Melody Federer – Life Lessons & Discovering Who You Are (Interview)
Feeling high of life, like in one of these sunny afternoons full of smiles and promises,
Right before come the shades of the grey clouds, green leaves under threat,
Fall of delusion,
Feeling down, just like an old tree surrounded by brown and orange leaves covering up the garden
Just like that old tree, you’re still Standing up on your roots, awaiting the Rebirth of Life,
Spring in bloom.
Moral of the story is, as you live and learn, you’ll go through different seasons in your life
That will help you evolve better, standing up on stronger roots,
The more springs you wake up to, the more you get to grow in full bloom.
Melody Federer, singer-songwriter, who’s waken up to 27 Springs already, can relate.
“We’ve been through it all.
[…] But sometimes I feel like life breaks you down
So you can find the truth of who you are, and start over from there, without all the ego and fear.”
Melody, singer songwriter who fuses country, jazz and folk, has recently released the first single, ‘Standing‘,
From her upcoming album titled ‘When the Dogwoods Bloom’, first release since her 2015 EP, New Fires, Old Flame.
The single is now available for download on iTunes.
It’s all about unconditional love despite complications, all about discovering who you are through life situations, and many other things as down-to-earth as inspirational.
Originally from Dallas, in Los Angeles, Melody met Grammy-nominated producer/songwriter, Billy Mann (Pink, Robyn, Sting), who offered her a full-time publishing deal with his company Green & Bloom, a joint venture with BMG.
Since her signing, she has written songs for top artists, including Kelly Rowland, Hilary Duff, and Jacob Whitesides.
Federer moved to Nashville and continued to write, but quickly returned to LA, where she resides with her daughter.
W had the chance to have a lovely and deep conversation with Melody Federer, about the never-ending quest of discovering your true self, about being a mother, and about her musicianship, to name a few subjects discussed.
Congratulations on your work. “Standing” is such an important song and means a lot.
1) Trees are the symbol for Life and Flowers often stand for a Rebirth, and this is funny that you choose to title your upcoming album “When the Dogwoods Bloom”. What can you say about the message and concept behind it? And why specifically dogwoods?
I love this question so much. It’s so thoughtful and deep, and it makes me miss Paris. There is something so naturally poetic about the French; this question is a reminder of that.
I was living in the Southern United States last year. I got to stay in a beautiful home in Franklin, TN with my friend Kim, a wonderful, beautiful quintessential Southern woman.
She had acres of gorgeous land around her home. The colors were just wild and beautiful. In the fall, it was orange and red and the sky was so blue.
In the spring it was bright and green and there are these magnificent Dogwood trees that blossom with these enormous, fluffy white and pink flowers. It almost looks good enough to eat.
Right around this time I had just fallen in love. I was high on life. Everything seemed more vivid. The colors, the smells, nature all seemed to come alive. And when I found out I was pregnant, it was the biggest surprise of my life.
Not only was the world around me in bloom, I was in bloom. A poem came to me about the Dogwoods and about my fiancé and I getting pregnant unexpectedly and moving across the country.
It was a significant time for me, and I think that is why I chose it as the name for this upcoming album.
2) What does finding yourself mean to you? How does it feel when you finally find yourself?
It has taken me every single moment of every single minute of every hour of every day for the last twenty-seven years to find myself. I’m still finding myself.
I have felt since I was a young child a strong sense of destiny driving me through life, even through the excruciating hours of heartbreak and unknown.
Even from playing on the streets to playing in hotel lounges to now having a baby. I feel like I’m on this journey, the journey I was meant to be on, that we’re all meant to be on.
I feel I have found myself more than ever now, and that’s a beautiful thing but also a challenging thing because sometimes finding yourself means finding your flaws as well.
Lately, I feel like I’m constantly working on things like being more patient, judging less, opening myself up more to community and relationships, and figuring out that I have a choice in who I want to be.
There are parts of me I’m so thankful for but other parts of me I see that I would like to improve to be a better partner in my current relationship, and in all relationships.
Life is a beautiful adventure and I can’t wait to find out who I’ll be in ten years, twenty, thirty. And see my daughter start to find herself too.
3) According to you, what is the main obstacle before finally find yourself?
That is a very deep question. One could argue that when you’re young, you are really and truly a product of your environment. You believe what your parents and siblings believe. You eat what the people around you eat. You like the music your friends like. And it takes some time to figure out what of that is really you.
Almost like you have to chip away at the stone to find the sculpture, as Michelangelo would say.
Then again, some people would say you’re meant to be with the parents you have. Some people would even say your soul chose them. Clearly, we could talk about this for hours, and I think we should find a café somewhere and get an espresso! Haha.
4) From 2012 to now, how did you evolve as a woman and as an artist?
Well, I feel like as a woman often I change or find new parts of myself when I fall in love. I’ve been in several relationships.
One was with a French piano player I met in New York. We moved to Paris, where he lived and had a jazz band. I found my confidence there.
But then I realized I wanted to write original songs and not sing jazz songs. It was a long journey from there to now. I feel more authentic now, like I can trust my instincts a bit more.
As an artist, I feel more humbled. There are so many amazing writers and artists out there. I feel blessed to be a part of it at all.
5) The more you live, the more you learn. Becoming a mother for the first time is a huge step in one’s lifetime. What has being a mother taught you so far?
Being a mother, so far, has taught me I can sleep a lot less than I thought and function.
It has taught me there is a tiger that lives inside me and if anything ever threatened my daughter that tiger would come out to protect her.
It has taught me that there’s a lot of things about my own mother that I used to not understand that I now understand…
It has taught me I need community. I need God. I need friends. I need faith. I need forgiveness. I can only hope to do my best and hope my daughter feels my love, even when I’m not perfect.
6) Music is therapy, and (song) writing is healing. “Standing” is the best example. Among all the numerous songs you’ve written, what are your favorite lyrics? Which did lyrics comfort you the most?
I’m a pretty big critic of my own songs. I always feel like my best song is one that I haven’t written yet.
I do love “Standing” and I’m thankful for it.
I like the line in there that says,
“ When the mountains fall and the hills they turn to dust,
And what’s shiny and what’s new has all turned to rust,
Time will keep on telling me the story of us,
Here we are still standing”.
I like the idea of eternal love. That even when I’m old and gray this beautiful, youthful, eternal love will live on in my mind and heart and maybe even the universe.
That love is heaven.
7) Now, talking about love, what do you cherish the most in a relationship?
I’m a romantic and I like grand gestures. I like feeling wanted and desired, and being teased and having great conversations.
But as I get older and now that I’m a mother, what I desire most is to be able to love someone and to trust them, to trust that they will be there for me. And that I’ll be there for them. No matter what.
8) Taking you way back, how did it feel to be An American In Paris? What’s your best memory, music related, when you lived in France?
Funny. I got to go to Catalina Island with my fiancé, dad, and baby this weekend.
On the ferry back they were playing old Ella Fitzgerald music and I closed my eyes and I swear, I was back in Paris.
I was remembering the long van rides with Jean-Baptiste, my boyfriend at the time, and his father’s band.
They all only spoke French. I didn’t understand anything until my third year living there and suddenly I could speak it.
I kept smiling to myself thinking, “That really happened. It was real.” I wondered, how did I find him? How did I find myself in that tiny circle of world-renowned jazz musicians?
We got to play on Cruise Ships to Greece.
We got to play for Paris Fashion Week, for the ambassador.
We got to play in the Alpes at ski resorts, wearing t-shirts in the snow, eating delicious stews and amazing fois gras.
We played for wine festivals and drank all through the night and would sleep in the van.
My favorite memory though is when they didn’t tell me where we were playing and we drove down to the south of France. We arrived at a gorgeous white sand beach. Only to find everyone there was naked. We were playing at a Nudist camp! It was absolutely wild.
9) Finally, when you play your music, what’s your favorite thing when you interact with people?
I either want to make people laugh or cry. I like making up songs about people in the audience and seeing their surprise and feeling a sense of genuine connection with them, like I’ve made them feel special.
Or I like infusing a song with so much emotion that someone feels my heartache and can relate and they let themselves cry too.