We first fell in love with the vocals of Melissa Harding out on the SIXX:AM tour earlier this year. She captured the crowd with her dynamic and spectacular voice. We were excited to find out more about her music and she has just released an incredible EP, Best Of Me. The EP was recently released and is a must have. You can pick up Best Of Me by heading over to iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/best-of-me-ep/id1033595223. Check out our recent interview with Melissa:
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Music Junkie Press: Thank you very much for taking the time out to talk with us here at Music Junkie Press. We are so excited to hear about your new EP and it is getting closer to a release! Can you tell us an update about it?
Melissa: Absolutely! So happy to talk with you and Music Junkie Press. And thanks so much, I’m excited too. This project has been a LONG time coming, but it will be out August 25th officially, and I can’t wait. We really took our time with these 5 songs, had no intentions of rushing, and gave ourselves no strict deadline. I wanted it to happen as organically as possible, and I think we were successful in allowing the songs to progress and change along the way, and I’m thrilled with where we ended up.
Music Junkie Press: So many people were captivated by your vocals when you hit the road with SIXX:AM this past tour. We caught you out on a couple dates and loved every minute of it. How was the tour for you?
Melissa: Wow, I appreciate that! The tour was an incredible experience. Life changing. This whole year with Sixx:AM has been that way. I was around during the making of “The Heroin Diaries” all those years ago, I did some vocals on that project. To see the progression from that album to “Modern Vintage” coming out and the headlining tour in April… It’s just been amazing. This band represents something IMPORTANT. They look at music and create records unlike any other band out there right now, it’s undeniable. James, Nikki, and DJ each bring something POWERFUL to the band, so the energy between them is already so magnetic.
I was blown away by how we were welcomed into the Sixx:AM family. My biggest hope was that we could add to the energy, feed off of it, and help create even more levels in the live show. Every single city had incredible energy. We would get on the bus after the show every night and say “wow, that was another great crowd!!” It was intense! I had so many moments of feeling completely overwhelmed and proud to be working with a band that I knew was changing people. What happened on stage every night of the Modern Vintage tour was magic. Looking out at the audience, you could feel how important these songs are. You can feel the message of hope and integrity touching every single person in the room. That is a very special thing.
Music Junkie Press: We understand that you worked with Douglas Showalter on this project. Can you tell us more about working with him?
Melissa: Douglas is a godsend, and this project is as much his as it is mine. I met Doug through a musician friend of mine. I could tell right away that Doug was someone I wanted to work with. He is a fierce guitarist, and he has an incredible ear and sense of how to shape a song. We originally did some demo’s together of some songs, and that progressed into writing and recording more together. I brought him on for my first album, “Set Me Apart” which was a 7 songs. We co-wrote a lot together, and that was our first experience working together, me as the artist and Doug in the driver’s seat producing.
I absolutely love working with Doug because he really understands how to talk to an artist. If I come to the table with a song idea, he has a way of saying “yes, this is great. The story is there. How do we take it farther? How do we make this stronger?” Most of the time, I don’t have that answer! But Doug always has great ideas to contribute, he knows how to push me out of my comfort zone but create an environment where it feels safe to collaborate, and we laugh a TON. He is someone that I can trust will always come at his work with an open mind, a willingness to listen, and his end goal is to always make sure that the artist is happy with the result. He goes the extra mile to ensure that we are capturing what we set out to do. He’s working with a lot of great up and coming artists, and I’m such a fan of his. I think Doug and I will always continue to write and work together. There are definitely certain situations where you feel a natural flow in the writing, and I absolutely love writing with Doug. It works for us.
Music Junkie Press: Do you have any particular songwriting processes or pretty much make every moment a part of the process?
Melissa: This new EP started with very little outline. I went to Doug and said, “I want to record more”, so we started coming into a room once a week and I would show him ideas, songs that were in the very beginning stages, some songs that were more fleshed out that just needed some work. We started looking at maybe 10 ideas, and eventually cut that down to 5 songs that we felt were the strongest.
I don’t have one specific way that I write. I try and decide on a title, a specific moment or instance that I want to talk about. Songwriting for me has always served as a way for me to process my own life and my own emotions that I tend to bottle up. Sometimes writing is a way for me to understand something I’m trying to figure out. I definitely am a “lyrics and music at the same time” sort of person. Lots of songwriters write music and then work not he lyrics and story later. For me, it has to START with the story, the concept. I build around that. For this project, I wrote one song on my own (September Morning), but the other 4 were all in pretty basic stages and Doug and I finished them together.
Music Junkie Press: We at Music Junkie Press are strong believers of how music can heal, help, inspire or change a person. Can you share a particular time where music was there for you and how it helped you?
Melissa: I absolutely agree with you! Here’s a couple thoughts that come to mind.
“Jagged Little Pill” was definitely a life changing album for me, hearing a woman talk like that and be so brutally honest was empowering as a young, awkward teenager. Alanis did something brave with that record, and she is such an individual. I am one of millions of other women in particular who feel that way about that album.
There are also certain recordings that I hold very dear, songs that embody a sense of hope or love that is almost uncontainable. Simon and Garfunkle’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is one of those for me. That song captures something I could never attempt to describe. The same goes for Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” (which I tell people is my favorite vocal performance of all time.) In both of those songs, lyrics and melody and story are working together in the most powerful way. It’s as though the artist is telling us something they NEED us to hear. It’s important. The message is reaching through every word and connecting with us personally. I think every Sixx:AM record has done that in a powerful way as well, which is remarkable.
Music Junkie Press: How old were you when you first started songwriting and performing? You also play guitar as well, correct? Do you play on the EP?
Melissa: I was in high school when I got my first guitar, but it wasn’t until I was 18 and moved down to Los Angeles that I first started to write and really play it. Honestly, I learned guitar because I wanted an outlet to write. Having a guitar in my hands, learning chords, it gave me a structure that I think I needed.
I leave all the guitar playing up to Douglas when it comes to recording. I’d much rather focus on the singing! 😉
Music Junkie Press: I know songs are like our children and we can never play favorites, but can you tell us which song on your upcoming EP are you most excited for everyone to hear and why?
Melissa: Oh man, that is definitely a tough one. I’m excited for different songs for different reasons. I’m going to talk about 2 of them… 🙂
I can’t wait for everyone to hear “Like Gold.” That song has been such a journey in the making. It’s about recognizing what is precious in your life, whether it be a relationship that is incredibly special that you want to preserve, a friendship that roots down into your soul… The energy of the song is so positive, so catchy, and incredibly heartwarming. I can just imagine people singing along to the chorus, feeling a little bit lighter, looking into their own future and knowing what relationships bring value into their life, what relationships are “like gold” for them.
I also can’t wait to share “Stay With Me” with everyone. I am HONORED and thrilled that James Michael agreed to sing on this song with me. It has been a dream of mine to sing with James since I was a kid, and not only am I working with Sixx:AM as a backup singer, but for the first time ever, James sang on something that I wrote. That was a HUGE, full circle moment for me. James has a quality in his voice that is so raw, so heartbreakingly honest. “Stay With Me” is a duet between 2 people who are holding on to a relationship and to each other when it feels like the world is pulling them apart. It’s about looking past whats happening on the surface, the distractions that can separate us and make us feel complacent in a relationship. The song is about recognizing a powerful connection with another person and trusting it. James’s voice takes this song to another level of intimate and special, I couldn’t be more thankful for his willingness to be a part of it.
Music Junkie Press: The internet has proven to have its ups and downs but one magical thing has been the ability to #SupportNewMusic and make so many aware of bands that they might have not ever heard before. Do you have any new bands that you have been listening to lately?
Melissa: That’s a great question! To be honest, when I’m at home I mostly listen to my old vinyls. My Fleetwood Mac “Rumours” and Neil Diamond “Hot August Nights” get quite a workout in my house. 🙂 My taste in music still seems to resonate around The Beatles, Elton John, and old Glenn Miller big band records! But one band in particular that I follow that I hope everyone knows about is Vintage Trouble. I used to see them regularly down in Santa Monica when they did a residency at Harvelle’s, and it’s such a thrill to see how big their career has blown up. Ty Taylor is a force to be reckoned with!
Music Junkie Press: You recently returned from Turkey, can you tell us about your trip?
Melissa: Absolutely! Turkey is a very special location for me. I’m 50% Turkish, the other 50% is from my Dad’s side and is a big mix of things. So, I’m a mutt! But this was my first time returning to Turkey after my grandmother died less than 2 years ago. She was quite a character, and for so many years, going back to Istanbul was to see her. So it was a nostalgic trip knowing that we are starting a “new normal” in our family without her there.
It’s an amazing country! I love the people, the food, the sights and smells of Istanbul with endless amounts of tea and fresh bread. I had a friend from childhood who booked a trip to join me for the week, and it made the experience even more special because I could share it with someone who was going for the first time. There is nothing more magical then your first discovery of a new place. We had a really great time!
Music Junkie Press: What is next in store after the EP release?
Melissa: I’m hoping to get some shows booked between now and the New Year! With Sixx:AM getting ready for a world tour in 2016, there is of course a lot of energy and excitement around that. But I’m excited at the idea of playing live in the next few months, and hopefully jumping back into some more writing as I release this batch of songs to the world!
Music Junkie Press: We know that SIXX:AM will be planning a world tour next year, we can’t wait to catch you out on the road again. Will you also be performing on the new record?
Melissa: The guys are deep into the process of the new music right now, but at this point its too soon to tell what backing vocals will be needed… But can’t wait to see what they come up with, and of course I’m excited to contribute in any way they want me to! Thats the magic of the creative process. It’s unpredictable, it evolves, and it’s just a blast to see what that journey results in.
Music Junkie Press: Lastly, is there anything else you would like to share with our audience and your fans?
Melissa: I just hope everyone enjoys the new EP! I hope that in those 5 songs, my audience feels like they know me a whole lot better. I’m a goofy person. I talk in voices and I make up ridiculous songs and I do very questionable dance moves, but I also like to get serious. I hope people feel that a lot of love went into the songs, and also a lot of frustration. A lot of truth and learning went into them, as well as a lot of pain. I learned so much about myself during this process, and no matter how you interpret a lyric, I’m excited to hear the response. I’m excited to have conversations about life, conversations about how we all connect to music. If this EP draws me closer to learning about myself and other people, I feel like I did my job. I hope you can relate to what you hear. I know that is what affects me when I hear a great song… Being able to say, “Yes, I’ve been there. I know exactly what they’re talking about,” or maybe even just having questions. Music can make us think. Those moments unite us when we might otherwise feel isolated, and thats what makes music so incredible.
Thanks for reading everyone, and thanks so much for the interview!
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Make sure to pick up her EP. It is an amazing musical gem that features songs that will reach into your soul and bring out a depth of emotion, all the while awakening your senses in a blissful moment. Like Gold is an infectious track that will have you hold and appreciate all the beauty in your life. It Ain’t Home really highlights Melissa’s rockin edge and Stay With Me has such a raw beauty to it that with its stripped down nature, captures your heart.
All the songs are amazing and September Morning has a very special place in my heart as it brings a beautiful light to what has always been a hard start to September mornings. As I am only a couple days away from the 4 year anniversary loss of my best friend, my hero, my father, it has been a dark time for me. But with the spectacular vocals and honest emotion that rings out in September Morning, it is almost like the sweet comfort I needed to face this week. Melissa’s vocals wrap around like a warm safe hug bringing the hope to carry on and move forward. For this, I thank you Melissa for the wonderful gift of your music!
Visit Melissa’s social media sites and stay up to date on her latest news.
Information & Links:
- Website: http://www.melissaharding.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/melissahardingmusic
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelissaKHarding
- Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/melissaharding
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/melissakharding/
- iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/best-of-me-ep/id1033595223
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