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Interview with Melissa Trinchere

A few months back I had the opportunity to ask the talented independent musician Melissa Trinchere a few questions. It was the first time I’d done something like this and my questions were mainly focused around how songs are crafted and the way a songwriters state of mind is throughout the recording period. Whether you like pop pianists or rock, there’s many insightful answers about the creative process behind making music here.
Written By: Kyle Bulai
Q: For your music, how do you visualize or create a song?

It really does differ. Most of the time, I see things in colors. Every song I hear, whether it’s mine or not, I see a color. And colors make me feel things. Red=passion, Blue=sorrow or serenity – etc.

Sometimes it’s about a story, or just an idea that popped into my head.

Q: In your head do you hear yourself playing the piano and the way you want it to be?

Again, this differs from song to song. Sometimes I hear a piano or vocal melody in my head, then I play it out…but since I don’t play by ear flawlessly (don’t have perfect pitch) – I don’t do it that way often. Usually for the piano, I’ll just sit down and if the MUSE is with me, I just play something, and I repeat it. I learn by muscle memory.

I’m untrained on the piano. Not trained by voice either, but I know how to use proper techniques.

Q: After an album is completed do you think about the direction the songs should go in for it?

Yes. But I do this LONG before I even start recording/creating an album. My imagination runs away with me and I think about concepts and groupings. They never make any logical sense either, I don’t think. It’s more how I feel it should go.

Q: When you write your songs down on paper do you start playing chords and think about how they’ll go with what you’ve already composed?

The only things I write on paper are lyrics, and the first few notes (in letter form) of a song I just came up with. I will remember the rest by muscle memory…as I mentioned before.
I don’t read sheet music fluently. I’m crap at it. So I don’t use scales and jot down notes like Mozart. Haha.

Q: How do you craft songs that appeal to people?

I can’t think about that when I’m writing songs. I think it’s unwise to do that…unless you’re a songwriter for big pop acts. I can’t expertly craft a song. I just write what I feel and if I think it’s good, I’ll play it for people and record it and just put it out there. I’m surprised when anyone likes anything I do.

Q: Do you know that your songs are good in the process or do you just make what you want to listen to?

I don’t think I make what I want to listen to…because I’m a huge Rock music fan and I just can’t write that stuff. I listen to a lot of singer/songwriter junk, of course….I’m a big Regina Spektor fan, but she does stuff I would never even think of doing. I don’t know if anyone else will think what I write is good, but if I like it – I’ll put it out there.

Q: With the recent release of your new album Seasons, what kind of promotion and tour do you have planned to support it?

I’d like to start out with a small tour. Only 6 to 8 dates in California & Oregon, then hopefully do around 10 shows across the U.S. I’m not so great with doing promotions on my own, so I’m hoping to work with an affordable P.R. firm.

Q: A lot of your songs have a cryptic and brooding sound to them, “She Gets What She Wants” comes to mind. Lyrically, where do you draw your inspiration from?

Lyrical inspiration comes in many forms. For the most part, it comes from Poetry, Films, Books, Art and sometimes other song lyrics! In the case of that song, I was inspired by a combination of celebrity gossip and my own experiences. Haha.

Q: “Christmas on the Emerald Isle”, while being your shortest song, seems to be different melodically then most of the other tracks. You have a few songs that are just under two minutes in length, do you feel that shorter songs allow you to experiment more with different ideas?

Perhaps that’s true, I’ve never thought of it that way. I think I end up with short songs because that is all that comes to me. It’s like a half-cocked idea. I would imagine people don’t usually set their half-cocked ideas out into the world, but they always seem finished to me.

Q: Who have been the biggest influences on your music?

Well, the very first influence was Tori Amos. After listening to her third album “Boys For Pele” a million times, I thought to myself “I can do this, I want to do this!”. Then the second largest influence for me has been Fiona Apple and most recently, Regina Spektor. Regina’s music has really forced me to think outside the box with my songwriting. Since listening to her records, I’ve been able to write about subjects other than love and heartache.

Q: How long after the release of a new album do you start work on new material?

I begin forming concepts for the next album even while I’m currently working on an album! I have loads and loads of lyrics (and poetry that gets turned into lyrics) already waiting for me, so the usual process is to form a melody and come up with music for the piano (and recently guitar and bass).

Q: With the many channels to promote and distribute music available today compared to the past, what is your opinion on the ease or difficulty on “breaking into the biz”?

I think it’s harder now. Everyone and their brother wants to be a musician. It’s easier for people to record decent sounding music and get it out there. So the market is flooded with music that isn’t so hot. I find that really talented people get buried under this muck of noise, and it’s becoming more difficult to rise above that noise. But I think it’s always been about “who you know”. And I don’t know anyone, so I remain undiscovered.

Q: After performing your material repeatedly for shows, does there ever come a point where you are tired of playing some of your songs?

Absolutely. Something I learned from my original inspiration Tori Amos: reinvent the songs. If I get sick of playing a song and feel like I’d rather go to the dentist than sing it – I sing it differently. I add in something, or I take something away. And sometimes I just refuse to play it for a while, then it becomes sort of fresh and new again.

The original link to the interview can be found here.

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