Sydney-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Melissah Mirage launched her artistic project Moody Beach from her bedroom. Since then, she has impressively evolved into a live band project with an earnestly growing following. She has performed at the likes of Secret Garden Festival, Vivid Music and MCA Sounds on the Terrace, and supported These New South Whales.
Her catalogue reads as a fluid distillation of her life experiences expressed in song as she explores her agency and autonomy as a woman. In celebration of her grungey new single “The Other”, Melissah found some time to chat with us this week about how she has forged her musical career up to this point.
What inspired you to pursue music as a career?
Influential female artists have inspired me to pursue music as a career. Debbie Harry of Blondie, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Kim Deal from the Pixies. Seeing women or female-identifying artists at the front influences and drives more girls to follow suit. I remember first seeing the Pixies on the 10th anniversary of Doolittle. It blew my mind and it also pushed me to pick up a guitar and write music. I hope I can be that for other female artists.
Besides making music, what have you done to get to where you are?
I connect and collaborate with others who share my passion for the arts and self-expression. When I moved to Sydney from Adelaide a few years back, I formed many friendships by going to shows. Now, the people I play music with are my second family. Our shared goal is to keep the arts alive. I’d be lost without a means of self-expression and feel so fortunate to be able to connect with others through music, which is why I am always keen to work with other artists.
How do you approach developing timelines for your career?
I approach timelines the same way any business would. I set goals, frequently check-in with the Moody crew, and make sure any activities align with the vision we set out to fulfill, but above all, I always set time aside to make music.
What’s your advice on staying professionally active during COVID times?
Set goals and hold yourself accountable to deliver them. If you can’t do it on your own, choose a friend who’ll help and check in with them once a week. They might want you to do the same.
I wrote the songs featured on my next EP in lockdown, using my lunch breaks to record demos in between working 9-5, because I’d set a goal with my manager to have a demo prepped each week. I think the best managers, band members, friends, etc. are the ones who aren’t afraid to call you out if you’re dragging your feet.
What is the most significant challenge you have conquered in your career?
I’ve always held a corporate or government job throughout my musical career and the two worlds don’t always gel. My art consciously challenges notions of “female acceptability” in a way that is sometimes deemed too provocative or controversial for my 9-5 colleagues. On the upside, it has been the inspiration behind a comic I’ve co-written which will be released later this year along with my next EP.
How should people educate themselves on current industry issues?
Listen to contemporary music, go to shows, meet with like-minded peers, reach out to people with a history in the music industry, read a book. I recently read Resistance by Tori Amos which touches on industry as well as political issues.
I find the challenges I’ve faced as a musician, like sexism, misogyny, and corporate hegemony, have presented themselves in other areas of my life. The key difference is that with music you have a microphone. People aren’t guaranteed to listen, but at least you can say your piece.
You’ll hear me explore these themes on my latest release.
How have you integrated modern technology into your content process?
I like social media but I don’t love it, it’s very much a PR platform. I prefer Patreon because it allows me to connect more closely with those who enjoy the music I put out as Moody Beach. Join me there if you like.
Pre-sale for Moody Beach’s “The Others” single launch on July 17 at Waywards are on sale now
Check out the single and music video here!