This is an excerpt from an interview I did with with Melissa Savcic and File Under Jeff at the latest Caroline Session at the Spacetaker ARC last weekend . To read the whole interview on Space City Rock, go here!
SCR: How did both of you get started writing music?
Melissa: My older brother played guitar when I was little, and he was my idol back then, so I wanted to learn guitar with him. So he was the one who taught me to play. I started performing when I was 15, in Venezuela, because my boyfriend at the time — yes, I had a boyfriend when I was 15 — was in a band, and he thought I had some talent. He told me I had a good voice and asked me to join. From there, I realized I could actually write my own songs, and took off.
SCR: What about you, Jeff?
Jeff: My grandmother played piano. She was very instrumental in my life, and she taught me a love of music.
SCR: Do you have a regular procedure for writing songs? If so, what is it?
Jeff: I spend a lot of time in my office playing guitar. I write little bits of songs and record them, and then eventually they turn into longer bits, and then into songs. And then Tom [Paynter, of Caroline Sessions] persuades me to play.
Melissa: I usually play guitar every day when I get home from work. I play around with random chords, and then suddenly I think, “Hmmm, this sounds like it could be a song.” I get the melody first, just the basic idea of it, then add the melody of the voice — but no lyrics. Then later, I start thinking about the song again, and start adding ;yrics. All my songs are about my life, obviously. So whatever’s going on in my life at the time, I’ll write about it.
Jeff (to Melissa): Do you ever have placeholder words? Like, words that you write to fill up space, and then when you hear them, they just sound ridiculous?
Melissa: Oh, yeah! And then sometimes it winds up in the finished song anyway. Sometimes, when I’m at work, I get lyric ideas and I’ll just type them up on my phone, and then when I get home I’ll pick up the guitar and try it out. Usually I end up changing the melody or the way I sing some of the words before the song is finished.
SCR (to Melissa): Do you ever write with other people? I know you have a regular band.
Melissa: Most of my songs I write with just me singing and playing guitar, and then I present it to the band and say, “this is my new song,” and then they make it magical. We’ve had a couple of times when I wasn’t too sure on some part of the song, and I asked them if they could help me come up with something. But it takes much longer to finish a song that way, with all that collaboration… more
(Photos by Tom Paynter of Paynter Media.)