London born and bred solo artist, Melanie Crew has just put out her second EP and already it has been met with critical acclaim and being played on BBC radio. Tomatrax caught up with Melanie to ask a few questions.
What inspired you to become a musician?
I started learning clarinet when I was in primary school, and a lot of my spare time was spent on that: I took all the exams up to Grade 8, and went to a Saturday music school, and an evening clarinet group. I started playing guitar when I was about 15, as a second instrument. When I went to University I started listening to lots of indie bands, like Ash and Idlewild, and that inspired me to play guitar more regularly.
When did you write your first song?
When I went to University, and started playing guitar more. I went from playing classical guitar to playing a lot of rock/indie covers. That inspired to write my own songs. I played them to my friends, and they knew all the words. I never performed them in public, though!
You’ve just released your second EP, what’s it like to have it out?
It’s really nice to have a collection of songs that I have worked on brought together into one release. A couple of the songs have had radio play on BBC 6, so that’s a development from my last EP!
Where did the name Further Away come from?
It’s taken from a lyric in the final song, Can’t Find A Way: “further away from all the things I used to know”. There is a general theme of distance in the EP, so I think it works quite well as a title.
What was the inspiration behind the EP’s cover?
My last EP, Until the End, had a photo of some flowers in a church on the cover. I wanted the cover for this EP to be a similar style, so I took a similar photo in a different church. I wanted some sort of continuity between the two EPs.
When writing what comes first, the words or the music?
The music. Once I’ve found a chord progression I like, I write a melody over the top, and the lyrics come right at the end. I actually find it quite hard to write lyrics, so that bit is often the most challenging!
You are also into blogging and photography, how do these compare with making music?
Well, I find them both easier! I’ve always enjoyed writing. I used to make stories up when I was little, and I wrote books when I was younger, then poetry, and now blogs. Writing is something that comes a bit more naturally: songwriting is something that requires a bit more effort. Photography is a more recent interest and something that I really enjoy at the moment. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be gained from being creative generally, though, whether that’s writing a blog or writing a song: the process of creating something from scratch is really rewarding.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
I do, sometimes. I’m proud of all the songs, but there are one or two that I particularly like and listen to a bit more than the others.
What other music do you listen to?
I listen to indie singer-songwriters like Kathryn Williams and Laura Veirs and Elliott Smith. I also listen to jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles, and 70s singer-songwriters – Paul Simon, and James Taylor, for example. But I listen to lots of bands too: I’ve been listening to Teenage Fanclub recently as I went to see them play live last month, and I like Manic Street Preachers. I also listen to a band called Hem a lot, as I find their music quite relaxing. Mostly I have my iPod on shuffle so a whole range of songs come on: everything from disco to rock to pop to country.
Now that the EP is out what do you plan on doing next?
I don’t have any fixed plans at the moment. I do have some new songs to record, so I’ll be doing that, and then maybe playing some shows in the New Year.
Check out Melanie Crew’s Facebook page to find out more!