Our California Guest: Melinda by Monica Yasher

Posted on 5/23/2010 by Monica Yasher

Melinda is located in LA and is releasing her new CD. Her latest single “The Hard Way,” which was co-written and produced by Grammy winning producer/songwriter Kevin Bowe (Jonny Lang, Etta James, Lynyrd Skynyrd) is just a preview of what’s to come on her new EP.

Melinda boasts that she has been enroute to LA from Pittsburgh.  However, there has been a stop along the way.  Specifically, Boston, where she attended the Berklee College of Music, after recieving the World Scholarship award.  While at Berklee, her vocals were recognized as she found herself performing in the prestigious Singers Showcase and receiving The Aerosmith Endowment Award. During her stay in Boston, Melinda had the attention of Epic Records, as she was a member of the all girl rock band Mass Ave. Melinda is a bluesy rocker girl, and I think you will hear more about her in the time to come. Let's learn a bit more about Melinda.

Monica:  Tell me about your new songs on your CD. How did you come up with the titles?

Melinda:  I’ve found that my writing style usually works best when I come up with the title of a song first. So, I’ll come up with hundreds of titles and then go back and narrow it down to ones that spark emotion and song ideas. I might find a good title from reading an article or having a conversation with someone. I never really know when or where one will appear.

Monica:  What is your favorite song?

Melinda:  A tune we recorded in Minneapolis called ‘The Hard Way.” I co-wrote it with producer/songwriter Kevin Bowe then flew out to Minneapolis to track it with him at Master Mix Studios. It’s just one of those upbeat rockers that make you want to groove.

Monica:  What song posed the greatest challenge to see to completion and why?

Melinda:  A while back I chose to cover Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long As I Can See The Light.” I’ve always loved the song and really wanted to record my own take on it. It was intimidating to take on such a great songwriter and singer as John Fogerty. I was concerned with making the song sound unique, yet at the same time, staying true to the original.

Monica:  Tell me about some of the collaborations on your CD?

Melinda:  Most of the tunes I co-wrote and produced with guitarist Kristian H. His playing brings a rawness based in classic rock and blues and has really brought that sound out in my songs. His songwriting approach is also completely different from my own, which I think has shown me different places to take my music that I wouldn’t have thought of by myself.

Monica:  Are you a self-taught guitarist?

Melinda:  I started taking guitar lessons when I was 13 years old. At the time, I never had any aspirations to sing. It was a few yeas later when I was around 17 that I realized I would get a lot more gigs if I could also sing. So, at first I taught myself, then later on studied voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Monica:  Who are you influences?

Melinda:  The main ones are The Rolling Stones, Lucinda Williams, Aerosmith, Ann Wilson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Etta James.

Monica:  If you could record a duet with any musician in the world who would it be?

Melinda:  It would be a dream to record a song with Steven Tyler, although if he was standing next to me in the vocal booth I’m not sure I could even get out a note.

Monica:  How do your band mates bring out the best of you and what is it?

Melinda:  I think they help me remember not to take music too seriously. Sometimes when I’m recording and writing I get too caught up on the end result and forget about the learning that comes along with the creative process. It took me a very long time to learn it’s totally ok to record or write a song that isn’t very good. You can’t write a good song or find your sound in the studio until you record and write a lot of not so good ones.

Monica:  What has been the hardest lesson for you to learn as an artist?

Melinda:  Staying true to yourself and your vision. The best artists make the kind of music they love. In the past I was part of more pop oriented projects, because there was a record label or big name producer tied to the project, but it never felt right to me. I knew all along who I really was as an artist, but thought I had to change for a label. Now I know the importance of being who you are from the start and knowing that you don’t have to change for anyone. I’m active in every step of my music now, from writing, to producing, to mixing. Participating in every part of the process allows me to grow as an artist as much as possible with every song.

Monica:  How hard is it to be a female band leader?

Melinda:  I’ve always tried not to think in those terms. My focus has been on my craft and being as knowledgeable as possible. I think if you focus on being your best, gender really doesn’t matter.

Monica:  I see you did some blues jams in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Where are some of the Pittsburgh venues you performed at and artists that you have taken the stage with?

Melinda:  Growing up in Pittsburgh I’ve played at Moondog’s, the former Blue Note café in South Side with guitar great Tony Janflone Jr, Excuses, and The Aspinwall Grille.

Monica:  I see you went to Berklee. Quite prestigious! What did you take away from that experience?

Melinda:  The environment at Berklee was truly amazing. It’s such an inspiring and creative place to be. Where else can you be surrounded by 4,000 musicians from around the world 24/7? I took away the importance of understanding how music works technically, but that you can’t solely focus on that and forget that ultimately music is about expressing yourself and connecting with your listener.

Monica:  Why should we vote for you to perform at Crossroads?

Melinda:  Because if there’s anything Crossroads needs its more representation from female artists, especially at such a blues and guitar heavy festival. And not to mention how much I’d love to share the stage with Eric Clapton.

Monica:  What’s next for you?

Melinda:  I will be releasing a new EP this June called “Don’t Be Sweet,” and within the next year a full-length album. In the meantime, I’m still writing, playing gigs and hunting for the right team to help me accomplish my goals and get my music heard.

Monica:  How can listeners stay up to date on live shows and future releases?

Melinda:  The best way is to visit my site at and sign up for the email list. We’ll be offering free downloads and info on how to purchase the new EP.

Copyright © 2010 Copyright Monica L. Yasher and Melinda. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs provided by Melinda. All Rights Reserved.

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