Mella is a singer and songwriter from Detroit, Michigan. In this interview she talks about her love for music, her upcoming album and her plans for the future.
Mihnea: Music is your passion. How did it all start?
Mella: I know it’s cliché, but it started when I was a little kid. I think every child loves music, so it bugs me when people say that, but whatever. I became obsessed with it in grade school and had little desire for anything else. I would shut myself in my room and do nothing but sing and write songs. I’m sure the first couple hundred of them were terrible, but eventually I got to a point where I was like “okay… maybe other people would like these too?”
Mihnea: You are planning to release your first album. Tell us about this project.
Mella: I’m still trying to decide on a title! It’s pop music; I’ve been compared to artists like Feist, Kelly Clarkson, Lenka and others, so it’s hard for me to really describe it. My best suggestion is to listen for yourself and see what you think! I’m always open to comparisons, they help me when others ask who I sound like.
Mella: All of the songs have personal meaning for me. “Brother” was written about my own brother. “The Definition of a Misfit in Rome” was written about a job I absolutely hated. I’ve always worked odd jobs to support my music, and there was a boss I had who was so creepy and gross. I was miserable but I needed the money, so I channeled that energy by turning it into a song. Eventually I got fired for refusing to do my work properly, but I’m glad I at least got a song out of it. I’m also a pretty messed up person so for every 50 songs I write, only a few of them will be ‘normal’ enough to release.
Mihnea: Who are the other members of the band? How long have you been together?
Mella: My band members kind of rotate (sometimes my dad plays drums, he’s awesome). Aman Sahi is my co-writer, producer and guitar player. He’s amazing and the project wouldn’t be what it is without him. Scott Masson is another producer who has done some incredible work for us, and Dirk Moore co-wrote “Tangerine” and “The Sunrise in Your Eyes” with us. I’m so thankful for all of these people who are willing to share their talents with me.
Mihnea: How would you describe your music philosophy and style?
Mella: My philosophy is “have fun, be creative, don’t take it too seriously”. There’s a one in a billion chance I’ll ever win a Grammy. I don’t have a famous parent and I don’t have thousands of dollars (or even hundreds of dollars) to promote myself. But that’s okay. I really love what I do and when people write to me to tell me they connect with a song, that’s worth way more than winning a Grammy to me. As far as my music ‘style’… it’s fun, introspective pop music from a singer/songwriter who loves having a good time. I just want everyone to have a good time when they hear my songs. Unless it’s a sad song, then I want them to be sad, I guess.
Mihnea: Who influenced you the most in your music career?
Mella: I grew up on pop divas like Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera. I also love Stevie Ray Vaughan, Five Finger Death Punch, Miranda Lambert, Billie Holiday… I could go on forever! I have so many artists that influenced me and I’m grateful to all of them. I should also mention that there are many writers who don’t make music who have influenced my writing style. I love to read. Augusten Burroughs, Dan Savage and Christopher Lindstrom are a few of my faves.
Mihnea: Do you have any planned appearances or gigs for the near future?
Mella: I don’t have any currently. I recently had a very serious vocal injury and I went to tree or four doctors who told me I’d never be able to sing again. Luckily they were wrong. I’m now taking voice lessons from an amazing coach and we’re working on getting me “performance-ready” again. I do have a few really small gigs where I’ll just be singing one song, just to try to get back out there. I don’t really think anyone’s going to come out just for one song so I haven’t been promoting them at all.
Mella: Definitely! After this album is done I’d really like to write for and produce other artists, so I might take a break and do that for a while. But I have so many songs that didn’t make it on this album that I’d love to put on another in the future. I write about my life and what’s going on in my blog all the time, you can find it on my website.
Mihnea: With the advent of so many ways to promote and sell your product, do you think it’s possible for Indy musicians to make a name of themselves even if they don’t have a big record company behind them?
Mella: It’s possible, but honestly it’s a long shot. Think about it: you’re on any particular website, be it Facebook, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, etc, and there are about 500,000 artists who are absolutely terrible, and another 500,000 that are good or have potential. It’s difficult to stand out in a sea of other artists, so you have to have a lot of money or a lot of family members who will come out to your gigs and support you. It’s totally possible and I don’t want to discourage anyone from doing it, but know what you’re up against and go into it with a clear idea of what it’s going to be like. You’ll have to convince people to care and make them stick around long enough to listen, and just maybe you’ll get a fan or two. If you focus less on getting noticed and more on being creative and having fun, you’ll be a lot happier, I promise.
Mihnea: What are some of the promotional tools a musician can use to find listeners?
Mella: The ones I mentioned above, Facebook, Soundcloud and Reverbnation are great. Soundcloud and Reverbnation don’t allow you to connect with non-musicians very well, so if you’re just trying to connect with the average person I’d say Facebook is your best bet. If anyone wants to connect with me there, I try to respond to every comment or message I get (except for the creepy/mean ones) so you can definitely hit me up on my Facebook Fan Page.
Watch Mella’s music video ‘Tangerine’