The Voice is a strange one. It was created in Holland back in 2010 with a heavy importance on singing ability - a stark contrast to the likes of The X Factor or American Idol which, in more recent years, had relied on novelty acts. It's since been sold to various countries including the UK and the United States, where both have comparatively struggled to create any truly international superstars. While not a winner, Melanie Martinez could be its first superstar.

Melanie Adele Martinez was born in New York City to Puerto Rican and Dominican parents, she entered the popular singing contest in 2012, singing her own interpolation of Britney Spears' smash 'Toxic'. Three out of four coaches turned their big red chairs for Martinez (fellow diva Christina Aguilera was the only one not to turn) and she eventually settled on Adam Levine as her coach. Together, they made it to the top six, before being eliminated. However, the public certainty liked something about her; she was saved by the public three times and two of her covers made it into the top 10 on iTunes. After independently working on her own material, once her time on The Voice had come to an end she released the well-received Dollhouse EP in April 2014 after inking a deal with Atlantic Records. It's the surreal, yet heartfelt and openly honest lyrics that act as the foundation to the music, which she worked on with production duo Kinetics & One Love; for example, the EP's title track speaks of a "dysfunctional family hiding behind a picture-perfect façade," while 'Carousel' details Martinez "feeling in love with someone and being stuck on the same ride and trying to grab them but I never reach them."

Much of the EP's themes carry over to the LP - childhood stories of lost innocence spent out in unsophisticated terms that even the most relaxed of listeners will sit up and pay attention to. The sensational 'Soap' is, to many, the album's centrepiece and has earned considerable traction and support across both sides of the pond in recent weeks; most notably from Beats 1 and Hot 97 DJ Ebro. In a nutshell, it tells the story of a previous partner whom she was beginning to fall for. She didn't want to scare him off with her immediate declarations of love and felt that the long-running metaphor of "washing your mouth out with soap" was a fitting one. At just 20, Martinez has a musical knowledge and lyrical ability way beyond her years.

Martinez is in New York at her label's HQ when we get the chance to sit down and discuss her recent success and release of her debut album, which happened a mere four days prior. She tells me she's new to Skyping with other people; "I've never done this before! This is really cool!" she proclaims excitedly...

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Congratulations on the release of your album! How are you feeling now that it's out?

I'm... relieved! [Laughs] I feel like... "Finally!" I can finally put something out that I'm happy with. I'm really excited!

Roughly how long had you been working on the album?

I'd say about a year and a half...

And you had your Dollhouse EP before the album which came out shortly after you left The Voice. What would you say has changed since the release of the EP and coming up to the album?

I think a lot has changed but in a really good way. All the fans that I had from The Voice, with the new album, I think they're realising that I'm a songwriter, I have my own music... it was really hard at first. I think the hardest part really for me was having to sign covers at shows after the whole Voice experience. I'm just really happy that I get to do my own thing now. That makes me super, super happy, I just feel like I'm 100% myself now. [Laughs] I think that was the biggest change; realising that now people are listening to my music and that makes me really happy.

I want to talk a little bit about your single 'Soap' which I love - how long were you in the bathtub to make that video?

[Laughs] That video was a funny experience! Me and my friends just made that in my hotel room and I had all these green things from a craft store hanging, it all got in the tub and it was really gross, there were bubbles everywhere and I actually put soap on my tongue. I actually put soap in my mouth and it was disgusting! I've never realised how gross it was; it was like the weirdest thing ever, but it tasted gross. I was in the tub for like, at least... maybe two hours. My hands were pruning! [Laughs]

What was the inspiration behind the song and how did it come together? I think the idea of washing your mouth out with soap is a phrase that all people can relate to at some point in their lives...

It's about my ex-boyfriend who, at the time, I was having trouble just saying how I felt about him and I was too scared because I didn't want him to get scared or spooked. Of course, it's a very natural, first time talking with someone, feeling like you're falling in love with them and not wanting to tell them you love them because you feel like they're just going to be really scared and run away. I guess the whole idea was, I felt like he was sitting a bath filled with my words; my words were like water running out of a faucet, he was just soaking in everything I was saying and I didn't want to say anything that was going to make him jump up and get out of the bath, I wanted to keep him calm. I wanted to relate the whole "washing your mouth out with soap" to that because I just thought it was such a perfect analogy.

Listening to the album, I found that it doesn't really sound like anything else that's out at the moment, which can be quite a difficult achievement. Did you intentionally set out to make something against the norm?

Not really. I don't know what it was, I was just super inspired by certain sounds. It kind of lead me to think of melodies that I just naturally felt were fitting for the songs. I was just so focused on writing the story, telling the story of the album, telling the story of each individual song and I was so obsessed with making everything cohesive and fit together to feel like one body of work. I think that was my main focus. I wasn't really thinking about making it different, I was just focusing on the story and it just came across. I think people feel like it's different to what's out right now because it's so story driven and so concept driven and I feel like there are a lot of songs, at least in pop music today that aren't... they're not very detailed. There aren't a lot of details in pop songs anymore, it's usually pretty simple and about drinking and going to the club, so I think telling real honest stories is something that is... it's kind of sad that it's different than what's out because of that but I think that's just what it is.

There's also seems to be a bit of a Hip-Hop undertone to the album also...

Yeah, I love Hip-Hop! That was definitely a huge inspiration for the album. I love Hip-Hop drums and that was definitely the goal to incorporate the lyrical toy sounds with the beat of the Hip-Hop drums. I don't know, it was kind of like this mix of a weird, creepy little lullaby thing with a heavy beat. I really loved that contrast.

Illustrator Chloe Tersigni designed the artwork for the album, how did the two of you meet?

She actually did fan art for me since I was on The Voice. She did one thing and I didn't realise it was her. A couple of years later she did another thing and it was completely different in style but they were so good. She's an insane artist, you should look her up. I just emailed her and said "I really want you to do the artwork for my album, I'm obsessed with everything you do, please do this!" [Laughs] She was excited and so down just freaking out; we were on the phone for hours talking about it and I'd send her exactly how I'd want each illustration to look for each song and she just nailed it.

You're going to be touring the US pretty soon but you also did a tour with the Dollhouse EP...

Yeah, I did three small tours on the EP and that was really fun. I'm really excited for this one; it's going to be different because there's so many songs that I get to play now. I'm really excited about it. It's going to be cool seeing how people react to each song and seeing which one is their favourite. It's really special when you see a crowd of people singing your songs with you, it's an emotional experience so I'm excited for that. It's going to be really awesome.

Have you had any ideas on how you want your shows to look?

Yeah, I think the inspiration is kind of like a creepy nursery! [Laughs] I think that's the main inspiration! We're figuring everything out this week with lights and we're doing rehearsals and stuff so we're still figuring everything out but I'm excited to see how it all comes together.

Apart from your own music, what else are you listening to at the moment?

Actually, I like this song a lot, it's called 'Here' by Alessia Cara. It's such a good song! The lyrics are incredible, it's exactly how I felt my whole entire life at parties like "why am I here?" [Laughs] I love it, I think that it relates to a lot of girls or even young people who aren't about that; there's more to life than being drunk at a party. She's really great and her voice is incredible too, she sounds like a woman and she's 19. It's insane!

There's a lot of talk surrounding female musicians; how they're constantly compared to each other and not allowed to shine in their own light. Have you experienced that yourself?

Of course. Especially in my situation. To most people who don't really know about my music and just go by how I look, it's like "Oh, she's like, the alternative girl with coloured hair, so she's like this girl and she's also like this girl!" There's a group of girls in that category and it's interesting how people say those things. To me, I know everyone is different and there's no competition because artists are there to create art; they're not there to fight each other, this isn't boxing! [Laughs]. I do think it's interesting that people create fights. It's weird!

Do you have any plans to tour the UK or Europe anytime soon?

I would love to! I've never actually been outside of the states except for Canada or the Dominican Republic because I'm Dominican and Puerto Rican and when I was 10 I went to the Dominican Republic so I don't really remember it. I would kill to go to the UK, I'm sure it's amazing! I want to go to London, I want to do all of it and it'd be really fun. I actually have a couple of friends there so it'd be good to see them!

Now that the album is out, what are you looking forward to for the rest of the year? What else are you hoping to achieve?

I think my main focus is music videos, in my brain at least. I know it's going to be very hard to accomplish this but I'm dying to make videos for every single song, tell the story of the album and make it a complete visual album. I want to do a whole short film for Cry Baby and connect each video with each other and tell the story. I'm very set on doing that and we'll see if it gets to happen. Also I really want to start writing for the next album already because I want to write so bad and it's killing me! [Laughs]. I'm definitely going to be locking myself in my hotel room whenever I can and just try to write as much as possible. [Laughs]

What would you like your musical legacy to be? What would you like to be remembered for?

Honestly, I think, when I'm like, 60 years-old, I want to sit back and have all my physical records and have a story of things I've been through as a human in front of me that would be so cool. I just want to make music; that's really what it's about. I just want to make as many albums as I possibly can before I die. I want to be able to physically see them and work on the visual part of the packaging. The physical CD for Cry Baby is a storybook and it's an actual storybook. The illustrations are for each individual song and it tells the story and I wrote it like a kid's book. I'm obsessed with the artwork because one of my favourite artists did all the work for it; her name is Chloe Tersigni, she's only like, 19 or 20 and she's incredible. It's fun collaborating with people and finding people who understand your brain in making this magical thing happen. I'm just really happy with it.


Melanie Martinez's album Cry Baby is available now on iTunes.