RK : Please say something about you. About your career as a Singer, Songwriter & Guitarist. How did you get started?
Melia : I grew up around music. My grandfather was a multi-instrumentalist and my grandmother sang. I did chorus and played flute in the school band until age 13. I had gone through a very rough period when I was in middle school & turned to music heavily to cope. I started listening heavily to Green Day and My Chemical Romance. I went to my first Green Day concert at age 14 and it was then I told my mom I wanted to play guitar. I also told her boldly & determined that next time I saw Green Day I was going to play guitar on stage with them. However, I had to beg my parents for lessons. It was not until two years later, that they finally agreed to get me guitar lessons. I took to it very naturally & passionately and it has been a part of my life every since. I started singing at 17 when my high school band didn’t have a singer. I wrote my first song shortly after.
RK : What got you inspired to pick up the guitar in the first place? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
Melia : Billie Joe Armstrong inspired me to pick up the guitar when I was at a Green Day concert. I felt even more inspired & finally had the confidence to really believe I could do that. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to lay it all out on the stage with my heart and soul.
My first ever musical experience I most likely don’t remember exactly but I think my earliest musical memory was my grandparents. They were in a Jazz Band and played all over town.
RK : Can you tell us about some music references you may have ? Some role models ?
Melia : I really looked up to Billie Joe. However I was like a sponge getting exposed to so many bands after Green Day that I have many role models. I got heavily into the grunge era. I am a major Kurt Cobain fan. As tragic as his death was , I think I related to him on many levels. I felt like an outcast my whole life. It’s also a huge reason I loved bands like My Chemical Romance, Green Day etc. Jennifer Batten was also a huge influence because she played lead guitar for Michael Jackson. I’ve always looked up to her.
RK : What do you consider to be the incisive moments in your work and/or career?
Melia : Working with Kevin Killen was one of the most incisive moments in my career & work. I had just written my last EP and got the opportunity to work with him. He is a Grammy award winning producer & has worked with many artists including Peter Gabriel. He also just won another Grammy for working on David Bowie’s last album. He was an amazing person & amazing producer to work with and I felt very honored. The other moment was recording skeletal remains at the same studio (The Magic Shop in NYC) that David Bowie has been working at for his last record within weeks of one another.
RK : You were named the ‘Best Female Rock Artist’ at 2012 Indie Music Channel Awards. Again in 2013 and in 2016 you had achieved the same. How did it feel when you found out you had won the award?
Melia : I was flattered. It was a beautiful feeling to have my music & hard work recognized. My music is so personal & from my heart. Anytime I hear people connect to it or resonate with it , it is very rewarding.
RK : Let’s talk about Charge Like A Bull, which has been named the Best Rock Song of 2016. What’s the concept behind the track and what is the message you seek to send through this song?
Melia : The concept behind the track is truly about my own frustration. I felt at the time that many people were taking my kindness for weakness & I was fed up with people trying to take advantage of me in any way. It’s about standing up for yourself and not letting anyone walk all over you.
RK : What do you see as your best angle for success? as a female guitarist & singer, or do you possibly see yourself doing something different in the music industry?
Melia : I think music is so personal to me. I will always be a less female guitarist and I will never stop writing music. I would like to consider more writing for others down the road, but, right now I’m focusing on my own career. I have a great fan base and Iove watching that grow.
RK : You’ve rocked the stage with the living legend Steve Vai. How was the experience? Are there any memories which you’d like to share with us?
Melia : I was humbled & very honored to rock the stage with Steve Vai. The experience was incredible & I was just so honored to open the show for him. It was a thrill beyond words.
RK : Being in a traditionally male-dominated field, do you feel you have been faced with more challenges, and are you intimidated in any way?
Melia : I have been faced with many challenges being a woman. However, I am not and have never been intimates. I never considered myself different than a male guitar player until I realized everyone else treated me different. I was always taught I could do anything I wanted so initially I was surprised at the challenges because I’m a woman. Now , I ignore it. If anything it feeds my drive to be the best I can be.
RK : Alive or dead, who is the one person that you’d like to meet face to face if they were alive, and talk to over jam?
Melia : Kurt Cobain. He’s a melodic genius and brilliant song writer.
RK : How has 2018 been treating you so far? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year and how close are you to reaching it?
Melia : 2018 has treated me great. My musical goals were to work hard on getting endorsements & finally get to the NAMM show in LA. I was able to achieve both of those.
RK : If you had all the money and time in the world, what song either yours or someone else’s would you love to re-create?
Melia : Any Nirvana song really. I have covered many but it would be a lot of fun to do it in the studio. I did a unique version of Heart Shaped Box acoustically and that’s the first one to come to mind.
RK : What advice you would give to fellow musicians when picking up a studio?
Melia : Do your homework. Always dig deep & make sure it’s the right place & vibe for your music. Every studio has its own personality that shines through. It’s important to switch up the studio you go to & to feel 100% comfortable. Creativity needs freedom.
RK : Have you ever been to India and anything you know about Indian Art & Culture?
Melia : I haven’t been. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity yet so therefore , I haven’t had the experience of the culture or art.
RK : We (Retro Kolkata) are trying to make a bridge between National and International Art & Culture By featuring National & International personalities who already have made their own path in their respective fields and we think your story and tips might help the newcomers to build their career. Please say something about our initiative and any special message for your followers.
Melia : First of all, Thank you for the interview. I believe in your goal & I am totally behind it. I think exposing Art & Culture globally is important & great. My tips would be to never follow somebody else’s dream. You follow your own path. And if you’re passionate about your career it will always be a labor of love. No matter what ups and downs , if you have the drive you will succeed. Stay determined, work hard & make as many connections as you can. Most importantly , always stay real & passionate. Passion will always resonate with your audience.