Melissa Young Interview by Tom Paul

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    Melissa Young has just released her new video titled "Just A Girl" from her debut CD "Just Up The Road". The video is now getting airplay on BET J, keep an eye out for it. Melissa exudes a soulful sound that brings to mind old school vocals with poignant lyrics and heartfelt melodies. She touches her audiences by keeping them in touch with the reality of the subject matter in her songwriting. She puts on a great performance which is drawn from her film making background which made her video making experience so easy.

    Please check out the eflyer below regarding her new video on BET J's Soul Sessions show or go to her myspace page to view at this link  or on You Tube

    Please look forward for Melissa Young touring around the country by checking out her website as well for touring dates.

    TP: Your debut CD "Just Up The Road" has garnered critical acclaim quickly with airplay and now a new video on BET J. Talk about how tough it is for an Indie artist to not only put out a CD, but their own Video?   

    MY: The hard part for me was recording and putting out the CD.  This was my first studio experience and my first time producing and executive producing musically.  There were a lot of "firsts" for me in doing the Album.  It is tough, because sometimes you are your sounding board to bounce things off of.  In the end I think you just have to settle in listen to your instincts.  That's what I did and I am still learning to do. The music video part of it came easy to me because I'd done it so many times before.  I've been writing and directing since 1997.  That for me was like jumping in a swimming pool for the first time in four years.  You never really forget how to swim. I just settled in to my familiar backstroke.

    TP: What is easy to come up with a video concept for your single "Just A Girl"?

    MY: Well it was easy and a little hard. The concept gives us different scenarios of a female's life and the things that some of us go through, from being an unfulfilled housewife to a carefree little girl.  Due to budget constraints, we had to keep it simple.  By simple I mean, no studios, no special effects and no graphics. Those are the things that push the budget really high, that and large crews that do nothing but stand around and eat doughnuts from craft service all day.  So once I forced myself to keep it simple, it then came to me easily.  I worked with my friend, JJ Stone, whom I went to NYU with.  She co-directed the video with me.  Our main concern became finding a creative way to relate to and elevate the song.  I feel very strongly that a music video should take a song to a higher level.  You know, give the audience another level of understanding of the song. We missed some things that I had hoped to get, but for the most part I think we did that.  I like the video a lot; I can't wait to shoot the next one.

    TP: You have a great stage presence and a comfortable report with your audience live. Did you have prior experience in acting and film in the past?

    MY: Thank you Tom!  It always helps to see people like you in the crowd, giving me that energy back.  For me it is all about the energy. It's an exchange you know?  I don't know how to hide emotion and what I'm really feeling and I like that.  When I'm on stage, I like relating to the audience.  I like to reach out and touch them with my words, my tone, my fingers.  Funny you should ask that. haha!  My older sister always said that I should go into acting.  I did do a little bit of theater and film acting years ago.  In undergraduate school at Howard University, I had a double minor in acting and musical theater.  The arts just run through my veins, but I have always said that I enjoy being behind the camera more than in front of it.

    TP: What inspirations in life do you draw from when performing both live and in front of the camera?

    MY: Musically, I try and draw from everyday experiences.  The things that caused me to pen the lyrics of the song.  All of my stuff, so far, has been drawn from real life experiences.  Things that I've gone through or seen other people close to me go through.

    TP: Did you co-produce your album with a producer or did you put this beautiful album together all yourself?

    MY:  I co-produced the album with my dear friend H-Storm . He is a producer out of New York.  He was my rock, he kept me sane.  He made me believe in my abilities, and he sometimes forced me to trust my instinct.  He also stayed calm when I would get frustrated and pick fights with him!  HaHa...OMG, that's true! Love you H-Storm.

    TP: Did you have any co-writers or did you pen these songs all yourself?

    MY: I penned 99% of the album myself.  The song "Just Up the Road" had quite a few writers on it.  It was a collaborative effort

    TP: Where did you record this album?

    MY: I recorded the bulk of the album in Atlanta at SugaPit Studios.  One song was recorded in New York

    TP: Did you have any special guests perform on this album?

    MY: Not any well-known names. My dad sings on "Just Up The Road", and for me he was a pretty special guest.

    TP: From a lyrical standpoint, this album reads like journey through your life. Do you keep a journal or write down ideas and refer back to these stories in your life to compose your lyrics?

    MY: My lyrics are very important to me in my music.  I am a pretty straightforward writer.  I've been writing poetry since the 5th grade, and my stuff sometimes starts very poetic.  I then find ways to simplify what I'm feeling and trying to say.  I write everything down...a thought, a phrase, a word, an impression.  For me, all roads lead to someplace lyrically. So yes, I keep a journal or should I say journals.  I buy a new one every year.  I like to start in a new place with my thoughts from time to time, you know kind of free of the burden of the thoughts that I had before, so I buy a new journal.

    TP: Where have your toured to promote this album? Do you have any tours/shows setup in the near future?

    MY: Touring for this album so far, we've been all around the country so far.  We are headed back to the Northeast, Midwest, and West coast late summer and in the early fall. We are planning a trip overseas this winter.

    TP: Many singers have started out singing with other artists. Have you toured performing with anyone else in the past?

    MY: I did a little background singing before I set out on my own.  Most notably with Ky-mani Marley.  I did a small stench as one of his backups and we toured all over Europe.  It was such a learning experience for me.

    TP: Do you run your own record label? If so, what is the name of the label and do you have outside assistance or do other help you with your business affairs?

    MY: Yes, though I hardly ever tell anyone, SugaShack Music is my baby.  I have a very small staff of people.  I've also been blessed to have a partner who

    Has invested with me. I started the label almost four years ago and I am looking forward to the future.  We will be releasing our second artist in January 2009.

    TP: I love the song "Just Up The Road", where did the concept for that song idea blossom from?

    MY: "Just Up the Road" is the title track for the album.  It's a song that my dad sings on with me.  It was very important to me to have him on this song.  The

    song is really about me reminiscing on some of the things that have happened in my life, the trials and tribulations that have brought me to this point.  Sometimes I use to envy people who had never lost anything or anyone close to them.  I lost a brother when I was 8 yrs old and another brother when I was 15 yrs old.  It had a profound effect on me as a young person.  This song was about me thinking back and reminding myself that the beautiful part of my journey is just up the road, and that I just have to keep moving and keep believing.  I no longer envy those people who never lost anything, because I realized having gone through those losses, makes me Melissa.  It is those things that make me so uncompromising about the choices that I make for myself in life, in film, and in my music.

    TP: The presence you exude onstage is one of a sexy yet unprovoked Soul singer from back in tha day. Tell us of your vocal influences and any particular albums that made an impression from their work in the past on you?

    MY: Growing up, I loved Tina Turner, Betty Wright, Sam Cooke, and Jackie Wilson, and Freda Payne. One of my favorite songs was "Bring the Boys Home" by Freda.  And man my daddy could sing some Sam Cooke, my sisters and I use to harmonize with him.  We also use to sneak Betty Wright albums and listen to them in the closet, until we got caught!

    TP: What were the last 3 artists that you either downloaded or purchased their CD's?

    MY: Martin Luther, Coldplay (because I will buy anything that they put out), and Common (because I will drink his bath water!!!!)




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