Melina Marie is a singer songwriter with a voice that combines the best of the raw Alanis Morissette, soulful Sheryl Crow, and harmonizing Liz Phair. Not only can she sing, she also writes, composes, and produces music of all types – she’s a woman of many talents. Melina Marie has perfected her art in music across the board, going from rock, alternative, electronic, to even hip-hop. She can play many instruments, including the electric and acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, ukulele, and of course, her voice – which, in perfect pitch, really must be heard to truly appreciate!
CW50 got the chance to speak with Melina Marie to find out what moves her, why she writes music, and what she’s up to now!
Check her out!
Tell us a little about yourself…
I was born in Ann Arbor. While growing up, I moved around a lot. During my teenage years, I lived in New Jersey. When I moved back here to Michigan, I had no idea just how much I missed living here. I used to be extremely shy growing up. It wasn’t easy to talk to my peers. Anxiety always got the best of me. Music was a big part in overcoming my uphill battle with social anxiety…and for some reason; I had no problem performing in front of hundreds of people. It wasn’t till the past five years, I’ve really started coming into my own, and finding my place in this crazy world. Music has always helped me to break through and connect with other people. The songs I write are about life and the struggles that I have experienced. In life, everyone goes through tough times, and sometimes we need to know that we are not alone. My music is how I reach out to people. It is my tool and the way that I deal with everything that life has to throw at me. Not only does most of my family live in the Detroit area, but I have made some great friends and music connections here in Michigan. I can’t imagine living anywhere else now.
How long have you been writing and composing music?
I’ve been playing, writing and composing music ever since I was about six years old. As soon as my parents brought home our piano and put it in my room, I was hooked! Needless to say, insomnia has always been a problem of mine since I was a kid. Piano and voice are the first instruments I learned. I eventually picked up the guitar, ukulele, and bass later on. Ever since 2006, I’ve been involved with recording engineering and producing. I graduated Schoolcraft College’s music technology program. It really gave me the tools to make my musical compositions and songs come to life. Also, I was in Schoolcraft College’s Synthesizer Ensemble for quite a few semesters. Every semester, I’d have the band learn one of my original songs, and we would perform it (along with other musical pieces) at school functions. It was always inspiring to hear my compositions come to life in real time (not just in the studio).
You have solo work, and you also perform with a band?
For quite a while, it’s mostly been solo work. However, I am in the process of starting up a band to perform my songs live with me. I love performing either with or without a band. However, there’s a certain synergy that is formed while onstage with a band. I’m very excited about starting the new band and rocking out on stage!
You also composed the music for a team with the 48 Hour Film Project, could you talk a little about that?
I’ve always wanted to take part in the 48 Hour Film Project, so I felt honored that team Man Fist Destiny asked me to compose the music score for their film. It was a great experience. The team and I really worked well together. They had certain ideas as to what style of music that they wanted in the film, and I just ran with it! The main character’s name that we were given to work with was “Boothbay.” That weekend all we talked about was Boothbay. Pretty soon, Boothbay became a filler word for a lot of things. I decided to write a Boothbay theme song! We all got a kick out of it!
The 48 Hour Film Project really put my musical creativity to the test. Not only did I have to be efficient, but also had less than 48 hours to score the film, seeing as I had to work the first 24 hours of the contest. I didn’t get one wink of sleep…but it was worth it! I’m looking forward to next year’s 48 Hour Film Project! Oh…and we won for best “Spy” film!
What are you currently working on? Could you talk a little about that?
Currently, I’ve been working with the owner/producer of Pearl Sound Studios, Chuck Alkazian, and my friend Josh Karpowicz (who also works at the studio) for the past few years on my album. It’s almost finished, and I plan on releasing it by the end of this year! Many hours and hard work have gone into this record, and I’m excited to finally have everything come together. In addition to my own music, I freelance as a songwriter, producer, and studio musician for hire, out of Pearl Sound Studios. I enjoy working with other artists and bands on their projects, and helping them to achieve their musical vision. As I’ve always said, “The right sound is everything.” It took me quite a while to find my sound, and so I get a kick out of helping others discover their musical sound and talents.
What started you in music?
According to my mother…I was already making music when I was three months old and shaking a rattle to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album…in time with the music! So I guess you could say that I’ve been involved in the musical realm even before I was able to remember.
What inspires you? What motivates you to write and compose and perform?
Life events, everyone, and everything inspire me to write. Something as simple as a cup of coffee can inspire me to write a song (which I did write a song called, “Coffee Fiend”). Unpleasant events (such as a break up) inspire me to write the most! I like to turn that negative energy into something positive…like a song. Music is the center of my life. It pretty much dictates my life and makes all my decisions for me. It’s the first thing I think of when I wake and the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep.
Do you play local venues? Do you have any shows coming up?
At the moment, I’m not playing out. However, that is going to be changing within the next few months. I’m starting this band and getting ready to hit the stage! So keep a look out, because you’re going to see more of me soon on the local scene!
What’s your favorite thing about being from Metro Detroit?
Many music legends have come out of Detroit. This town has so much musical history and talent! One of my favorite things about being from Metro Detroit is being able to take part in the music scene. I guess it all goes back to when I was a baby, shaking my rattle to Michael Jackson’s Thriller…Motown is still alive and well.
What do you do in your spare time?
Besides music? I drink lots and lots of coffee! It’s not that I need it, it’s just that coffee tastes so good to me. One of my favorite places to grab a cup of coffee is Germack Coffee and Tea shop, near the Eastern Market in Detroit. Also, I enjoy journaling, writing short and long stories, and pretty much anything within the creative realm. Reading is also one of my favorite things to do. It may not sound that exciting to some people, but boy does it take your mind to a whole different place when you get wrapped up in a good book! Comics and video games have also been a favorite past time of mine – though lately, I haven’t had much time to actually sit down and play a video game. Perhaps I’m due for a couple rounds in Mortal Kombat! Any takers? I also enjoy networking and meeting new people. Building a good circle of friends and music connections is very important to me.
How would you describe Detroit’s music scene?
The Detroit Metro Area has such a huge talent pool! Our music scene is very underrated by other cities in the US. The artists here are very supportive of each other. There’s a sense of community among everyone in the music scene in Detroit. The more people I talk to, I realize just how connected we all are. I like the fact that there are so many venues for bands to perform throughout the Detroit Metro Area. I look forward to getting my band ready to take on the town!
Out of all the places I’ve lived throughout my life, I always circle back to the place where I was born and meant to be a part of…this is my home…Michigan.