Sunday, 29 November 2015

Fun with RooArt

“RooArt flew me to Sydney for the launch of the “Black and White” Music Album magazine. I was honoured to be asked to be a part of such a major event.” Melissa James

It’s not every day that an artist gets an opportunity to get some insight on how record companies do business with artists. Most artists are not as lucky as Melissa where record labels like RooArt “gets you” and wants to manage your career. 

Today Melissa shares with us her experience with RooArt. “I was signed to ‘La Digue’ the sub label of RooArt,” says Melissa with excitement. “It was a great time in my career; this helped me a lot personally because I have had some insight on what record companies can really do for artists.”

While the internet has given artists an alternative route to make contact with and sell directly to fans, nothing really compares to what a great record label can do for you. Even with independent artists having access to some of the best online promotion and social media experts, it’s still slower and a lot harder getting your music out to more people without a record label. One can never pull the same strings that record companies can when you want to get on TV and more gigs. Record labels have local and worldwide industry influences that independent artists could never build on their own. 

“RooArt were a great record company. They provided the best service to their artists,” Melissa continues. “I was updated on a daily basis as to how and where the song (Baby Come Back) was going. They arranged promo tours on the east coast of Australia and flew me in all parts of the east coast and arranged my daily schedule. All I had to do was get ready and go. I met local people, industry people; they took me out to dinners and lunches.”  

Apart from Melissa being part of RooArt’s roster of several well-known Australian bands and artists such as Crow, Ratcat, Screaming Jets, You Am I, Wendy Matthews, The Hummingbirds, The Trilobites and Amanda Brown – she was also part of the launch of the infamous “Black & White” Music Album magazine.  

“I had to be photographed with little clothing but present an art form. So we decided I would be photographed as a leopard,” Melissa laughed. “It was a big deal!  It took 9 hours to paint me up as a leopard.”

Melissa’s grateful for the opportunity RooArt gave her. She will never forget the fun NYE gig she did with Kate Ceberano, Noiseworks and Rockmelons at Coffs Harbour. Nor will she forget the bloopers on the way.

“A funny thing happened during the night of ‘Black & White’ launch. We all appeared on stage to say a few words. They asked me, ‘Melissa tells us how the night is going for you’ … Being the honest person that I am, I said … ‘Well for a starters my Dad doesn’t know I’m here, he thinks I’m in bed. Apart from that it’s a great night and happy to be here!’  All of a sudden the crowd was laughing!”

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Before A Gig

“I used to get shy and was afraid to speak to the audience. I didn’t even have the courage to say which song I was about to sing.” Melissa James

Melissa James has cool music and a cool band, but she’s also human and while she gets better at handling pre-gig jitters, it never completely goes away. Why? Because a successful gig is not just about playing music that people like, it’s all about singing and performing your songs ‘consistently well’ at every venue and in different scenarios.

“I used to be afraid to even speak to the audience,” says Melissa.  “It sounds weird I know considering I am a singer. I was always sure of my voice but talking to the crowd made me feel like I had a big spotlight on me and I couldn’t escape it.” 

However, Melissa wasn’t going to be one of those singers that simply don’t perform well on stage due to anxiety. In the end, it's all about the music and whether Melissa sings for thousands of people every night or at a backyard barbeque, she had to overcome her mental anxieties to share her music with the world. The world deserves a good performance and so does Melissa, and boy can Melissa perform. When she performs, you're overwhelmed by her energy and you get the chills with her five octave range. She is exceptional! 

“Before a gig I have always been anxious, uptight.  I struggled with what to wear, how to do my makeup, my hair.  It was an effort to get this all right but now I am a little more relaxed these days and wear what feels comfortable but sexy,” Melissa continues. “Now I feel empowered when I’m scheduled to do a gig and get excited because it’s an opportunity to play new songs live and allow the ‘introvert’ to transform into the ‘extrovert’.”  

After years of being on stage, Melissa spends less time worrying about her performance anxiety and more time focussing on having fun rehearsing with her band a few days beforehand. While most of the rehearsal is spent focusing on getting the songs rhythmically tight and matching dynamic levels in various parts of the songs, it’s not just about “learning to play and sing the songs perfectly” together as a band. The band knows the drill; each member knows their place and what they need to do so rehearsal is more about getting in the zone and having fun before a gig. 
This is crucial for Melissa and her band because they know that when they play live; their music is only 50% of what most people in their audience care about. The other 50% is what they see.  So if they are not in the right headspace, their live shows will suffer from poor stage presence.  

“I feel lucky to have good band members,” says Melissa.  “We all want to perform live and feel pumped; we want to rehearse and want to get up there on stage and play strong.  There is nothing more rewarding than doing a gig with people listening and dancing to your songs, and we love it.

To see Melissa and her band perform, click on the music video, ‘LIKE THIS LIKE THAT’ 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Beautiful Day

“This song is close to home. It’s about my home life and my relationship with my father.” Melissa James

As the warm beat implies, ‘Beautiful Day’ draws listeners into a calm, breezy world filled with feel good energy and sunshine smiles.  It’s only natural that you want to just keep listening on.  But what’s really behind the song that was released by BMG and featured in FOX FM homegrown within the first week of release? 

Removing the success factor of Melissa James and Ashley Cadell’s collaboration on ‘Beautiful Day’, let’s strip it down to its essence. Apart from it being a song about the life and times of Melissa’s home life, this is a song written about a daughter’s devotion towards her father. 

“My father (whom I miss dearly, he passed 2 years ago) was a stern, hardworking but sociable man.  He created the culture at home,” says Melissa.  “When he was happy the whole family was happy.”  

I surrender myself to make a brighter day
All I ask from yourself is for a little praise
Love conquers all that’s what they say
I’ll give you everything
When you’re blue skies are grey

“His mates would be over regularly, singing and carrying on playing the piano accordion. I would be in my room listening,” Melissa continues.  “So one day I got up and started singing Beautiful Day in my head.”

While Melissa’s goal was to impress upon her listeners in a light-hearted catchy tune that her father dictated the mood within the household, she does not hold back in singing that her father would always be there through the good and bad times.

No more rainy days ‘cos I’ll be there for you
To bring the joy back to your face
Sunshine is coming through
A thousand tears may fall
Until the rain has gone
But that will be over now
‘Cos im coming home

To listen to ‘Beautiful Day”

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A Day Recording

I am planning to record my next new song, “Swept Away” with my co-writer Shane Ryall.  

Behind the strutting, pouting entertainer who has been blessed with a rare five octave range - Melissa is just a shy Aussie girl from Melbourne who still gets pre-recording jitters.  

“I get a bit jittery before recording a new song only because I have to absolutely sound my best because recording is forever, you can chop and change things in the studio but the voice has to sound good and rested,” says Melissa.

As much as fans would like to think, singers just don’t get out of bed one morning and sing their way into the Top 20s still dressed in their pyjamas. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?  But the lifestyle of a singer isn’t always a colourful, anything goes, “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll” kinda thing. Vocal recording is an art unto itself and every artist approaches it differently.  

So how does our Aussie pop diva, Melissa James do it? She begins by getting a good night rest the day before the session.

“I get up reasonably early,” Melissa said. “I avoid doing things like checking emails and taking phone calls. I’d rather chill. I have my morning coffee and a bit of cereal.”

It takes Melissa hours of mental and physical relaxation before her voice is ready to begin a warm-up. If her recording is late afternoon, she will usually start at midday and warm up for an hour like an athlete to set the tone and warmth of her vocals. It’s only then that she is ready to take on a recording session.  

“I make sure that I wear something super comfortable. Maybe some jeans, Ugg boots and a casual track top.” Melissa shyly smiles.

Okay, not quite the pyjamas that fans imagined, but just as comfortable! It’s all about getting in the zone, keeping your vocals super fit and relaxed from beginning to end.  No wonder it takes time for Melissa to unwind and bring the mind and body back to normal after a session.

“It’s hard work, you to do a warm up for your vocal session and a warm down when you’re finished by humming for 15 mins,” Melissa says.  “After my vocal session it feels like I have done a work out.” 

Friday, 23 October 2015

How it all started . . .

It all started at a night club with me singing Whitney Houston’s, “The Greatest Love of All.” 

Born into a family of singers and performers, Melissa is the daughter of a piano accordion and tenor.  Her uncle fronted a Melbourne band Tropicana, which he also played saxophone.  It’s not surprising that her family inspired her to become the global pop artist she is today. 

“My mother played the piano accordion and my father had probably the best tenor voice of all time, untrained but had a beautiful tone, a friend nicknamed him the ‘4th Tenor’…My inspiration came from my family.”  ~ Melissa James

There was never any doubt about what Melissa wanted to do in life.  From having fun performing ABBA songs (Melissa blushes when she tells us) in front of her classmates to auditioning in talent shows.  But her real start in music began on one Saturday night at a Melbourne club. Melissa plucked up the courage to sing with a duo playing in the bar. 

“I chose to sing 'The Greatest Love of All' and who should be on keyboards Chong Lim,” says Melissa. “He said 'Melissa that was great… you are going to be a star!”

And of course, Chong Lim (Malaysian-born Australian keyboardist, producer, and session musician) was absolutely right. 

Since then Melissa released “Beautiful Day”, receiving national exposure through TV and radio air-play.  She became the highest Australian Dance Artist on National Dance Aria Chart with her release of “Baby Come Back”, which was produced by Ross Inglis. They also co-wrote songs like “Sweet Possession” and “Show Me”.

Later Melissa performed and co-wrote the rap on “Love You Right” by Euphoria, which went to number #1. She also rapped on the Lou Richards release of the popular song, “Up There Cazaly”.

Melissa’s voice and song writing continues to soar in the release of her latest single and music video, “Like This Like That.” Its fresh groovy beat is infectious and will get you up dancing with deep underlying lyrics to make it more than just another pop song.  

You can listen to Melissa on YouTube, iTunes, Vevo, Vimeo Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic and Napster. 

CLICK to listen to ‘Like This Like That