Thursday, February 23, 2012
Hello Indie-Monster fans! I’m Lauren from Monster Entertainment and this is my first, but certainly not last post on the I-M blog! I’m super excited about sharing with you guys a great interview I recently did with Melissa Cox, the newest edition to the Monster line-up and a wonderful addition at that. Melissa talks about her latest album Harmonious Maladies, her experiences on the road, and her plans for the up-coming year!
Well first off, welcome to the Monster family! So how and why did you connect with Monster Entertainment?
I met Isaac through the local music scene. A few years ago he asked me to play a small women's singer night in Philly. He is also friends with several of my colleagues in local radio and music promo. I think Isaac and I are of the same mindset that music is business just like everything else is business, so that's why we work well together thus far.
What sparked you to pursue your music solo without Mythica?
Well to clarify, I am still with Mythica. Mythica has a very specific sound which we classify as "Celtic Fusion". Because Mythica has been branded so strongly as Celtic/Irish/Scottish/World, I felt that I needed to pursue my other musical interests without disturbing the Mythica brand. So I pursued my interests in rock, progressive, alternative and acoustic on my own and with the "Melissa Cox Band". But the bottom line is, what you hear at a Mythica concert is significantly different than what you'll hear at a Melissa Cox or Melissa Cox Band concert.
Your latest solo album, Harmonious Maladies, is your first concept album so can you give a little insight on the idea of the album and did you come up with the concept before the songs or vice versa?
The concept of the album is "juxtapositions and diametric ideas". The songs came first really, but the concept followed soon after. The album is a culmination of a very rough few years of my life. I experienced several sad deaths in my family. Some people close to me were dealing with alcohol and drug abuse. I left my life-long home of Delaware to move to Denver, CO for 18 months. I had been a full time musician and was flat broke and struggling. On the flip side of the coin of life, I was traveling a lot, seeing a lot of beautiful places, spending a joyous time with my husband (also the bass player in my bands), and making music.
That's a very inspirational story of how the album came to be and I could definitely get that vibe through the album cover art. I saw you just filmed a music video for your song “To Carrie Fisher, with Love”. How was that? From the pictures it seems to be some sort of creative chaos! When can we expect the video out?
"To Carrie Fisher, with love" video will be out hopefully next week. I don't want to reveal too much because it's going to be a surprise, but I have a very good feeling that this video will turn heads. It was a ton of fun to shoot, and I have to thank my husband Matt, my friends Kristina and Ryan Goverts, and my intern Ben Gutierrez for their help, and my uncle Gregg Rummel for the videography.
After reading your blog, I can tell you experienced a lot from touring the road with your touring partner Reign Lee. From camping in the canyon, to UFO sightings (props for the “I Want to Believe” poster from X-Files!), you seem to have fought the elements as well as the time crunch between shows. Did you find the touring process any more difficult as a solo artist?
Touring is difficult no matter what - doesn't make a difference if you're solo, with a tour partner, or with a band. I've only gone on a long road trip tour 100% alone once, when I drove from Delaware to South Carolina all by myself. I would say while that was very nice to clear my head, I missed companionship. Also I felt I really had to watch myself being a woman alone traveling. It's safer with a travel buddy. But luckily I play places like churches where everyone is very hospitable and kind. Unlike some bars which can be sketchy.
I could definitely imagine, that far by myself would definitely scare me quite a bit, but that's awesome that you managed to take that on.
I will say if you can ever just take a road trip totally by yourself, it is very rewarding for a day or two. Because if you think about it, you are never totally alone.
You went to Hawaii last year too, was that your first time playing there and if so how did you go about forming a tour route?
My first time in Hawaii was actually 2007, which was just a vacation and not music related. In 2011 I submitted Mythica for consideration for the Hawaiian Scottish Festival on Oahu (where Honolulu is) and amazingly we got in, which I wasn't expecting. But the booker loved us so we got booked at the festival. From there I built a tour around that "anchor gig." We played 2 churches (including the one that Obama attended and where his grandmother was laid to rest), a house concert, and some restaurants. Unfortunately, it's very expensive to "island hop" in Hawaii (plane tickets are $300 round trip a pop), so we just stayed on Oahu, but luckily Oahu is the busiest and most populated of the islands. We cannot wait to go back this March.
So you’ve set your sights on the East Coast this fall, any exciting plans for the new tour or new material that your fans can expect?
Yes, the tour will be from Delaware to Florida and back. We are working on contacting venues now and will have dates firmed up by May. I'm excited because I haven't toured in the southeast too much, so it will be nice to bring my music to new ears in that part of the country.
Awesome! I’ve never been but I definitely hope to go someday! What’s your favorite part about being a musician, the live performances or recording or something else?
I love performing and recording equally. Performing is medicinal, truly it is. I can have a migraine, or the flu, or feel awful and when I perform, I don't notice it at all. I am in another dimension. But recording is different. That is true art. I love the recording, engineering and producing process. My least favorite part of being a musician is actually writing music. It's terribly difficult sometimes and a lot of musicians will tell you that.
Creativity isn't something you can just force out so I can only imagine how hard that must be. So, any last minute advice for the emerging independent artists out there?
My advice to independent artists is do NOT play for free. When you are starting out, it's okay to play some open mics to work on your stage presence, and it's okay to play a few "pro bono" shows. It's also okay to play shows for free to charity. But don't keep playing the same bars all the time for free. Because it doesn't just hurt the artist who is playing for free. It also hurts other musicians in the local music community. Why would a bar agree to pay me if they can get Joe Schmoe Band for free? It hurts the entire musical community. Musicians need to start asking for money. Even if it's just $50 to pay for gas, it's still something. When I lived in Denver, everyone paid for music, because all the musicians demanded it, so the venues had no choice but to pay up. For some reason around here, musicians will play for free over and over and over again, and bars take advantage of them. Not just bars by the way, other venues too. So that's my advice: demand to be respected, demand some money for your time.
Melissa Cox gave a great interview and insight into the life on and off the road for an independent artist! Be sure to keep an eye out for her East Coast tour this September 1-9 on “The Harmonious Maladies Tour”. Check her out:
Thanks again to Melissa for her wonderful advice and until next time, indie-monsters!
Monster Entertainment LLC