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Editor’s note: Melissa has been my very closest friends in Nashville since we both first moved to town in 2012. In fact, we were each other’s first new friends in Music City. Over the past few years, I’ve watched her hone her natural talent into a Category 5 hurricane-strength force to be reckoned with. Her debut release “Just Push Play” is available on itunes and CDBaby. Click the play button below to listen to the music while you read her story.
SF: When did you first start writing?
MM: I’ve been obsessed with words since I can remember. Quotes. Lyrics. Lines from TV shows and movies. Talking. The earliest memory I have of songwriting is from when I was 14. I got my first guitar for a birthday gift, and I recall sitting in my room rewriting lyrics to Mandy Moore’s song Turn The Clock Around. The notebook I wrote it in is probably lying around my parents’ house somewhere… I’ll have to track it down and see what my 14-year-old self was going through at the time!
SF: Did you start writing something other than songs?
MM: Writing is my first love. I adore evoking emotions and painting mental images with words. Whenever I had to do any sort of group project in school, I always chose to be the writer. I also started writing a novel in 2011 that I never completed. Releasing a novel is on my bucket list.
I’ve had the absolute most incredible time of my life. But it’s also been one heck of a constant climb, struggle, and fight. It’s been this adventurous whirlwind of me finding myself, and I’ve sort of fallen in love with writing about that.
SF: Did you ever take any music lessons? Voice lessons, guitar, piano, that kind of stuff?
MM: Yup. I took guitar lessons typically once a week from freshman year to senior year of high school. I also took vocal lessons for a summer during my junior year in college.
SF: Tell us about the first song you ever wrote. ;)
MM: Besides rewriting other artists’ songs during high school, the first original song of my own I recall writing was called Comfort Zone. I wrote it during a time in my life when I was aching to get out and get acquainted with the world outside of what I knew in that moment.
SF: What was your music like back when you were first starting out, and how has it changed?
MM: Hahahaha… When I first got super serious about songwriting, my songs were always about a boy. Honestly, my first hundred songs were probably about the same specific boy who I was going through a rough patch with at the time. Love is most common heart of a song because it’s the most universally relatable topic – the nucleus of what many people live for.
Since my address changed from Cedarburg, Wisconsin to Nashville, Tennessee a little over three years ago, I’ve had the absolute most incredible time of my life. But it’s also been one heck of a constant climb, struggle, and fight. It’s been this adventurous whirlwind of me finding myself, and I’ve sort of fallen in love with writing about that. Writing about the battles and about being the underdog… About never giving up and knowing that vision in my head will come to life.
SF: Do you have a message? A mission? A call to arms that you regularly write about?
MM: Yes. I love, love, love, writing empowering anthemic songs with something to say. I am obsessed with singing about overcoming obstacles and towering over the struggle, which is different for each person.
SF: What is your muse?
MM: The emotion I get from life is my muse. I find that I write my favorite songs during times of intense emotion.
SF: What’s your writing process look like? (Do you start with an idea, a lyric, or do you noodle around on the guitar, etc.)
MM: It really depends. I adore co-writing. It’s different with every co-write. But I gotta say my favorite co-writes are the ones where someone else is playing the guitar and I can let my mind color anywhere it wants. I usually find that I come up with really interesting and different melodies this way. Melodies I probably wouldn’t come up with while solo-writing. The melody drives the feel of the song for me. It will usually bring out the idea. I also have a zillion ideas written down in my iPhone that I commonly refer to during writes.
I love love love writing empowering anthemic songs with something to say. I am obsessed with singing about overcoming obstacles and towering over the struggle, which is different for each person.
SF: How do you write the best? (outside on the back porch, alone in a dark room at 3 in the morning, pencil and paper, computer, etc.)
MM: With loads of coffee and intense emotion. I have to write about real life. I get completely detached from a song if it isn’t relatable to my own life. I’m an Artist-Songwriter, so I like the songs I sing to give my fans an idea of who I am. Something I am going through or have gone through.. Something my life has experienced.
The melody drives the feel of the song for me. It will usually bring out the idea. I also have a zillion ideas written down in my iPhone that I commonly refer to during writes.
SF: How has cowriting informed your music?
MM: I love writing with people who are better at something than I am. Something they bring to the table that I wouldn’t have in the room with just myself. This is why I enjoy writing with people who play the guitar differently than me or play another instrument I don’t play. Different musical patterns will take my brain on a ride it never knew before, and I love getting a whole different sound with different people. I love being around people I can learn from and vice-versa.
I have to write about real life. I get completely detached from a song if it isn’t relatable to my own life.
SF: Where do you see you and your music in, say, 5 years?
MM: Stronger and stronger and stronger. I want to continually get better at communicating through my songs. Speaking to people through songs is what my entire life is all about. I hear my music on movies and in TV shows and ad campaigns. I see major motion pictures in my mind. I close my eyes and envision a glow-in-the-dark arena tour with everybody singing with me, making my songs become their songs.