I discovered Melissa back in 2009. During that time, I was mainly focused on searching new singers and songwriters. Melissa was one of the best female artist I found online. She was simple. It was just about her voice and her guitar. She is quite the same today. She remains that talented and driving artist with her guitar and her beautiful lyrics. Melissa is really just about the music. It is the first reason why I created this blog, to make it about the music and the passion we all have for this art called music. Getting to interview her reminded why I love this art so much. I think music should be about love and sharing, and Melissa embraces that idea perfectly.
Hi, my name is Melissa Polinar – a friend who sings and writes songs.
Describe yourself as an artist.
I’d describe myself as a singer-songwriter - soulful, pop-ish, folk-ish, R&B-ish, melodic, story-telling, emotional, light-hearted but with a slice of melancholy if one listens closely.
How and when did you start making music?
I don’t think I remember a time in my life where music wasn’t present. I started writing songs in my teens but I took violin lessons when I was a kid (classically trained for around 10 years), sang at church, sang solo, in choirs and ensembles. I was the all-around music nerd.
What did you grow up listening to?
Classical music, Gospel music, Pop music, The divas (i.e. Whitney, Mariah, Celine), Legends (i.e. Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor), Folk/Acoustic/Singer-songwriter artists. I run the gamut in taste but whatever I resonated with - I listen or listened to. I’ve always had this philosophy so I never identified myself in purely one genre or music scene.
What is the first song you ever learned to play?
On the guitar? I don’t remember. Maybe one of the first songs I attempted on the guitar, that I can remember, was “More Than Words” by Xtreme. haha! On the piano, most likely the first song off John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course book 1. Violin, Suzuki Method book 1.
Tell us about your writing process. How do you get your inspiration? Do you prefer writing by yourself or with other writers?
I draw inspiration from life: past, present, and the things I or we all hope for. Writing on my own and with other writers are completely different from each other. I don’t really prefer one or the other. They’re not the same. The only caveat is that co-writing requires for me to enjoy or like my collaborator(s) for me to feel like it would be worthwhile, whereas, writing on my own simply requires of me to be present and disciplined enough to finish from scratch.
Collaborations seem to have a big place in your work. What do you like about it?
You can’t do everything alone. And as much as, personally, I want to know that I can write songs on my own, there’s that mysterious factor when you partner up with other creative minds. Together, you never know what you’re going to come up with - there’s a bit of an excitement there. Collaborations, in general, whether they be songwriting, performing, production, and etc. are fun for me. I am a self-proclaimed loner but I get a thrill surrounding myself with people who understand and embrace the creative process - whatever process you’re diving into.
You’ve been playing shows for a while now, what’s your favorite memory so far?
I got a bunch of cool memories to share but in recent memory, I got to tour with David Ryan Harris last fall (2015). It was cool that I got to be on the road with him, listen to his playlist, talk about music and life, and of course, it was a treat listening to him every night. On that same tour, India Arie hopped on stage at the New York show and sang “Skyline” and “See The Stars” with me. What an honor.
What do you feel when you’re on stage?
I don’t know if I can really describe it well. There’s that usual adrenaline rush but at the same time, being on stage presents a major sense of calm for me – oddly enough. I get nervous at times - not often but it all depends.
You’ve been making music for many years, what are the lessons you’ve learned so far?
I’m still reeling in lessons every day. Never stop learning. I guess that’s the lesson.
How would you describe the LA music scene? What’s the best thing about it?
LA is a hit and/or miss - it all boils down on who you are and where you are in life. To be honest, I never thought LA would jive with me but life has its surprises. And there are things about LA I still don’t care for but I met some of my dearest friends, collaborators, and other musicians in Los Angeles. LA music scene is diverse. And I think diversity is the main factor why I dig it. I’m a firm believer that creativity of all kinds cannot flourish without diversity.
What are the steps to success?
This is a loaded question. ‘Success’ is a loaded word. All I know is that “a step” towards it is to do everything with love.
In your opinion, what skills do you need to work in the music industry?
You got to be nice, friendly, and genuine. As much people can “tolerate” terrible people in the industry, it is safe to say that people love genuine people. They’re not really “skills” per se, but we all can work towards being genuine everyday, whether they come naturally - or not.
What keeps you motivated?
I used to be motivated by “proving to everyone” that I can do things. I found that short-lived. I’m now motivated because what I do …is more than about me.
What is your purpose?
My purpose is summed up with this quote which is an all-time favorite of mine: “The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” -David Viscott
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