Melanie Martinez laughs at the idea that she is far more mature than the average 19-year-old.
"Everything in my life is very based on my childhood," says the Baldwin singer-songwriter, whose debut EP, "Dollhouse," will arrive Tuesday on Atlantic Records. "The way that I dress is the way I've always dressed. The way I've eaten is how I've always eaten."
"I dress like a 5-year-old and I eat like a 5-year-old," she adds, laughing about her diet of mainly grilled cheese, chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese and fries. "It's just my personality."
Actually, it's much more than that. Martinez's potent combination of artsy personality, distinctive vocals and strong musicianship already has attracted a lot of attention, landing her on Adam Levine's team on season 3 of "The Voice" and taking her all the way to the Top 6, even before she graduated from Baldwin High School.
And now that she's been able to focus full-time on her artistic endeavors, Martinez says she is ready to offer her personal music to the world.
Her debut single, "Dollhouse," is a bold statement, with a chorus that includes, "Everyone thinks that we're perfect, please don't let them look through the curtains."
Album is in the works
Martinez was so proud of how "Dollhouse" turned out that she released it herself in February, along with its eye-catching video. It did so well on its own that Atlantic Records took notice and signed Martinez, who will release several of the songs she completed herself with Kinetics and One Love, the team behind B.o.B.'s smash "Airplanes," as the "Dollhouse" EP and then continue work on her debut album, which she hopes will be released later this year.
The success of "Dollhouse" means a lot to Martinez. "That was the first original music I ever had out," she says. "I felt it was a strong enough song, a strong enough first impression for people to understand who I am."
She says the blunt honesty of "Dollhouse" is a good example of what people can expect from her. "I've always been a fan of telling honest stories," she says. "The music on the EP and the album is basically dark stories that are sugarcoated with a kidlike aesthetic. The core of every story is honest, real things that people find uncomfortable bringing up."
Martinez says she draws on her own experiences for her lyrics. "It's all dark," she says. "It's all meaningful to me, whether I've been through the situations or I've heard about them and they really touched my heart. I've always been very emotional."
Some of the inspiration for her songs comes from the struggles she had in high school. "It was hard in school," she says. "Maybe they didn't like my voice. Maybe they didn't like me. It got better, though."
Although she graduated from Baldwin High School, she didn't really attend the school for her senior year because of her time on "The Voice." She kept up with her studies online during the show and after her run ended, she didn't really feel comfortable about returning. "I got a lot of very bad hate on social media from some people from my school," she says. "I think people thought I changed because they saw me on TV. They weren't close enough to know that I was still the same human being.... When I walked at graduation, I got booed. It was kind of stupid."
Dad's a musical influence
Musically, Martinez's influences are a little more direct. She says she can trace the roots of her music to the songs her father would play in their Baldwin home after he discovered how much she loved singing.
"My dad would play heavy hip-hop and The Beatles," Martinez says, adding that she still has a soft spot for The Notorious B.I.G. "There's a heavy hip-hop influence in my music, some trap influence, but it's always lyrical."
That influence is evident in "Dollhouse," where the lyrics are clearly the focus, but there's an undercurrent of hip-hop beats that drives the story. It's a combination similar to Lorde's "Royals," with the lyrics and music feeling like the authentic expressions of a teenager.
Visually, however, Martinez has a style that is much more mature, stemming from her own photography and her love of the visual arts, which led her to take her own artist photos and build the sets on the "Dollhouse" video herself.
That even extends to her daily look -- and not just the two-toned hair she became famous for on "The Voice." She's wearing a doll head on a chain around her neck, its rosy cheeks matching the pink angora sweater she wears over a shiny silver dress.
"I'm a very visual person, and it helps with my music and helps with my style," she says. "I like experimenting and having fun with music, style, everything. As you grow up, your brain wants to explore things and learn from your experiences... . This is all just like a dream come true that I get to show people that."
What other LI reality show contestants are up to
Though Long Island has had its share of TV music competition standouts in recent years, Baldwin's Melanie Martinez is the first to take her time on "The Voice" and turn it into a major-label deal. Here's a look at what some of the others are up to:
APPEARED ON "The Voice" season 1
FINISHED Top 16
WORKING ON The Port Jefferson Station native has been focusing on her acting recently, appearing on an episode of MTV's "Awkward" and an upcoming episode of Disney's "Liv & Maddie." She also has a song set for the upcoming soundtrack of "Lovin' Brooklyn," a dance movie that features her brother, David.
APPEARED ON "American Idol" season 10
FINISHED Top 16
WORKING ON His debut album, which he plans to release this month himself, as well as the upcoming "Official Stand Up Tour" with IM5. He is also studying music at Hofstra University.
APPEARED ON "American Idol" season 5
FINISHED Top 11
WORKING ON The Levittown native who became known as "Chicken Little" has been focusing on acting more than singing, co-starring in a string of movies and TV shows, including the 2008 movie "College" and last month's "A Lesson in Romance" on the Hallmark Channel.