to the Beetles and that would make my day better, and I’m thankful for those artists that had written such beautiful songs that make me feel some type of way. So I definitely think it’s super impactful and I think it’s awesome that artists are more comfortable talking about mental illness and personal struggles within their songs. I mean I think a lot of things are destigmatized right now and it’s totally okay to talk about a lot of personal things. I guess that even back in the 60s and 70s, they did talk about these things too, but I feel like nowadays, we are having so much more of an in-depth conversation about mental health and representation. So yeah, I think it plays a huge part and I’m glad that music is always there for us.”
Jaclyn: “That’s what I always think about, for example, if I’ve had a bad day at school or something, I know that when I get my car and I turn on my playlist, and get to listen to whatever I want to listen to, it can definitely relieve my stress or improve my mood. It’s just crazy how much of an effect music can have on our moods and just the way we kind of see the world.”
Melody: “Yeah, definitely.”
Advice for Those Who Want to Pursue a Similar Path
Jaclyn: “Alright, so one of my last questions is “Do you have any advice for people who might want to start an account that promotes something they’re passionate about, kind of like album receipts?”
Melody: “Yeah, I guess my advice is to just do nothing - I know that’s horrible advice, but honestly a lot of great ideas come from boredom or by being inspired by whatever you see, and I think that if you have some type of - if you have a passion for something, and you would like to showcase it, then what’s stopping you from doing it? Creating an Instagram account takes like 5 seconds. And also another thing is don’t be afraid to reach out to other creators and artists or designers and people who have inspired you, because chances are, they’re probably willing to talk to you about their experience and how they were able to get to where they are. That’s helped me so much - learning from graphic designers that I was really inspired by and art directors. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to reach out to people who have done super awesome things and I’ve had informationals with them and I’ve taken a lot of the advice and knowledge that they gave me and applied it to creating album receipts. So chances are, if you’re inspired by creators, just talk to them , start a conversation - they’d probably be really happy to talk about themselves because that’s just how people are.”
Jaclyn: “Yes, definitely. I swear, it’s crazy how connected people are these days with social media. I bet back even 20 years ago, it would not be this easy to reach out to somebody you admire, one of your idols. Famous people reply on twitter and Instagram all the time and it’s just wonderful that we have the internet and technology that can connect people so much nowadays. I feel like I would definitely agree that people would probably be very happy to answer a question or give advice, just like you accepted this interview and were able to talk about music and everything about that. So that was the last of my questions, that went really fast. I feel like I could keep talking for a long time because you just have so much to say and I love it.”
Thank you Melody for speaking with us! Your story inspires many!