On tour with Mel Parsons

Indie folk artist Mel Parsons, set to release her new album Sabotage in June this year, shares with Metropol writer Daniella Judge what it takes to make a life as a touring artist.

Growing up on the West Coast, the soundscape of Mel’s childhood was the ocean rolling in. It was no wonder, in 2009 after years of travelling, she found a home in Lyttelton.

Mel grew up playing the piano. At 14, she picked up a guitar and knew it felt right. She never considered a career in music until she finished high school, when, at a cosy campfire she was playing the guitar and heard someone say, “she could be a professional”. This unlocked a whole world that Mel had never considered.

Forging a career as a touring artist hasn’t always been easy. When first making music, Mel was waiting to get picked up by a record label, thinking that was the ultimate form of success. “After a few years, I got sick of waiting and made it work as an independent artist.”

When writing lyrics, Mel says, “I like to find meaning in the small domestic moments,” they create the seeds from which she writes her songs. She says many of the seeds for the new album came from the forced hiatus of the Covid-19 lockdown.

At the production stage, Mel says the sound choices can be endless. She and producer Josh Logan could play around for eternity, but eventually had to move on. Her sixth studio album, Sabotage, is full of melodic tunes and syrupy vocals, classic Mel style. It’s a perfect album to have playing on a meditative evening, with a glass of wine and the moonlight shining in.

Her Sabotage tour kicks off in Christchurch at The Piano on 14 June, followed by shows in Auckland and Wellington.

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