METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Alexa. So glad to be catching up with you. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us here at Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it.
ALEXA MELO: Thanks so much for having me!
MPAP: It’s so lovely to talk to you. How are you doing? ALEXA: I’m great! Thanks for asking.
MPAP: Before we talk about your new release titled Mute, that’s available October 12th, let’s first get to know you for a moment. Let's introduce you to everyone reading this, shall we?
We have Alexa Melo here, who was born in Massachusetts, but now hails from the Los Angeles area, after just moving there at the early age of 20 years old. If you were to meet her somewhere that required a name tag, below her name would be full. It would read: singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and even in the inscription, it would also have producer on it. So, asking again, how are you? With what we just read, do you ever have any free time? Or is this what you want, nonstop 24-7, the life of a musician?
ALEXA: Yes! That is what I want and luckily for me, it’s what I have. Between producing and writing for myself as well as producing and writing for others, I’m pretty much always either listening or making music. Also, recently I’ve taken up videography. So, between video, editing, painting and constantly making music, my life is very full of art. Which is ideal.
MPAP: For those that don’t follow you closely, let’s kind of recap part of your life. In a matter of a few years, you went from practically being on top independently releasing your self-titled debut album, to performing some West Coast shows, to then having everything come to a screeching halt. You had to get emergency surgery on your vocal cords and had to take a year off from singing correct?
ALEXA: Yes, unfortunately that’s true.
MPAP: This just had to be devasting? When did you begin to know something was wrong, and something didn’t feel right with your vocals?
ALEXA: Literally, a week before releasing my album I was diagnosed with a vocal cyst which was horrendous timing. But I knew about 5 months prior to that something was different. I was having a burning sensation in my throat after I sang, like that feeling you get after you scream for hours. Having sung my whole life, I understood that that was a feeling indicating injury.
MPAP: Was it something that gradually happened, or did you wake up one morning and you knew something was wrong? ALEXA: It was gradual. Which is why ignored it for so long. It started off quite inconspicuously.
MPAP: What happened next?
ALEXA: I was to be operated on as soon as possible. Once I had the surgery, I was mute for 2 months, doing speech therapy and eventually some easy singing lessons. I was practicing every day.
MPAP: Then after a year of recuperating, in 2016 you started to get antsy and wanted to perform again, didn’t you?
ALEXA: Of course. 2016 was the hardest year of my life by far. Losing my voice was losing my identity and the emotional traumas that came from the fear of possibly never singing again was significant and still with me today. I was so afraid to perform again, but I needed to. Just to prove to myself that I was finally getting better and to build my confidence again.
MPAP: You would go on to record some cover songs and post them onto YouTube, getting over a million plays in less than a year after doing so. How did that make you feel?
ALEXA: Like that nightmare had finally truly passed and that something positive did come of it all. MPAP: But also, did you ever feel you could be trapped and could only gain attention if you just recorded cover songs now?
ALEXA: Yes. I still feel this way.
MPAP: During that year in recovery, did you stick your guns still only wanting to be a vocalist, or did you ever for a moment think about packing it in and going a different direction in your career?
ALEXA: I thought about it but truly didn’t know what else I could possibly do. I knew it needed to be music related so I began producing records for other artists in Los Angeles.
MPAP: Going back to the cover songs you recorded like "Little Piece Of My Heart," by Janis Joplin, "Landslide," by Fleetwood Mac, "Mad World," by Tears For Fears, and then even a Marilyn Manson song called "The Beautiful People." That’s quite the diverse selection? Why cover Marilyn Manson? Did you ever think you might lose some of your fan base for singing that song? ALEXA: Hell no. People are not that skittish these days. I love diversity and my influences stem from many walks of life. I enjoy challenging myself to step out of my own limitations. I think people enjoy that sort of thing.
MPAP: Moving forward, after you moved to Oakland from Los Angeles, in a few short months, after a vigorous search for inspiration, you began to write and produce your second release, the four-song EP titled Mute. Why do you think it was so hard to find inspiration at first?
ALEXA: I was going through a break up and I was sick of writing songs about heartbreak. I avoided it for months but once I could write honestly about my experiences then the lyrics began to flood out of me.
MPAP: The album is about the struggles you dealt with while recuperating from the vocal surgery. At any point did you ever have any thoughts of depression, or thoughts of suicide?
ALEXA: I was very depressed and at times, suicidal. Darkest period of my life. It’s definitely not a cheery EP.
MPAP: Tell us about the cover of Mute for a moment. It’s you, I’m assuming, with a red rope wrapped around your eyes, mouth, and neck? What message do you want to get across to everyone that sees it and listens to it?
ALEXA: It’s a visual representation of how trapped I felt in many aspects of my life when writing the music. In my relationship, in my career, in my own mental neurosis, I felt powerless, trapped and muted. I realized that I was not only voiceless physically, but I had also lost my inner voice and ability to trust myself.
MPAP: Let’s talk about the latest video release directed and shot by Daniel Garcia called "Loyalty." Tell us about this song?
ALEXA: Well, I wrote "Loyalty" about prioritizing my loyalty to others over my own emotional needs and in doing that over a long period of time I realized that I had forgotten who I truly was. Feeling obligated to fulfill the expectations of others through manipulation and fear, lead me to stop hearing my own inner voice. This song is about finally realizing this and that I had the power to take control of my life again.
MPAP: It’s a very intense and personal song, correct? ALEXA: Correct.
MPAP: Taking a lyric from it, 'Like a dog, obedient like a dog. Even when I’ve been abused and battered, My loves equivalent before and after.' Tell us what that means to you? There is that old saying if your lock your dog and your wife in the trunk for a week, and after you open it who do you thinks going to be excited to see you? The dog. Even though abused, it will still wag its tail at you wanting affection.
ALEXA: Bingo. Dogs are the poster child of loyalty. The strength of my love for the person I wrote this song about inspired a blind loyalty in me that had caused me to withstand more pain than I should have.
MPAP: Before we bring this interview to a close, tell us about one of your other videos called "Dopesick"? Did you at any point in your life have an addiction, or was this just the best way to describe someone being in love?
ALEXA: It was the best way for me to describe this particular relationship. An unhealthy one. No, I’ve never been addicted to substances, but I have quite a few drug addicts in my family and friends group, so it was easy for me to draw inspiration from both the literal and the metaphor. MPAP: On behalf of Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Alexa, for doing this interview with us. We look forward to what you do to finish out 2018 and beyond.
ALEXA: Thank you.
MPAP: Any last words for all the readers and your fans out there?
ALEXA: Thank you for sticking through it with me and being patient! I appreciate all the support!