Interview by Wendy McCance
Today I would like to introduce Mella Barnes (who goes by Mella), a very talented professional session singer, songwriter and voiceover artist. With tunes like, Tangerine and It’s Complicated, Mella has created songs that have beautiful lyrics, a well crafted mix of keyboard, acoustic guitar and solid beats. Mella’s singing is soulful with slight ebullient undertones (think Sara Bareilles) and can speak volumes more than the lyrics she shares.
Hi Mella, let’s start with the basics. When did you know you wanted a career in music?
I’ve known for so long, way back to grade school. In high school I was a huge nerd, so I made it to the Top 10 students and got a page in the yearbook. They asked me my future plans and I was too embarrassed to say anything about music. So there were all these genius kids with quotes about curing cancer and going into space, and mine just said “undecided.” I wish I had just been honest! It looked so much worse (and my dorky photo didn’t help either).
How did you get into becoming a session singer?
I realized it was perfect for me because although I love music, I have no desire to be ‘famous.’ Not to say that I would be famous anyway, but the effort it takes to be “on” all the time, I just don’t have that in me. I’m introverted and just love being in my little studio all the time, so it was natural to go that route. I also love helping people, and a lot of what I do through session singing is customer service and making people happy, so it’s great!
Tell us a little about your book.
It’s basically a how-to guide for songwriters and musicians to communicate with each other. I wrote it based on my own experiences. Too often there is a gap in communication, where someone doesn’t understand what needs to happen or what the end result should be, and the project goes south. This book is designed to remove that and allow for a smoother project. It also has printable sheets that people can fill out to make sure everyone is on the same page with the project.
Why did you decide to write the book?
As much as I love what I do, there is a lot of frustration involved when people don’t understand each other. I kept hitting the same snags over and over, so I thought if there was a way to just bring everyone to the same page, we could solve this so easily! I looked to see if there was anything already out there that would help, but there wasn’t. So I got to it! I started keeping a dictionary of common terms that got confused, and really just tried to come up with a comprehensive game plan for anyone working in a studio.
Where can you buy this book and how much does it cost?
Right now, you can only get it here: http://payhip.com/b/9qjd I don’t have it on Amazon or anything because their ePub formatting makes it difficult to transfer the information. I tried and it didn’t look right, plus you can easily print the forms in the PDF version. (The forms are also available themselves for free at my website: www.mellmusic.com ) The book itself is 99 cents, so if you want more than just the forms it’s not expensive at all.
Tell us a little about your company Brain Stamp Music.
Brain Stamp is a songwriting, mixing and production company that I created with my partner Aman Sahi. We made an album together and people kept asking us who the producers/writers/mixers/etc were, and we thought it would be a great idea to offer these services to others. We’re in the process of locating a studio in Nashville, and we’re really excited! We’ll be accepting new clients this summer.
Who will you work with? Anyone who might not be a good fit for what you do?
We work with any genre, all are welcome! I guess the ones who might not be a good fit are the DIY people who want to do everything themselves for really cheap. I get it, times are tough and music production is costly, but it really does pay to have extra ears on a project. Besides, music should be collaborative and it’s great to get others involved. But DIY people wouldn’t want to work with us anyway because they’re already doing it themselves, haha.
Where can you get more information about your company?
What is your favorite part about your career?
I absolutely love when clients love their end project. I’ve written a song for a guy to propose to his girlfriend, I’ve performed a song written by a woman who wanted to express her grief, I’ve sang on songs that have been pitched to major artists. All of these wonderful people who had these amazing ideas, and I helped put the missing piece into their puzzle. Their happiness is contagious and I carry it with me. I just love meeting and working with creative people!
What is a good piece of advice you can share for someone wanting to become a songwriter?
Just start. Seriously, start doing it. When I first started, I was a young kid. I was so scared because I knew my songs wouldn’t be “good.” I thought there was a right and wrong way to write, and since I didn’t know what I was doing, I would be wrong. I spent way too much time worrying and trying to be perfect and right. One, there is no right way to write! Two, you’ll get to a place where you’re “good” a lot faster if you start now! It took years before I was finally ready to share my work, and I’m still improving all the time, but where would I be if I was still waiting to start until I knew what to do? It’s like running, you just have to start (I’m assuming…I’m not a runner or athletic in any way so I really have no idea).
Oh also…when you get to the point where your songs are ready to be recorded, pick up a copy of my book in order to get the best result from your studio musicians! J
Thank you Mella for this very informative interview. The book is terrific and a great bargain for anyone who wants to learn more about the process of taking a song and getting the results you are after as it’s being produced.
Bio: Mella is a session singer, songwriter and producer living in Nashville, Tennessee. Also an animal lover, she has three dogs, a rabbit, and any number of foster animals in various shapes and sizes. She is the author of Way Less Cowbell, a book on communicating with session musicians.
If you would like more information or to hire her for your project, please visit www.mellamusic.com
You can find the book here: http://payhip.com/b/9qjd
Connect with Mella at:
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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