I recently got to reconnect with my sweet friend Melanie Faye for an interview. She is a Nashville artist who moved to Atlanta a few years ago and has been based there ever since. What’s crazy about Melanie is she’s the most skilled guitarist I can think of. She’s obviously worked really hard to be as good as she is and her first song that was released was a collaboration with Mac Demarco. Since then, she’s had a bunch of features on legendary artist’s songs, but she’ll be releasing a new wave of her own tunes very soon!
Tuned Up: Tell me your story, like your origin story.
Melanie Faye: So I was born in Huntsville, Alabama. I moved to Nashville, Tennessee when I was three years old. I was always really into music. Growing up, me and my family were obsessed with Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five. When I was in middle school, I got this video game called Guitar Hero and it inspired me to wanna play guitar.
So middle school, you get the video game and then what? You beg your parents to get you a guitar?
Yeah, pretty much. A year after getting Guitar Hero, I got a real guitar
I started taking lessons and then when I got to high school, I went to an arts high school and studied guitar.
How do you think going to art school, um, affected you creatively?
Yeah, I feel like the reason why I’m successful is because I went to an arts high school (Nashville School of the Art) and going there just really opened up a lot of doors.
So then, when did you start writing? I feel like you started out as a guitarist, like that was your identity, and then you started writing as your career started to take off, is that correct?
Yeah, pretty much I started writing when I was like 19.
Tell me more about your writing process.
I guess experiences that I’ve had inspire me. So like, past breakups or like past relationships and stuff is like my main source of inspiration.
So yeah, there’s a lot of themes of romance or breakups in your writing. Like which songwriters inspire you?
Honestly, Mariah Carey is like a huge inspiration. I would say that I idolized Mariah Carey when I was a little girl.
I guess I would describe it as sophisticated pop basically.
Tell me about your first show, like run me through it.
My first show I was extremely nervous and I honestly came off as very timid. It was at my college, it was like an open mic at MTSU. I’m pretty sure I had on like a unif rainbow dress.
Did you kill it? Like how did people react?
I think people were like excited about it. I didn’t feel like I killed it, but I think people were impressed.
After your first show, how did your career progress from there?
I just kept doing open mics and I started posting videos on Instagram. Then one of the videos ended up going viral and that was, I guess, like the start of my professional career.
Wanna talk about the creative process more? What does your creative process look like? Okay when I’m writing a song, it always starts with the guitar part. Then once I have the guitar I’ll come up with the bass part. The bass part is just following the root notes of the guitar.
So the bass part is usually a no-brainer. After I have guitar and bass, the drums are a no-brainer cuz the drums are just following the cadence of the guitar and bass. Once you have guitar, bass and drums that’s pretty much like the whole song, you know? So all that’s left is the lyrics.
What about like when you’re writing a guitar part, do you hear that in your head or do you build that progression?
Well, I have like three main compositional techniques that I use. The first one that I’ll use is I’ll take like a really basic boring chord progression and I’ll spice it up. I’ll put my own spin on it, like diminished or sharps, sevens and the nines and whatnot. I’ll try to use unusual chord voicings so that the chord progression doesn’t come off as cliche.
Then my second compositional technique. I will like to make up a chord and then I’ll just kind of like slide it around the frat board until I find something that sounds good.
Then my third compositional technique I’ll use is: I find a chord that I already know and then I’ll like to alter it in some sort of way and then build a chord progression around it.
Do you wanna talk about the music that you’re about to release?
Basically, I wanna put out a bunch of songs and I want the songs to all have their own feel. Like, I don’t want it to just be one genre over and over again. Cuz then I feel like my supporters would get bored.
What’s the theme?
Honestly, it’s just all about people I’ve dated… pretty much.
Are people breaking your heart recently? Did someone do you dirty or is it more just like sad?
Uh, yeah it’s basically about girls breaking my heart.
I mean I definitely went through the seven stages of grief, but I wouldn’t say anyone did me dirty. I think I knew what I was getting into, but I got into it anyway.