Interview: my friends call me Mel
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Music started as a communal way for me to connect with my family. My three older brothers and dad all play instruments. However I took to songwriting at an early age when I would create theme songs and storylines for characters I would make up in my journal. If I wasn’t doing music, I think I’d be a counselor of some type. I enjoy seeking to understand people and help them process their feelings.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I enjoy TV/film. I love the magic of visual storytelling. Getting enveloped in a character’s arc helps me to see not only a different perspective but a wider range of growth. I get to see and experience the whole process of the big picture.
How long has music been your career?
I’ve been pursuing music as more than just a hobby since the middle of high school when I started recording original songs, however it didn’t become real for me until I moved to Nashville for my degree in songwriting where I honed my craft and studied the music industry.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I currently live in Oahu, Hawaii with my husband who got stationed there with the US Army. There is a freedom and relaxed lifestyle that island life has offered me. As I have had more time to really dive into my music projects, I’ve been able to see the beauty of consistent creativity.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
I played a house show in Omaha that was one of my favorite shows. It was intimate and everyone was engaged. A few of my friends also played that night which made it all the more fun. Another show I rather enjoyed was a writer’s round in Ireland during study abroad. It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity to be with those talented Irish songwriters and to hear their musical storytelling. I played an open mic in Nashville when I was first living there and it maybe wasn’t the worst show, but it was certainly a huge learning experience. I had quite the nerves and forgot lyrics to my songs. It happens to everyone but it scared me away from performing for a while - it wasn’t quite how I envisioned starting my time in Nashville.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
To be honest, I haven’t played out much. I let myself fall to the background as just a songwriter and not a performer because of nerves and fear of others opinions. Thankfully, I’ve been working to overcome that in the last few years. I would love to play the Ryman Auditorium or Austin City Limits!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I would love to play a girl power show with Maggie Rogers, HAIM, Ashe, and Taylor Swift! What a dream that would be!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Your perspective and voice is uniquely yours. Nobody else can offer what you specifically can offer. Don’t count yourself out. Keep writing, keep discovering the sounds that make your heart soar!
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I’d probably tell myself the above advice LOL but also tell myself that I don’t have to put myself in a box. Write the damn songs you want to write, Mel!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I wrote a few months ago called Would You Let the Light In. It’s a very personal, special song I wrote about being a friend to someone contemplating suicide. I’m excited to release this song into the world hopefully very soon.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I love a soulful song that I can really let loose with my range and riff off the band. I get a few requests for my more emotional songs. But I do find that most people want to hear the upbeat ones!
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
I normally get the idea for a song off of a single lyric concept or a chord structure/beat pattern that I vibe with. I try to sing a melody and whatever lyrics come to mind. Then edit lyrics and add simple chords as I go. Next I bring it to my producer, Stephen Hall, with reference tracks and what I’m hearing sonically so he can spice it up for me.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
My whole vision is that my music is music that feels like a friend - encouraging and empowering people in their feelings and experiences.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Of course! Doesn’t everybody? I don’t want to just have everything be agreeable. Challenging one other for the sake of the song is good and healthy. At the end of the day, for my own personal music that will be released under my name I will get final call on most things but that’s not after hearing feedback. But even if there is much unease in the room, we can put it down for a little. Being collaborative has to be about developing trust in relationships with people you are working with. If people don’t feel valued in the room, then they don’t be honest or feel like they have any real input.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I play to continue releasing a single every few months into this year and beyond. I have plans to release two more songs this year. I hope to release my song, “Would You Let The Light In” in September which I’m sure will prove to be very emotional, but cathartic.
Social Media Links:
Follow me on Instagram @myfriendscallme.Mel
and on Spotify under my artist name: my friends call me Mel
For video content check out my YouTube channel
For collaborations you can DM me on IG or email me through my website www.myfriendscallmemel.com