An Interview With Melissa Giges

I caught up with  singer-songwriter Melissa Giges where we talked about her new album ‘Just When I Let Go’, working with producer Blake Morgan, wanting to spend ‘a day in the life of’ Sia & much more!

Read the full interview below.

melissa giges ecr music group square 2014 05 15 Melissa Giges :: Images

What is the music scene like in New York?

It’s amazing. Personally, I like smaller, more intimate venues like Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side. It’s a great venue. And since I happen to live right there, it’s perfect for me…I can step foot out of my apartment building any night of the week and check out different artists, which I do. I also play there regularly with my own band. One thing’s for sure, I certainly don’t have to worry about being late to the gig.

How has the response been so far about your latest single ‘Audience’?

At a recent show of mine, I told a story about that song. I asked the ladies in the “audience” (sorry for the pun) if they’d ever experienced a suffocating relationship. I got a lot of hands and shout outs. I’d had a relationship like that, where my ex was all about me, all the time, and he didn’t have any of his own interests. That’s what the song is about. So I think it’s quite relatable, unfortunately, because that issue isn’t uncommon. Yeah, of course, it’s nice to have someone want to be with you, but not every second of every minute of every day.

A number of your songs have appeared on shows such as Keeping up with the Kardashians, Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami and Real World. How did you feel when you found out your songs were to be a part of some of MTV’s biggest shows?

My first placement was actually on this classy show called The Bad Girls Club. The show puts a bunch of bad girls together.  I’m sure you can imagine the outcome. When my song starts, one of the girls is selecting a sex toy from the sex toy vending machine that’s in their house. I laugh when I think back to when I told my parents about my first TV placement. Let’s just say they were “supportive.” A little while later, my song “Before I’m Barely Seen” ran at the end of the season premiere of Real World Brooklyn. A transgender comes out to the gay man in the house. Shortly after, I got a bunch of emails from people about coming out to their friends/family. So that was really cool. You never know how you’ll inspire someone or when people will connect to your music, or how.  Whether it’s sex toys or Rock n’ Roll or both at the same time.

Do you feel the music you grew up listening to has played a part in terms of your songwriting and performance?

Yeah, absolutely. I didn’t really think about this until you asked this question but I’m remembering my love for classical composers like Chopin and Mendelssohn. I used to fall asleep to it every night and I couldn’t go to sleep without it.  I was classically trained, and was playing the piano at the age of four, and then eventually trained in voice.  But it was clear to me that I never wanted to be an opera singer or classical pianist. It wasn’t until college that I started writing music.  Obviously, the music of Chopin and rock music are a stretch genre-wise, but honestly, melody is melody.  Especially if it’s a good one.

If you had to come up with a playlist of 5 songs, what would those tracks be & what would be your top most played song?

This is probably the most asked question of a musician, and yet I think it’s probably the hardest one for each of us to answer. So I’ll go about it this way: here a few that have influenced my writing style for the new record, each for different reasons:

Death Cab For Cutie- “Summer Skin” & “Different Names For The Same Thing” Pretty much all of the songs from Plans.
Keane- “She Has No Time” 
Fiona Apple- “Get Gone”  
Imogen Heap – “The Moment I Said It” 
Sia – “Breathe Me”
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill  (entire album)
Radiohead – “Videotape” 

Okay, see what I mean? Yup. I’ve listed more than five.

What was the writing process like when writing your debut album ‘Evident’?

I love that you asked this question because it was such a unique writing experience. I met Blake Morgan, my producer, through a mutual friend. The timing was just right because I was trying to figure out what my next move would be for my career. We decided to make an album together. Before we even recorded a single note, we listened to some of my favorite songs so he could get a sense of my style. We used a few songs that I had already written but he gave me homework to write a few more songs for the record. For each song, we discussed every lyric and made sure each line was just right and the message was clear. I had never done that before. It changed my entire way of songwriting.

What was it like working with the producer Blake Morgan on the new album?

Well, it’s awesome. Most producers don’t sit down with an artist and discuss the artist’s vision so thoroughly. That’s important. I’ve worked with multiple producers at one time and then something happens where the project seems like it isn’t yours anymore. Then what’s the point? This isn’t the case with Blake. If I’m not happy with something, we figure out how to fix it. Plus, he doesn’t judge my plastic animal album mascots. What, you say? Yeah, so I started a zoo of animals with my first album (each song gets a toy animal character) because I have a song called “Hey Lion.” So when we started with this second record, our album mascot family grew even more. I’d be happy to send you a photo of the gang!

On your website, you stated what the new album is ‘a blend of intimacy and intensity’. For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to listen to Melissa Giges, what song would you advise people to listen to in order sum up your sound?

I hope every song on my album achieves that goal but the song that comes to mind is “Broken Record.” That’s a song about speaking up, which hasn’t always been the easiest thing for me to do in the past with the people that I care about. Just When I Let Go has a theme about speaking up, and saying how I feel, regardless of the outcome.  I don’t mean it in a selfish way, but rather about trying to be open and honest. I’ve been learning that I can’t be afraid of someone’s response before they’ve even responded.

What goals have you set yourself as an artist hoping to achieve?

I see more TV placements with sex toy vending machines, a few additions to our album mascots, and plenty of “transgender coming out of the closet” songs. No really though, I want to be able to sustain a career as an artist for as long as I can write, play piano, and sing a note. It’s who I am.

Apart from checking out your music, are there any bands/artists you have been really into lately that you recommend or feel deserves more recognition? 

A couple weeks ago, I spent a weekend away with some of my label-mates. We sat around a fire listening to artists that we love. Blake put on this artist named David Poe who has a new album that just came out. He has a great sound and the instrumentation is elegant and simple. Most of the album is just vocal and acoustic guitar. I usually gravitate towards piano and keyboard-driven songs but his sound really hit me. That same night, my friends took turns playing guitar. I was a little jealous so after we got back, I was determined to teach myself.  So it turns out that weekend and David Poe’s album has inspired me to pick up the acoustic guitar. I’ve been working on a song and working on those calluses!

If you could spend a day in the life of one of your favourite musician, who would that be and why?

Right now I would say Sia. I really appreciate her music, her melodies, and her songwriting. She writes for other artists which is cool too. I’d love to pick her songwriting brain for a day.

For anyone who wants to find out more about you and your music, where can they go to check this out?

You can go to my site melissagiges.com.  You’ll find links to my Facebook, Twitter, and my blog all right there.

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