Children’s Author Susan Saunders Discusses Her Work with Stand Out Books!

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SNOWPOCALYPSE co-author Susan Saunders spoke with Stand Out Books about her illustrated children’s book and the creative process of writing and illustrating. Read the Interview Here!

SNOWPOCALYPSE can be purchased at Waunders.com

Alexx Calise 2010 Interview

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Photo Courtesy of Alexx Calise

May/June 2010 originally published by Ocean View Press
Alexx Calise Interview
Interviewed by Rob Watts

Last month I received a copy of In Avanti, the sophomore effort by Los Angeles based singer/songwriter/guitarist Alexx Calise.
I was so impressed by the music I heard that I just had to learn more about this up-and-coming performer. Alexx Calise has been keeping
herself busy lately, promoting her new album and prepping a tour, not to mention promoting her product lines and conducting interviews across the country. Alexx was cool enough to sit down and talk with us about some of her beginnings and a lot about her future. She’s an interesting musician to say the least, with a full-tank of talent to back it all up. Check out our discussion and decide for yourself. Enjoy!

OVP- So before we begin, how are you doing and what are you up to these days since
your new album In Avanti was released?

Alexx-I’m doing very well, thank you! I haven’t had an opportunity to enjoy the fact
that my solo album is complete just yet, because I’m trying to finish up my
other record with my other band, Sound of Cancer. When that’s over and done with
though, I plan on doing absolutely nothing for a few days. The past few years
have been pretty intense (what with trying to finish 2 records at once and all),
so I think I deserve it, ha, ha!

The next step after that however is touring. I’m planning the logistics of it
right now.

OVP- In Avanti is such an amazing album and it’s been getting a lot of positive
press so congrats. Is the album as it is today what you envisioned it to be when
you first set out on the recording process?

Alexx-Thank you, much appreciated! Actually, it’s much better than I anticipated it
would be. The more I listen to it, the more I love it.

I had no idea what to expect when I went back into the studio with Luigie again
to be honest (we worked on the song, “Give It To Me”, for my first record). I
knew it was going to be great, because Luigie is immensely talented and I
absolutely love working with him, but I had no idea that the end result would be
this.

Perhaps the best part about the album though is that it has a little bit of
something for everyone. It’s definitely a rock record, but it also has
electronica undertones (we doubled synths over a lot of the main guitar tracks
to give it an electro/electronica feel), and great pop hooks and melodies.

OVP- How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist since your debut Morning Pill was
released a few years back?

Alexx-I think I’ve grown exponentially. My first release was in 2007, so I now have 3
more years of life experience under my belt, my vocal, guitar and songwriting
chops are light years ahead of what they were during the recording of Morning
Pill, and I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) a whole, whole lot more about
the entertainment business.

OVP- Now you play guitar, which you’ve been doing since 11 years old. Do you play
any other instruments or are there any you’d like to master in the future?

Alexx- I play a little bass and piano, although I’m not all that great at either. I’d
like to be a little better on piano, because it’s a great tool for songwriting.
I’d also love to get into drumming. I originally wanted to be a drummer (fun
fact), but my mom wasn’t going to have any of that because of the noise factor.
It’s definitely one of the coolest instruments there is though.

OVP- What was the one song or album you heard when you were a kid where you said
to yourself “this is what I want to do with my life”?

Alexx- I remember being really into the “Freak Show” album from silverchair, so much so
that I played their song, “Suicidal Dream” at my middle school talent show. I
scared the hell out of all the students and teachers that day to say the very
least. It was at that moment that I realized I wanted to instill that kind of
emotion in people on a daily basis, so I decided to become a career musician.
The rest is history.

OVP- Now you live in Los Angeles now but you grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
How do you feel your music would differ from what it is now if you were still
based in Fort Lauderdale today?

Alexx- I don’t think it would have been nearly as good. Firstly, I would not have been
working with my producer, Luigie Gonzalez, who has been instrumental in creating
my new sound. I also don’t know if I would have grown to be as good a musician
as I am now. Moving from my hometown of Ft. Lauderdale, FL (where I’d lived most
of my life) all the way to LA (without knowing anyone but my producer, Luigie)
taught me a whole lot in a short amount of time, and provided me with all kinds
of inspiration. Had I stayed at home, I don’t know if I’d have the same things
to write about. I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime since moving from Florida, and
I think I needed to take that step in order to grow as a musician and as a human
being.

OVP- What are some of the advantages of being an independent musician, without the
politics of a record company looming over you?

Alexx- There are many advantages. As an indie musician, you’re your own master. You own
all your own songs and publishing, and you make 100 percent profit from any
sales. You don’t necessarily need a label anymore these days for distribution
purposes either. You can make your own music accessible to most major online
music media sites, like iTunes and Amazon through digital distribution sites
like CD Baby or TuneCore.

OVP- And the disadvantages?

Alexx- Well, what a label may be able to do for you that you may not be able to do
yourself is put you on a major tour or put some major advertising dollars behind
you. Unless you have an investor or a lot of money, it’s usually a lot harder to
make things like that happen. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but the
process might be a lot more difficult and take much longer.

OVP- What’s a typical day for you when you are in your full-on musician mode?

Alexx- It really depends on whether or not I’m in town. A typical day when I’m at my
home base usually consists of recording, practicing, promoting, and doing
interviews. If I’m out on the road, I’ll get up, get dressed, do some phone or
radio interviews, and then hop on the bus or van to the next gig. It’s the life
of a gypsy.

OVP- And if I may toot your horn for you a little, while going this alone for the
most part, you’ve managed to get endorsements by clothing and guitar companies,
you’ve appeared in nationally run commercials and magazines such as Blender and
Guitar World and your song was recently used for a “One Tree Hill” promo. So
there is definitely something to be said about the dedication and drive it takes
to succeed as a musician, especially when you are doing everything yourself.

Alexx- Well thank you! It definitely takes a certain type of person to do these kinds
of things (a crazy one, that is, ha ha!). A musician’s life is usually fraught
with struggle, sacrifice, poverty, and emotional torment, so you really have to
be a strong willed, driven and dedicated person. The only reason I continue on
this path, long and arduous as it may be, is that there is no other path for me.
It’s all I know how to do, so I know I have to suck it up and carry on.

OVP- Now you have a new project in the works called Sound of Cancer. Talk about
that and when can we expect to hear it?

Alexx-Sound of Cancer is the brainchild of my songwriting partner, Dennis Morehouse
and I. It sounds like a mixture of The Cure, Portishead, Massive Attack, Pink
Floyd and early Marilyn Manson. Obviously much different than my solo project,
ha ha! There are a ton of intricate choral harmonies and ominous soundscapes
going on, and everything you hear is 100 percent performance based. We didn’t
want to get into too much editing or Melodyne or pitch correction. It starts to
change the sound after a while. What I love about some of my favorite bands like
silverchair or STP are the rawness and realness of their records. We wanted to
create that same experience with SOC.

OVP- What are some of your favorite non-musical sounds that you hear on any given
day?

Alexx- Well, I love the sound of the beach. When I lived in Florida, I would always sit
on the sand and write songs. It’s the most calming place in the world for me,
and the only place I feel like I can escape from everyone and everything.

I also love when my kitten, Mittens talks to me. He’s so damn cute it should be
illegal.

OVP- If you could change one thing about today’s music industry climate, what
would it be and why?

Alexx- Well, I would definitely like to see illegal downloading stop. What people don’t
realize is that it’s stealing (unless of course, the artist offers up their
music for free). There are a variety of costs associated with making a record,
like production costs, replication costs if you decide to make CDs, and
promotional costs (to name a few). How are independent artists expected to make
a return on their investment (let alone a profit) if no one ever pays them for
their music? Moreover, what incentive do they have to keep making it? It’s
great if you just want to make music for fun or for your own personal enjoyment,
but if you want to be a career musician, then you really have to find some
creative ways to generate income, otherwise, you’re just not going to make a
whole lot selling your actual music.

OVP- If you could play live anywhere in the world to any audience, where would it
be and why?

Alexx- I would absolutely love to play in Spain. I’ve heard that it’s one of the
coolest places to tour on Earth, and that they absolutely love American rock
music.

OVP- Do you think music as an art form still exists or is is just destined to
become an intangible vapor that gets downloaded, listened to and forgotten about
almost in the same day?

Alexx- That’s a very interesting question, and I often wonder it myself. I think music
as an art form still exists, but it has become disposable to some (then again,
some music can be considered disposable). The days of sitting around with your
friends and listening to a new hit record are long over. Many people just don’t
have the attention spans anymore to sit and analyze a composition. I’m hoping
that will eventually change, but with all the new technologies and social
distractions going on, it’s no wonder anyone can even form a complete thought
anymore. I think that alone is why many people are capricious about contemporary
music.

OVP- If you were in a room with all the powers-that-be in the music industry, and
had the opportunity to suggest ways to bring music back to a breathing life
form, what would your suggestions be?

Alexx- Well, I would tell them to get more involved with digital distribution (some
have already started doing this however), and go back to the days of artist
development. Not everyone is going to have a hit record right off the bat. Some
artists need to cut their teeth a bit and build their career. All good things
require a lot of time, energy and effort, and bands need to be able to do that.

OVP- I know you’re into a lot of old-school rock like Zeppelin. Silverchair is
another great band you’re into. Are there any new acts out there today that turn
you on?

Alexx- I’m really digging into Archive, The Dissociatives and Apollo 440. I’ve been on
a bit of an electronica kick lately.

OVP- Anything you’d like to promote? Your endorsement companies, etc..

Alexx- Yes! Please check out my new album, In Avanti available at
alexxcalise.net/store! Also, check out the new music for my single, Break Me
at YouTube, which was filmed and directed by
renowned videographer/director, Ricardo Moreno. (See Top Right)

OVP- And without jinxing yourself, where would you like to see yourself five
years from now?

Alexx- Five years from now, I’d like to be doing all the things I’m doing now, except
on a much larger scale. Ideally, I’d like to be touring internationally, making
more appearances, and possibly even acting in some major feature films.

OVP- Just remember me in 5 years when I want to do another interview ha ha! Have
you enjoyed our chat today?

Alexx- Aw, how could I forget you? And yes, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our chat. Cheers!

OVP- Any parting words or advice to fellow musicians?

Alexx- Yes. First and foremost, you need to be in this business solely for the love of
music. The fact of the matter is, you may never catch a break, you may never
make any money, and you may never reach the level of success you hope to reach.
It’s unfortunate, and it may sound harsh, but it’s the entertainment business.
There are so many talented people out there who have the same goals and
aspirations as you do, and who are fighting for the same things you are.

However, don’t ever sell yourself short and don’t ever compromise yourself or
your art for anyone or anything. It’s not worth it. Always be yourself, because
your integrity may be the only thing you have left at the end of the day.

OVP- Alexx, it was a real pleasure talking with you and I wish you all the
success in the world. Come back and talk to us anytime.

Alexx- Thank you so much; right back at ya!

Luke Caraccoli Interview

Originally Published in R&M Magazine in 2008. Conducted by Rob Watts

You may know Luke Caraccoli as the former front man of the rock band Adema, or perhaps you’ve seen him cranking out some fiery vocal stylings with his band Rewind Yesterday at the hottest clubs from Los Angeles to Bakersfield. I however caught up with Luke Caraccoli from The Death of Ignorance, which is Luke’s new musical venture. He had some great things to say so here we go.

RW- So the day after we set this up, Rewind Yesterday announced it was looking for a new vocalist. What happened?

LC- Well fist off, let me say that talent was never a problem in that band. I have so much respect for those guys as musicians. It just came down to creative differences, both musically and professionally.

RW- So now you have a new project called The Death of Ignorance. Do tell.

LC- Well, I’ve got nine songs written so far so it’s coming along well. The big thing about this new band is I can play guitar as well as vocals. I actually was a guitarist before I became a vocalist so this band allows me to do it all. It will have a Southern Rock and Metal sound to it.

RW- You served in the Marine’s for five years and you played for the troops in Iraq during your stint in Adema. Would you ever perform with the U.S.O. again if you had the chance?

LC- Absolutely. I can’t tell you how incredible it feels to be able to entertain those men and women serving over there. When you actually see for yourself just how terrible it is over there for them and what they go through, it’s a great feeling to know you are doing something positive for them. I had troops coming up to me saying that we made their year by playing music for them. It’s amazing and I would do it again in a second.

RW- Where else would you like to play live if you had a preference?

LC- The northwest, New York, New Jersey and New England. The fans are so incredible there. I love L.A. but because there is so much music going on, fans don’t turn out as much as they do in Boston or New York.

RW- Who’s music are you a fan of these days?

LC- Rise Against, Radiohead and especially 30 Seconds to Mars. I was into them when they were nobody’s and they kicked ass on stage.

RW- Before we wrap up. What message do you have for music fans?

LC- Get out there and discover new local music. Don’t wait for the record company’s to push the next new thing down your throat. Get out to clubs, get on MySpace and find some great music and support your favorite bands by buying their CD’s.

Jeremy and Joshua Papelbon Interview

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Originally published by Ocean View Press in 2006 and was conducted by contributor Paul Stanish

Jeremy and Joshua Papelbon are the younger twin brothers of RedSox all star pitcher Jonathan Papelbon. They both attended and played baseball at the University of North Florida. Joshua was drafted in the June 2006 draft by the Boston RedSox and Jeremy in the same draft by the Chicago Cubs. Joshua played his 1st season of professional baseball for the Lowell Spinners and Jeremy for the Boise Hawks.

Joshua was the 2006 Lowell closer and finished with 13 saves and a 1.86 ERA. He is a right handed pitcher who throws a submarine style pitch.

Jeremy is a left handed relief pitcher who ended with a 4-0 record and a 1.83 ERA.

Jeremy and Joshua speak about what it takes to get to their level, what it’s like to be a member of the Red Sox and Cubs organizations, what it was like to grow up with Jonathan among many topics.

Paul: How did you get to playing baseball?

Jeremy: When we were younger we all played sports. As we got older we filtered the other sports out. We stuck with baseball as we grew up because that was the one sport the three of us (Jonathan, Jeremy and Joshua) were pretty much the best at.

Paul: Did weather have anything to do with that? You’re both from the south.

Jeremy: We grew up in Florida. Weather didn’t really have anything to do with that. Down south you can play whatever sport for however long.

Paul: What other sports did you have interests in?

Joshua: We played every sport: Soccer, Football, Basketball, street Hockey. Once we got to high school it was pretty much baseball and football. That was it.

Paul: Obvisiously, Jonathan is older. Did you tag along with him that much?

Joshua: We all hung out with him a lot. He’s only two and a half years older than us. Because there wasn’t too much of an age difference we hung together a lot. It seemed like we were always together doing something.

Paul: Did either of you have any mentors since high school that guided you toward baseball?

Joshua: My head coach at University of North Florida. He’s the one that showed me the submarine pitch. He showed me the way in the beginning. I can’t say enough about him. He really gave me a chance when my career was almost over.

Jeremy: For me, going through high school and then college each coach helped me to show me the way. I would say all the coaches I came into contact with helped me out, Big Time!!!

Paul: What was your welcome to professional baseball moment this year?

Jeremy: Going to Boise was kind of a culture shock. I expected a lot of farm land out there. The city didn’t have that much farm land. Playing in front of a lot of people for the first time was definitely interesting.

Joshua: I remember the 1st day that I was here at Lowell, when we had media day. The media swarmed me. I was like, Ok, I guess this is what you have to do if you want to be a professional athlete. It was kind of overwhelming. I felt like a little rock star. I was surprised because I haven’t even done anything yet. It was all thanks to Jonathan. I had to say to myself, ok, I’m a professional athlete now. Now I have to start acting like it.

Paul: During the season how often did you communicate with each other and how often did you communicate with Jonathan?

Joshua: I would say on a pretty regular basis.

Jeremy: With cell phones it was very easy to get in touch with each other. Even when I was for Boise we were playing in Everett, Washington and Jonathan was in Seattle. So it worked out for us to hook up for lunch that day. I spoke to Jonathan and Joshua regularly, especially with the technology nowadays. It made it a lot easier to stay in touch.

Paul: Did you talk about your performances, or talk about your teammates, or clubhouse gossip?

Joshua: It was easier for us to find out what Jonathan did because of the larger media outlet. For the two of us we would just tell each other what we did. Jonathan would find out how we did.

Jeremy: He would check it on the internet.

Joshua: I would say, Jonathan was watching me because I wanted to do better than he did when he pitched at Lowell. It was good because I got to share experiences with him that he already experienced. It was cool.

Paul: As his competitive brothers were you surprised by Jonathan’s major league success?

Joshua: I guess I am a little bit. With his work ethic and how competitive he is. I had no doubt that he would succeed, I didn’t know it would be this quick.

Jeremy: Just the way he works and the talent he has, we kind of knew he’d make it, but not as quickly.

Paul: What advice do you have for kids that want to be involved with baseball?

Jeremy: Don’t give up.

Joshua: Practice, Practice, Practice!!!

Jeremy: Stay Healthy, Don’t give up. Anybody can make it as long as they have the will, the want and the heart to want to make it.

Joshua: I didn’t have great opportunities in college. That’s when I decided that I was going to make something of myself and become something. I ended up earning a scholarship. If I didn’t have that hard work and dedication, I don’t think I would’ve made it.

Paul: How was your experience in the Cubs and Red Sox organizations?

Jeremy: (Speaking about the Cubs) The Cubs have provided a great experience so far. Boise was a good time. We had a lot of great coaching. I learned a lot from their pitching coordinator who is their bullpen coach in the big leagues now. I got sent to the instructional league a month after the season ended in Mesa Arizona. That was a great time to because I got to meet a lot more of the coaches, see and use the Cub’s facilities. To that point I had only gotten a 2 day tour of the facilities after I was drafted. It was good to get my feet wet before spring training.

Joshua: (Speaking about the Red Sox) I can’t say enough. The fans here are awesome. The Red Sox organization is top class. It’s been nothing but great since I’ve been in the organization.

Paul: What other hobbies do you have outside of baseball?

Jeremy: I love playing golf.

Joshua: We all play golf. I feel like me and Jonathan are the ones who have more hobbies. Jeremy is more relaxed.

Jeremy: I’d stay home and watch a movie or play video games.

Joshua: I just love getting outside and doing anything.

Paul: What are your baseball plans for the off season?

Joshua: Working out and staying in the gym, picking up a ball pretty soon. Sticking with that and making sure we are ready to go.

Jeremy: We’re working out together and staying at it.

Paul: Did your organizations give you a workout regiment to work through?

Joshua: Definitely. They give you a workout plan and tell you what to do in the gym when you’re not on the field.

Melanie C. Jordan

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Spotlight Interview originally published by Ocean View Press
October, 2006
Author Melanie C. Jordan
by Tabitha Swan

It’s been a while since I’ve done interviews, but when I had the opportunity to talk with this delightful young writer, I jumped at the chance. South Beach based author Melanie C. Jordan is currently promoting her works of poetry titled “Open to the Elements (Breaking the Silence)”. The book opens up a large sum of Melanie’s personal life within the pages of her book and serves to inspire her readers. I can honestly say that I have been inspired by our conversation and hopefully, you will too. Enjoy and thanks for reading.

Tabitha- Hi Melanie, How are you today?

Melanie- Hello, I am fabulous thank you.

Tabitha- So now, how long have you been writing poetry and can you remember the first poem you’ve ever written?

Melanie- I have been writing poetry for many, many years. Yes I remember my first poem it was written about my first crush. I was the pure age of 15 years old. Its funny you asked me that because just the other day I was going crazy looking for it. No luck.

Tabitha- Have you ever taken any creative writing classes?

Melanie- You know everybody that meets me asks me that same question. The answer is no, I am a strong believer that my poetry is a gift from my higher power. I don’t believe that when a person is blessed with such a gift that they should take classes however I guess it would help the grammar but then again isn’t that what editors are for. (laughs) When I moved to Miami Beach I went to college for journalism, which was a turning point for my writing I was trying different venues. I learned a lot from school but school just taught me the basic tools. School didn’t teach me to be a writer or a poet. My higher power gave me the gift of poetry and writing which comes from within something no school or classes can ever teach.

Tabitha- What inspired the name “Soulful Pen?”

Melanie- I’m a big believer that my writing is my gift from God. I believe my writing comes from my soul. I chose SoulfulPen, for I pen my poetry from within.

Tabitha- Where did you grow up and would you say that it had an impact on your writing?

Melanie- I grew up in Brooklyn New York . I write my poetry to write that’s what I do. I share my poetry to help others that can’t see the light ahead. Brooklyn gave me my back bone to release my words. Yes! Growing up in Brooklyn defiantly had an impact in a way that made me bold and unafraid to share my deepest thoughts through poetry. There’s no place like home, Brooklyn people are very forward and blunt we are not afraid to make the next step. Brooklyn is a strong community I have never seen people like this any where else. When the WTC was bombed I think New York really showed how supportive we are and how we all come together when things are rough. I have that in me it’s a huge impact on who I am as a writer. My writing is real from the heart and soul. Just like the Brooklyn girl in me (laughs) I tell it how it is.

Tabitha- Where are you living now?

Melanie- I’m presently living in Miami Beach (South Beach). I’m living in Miami for seven years now. Actually it was Miami that brought out my poetry. I have networked with so many talented writers and poets here that inspired me to bring my poetry to many levels.

Tabitha- Would you say the change in atmosphere has affected your approach to writing? I’m sure that the milder climate and culture change could play a huge part in what someone writes.

Melanie- Oh yes definitely. The beautiful beaches and sunsets had a big effect on me. A writers paradise. I usually take a paper and pen and sit on the beach as the waves roll in and the colors in the sky form multi color. Can’t help but to become inspired with nature’s aura here in Miami. Yes! The culture here in Miami is phenomenal it’s like a bowl of alphabet cereal I never know what I’m going to spoon up next. I have met so many people that have inspired me and I am so grateful for all the inspiration these people have given to me. The Cuban and Spanish culture here in Miami has brought my writing to different levels I always wrote with my soul and heart but Miami culture brought out my visuals. So when someone reads my poetry it’s not just tugging at there heart but they see what I see too. I love it! And I know my fans are enjoying the growth in my words.

Tabitha- Who did you grow up admiring as far as writers?

Melanie- I’m going to answer this question with a little twist. Many people don’t realize that the lyrics written by musicians are poetry. Every time we turn on our radio or put on our favorite Cd it’s the lyrics we fall in love with. With that said I’m going to say growing up my inspiration was Cindy lauper, Cher, oldies but goodies. Oh yes the oldies they really knew how to write lyrics that touched and moved the soul. Lets not forget Eryka Badu, here Is a women that wrote lyrics that had every women reciting her words.
I have grown to love Poets like Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni and Robert Frost.
I always admired writers that shook up the soul, writers that weaved words to make a women shed a tear and a grown man fall to his knees that’s poetry. It’s a movement to the human race. Pure ecstasy that awaits our soul and mind. You have to respect these writers.

Tabitha- Do you get the time to read any books at all, or do you put most of your focus into your own writing?

Melanie- I love books. However I haven’t the time to read anything. My focus has been my writing for over five years now. From the moment I wake up to the moment I close my eyes I am networking with other writers and publishers. I am putting together new books. I don’t have time to breathe lately never mind picking up a book. I can’t wait for the day I can sit back put my feet up and lose myself into a good book. I can say when I was younger I loved Anne Rice. I read all of her books.

Tabitha- So talk about your latest book titled “Open to the Elements (Breaking the Silence).” How long did it take you to complete that project from start to finish?

Melanie- (Deep breathe) Coming from an abusive child hood I have had a lot to convey.
My poetry releases all the hurt and drama that my child within needed to release. From being raped by a third grade teacher to a mother’s hurtful words and abusive hands words just began to pour out of me for two years. I was sexually molested by my grandfather and attacked sexually in front of a neighborhood church by a strange man. My poetry exposes all this hurt. I decided to publish my work into a book to help other people. I have a strong will to give other souls the strength and hope to step forward and help them to release their fears. Open to the elements is a book of poetry that is for the people.
A book full of verses that shows strength and motivation. Open to the elements is a book full of poetry that teaches people that there is a light ahead and their not alone.
This world can be cruel but we all have the power within to excel in life. This book took me two years to finish and I am thrilled to share it with the world.

Tabitha- Now it’s 128 pages long. Was there any works of yours that didn’t make it into the book?

Melanie- I have some work that I chose not to place in the book due to the reason I felt it didn’t fit. What I mean is some of the poetry I have written was very feminist like my poem Vulva or Disney escapade (laughs), there was no way I could put that in my first book.
Disney escapade was more of a comical write about Disney characters and Warner brother characters in a sex and drug environment. I didn’t think these poems had a place in my first book at all. However they will be exposed in my third book.

Tabitha- Where does the title “Open to the Elements” come from?

Melanie- Open to the elements means my by gone, my yesterday, my past. Open to the elements is an expression of a child within that blooms into a powerful woman of strength and an inner light. A written scripture of exposure of those that neglected and executed an inner child finally brought to justice as my poetry brings forth a free soul.
Its funny you asked me this question because it took me weeks to come up with the perfect meaning of my poetry. I actually started looking up words on an online dictionary and came across a word with the meaning. “Open to the elements” My eyes shined brightly and shouted to my friend that was near by,” I found it! I found my title” (Laughs) What a great day that was. I’ll never forget that day.

Tabitha- Now, in November, you have a new title coming out. Talk a little about that. Is it another volume of poetry?

Melanie- Oh, that’s Literatim. My second book of poetry which is a continuation of my bygone, yes the second chapter to Open to the elements. This book will be released on November 27, 2006. I am excited about this volume of poetry due to my readers will read my growth and see the visuals that Miami has inspired me to write. No it’s not poetry about Miami (laughs) its poetry about my exposure to a world that handed me stones that I turned into diamonds.
Every single person in this life has struggles. Many are afraid to step up and make the turn towards the light. The poetry in this book exposes that we are not alone. We all have struggles no matter how bad they seem someone out there is feeling that same pain. My poetry brings strength and power, a guiding light to see things for the better. I love playing with words so my reader will see a lot of word play in my book and I love to tug at the heart and soul. It’s a book that will defiantly have my reader’s hair stand up. It touches love, pain, laughter and life.

Tabitha- How long have you worked on the new book?

Melanie- Literatim has 56 pp. It took me a month to pull it all together however I am going with a publisher that calls themselves Publish America. I must say it took them a year to actually finish my book in print. I’m looking for another publisher. I’m tired of having my readers wait forever. My readers are my world and they deserve top quality. I’m working on finding a better Publisher as we speak.

Tabitha- Are you interested in working on novels in the future or will you focus on poetry for the time being?

Melanie- I actually have a novel I started writing two years ago .Yes! I will be finishing up my novel. It’s a book of drama, love and deceit. I’m a big fan of The Godfather written by the Late Mario Puzo. My novel is mafia based and jumps from Miami to New York City. It’s a mixture of fiction and non fiction. As for my poetry I will always be a poet first.

Tabitha- Now on top of your books, you created a network for authors called Looking Within. What inspired you to put that together?

Melanie- I feel everyone deserves a chance to expose their work and bring their writing to the next level. Looking Within is a place for poets to network with each other to give and receive feedback on their Poetry. The most important thing is Looking Within is a place with information that I have researched myself over the year to help poets create their first book and learn the ins and outs of the writing industry. I’m a people person and I feel we all could accomplish anything if we help each other. My inspiration comes from the poets of Looking Within they are all great poets and great souls. I have had the pleasure to speak too many of them on the phone and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be amongst me. They are all inspirational and loving people.

Tabitha- Where can the readers find it?

Melanie- I have a myspace with a banner that my readers can click on to get to the site or you can Google SoulfulPen and it will come up. (see below)

Tabitha- What do you do for enjoyment or relaxation when not writing?

Melanie- I live three blocks from the beach so I enjoy myself in the sun and swim the ocean which is so beautiful and relaxing. I love collecting shells; my house is filled with them. A dear friend of mine, Sarai J. M. Davis who is a fabulous Photographer will take her camera out and have photo shoots with me which I love to do. I am a ham and I love the camera. I live a simple life. I’m a laid back person that loves nature and my friends. I especially enjoy quiet nights with my two best men, my kitty Slugger and my Fiancé.

Tabitha- What would you say right now to someone who wanted to start writing a book but didn’t know how to go about it?

Melanie- Research is the key. Lots of research. I always tell the poets from Looking Within to always be ahead of your competitor. I’m also a big believer in God and I feel God has things laid out in life for us if we were meant to be writers and have books and fame it will be. Just relax enjoy life things will fall into place. You can always go to Looking Within for information.

Tabitha- Any final comments before we finish up?

Melanie- Yes, I want to thank all my readers I wouldn’t be where I am today without all your support and love. Most of all I want to thank God. He has blessed me with a beautiful gift and I am forever humbled.

Tabitha- Well Melanie, it was great fun speaking with you and I hope to do it again soon. Best wishes to you and best of luck. Come back to us soon.

Melanie- Tabitha I couldn’t thank you enough for this exhilarating interview. You are truly a beautiful soul. It was my pleasure to be in your presence. Thank you. God Bless.

Photos by Sarai J. M. Davis

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Autumn’s Grey Solace 2006 Interview

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Spotlight Interview
Autumn’s Grey Solace
September, 2006
by Rob Watts

There are so many bands out there today that it’s impossible to listen to them all, let alone enjoy them. Autumn’s Grey Solace is definitely a band to enjoy as well as adore. Their music speaks for itself so there’s not much I could say that their songs can’t say better. Scott Ferrell’s musicianship along with Erin Welton’s crystal clear vocals blend together to create a hybrid of shoegazing melodies textured with ethereal soundscapes. Truly an incredible band. Scott was kind enough to talk to me about the band so here it is. Enjoy.

Rob- So first off, how are you today?

Scott- I’m doing well.

Rob- Great…Can you introduce yourself to the reader?

Scott- I’m Scott Ferrell. Along with my partner, vocalist and lyricist Erin Welton, I compose and perform almost all of the music for the ethereal/shoegaze/dreampop band, Autumn’s Grey Solace.

Rob- Now the band was formed in 2000. At what point did you know that the two of you would be a perfect match musically?

Scott- In the late 90s I was composing various musical pieces. When Erin wrote the vocal melody and lyrics to the first song, I knew her voice complimented the music perfectly.

Rob- Have either of you performed in other bands prior to this one?

Scott- Just me. I have been in several bands but I could never find musicians who had the same musical goals that I had. When I discovered the freedom of multitrack recording, I could take my musical visions to a new level, without the limitations of what could be done with a live band.

Rob- In my opinion, Erin has got one of the most beautiful and powerful voices in music. Has she ever received any formal vocal training in the past to achieve such intense levels in her singing?

Scott- Erin is completely self-trained. She used a keyboard to help develop her voice.

Rob- Now, you perform every instrument on the albums. Guitars, Bass, Drums, Mandolin, etc… How did you come to be such a musical mastermind and how long did it take you to learn all of those instruments?

Scott- I started playing guitar when I was 14. I gradually progressed to all of the other instruments over a period of a few years. I was very introverted, and I spent a lot of time in isolation practicing and creating.

Rob- What would you say is your favorite instrument of all to perform with? Or does it vary…like say, do you have a favorite
to play live and do you have a favorite to record with?

Scott- It definitely varies from time to time. Right now my favorite instrument is an electric guitar fitted entirely with treble
strings, which allows me to obtain unique chord voicings. Other times I have favored a baritone guitar and a 7-string guitar.

Rob- Now in 2000, you began work on what was to become your debut album “Within The Depths of a Darkened Forest”. Was it a difficult task to get comfortable with the recording process or have you had previous experience in a studio?

Scott- In the late 90s I was obsessed with learning to record. I researched and practiced recording for a couple of years before we started working on “Within The Depths Of A Darkened Forest”. So I was comfortable with the recording process when we created that first album.

Rob- How long did it take to complete that album?

Scott- About 18 months.

Rob- Now since then, the two of you have been churning out album after album. In 2004, “Over The Ocean” was released and in 2005, “Riverine” came out. Now you are gearing up for a new album in September. How do you manage to release so many albums so quickly and still maintain that incredible production and quality in the recordings?

Scott- Inspiration and focus. The inspiration is the drive, the need to fulfill the artistic vision. Focus is the funnelling of that
energy into working on the music and dedicating the time needed to complete each project.

Rob- Which album would you say was the easiest to record and which had its most challenges? And why?

Scott- “Riverine” was the easiest to record because we had a very solid connection between what we were trying to express and it was coming out very easily into the music. The new album was the most challenging because it was very experimental, which creates unfamiliar obstacles.

Rob- So talk about the new album that is about to be released. What’s it called and does it keep up with the flow and theme of
the previous works?

Scott- The new album is called “Shades Of Grey”. It does have the ethereal qualities that our previous albums are known for, but this album takes our sound in a lot of new directions.

Rob- That’s awesome, I can’t wait to hear it. Have you and Erin ever considered adding additional musicians to the lineup in the future?

Scott- We have considered it, but only for a potential live band.

Rob- You recorded a holiday song called “Through the Snowy Trees” a couple of years ago for a single. Would you ever think
about recording an entire holiday album someday?

Scott- We enjoyed recording the holiday song, so we would consider recording an entire holiday album someday.

Rob- That would be an incredible album if you did. Are the two of you working on any additional projects at the moment?

Scott- No, we only have time for Autumn’s Grey Solace.

Rob- Will you be out touring to promote this new album?

Scott- Probably not, but this could change.

Rob- Before we say good-bye, did you enjoy our interview?

Scott- Yes, thank you Rob.

Rob- Well, best of luck to you both, I am a big fan of your work and I wish nothing but the best for you and I look forward to
the new CD soon.

Scott- Thank you.

AutumnsGreySolace.com