TRIP HOP GRUNGE?!
The lockdown of 2020 has inspired me to learn new skills. I’ve always loved Trip Hop music and as I’m now forced into being fully solo I’ve combined all of my musical knowledge and skills, creating a brand new sound that I can’t wait to get in your ears!!!
BUT WHO DO I THINK I AM?! Well here is a brief rundown of my musical history, which started pretty much from birth.
THE EARLY YEARS
Dad was a musician. Dad could pick up any instrument and play it. He had this incredible talent. He passed away when I was 8 and almost all my memories of him are us making music together. He would play the piano or guitar and I would make myself a drum kit out of pots and pans 🤟
I had piano lessons from age 7 and had lessons for a number of years but didn’t ever really love it. It required so much practice and I didn’t have the attention span for it. I just wanted to hit things!
I formed my first group in primary school. We made up silly songs but performed them with full seriousness in assemblies. My drum kit had upgraded slightly. I made it out of all the percussion instruments in the music cupboard.
Secondary school I was the drummer in the school productions and local theatre groups. I was also the drummer and percussionist in the Surrey Health Wind Band. From ages 13 to 15 I toured Europe every summer. It was fiercely rock n roll! Seriously those band camp style stories, all true. Wild little things we were.
In 2002 I had a life changing night watching Hole tear up Brixton academy. Courtney Love screaming for girls to learn guitar. Form a band.
The guitar opened up a whole new world and I started writing songs again. At first it was just for me. Then my friends encouraged me to play some open mic nights which I did, then suddenly I’m booked to perform at Farnham Party in the Park!
Too scared to do it solo, I formed a band, which eventually became Kenelis. Local talent included Reuben, Hundred Reasons and Vex Red so it was a great time to be in a band on the Hampshire/Surrey border.
In the pre Facebook era, Aldershot was considered to be the Seattle of the UK. People just went to shows to see bands, it didn’t matter who was playing. It was awesome.
With lots of love and support from our local scene we started making waves on the underground music scene in London. Packed out shows including shows 100 club, Scala and indigO2 followed by numerous Festival and Pride shows UK and International, full blood sweat and tears we recorded 2 albums and an EP and made a ton of great memories.
In 2011 I moved to Brighton. I really enjoyed the diversity of the Brighton music scene. I was part of the Women’s Performance Tent for Brighton Pride team for a few years and in 2014 co-organised an alternative music stage at Brighton Pride. I felt that alternative music was massively under represented in the pop dominated UK pride festivals so I did something about it. Influenced by the Queer Alt Stage at Toronto Pride, which was by far the most inclusive and diverse stage I had ever performed at, we named the stage the Q alternative. We showcased all genres, all genders. It was an incredible event but a huge amount of work. I just didn’t have the time to continue. Writing music has always been the priority for me. It’s what keeps me centred.
THE L PROJECT
In 2012 I was asked to be part of the musical collaboration called The L Project. Formed of a number of LGBTQ artists whose aim is to raise awareness about the effects of LGBTQ bullying, to give hope to those suffering from it, and to raise money to help combat it. ‘It Does Get Better’ not only had chart success but won Outstanding contribution to the LGBTQ Community - 2012.
After over 10 years of Kenelis which was predominantly Grunge/Punk/Rock, I felt the need to make more complex heavier music. I wanted challenge myself as a musician and make the music I was listening to at the time which was a lot more Post Hardcore and techy. I formed Auxesis with guitarist Jack Rowan and drummer Alec Greaves who were in the final Kenelis line up with Danny Knowles joining us on bass. We recorded an EP and did some local shows. Due to us all being in other musical projects Auxesis are no longer active, but very supportive of each other. If you want your band to be a full time career it has to come before everything. Auxesis was never really about that, it was just about writing whatever we felt at the time and getting it out of our system. I think we all just loved doing it. Sometimes it doesn’t have to go further than that.
MEL SANSON & ARMED LOVE MILITIA (FAIRUZA BALK)
In 2017 I starting writing dark melancholic grungy folk songs. I had new guitar skills and fire in my belly. I was immersed in this flood of chord progressions, ideas, riffs the melodies were coming at me in full force. Around the same time my friend Fairuza asked me to be part of her Armed Love Militia music collaboration project. She sent me this cool Appalachian folk/murder ballad style song called ‘White Lilies' and thought it would sound really great with some harmonies.
I love to write and sing harms so I very happily obliged. I flew to LA in September 2017 equipped with my mobile studio and we recorded the track together live in one take. Fairuza’s voice is incredible. It has so many textures and layers, she’s such a brilliant song writer. We’ve been sharing our songs with each other for the last 8 years and have a close connection musically and spiritually so it’s been amazing to do something together like this.
Fairuza was the driving force behind me releasing Ghost. It felt really vulnerable releasing something so stripped down and personal. Like me she has suffered a lot of loss, so it really struck a chord with her. Fairuza's encouragement and belief in me as an artist really gave me the confidence I needed to pursue a solo project.
The response from Ghost has been overwhelming. The humbling stories from fans and reviewers who have really connected with the song made me feel so grateful. It’s about how life’s cruel joke seems to be the ones that love you the most will hurt the most when you die.
My first experience of death was my dad. I have a colour portrait of him on my left forearm. So now every time I play guitar or sing, he’s right here with me. I haven’t been able to put my guitar down since!