March 21, 2015 Interview with Melinda Cobbett

What are you working on?
I’ve been working hard gearing up for the release of my debut album, A Lullaby, to be officially released on March 20th, 2015. I’ve spent the last year writing, arranging, and recording alongside producer Bryan Belleau. Bryan and I worked hard last spring/summer constructing a small recording studio out of a shed in the yard. It’s a bare bones set up but with both of our musical backgrounds and handy work, we were able to achieve a professional sound quality. I’ve spent a lot of time learning to orchestrate and use various keyboards as a tool to add depth to my stories.

Over the past few weeks, I have been hitting the pavement to promote the release of the CD and promote my debut concert at the Phoenix Theatre in Fort Nelson, BC on Saturday June 6th, 2015 @ 8PM. For the next three months I will be diligently rehearsing and arranging the live show. I’ve also entered the CBC Searchlight 2015 Competition; voting begins March 30th, 2015. Through this, I am hoping to achieve some exposure and keep working on ‘putting myself out there,’ however unpleasant that can be at times.

It has been a long road, a lot of work, and an emotional roller coaster, but it was worth every penny and every discouraging moment. After studying classical music for 12 years through my childhood, I feel I am finally living my lifelong goal of being a songwriter.

2. What matters to you most as an artist?
The excitement of interweaving an experience/vision, a newly developed melody, and carefully crafting lyrics is what I live for. I haven’t felt anything more powerful in my 24 years of life. I’ve yet to experience self-worth and a sense of direction in life that compares to this. My passion for not only music but the creation of certain emotional experiences through music has grown exponentially over the last two years. My musical journey has started to define me as a strong young woman.  Deep down it does matter to me how the music is received, but I know I have to push past that natural human urge to always feel accepted. At times when I stop to listen back, I become extremely critical of tempo/rhythm/overall feeling/the message/ and the crafting of the lyrics. This can completely derail me, and right now I am navigating my way through this challenge.

What I mean to say is, this whole journey matters. Every last struggle, every small triumph–it all matters. I am creating a beautifully rich yet simple life for myself and the music is the colour and energy radiating from the depth of human experience and imagination.

3. Any tips for balancing your artistic practice with the rest of your life?
Get a good night’s sleep and don’t quit your day job! I have worked full time since moving to Fort Nelson in 2012. I have put a lot of money and long hours into these musical projects of mine. I’ve had to budget for musical equipment, software, promotional materials, the producing, and the manufacturing of the CD.

I believe in setting small goals each day instead of trying to swallow the entire ‘to do’ list in one swoop.  Set yourself up to be successful in one small thing each day instead of looking at the long list of unfinished songs.  Give yourself open time to just create; it’s easy to get wrapped up in the ‘business’ side of things and feel like you spend more time doing that than actually working on the art. Learning to push forward despite feeling less than perfect both physically and mentally is important. Be prepared to put the time in to learn every aspect of the job.

This year I’ve dedicated a lot of time to learning about the entire recording process, the technical functions of recording and live equipment, running virtual instruments, manipulating midi data, the mixing and master process, graphic design basics, how to build a website, and how to promote my own work. Learning to do as much as you can on your own gives you a very real perspective on what goes into creating a professional product.

I appreciate everyone who helped create this first album: Graphic Designer (Anna Cytowicz); Producer and Audio Engineer (Bryan Belleau- Good Mourning Music); Mastering Engineer (Siegfried Meier- Beach Road Studios); Photographer (Stefanie Glasgow). Remember, no one successful got there alone.

4. Who are your artistic influences?
First and foremost, Diana Krall. I have been enchanted by her style, her demeanor, and her legendary place in Canadian Jazz history since I was a pre-teen. Her album The Girl in the Other Room will always have a special place in my heart. The first time I saw her live, I was around 18 and went on my own to the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton where I sat alone in the first balcony and cried when she came on stage. It was such a powerful, shell shattering experience. I love that she does her own thing and has such an incredible stage presence, distinct style, and confidence. She delivers every performance and every recording with such grace and ease. I aspire to achieve that level of confidence.

I’ve always leaned towards the side of slow, deep, and powerful styles. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I love it. Having studied music and listened to old albums and discovering artists since I was five, music has always been a constant in my life. More recently, I’ve taken a strong liking to London Grammar and old vocal jazz artists from the 40’s/50’s such as Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra–the classics. I haven’t been singing for very long so over the past few years I’ve spent a lot of time listening and absorbing jazz vocal style and contemporary alternative vocalists for both pleasure and educational purposes.

5. How does the Peace Liard community influence your artistic practice?
Living here in the Peace Liard community has offered me the time, space, and quiet environment to create and learn. I honestly don’t think this would have become such a powerful force if I hadn’t been here. This community has offered me that element of isolation that was the root of the stories behind music and brought out the best of me creatively. The support of the Fort Nelson community has been astounding. Local businesses have been so eager to help promote and support local artists; you don’t find that just anywhere. It’s extremely humbling to feel so welcome when taking a risk as a shy introverted artist.  I am thankful for every opportunity–such as this–to be able to express my connection with the world through the art form of music.

6. Can you share a picture of your work and your working space?










Check out Melinda’s music on the CBC Searchlight Contest, and be sure to vote for this talented Peace Liard region artist!!/music/artist.aspx?name=Melinda