Melissa Giges (GUY-gus) has already won a loyal following with her mesmerizing performances and strikingly beautiful voice. Now, the singer-songwriter arrives in the national spotlight with the release of her national debut, Evident.
Produced and recorded by Engine Company Records founder and recording artist Blake Morgan and mastered by Grammy Award-winning recording legend Phil "Butcher Bros." Nicolo, Evident is proof of an exceptional songwriter at work, matched with the ideal studio environment. Building on the foundation laid down by Jonathan Ellinghaus on drums, multi-instrumentalist Morgan (bass, guitars, keys) and Giges (piano, keys, vocals) provide the rest of the album's architecture. "We worked in the studio together for weeks, just the two of us. But I knew very quickly we were onto something special," says Morgan. "Melissa and I have extraordinary chemistry, and we shared a detailed vision for the record we wanted to make." The result is a recording of powerfully melodic and accessible songs wrapped in modern, innovative production that pulls the depth out of the songwriting, as well as the recording studio.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Melissa.
I come from a family of music lovers, and I started taking classical piano at age 4. I discovered that I liked to hum the melodies as much as play them, and I began classical voice lessons at age twelve. While I loved singing, I never thought about a career in music until I was offered a Presidential Arts Scholarship in voice at George Washington University. And I have been immersed in music ever since, writing my own songs since my freshman year, performing and recording.
How do you describe your music to people?
People ask that question all the time and I want to answer that it sounds like me but I know that's not the answer they are looking for. I would say my music has Radiohead guitar textures mixed with Jon Brion or Death Cab For Cutie rhythm sections. Sometimes I've described it as the vocals of Morcheeba over the tracks of a Fiona Apple record.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Anything involving music and singing. At the top of my list is working in the studio. It’s such a creative and personal way to express yourself to your audience without even being in front of it. I love to perform too, but that’s a completely different kind of high and different kind of experience. I think one reason I had such an incredible experience recording my new album Evident was because of my producer Blake Morgan, who owns the label I have signed with, Engine Company Records. He was insistent on making sure we made the album I wanted to make and have fun during the process.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
I am first and foremost an artist so the performing and recording aspects are to me the most rewarding and fun. However, the business side of the music industry is equally important just not as fulfilling to me personally. So my biggest challenge is pushing myself to do everything necessary to make sure my music is brought to the attention of a broad range of music lovers, whether it’s personal appearances, interviews, keeping up with social media. Those kinds of things.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I knew music was very important to me, but I went through a phase when I wanted to be a detective or a forensic expert. My teachers thought I should be a classical singer or in musical theater. Those seemed to be the only avenues open to me in music at the time so I did do some of that. But I knew that something wasn’t exactly right. When I started writing songs in college, I realized I had found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I chose to live in the East Village in New York City because music is everywhere. I can go out any night of the week, walk just a few blocks and listen to rock, jazz, blues or classical, and be so inspired. Then I can come home and sit at my piano at any hour of the night and write.
What other artists out there do you love?
Everything from alternative/rock artists and bands such as Death Cab For Cutie, Radiohead, Keane, Frou Frou, Feist, Imogen Heap, Bjork, Coldplay to pop artists such as Fiona Apple, Sara Bareilles and Citizen Cope. Folk artist Ani Difranco, traditional jazz artists such as Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan and electronica groups such as Morcheeba and Thievery Corporation have all influenced my music.
What does your future hold?
Some of my songs have already been recognized and used on MTV and other TV networks, and we are having continued success on the radio. I’m looking forward to more shows and bringing my Evident album to a larger audience with more radio and TV play.
Check out more of Melissa's work on Facebook, MySpace, and www.melissagiges.com