Mel Stirling - 10 Questions Music Interview
Los Angeles-based Australian artist Mel Stirling has emerged as a solo act after performing in various alternative bands. Previously, she supported well-known Australian acts such as The Radiators, Killing Heidi, Grinspoon and The Butterfly Effect. She is noted for her striking vocal range, haunting lyrics, and memorable hooks. Her first solo EP, Standing to Fall, has garnished critical acclaim and is available on all major digital outlets.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I have always been a music fanatic. Music was always around me growing up. My first guitar was a gift for my 13th birthday. Singing and writing songs came naturally to me, but the true catalyst for the songs on the Standing to Fall EP stem from my experiences in the Australian Navy and Army. I remember walking off the C-130J Hercules aircraft weighed down by body armor and a rifle...seeing the Afghan mountains in the distance and wondering if I would ever return home. Sadly, many of my fellow soldiers didn't. I think a lot of this EP was a way for me to express and work through the grief so I could be hopeful again.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
So far the craziest thing that has happened in my music career was an impromptu karaoke duet of Sweet Child O' Mine with Phil Jamieson (lead singer of well-known Australian rock band, Grinspoon). I was at his solo acoustic show at the Crowbar in Brisbane, Australia. After the show the venue hosted rock karaoke. I wasn't ready to go home yet so decided to hang around and sing a song for a laugh. As I was on stage singing, I could hear another voice and noticed movement at the corner of my eye. I turned to look and there he was...Phil Jamieson...backing ME up on vocals! What a trip! The crowd went crazy! I had a chat with Phil afterwards and he said he just had to come out and see who was singing because it sounded so good. He said I was better than Axl Rose himself...I don't agree with Phil there, but it was a nice compliment to receive from a musician I'm such a big fan of.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
The highest point in my music path so far was playing a show at the world-famous Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood. I'm from the Gold Coast suburbs so playing at this venue was a dream come true for me. Just to stand let alone sing on the same stage where so many music icons have performed...mind blown! I admit I did get a nervous case of dry mouth walking on stage but I overcame that and it was a great show. The gig was recorded so those who are interested can check it out on YouTube here:
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
My creative process is quite haphazard. There is no one process I follow but for me a song generally starts as just a melody in my head...then it's up to me to figure out how to play it on the guitar and flesh it out from there. Lyrics generally come last once I understand the feeling and theme of the melody that just miraculously materialized in my head.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges facing indie artists is understanding that they can't just be an "artist" anymore. The aim should be to become a balanced business artist. Artists today need to be a one-stop shop for advertising, marketing, publicity, copyright, distribution, licensing, bookings, merchandising etc., it's overwhelming and too much for one mere mortal to achieve. I think the most important thing an indie artist can do is set realistic goals and timeframes but most importantly - build a solid team and delegate because it's simply impossible to do everything yourself.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
That's easy! Chris Cornell - sadly...this will never become a reality. May he Rock in Peace :(
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Unlike my songwriting process, rehearsals are very efficient and structured. Studio time adds up for an indie artist so I generally rehearse independently for a month at home. Then I will bring the band together for studio rehearsals once or twice a week 6 weeks prior to a show. Everyone in the band learns the material prior to studio rehearsals so we can just focus on playing together as a band and iron out any kinks or clashes.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
"Here and Now" has been my greatest challenge to write so far. It has a lot of different timing and style changes so it was problematic to get it to all gel together. In saying that...it's my favorite track on the Standing to Fall EP. It just goes off at the end! It sounds like a truly scorned woman just honestly bleeding her heart out for the world to hear.
What's coming up in the future?
I just released a new music video for the track Kamikaze. I'm also in the process of writing a few new songs to introduce at my next show later this year at the Viper Room in West Hollywood. So keep an eye online for that date to be announced!
Tell us where fans can access your music?