Badass Band #10
Okay, this one is a special ‘edition’ since I am getting stoked for the upcoming Spencer Bell Legacy Concert in Auburn Hills, MI. If you don’t know what it is, check out spencerbellmemorial.com and educate yourself up on it. It will be one of the best things you will ever do.
Number ten is actually a solo artist, who occasionally has guests rock out on stage with her. She is quite well known in the SBL community, but an undiscovered gem to the general public. I highly doubt that will last much longer. Her name is Melissa Evans and she is a singer/songwriter/guitar player/instrument dabbler from Detroit, MI. Here’s what you need to know about her, her voice is ethereal. There is no other way to describe it. It has the power to demand your attention and keep it while taking you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Lyrics of a song tend to be described as really holding the emotion or story of a song, but Melissa’s voice truly makes her lyrics/story. She taught herself how to play guitar through tutorials, which is NO easy feat, believe me I know by personal experience. Melissa is a young artist, only 24 years old, and already since I have been a fan of hers, her music has evolved insanely. She has come a LONG way as an artist in a relatively short amount of time. Melissa has such a killer range in her songwriting, taking on topics like love, loss and then bringing in some light heartedness with songs about mustaches. She also plays some excellent cover tunes!
Her music speaks for itself, you can get her debut album at any of her shows, Friends of SBL Jam being the next one on October 21.
Now, Melissa was kind enough to grant me MY VERY FIRST INTERVIEW! Hers will actually be a two part series because I believe the best interviews with musicians are a combination of serious and jackassery. So, here is the serious portion. The second portion will actually be a video segment from SBL! Keep on the lookout for that and enjoy learning about the absolutely amazing Melissa Evans!
Twitter: @MelissaEMusic Facebook: Facebook.com/MelissaEvansMusic
1. When and why did you start playing?
I started playing in July of 2010. Due to some loving encouragement from friends, I was entering a concert for the Spencer Bell Legacy show in Michigan. I was originally going to sing a capella but for some reason, when I was listening to the song I wanted to cover (Return to Earth), I was possessed to pick up my guitar and try and figure it out. At that point, my guitar had been hiding in the back of my closet for 5 years, never being touched. Once I actually figured out the song on guitar, I couldn’t put it down. And the rest is history J
2. Which instruments do you play?
Guitar and a little bit of piano. I just taught myself (through the help of a youtube tutorial) how to play a song on the piano!
3. What was the first tune(s) you learned?
The first song I learned on the guitar was “Return to Earth” by Spencer Bell. However, that was played entirely on one string. So the first REAL song I learned to play using actual chords was “Doll Parts” by Hole.
4. Is your family musical?
My family, actually, is not musical. Of course, we all love music and singing along to it in the car. Because of that, I’ve been exposed to many different genres of music from all the different personalities in my family but I am actually the only one who has ever had a desire to pursue anything with music and/or performing arts. It has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember.
5. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
There are so many! The two people I admire the most would have to be Celine Dion and Christina Aguilera. Both of them have such powerhouse voices that could blow you out of the room. They both have such an amazing stage presence, too. I grew up wanting to learn how to sing like them and I would often mimic their actions when they performed.
6. Which famous musicians have you learned from?
I would have to say I’ve actually learned the most from the not-so-famous musicians that I’ve had the pleasure of coming to know. Jake Miller’s (from the Kissing Club) guitar playing is just so damn inspiring and amazing. Anna Morsett from Yet Cut Breath is another huge inspiration and I’ve had the pleasure of becoming friends with her. She’s got such a beautiful voice and her playing is absolutely wonderful. Her CD is something I could listen to on repeat for hours and never get tired of listening to.
7. What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?
Again, there are so many! My fondest memories would have to be the times I spent singing with my father. Anytime we were in the car, we would always sing together. My dad had such a beautiful voice that he didn’t share with many people, but he and I would always sing some of our favorite oldies in the car. “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis Presley, and “Pretty Little Angel Eyes” were some of the ones we would sing together all the time. One of the things I loved most about my dad’s singing is that he would also sing random thoughts for comedic purposes which is something I inherited from him J
Another favorite memory was singing “Does He Love You?” by Reba McEntire and Linda Davis with my mom. That was our favorite song to sing together when we were younger. She was Reba. I was Linda.
8. Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
Oh absolutely! I positively LOVE the Golden Oldies and the old Blues. Anything with Motown, anything by Billie Holiday and Patsy Cline… Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra… I really love oldies love songs. There’s just something so pure about them and you just don’t hear that same kind of quality in most of the stuff that’s on the radio right now.
9. Who are you listening to right now?
Hinges by Yet Cut Breath, Little Acorn by The Kissing Club, Live & Wasted by Spencer Bell, and Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons. Those records are some of my biggest influences. Of course I do love me some Maroon 5 as well! J
10. Describe what it’s like to perform for a crowd.
It’s positively one of the most exhilarating and terrifying experiences. It’s one of the rawest things you could experience. You are bearing your soul and yourself in general for usually a bunch of strangers. You can’t hide behind the luxury of doing take after take in a studio when you’re recording your songs. You get one shot and there’s no going back. No fixing mistakes. And that, for me, is exciting but scary at the same time.
11. How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
I usually try to just laugh through them and keep going. In most cases, nobody is even going to notice you’ve messed up.
12. Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
Oh, most definitely. I get nervous for weeks before the performance. I’m a worrier.
13. What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
My best advice would be to just breathe. Be confident in what you are doing, or at least fake it. And for those who are 21 and over, drinking a beer or even doing a shot before you go onstage is a GREAT way to calm your nerves!
14. How often and for how long do you practice?
It varies. Due to my bizarre work schedule, I sometimes don’t have more than 5 minutes to play my guitar. I usually try to play every day for as long as I can… whether that’s 5 minutes or 5 hours just depends on the day.
15. What do you practice – exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?
I usually practice by trying to learn new songs or even playing old ones that I haven’t played in a while. I’m always looking up chords for songs online. My newest thing I’m trying to accomplish is learning how to finger pick. I have to be honest, it is NOT going to well!
16. How has the SBL community helped you grow and inspire you as an artist?
The constant support I get from the SBL community continues to just humble me beyond words. The fact that I not only have been able to perform at the Friends of SBL shows but also help organize them is just beyond amazing to me. It has offered me chances to be exposed to some wonderfully talented individuals that inspire me and it has put me in contact with people who have helped me become better as a musician. It’s just an amazing opportunity that I will never take for granted and that I will forever hold dear to my heart.
17. What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?
There are actually several projects that I’m working on right now. I can’t discuss a lot of them because they are still in the early stages of development but I can tell you that you will see a lot of me in the next coming months! New music is on the way and I hope to have either an EP released very soon or a full length album in the early months of 2012. You’ll just have to tag along for the ride! J
THANK YOU SO MUCH MELISSA!!!!