Melody Thomas

Words, airwaves and openness 

Today we interview Melody Thomas who we met at Radio New Zealand, co-producing and presenting the Music 101 show over summer. Those in the creative industries in New Zealand know a lot about generosity, it is what fuels our creative economy and glues our communities together. Charities in NZ and overseas have benefited from our musicians lending their voice and influence, amplifying the message and getting us off our butts to take action. Melody has worked alongside musicians, charities and on the airwaves to tell some of these stories. We can relate.


What’s happening in the world of Melody Thomas for 2015? 

If these first months are anything to go by it's going to be a full-on year! On Waitangi weekend I was Maid of Honour at my sister's wedding and then the weekend after I had a big 30th bash that my partner and I turned into a surprise wedding of our own! It was pretty wonderful – confetti cannons and petals that fell from the ceiling during the vowels we stole from Pablo Neruda. That madness was all off the back of hosting Music 101 (Radio New Zealand National) for the summer ... so I'm hoping that at some stage there will be a break on my horizon.


Describe the most generous person you know. How have they influenced you?

I think generosity comes in different forms and I'm influenced by a few people in slightly different ways. My partner (husband!!) Paddy comes from an incredibly generous family. They are all in creative fields and so I think see money as something you sometimes have and sometimes don't – and maybe aren't as attached to it as many of us are. They are also very generous with their time, and I wouldn't be able to do the work I do if they weren't available pretty much anytime to hang out with the toddler. My sister Rachael has a wonderfully generous spirit, in that she always has time for you and can't help but consider the people around her – I tend to get caught up in my own little world and she's a great role model in that regard. My grandfather is also ridiculously generous in his support, both financial and emotional, to all of the branches in his family tree. I reckon at some stage we have all borrowed from the Bank of Pop with no interest or pressure for repayment – in fact my Uncles are the same. I guess I'm surrounded by generous spirits! Lucky, lucky me. 


Can you name an everyday action that makes the world a better place, yet is underrated?

I think it's important to stand up for what you believe in and to call out bigotry and bullying when you see it, even when biting your tongue might be the easiest route. I guess that might not be required of you everyday though! In which case I'd say practicing the art of openness. I once met a ridiculously energetic middle-aged man at a bar who told me the secret to his youth was the motto, "Is it necessarily so?" I could probably meditate on that one a lot more than I do. 


Can you tell us three things that inspire you and why?

I once suffered from an embarassing addiction to a celebrity gossip website that ran directly against my feminist beliefs, and have since replaced that with a much more healthy addiction to – a feminist news and entertainment website. The podcasts of This American Life, Love + Radio and Radiolab – the stories themselves but also how the programmes are produced and the people who make them. The magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende and the poetry of Pablo Neruda. 


Melody recently worked on story about a collaboration between Vanuatu reggae outfit Younglife and Red Cross to fundraise for the relief effort in the wake of Cyclone Pam. Have a listen via Radio NZ’s awesome podcasts.