Already established as a multi-award winning artist, Melanie Taylor, both in person and through her music, fizzes with an energy and an excitement few have likely ever seen before. With her latest track “Inta My Heart” out now and her social media following rising exponentially, 2016 is turning out to be Taylor’s biggest year yet.
With big plans for the future and an album due out later this year, she kindly agreed to this interview to chat Michael Jackson, Madison Square Garden and social media.
PW: Please introduce yourself.
Melanie Taylor: Hi I’m Melanie! I’m from San Diego, CA and now I live in LA where I love making music, performing, and doing my best to make every day count.
PW: How would you sum up yourself and your music up in a couple of sentences?
MT: I think growing up in Southern California gave me the energetic and carefree attitude a lot of people see in my music and me, and then I owe the more introspective side to myself that is very purposeful and always on a quest to put meaning into my songs to my mother, as well as a lot of the challenges life has thrown at me.
PW: Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you? Have such influences changed over the years?
MT: I grew up obsessed with watching Michael Jackson music videos and his live performances on repeat. Even at such a young age I could feel what he was feeling when he performed and it was so powerful I just knew I wanted to do that for people as well. Along with Michael, I loved the vocals of Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. I had a phase of Spice Girls, Alanis Morisette, and No Doubt…that I guess is still going on. Now I listen to a lot more funk/soul type of stuff that just feels good, and I want to incorporate more into my music. House and electronic is obviously something that has taken over the industry, and producers are doing such amazing remixes now of all different kinds of genres that I think will always be an influence for me moving forward as well.
PW: When did you first realize you wanted to be a performer? Was there an album you listened to or concert you attended that made you think 'yeah, I want to do that'?
MT: Well Michael had me pretty convinced from the age of about 5 that I wanted to follow in his footsteps…but other than that there was a moment I was on stage in high-school at one of my show-choir’s Varsity competitions, and I remember being center stage with a huge crowd full of people cheering, being surrounded by lights, and thinking “this is it, this is what I’m supposed to do.”
PW: Tell me about your latest track "Inta My Heart." Is there a story behind it?
MT: “Inta My Heart” went through a huge evolution to become to track that it is. I first wrote the song with producer Troy “R8DIO” Johnson, whose Dad and Uncle were actually in “The Brother’s Johnson,” a funk band in the 70s and who did a lot of the music in Michael’s Thriller album – so needless to say it was pretty epic to work with R8DIO since he has a lot of the same swag. Without getting too sappy, the song kind of describes how I was feeling when I met the guy I’m dating now - wanting to be guarded, but when someone is so awesome it’s hard to throw that away! Then Clubstream liked the track and wanted to make it more of a house record so they connected me with Unanimo - who is in Bosnia - and we just had to Skype and email in order to communicate with all the changes they made. I’ve never been so grateful for technology!
PW: How easy/hard do you find the song-writing process and who/what most inspires you?
MT: I think I’ve gotten better at it since I write so much for other artists and placements now, but I tend to be kind of a perfectionist and used to compare myself a lot to other songwriters. What has helped and inspired me most is just working with more experienced writers and producers. I love observing how other people work, trying it, and seeing if it works for me. I feel like I have a pretty good idea now of what sounds good for my voice and style, but I still prefer writing with others just because it’s more fun and more ideas can get bounced around.
PW: Which song, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why?
MT: I don’t actually think I can answer that because I love so many songs! But, “Man In The Mirror” is always one of the most powerful and empowering songs I can think of when I think about music.
PW: Is there an album or EP in the works?
MT: Yes there is! It’s going to be coming out this summer and I am beyond excited to release it!
PW: What's been your favorite live performance to date?
MT: Luckily I have a few because performing is my favorite part of this whole thing. One that stands out was for an LA awards thing after I had just gotten off a 12+ hr flight earlier that day. I was so tired and didn’t know how it would go, but once the music started I just got to be transformed into this whole other energy and the crowd was especially great. I love that music has the power to do that.
PW: If you could play one venue anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
MT: There are so many on my list! Being in LA, playing The Hollywood Bowl would mean the world to me because I’ve seen such legendary acts there, and I also love the idea of being outside and getting to shoot off fireworks for the performance! But just for the record, Red Rocks, The 02 arena, and Madison Square Garden are also on my to-do list.
PW: If you could share a stage with three other bands or artists, who can be living or dead, who would they be and why?
MT: Michael Jackson, because he is the reason I went into this and I used to picture myself singing with him! Beyonce, because she is another incredible and empowering performer, as well as artist, and I know singing with her would elevate me forever. Last but not least Stevie Wonder! Not only is he a legend, but every time I see him perform with someone I feel like he showcases them so well and the rendition of whatever he does with someone becomes even better than the original, which is what live music is all about!
PW: What are your touring/performance plans for the rest of the year? Will you be playing any festivals or just focusing more of your own shows?
MT: I’m just now starting to put all of that together and set more dates for shows. I would love to play in more festivals though - I think that is one of the best ways to perform to get music out there.
PW: Are there any plans for you to head overseas and play in Europe?
MT: Possibly! Clubstream, who put out “Inta My Heart” is based in Sweden, and we are just waiting on how the song does on the charts there.
PW: What are your thoughts on social media and do you agree that it's necessary for bands and artists today?
MT: I love using social media as a way to share my life with friends and fans, both personally and professionally so instantly and intimately so they can feel like they’re there with me. I do think it can get a little overwhelming and silly when we focus on such menial things, so I try to just have fun with it. It’s definitely necessary for bands and artists today, it’s the future of communication whether you like it or not, so it’s wise just to embrace it!
PW: You're a 2x winner of Artist in Music Awards, but how much do plaudits like that matter to you? Do you see them as important or do you care more about what your fans think?
MT: The awards do mean a lot to me because I personally put a lot of time and energy into my work and they kind of act as benchmarks for me to know I’m on the right path, as well as for me to look back and remember where I was at then.
PW: You're also a strong advocate for women as entrepreneurs in music. How did you come to support the cause and why is it so important to you?
MT: My parents, including step-parents are all entrepreneurs - so by default I probably inherited their spirit. I saw the blood, sweat and tears they put into what they do, but I also saw how fulfilled they were when they were successful and in doing something they loved. My mother always told me I was a leader, and I’m lucky enough to live in a time where that kind of belief is supported so I might as well take advantage of it.
PW: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
MT: I will be releasing a lot of new singles, music videos, the album, and will be restructuring my live performances based on some newfound inspiration that I think will greatly elevate all my shows and give it a consistency in excellence I have really been striving to achieve. So look out for future show dates!
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as an artist and at what point would you be happy to call it a day?
MT: Honestly, I want to be one of the greatest pop stars in my generation, and no matter how big I get I’m not sure I’ll ever just stop since this is what brings me true joy.