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Mel Parsons - Mel Parsons Newsletter Interview

02 Apr 2015 // An interview by Shade

Well recognized as one of New Zealand’s established songwriting stars, indie-folk singer songwriter Mel Parsons’ star is on the rise. Following the success of both her debut album ‘Over My Shoulder’ in 2009, and sophomore offering ‘Red Grey Blue’ in 2011, Parsons is on the cusp of the release of her third full length record Drylands. Mel answered the following questions for muzic.net.nz:

Which one of your songs are you most proud of, and why?

I think it changes - at the moment, it’s a song called Far Away - happens to be the first single from the new album, but I think it’s my favourite because it’s really fun to play, it’s got a big sound and people seem to enjoy it and go away singing the chorus.

Do you have any plans for future collaborations with other musicians? Who would they be?

I do! But...they are top secret so can’t tell you at this stage. Watch this space.

Where is your favourite place to relax in NZ?

At home! Being at home is a bit of a luxury at the moment, so that’s top of my list. Otherwise, a quiet beach somewhere in the Able Tasman, or Northland, or just anywhere that I can’t use a computer.

What NZ musicians or bands would you like to see more of, and why?

My cousin Jed Parsons, because he’s ridiculously talented, he’s a very good drummer and great songwriter too, and I’m really excited to see what he comes up with next... ·

What is the one thing you want NZ to know about band/artist/yourself

Other than that I have an album out on April 10th?! That I have a tour running from April 15th - May 17th all around the country, and chances are we are playing in your town! Also that I am a pretty nice person, and I am REALLY good at backing trailers.

How would you describe band/your music in one sentence?

Well, (long sentence) I think we are all a product of our influences... I grew up listening to artists like Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits, The Police, Tracey Chapman, Sinead O’Connor, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and later artists like Gillian Welch, Ron Sexsmith, The Shins... I’m not comparing myself to these artists but I think we subconsciously try and write the music that we like to listen to, it’s hard to be objective about your own work, but I think I’m probably a mix of my influences - a singer songwriter with pop/folk/country sensibilities.

What has been your most memorable show to date?

That’s a tough one, I’ve played a lot of cool shows in the last little while. There was one in Hawera a couple of years ago where someone (I didn’t know) proposed to me while I was onstage. It was hilarious and awkward, and in the end I said no. Another where I was playing in a woolshed on the shearing board, and a sheep busted out of a pen and ran across the stage - that was a show-stopper. The Fly My Pretties shows are always buzzy - big crowds in beautiful theatres.

What local albums have you been enjoying recently?

Anika Moa’s new album is awesome. I’m still enjoying Eden Mulholland’s album from last year, and also Bunnies on Ponies new album.

What is band/your long term goal?

To make records that people like, and keep in their longterm music collections. And to keep touring and playing festivals to a growing audience - here and overseas.

Where do you get your inspiration to create music from?

Everyday life for the most part - people, experiences. Other music is a big one too. Going to live shows often sets me off with inspiration or ideas, and listening to music often triggers emotions that then start me off with lyric ideas.

What can we expect to see from band/artist/you over the next year?

I’ll be on the road pretty much as soon as the new album is out, so, predictably, quite a bit of touring... I’ve spent the past six weeks touring in North America, so hoping to get back there as well.

What advice would you like to give to other aspiring musicians?

That it’s not an easy road or job, but if you have passion and drive and the be-bothered-ness and belief to keep going it can be very rewarding. I’m lucky enough to be a full-time musician, but it has taken a lot of years and perseverance to get to this point.

Tell us about your next release.

I have a new album out on April 10th. It’s called Drylands, it’s my third album, and I’m pretty excited to have it out and start touring it.

What can you never leave home without?

Is it too obvious to say guitar?! Generally I’m usually on my way to one gig or another, so fairly key to remember that. Otherwise sunscreen, phone.

What is your most embarrassing on tour/gig moment?

When I was still studying I used to play gigs at The Temple on Queen St, it was a bit of a institution back in the day. I had been given a fancy effects pedal with all sorts of different buttons and pedals on it. I practised and practised and thought I had it totally sorted and sounding great. I got onstage and the thing sounded absolutely awful, went crazy feeding back and I didn’t know what to do. I was standing on stage with a whole room of people just staring at me awkwardly. Eventually, some kind person came up and unplugged it.

What inspired you to become a musician?

Ever since I was small I have loved music, listening to it or bashing away on the piano. When I was a teenager I was quite shy about singing, but I remember singing around a campfire one night, and overhearing someone saying that she loved my voice and thought that I could be a professional. I’d never really thought about it before because I never really knew I could sing. It was quite strange, but that moment, I started to wonder if maybe I could become a musician...

What rumour would you like to start about yourself?

That my new album is really reaaally good, and everyone should buy it.


About Mel Parsons

Well recognised as one of New Zealand’s established songwriting stars, indie-folk singer songwriter Mel Parsons’ star is on the rise. Following the success of both her debut album Over My Shoulder in 2009, and sophomore offering Red Grey Blue in 2011, Parsons released her third full length record Drylands in 2015.

The Kiwi singer/songwriter and two time NZ Music Award (VNZMA) finalist for Folk Album of the Year, has released the first single from Drylands – the gutsy & rhythmic audience favourite originally performed with Fly My Pretties, Far Away. With a dynamite live show, solo or with her band, Parsons is an engaging performer with a natural emotive voice that allows the listener to become part of the story.

With home as a hotel room and a suitcase, Parsons has built up her fan base the old fashioned way – winning over audiences on the live circuit. The only New Zealand artist invited to showcase at Folk Alliance International in Kansas City, USA in 2014 & 2015, Parsons has also had recent tours in Australia, UK, Ireland, and Germany. She is also a cast member of Kiwi musical collective Fly My Pretties, with tours and festival performances including the prestigious Byron Bay Bluesfest at Easter 2015.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mel Parsons


Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Red Grey Blue
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Over My Shoulder
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape

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