Local singer/songwriter Mel Dobra is calling on the universe to help her fund the release of her first album. With an album fundraiser for Sacred Tides on Friday at the Parish Hall in Stuart Street, Mullumbimby, a show at Splendour in the Grass and a site on Crowdfunding, this is a girl who is going places.
Was yours a musical childhood? What ignited your love for music? Dad’s or Mum’s record collection?
My childhood was musical, in the sense that I danced around the house singing at the top of my lungs to musicals such as The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. I think as I grew up, my voice started to shut down, and it is only in the last few years that I have started to let it out again. I never learnt music in my earlier years. I learnt how to sing and play the harmonium when I moved to the hills of Byron only five years ago. My love of music was ignited by noticing the profound effect that music has on the listener.
Who were the artists you loved most as a young person?
I loved Alanis Morrisette, The Cranberries, Nirvana, Pearl Jam. Anything rebellious.
What are the challenges you face in songwriting?
For me the challenge is having a quiet space, and time to sit down and write. My mind needs to be a pretty blank canvas to channel songs through. My ideal situation for songwriting is staying out in the hills, alone, with a piano, a guitar, the morning sun, and nothing but the sounds of birds chirping. Seeing what flows through from there.
What do you try to look for when you are writing?
I’m looking for deeper meaning. Whether that’s covering an ancient celtic or Hebrew song, or writing lyrics that inspire one to open up to a more liberated part of themselves. I’m looking for themes that invoke the sacred in daily life.
I have toured nationally and internationally supporting Kevin James Carroll. I played harmonium to his tracks, and sang with him, and never really thought I would have my own show. Our paths started to go in different directions, and the music gave so much meaning to my life that I didn’t want to give it up. I could see a big gap for this kind of music, especially as it is so male dominated, so I took part in a three-month music workshop with Kathryn Jones, started to face some pretty big fears that where holding me back, and the rest is history.
How does the crowdfunding work?
Crowdfunding is an opportunity for community to support artists, usually in exchange for a reward. For independent artists it eliminates the need of a record label to fund the music, as it goes directly from the audience to the artist. Crowdfunding is an amazing platform that is taking off at the moment, and it really puts the creative power in the hands of the artist.
What is the vision for your album?
The vision for this album is a series of songs that awaken the listener to connect to a deeper part of themselves. I came into music playing mantra and chanting, so this album will reflect this part of my journey, but also brings in elements of folk and world sounds.
How did you land the gig at Splendour?
I think I landed the gig at Splendour from my performance at Byron Spirit Festival this year. I think there is a real market for something a bit different, and more ceremonial, at the bigger festivals, and our show seems to cater for that.
Where else can we catch you?
This Friday, Mullumbimby Parish Hall, 7pm – as well as a packed summer of album launches, and summer festivals that are yet to be announced.