Have Guitar... Will Travel

When looking at a timeline of Melissa Ferrick's career, one might think it was accidentally written in reverse: opening for Morrisey in Madison square garden in 1993 and a contract with Atlantic, then on to indie labels and finally, putting out records on her own. However, upon closer inspection, you can see that her choices have brought her nowhere but forward.

Melissa Ferrick The thirty-year-old singer/songwriter has been through the music industry's machine and emerged unscathed, with a catalogue of eight albums, critical acclaim and her own record label. In true Ani DiFranco fashion, Ferrick decided that if she wanted it done right, she should do it herself, and thus, Right On Records was born. "Sometimes I think about getting back involved in [the music industry]", says Ferrick, "but as soon as I talk to one of the execs on the phone for thirty seconds, I know I've made the right decision." Melissa was tired of the artistic compromises and obsession with commercial viability that is central to major record labels. "All they think about is radio, radio, radio…and sell more albums" she says.

After her meteoric rise at the beginning of her career, she says it took a long time for her ".. to get back to the soul-searching question of ‘What am I doing here?'" Now with control over her art, she feels that she is just where she wants to be. And as far as radio goes, she doesn't seem worried. "Because of the internet, I'm worldwide" she declares. Her lack of airplay is surprising, actually. Her style is completely accessible to fans of rock, folk or pop and her songs about love, loss and self-realization come across universal. But most of all, her voice is one of the most powerful of all singer-songwriters out there today. She doesn't seem to mind, but as far as the future of singer-songwriters, she says "The ground could not be more fertile"

Ferrick's music has drawn an array of comparisons: from PJ Harvey to Melissa Etheridge. "I just saw Melissa Etheridge's concert a few weeks ago and I don't think I sound anything like her" she says. When asked how she would describe her sound, there is a long pause ミ the type when one chooses their words ever so carefully. "I think…well, you'd think know the answer to this, don't you? Well, acoustic-driven rock, I think. I like it when I'm compared to the Dave Mathews Band or Aimee Ray or Ani (DiFranco). I like those comparisons a lot," She does mention a few differences between her and DiFranco: "Well, for starters, she's much more political than I am, and a much better writer (laughs)"

Melissa Ferrick Although she considers herself more rock and roll than folk, she claims that she, like many other female acoustic-centered artists tend to get lumped together into the "Folk Singer" pigeonhole. You don't see the (male) singer for the Goo Goo Dolls being called a folk singer, and he plays acoustic guitar". She has a point: if you look at Jewel, Liz Phair, Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega and Ani DiFranco, you have an incredible diversity of music all slapped with the same "Folk" moniker. Not that that's a bad thing. "Folk Singer is not a bad word", she says.

Ferrick says that she has been fortunate enough to have a close-knit group of die-hard fans. Calling themselves "Ferrick-heads", they travel long distances to her shows, to help out, set up, and even help sell merchandise. Along with the "Ferrick-heads", we ask, who else fills your sold-out crowds? "Mostly women and hippies", she chuckles. The topic of hippies come ups several times, so I ask her how much she identifies with the hippies at her shows. "A lot", comes the response. "I mean, I still wear leather and all, but I…well, I am just SO ready for the sixties again, you know? I just want everyone to relax!" She goes on to say that at her shows everyone should consider themselves in a "safe" zone, where everybody is wanted and accepted. "And that," she says, "is a hippy sensibility if I've ever heard one".

interviewed by jinki and translated by yohei

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Melissa Ferrick


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Melissa Ferrick

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previous works :

"Valentine Heartache" : (US import)
"Skinnier, Faster, Live at the B.P.C" : (US import)
"Freedom" : (US import)
"Everything I Need" : (US import)
"Willing to Wait" : (US import)
"Happy Song" : (UK import)
"Massive Blur" : (US import)

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