Melissa Czarnik is one of the most written about and respected members of Milwaukee’s music community after the release of her well received first album Strawberry Cadillac. The attention doesn’t just come from local media however, but she has found her way into the pages of international press.
Known for being a poet that truly represents herself, she has played tons of live gigs to an always appreciative crowd. From the intimate setting of the Jackalope Lounj on the evening she released that first album, to now, on the cusp of releasing her anticipated follow up (Raspberry Jesus which comes out July 31st – http://www.melissaczarnik.com for more information) there is no doubt that Melissa has grown in stature. But, what does Melissa herself expect to come from this new record?
I was able to ask MC a few questions about what she’s been doing and what we can expect from her and Raspberry Jesus in the months to come.
After the success of Strawberry Cadillac, what are you expectations going into your new project?
My expectations are to reach more, sell more, and perform more. I am looking to set up mini-tours within my means on the east and west coasts in 2010 and 2011; as well as heading back to Europe for more shows.
Is the songwriting/recording process for the new album any different this time around or are you sticking with the same formula?
I am pretty much sticking with the same formula. I really enjoy writing to the beat and letting the beat speak to me, pull out an emotion. And that’s pretty much how I went about it again this time.
You decided to follow a dream and visit Europe last year and you’re going again this year. How is playing shows overseas compared to play shows in the States?
Europe loves and appreciates music in a different way I think. They really respect the artist. I also think Europeans really loves American music. You see a lot of Europeans in love with Jazz and Hip Hop. I did an open mic in Paris in 2009 and all the Parisian performers were singing in English and playing American cover songs. It was kind of odd… not at all what I expected to see.
In your eyes, what allowed SC to be a success?
I think Strawberry Cadillac is an honest album made with a lot of love and I think the listener can really relate to it. It’s almost like they feel like they know me from listening to it. I also think that Eric Mire is an amazing producer with a unique sort of out of the box sound, so people are yearning for something new and of quality so it sort of spread for those reasons I think.
Most of the songs are produced by Eric Mire. Maurice Cotton produced a track. I got a beat from Dylan Thomas which features singer Patrice Downey on the hook. Some members of the Eric Mire Band such as Chip Baily, Don Bradshaw and Brad Bloom can be found sprinkled throughout the album. As well as some other very talented musicians like Alejandro Santiago (congas/voice), Aaron Gardner (flute), and Eric Jacobson (trumpet) came through for some features.
Moving from poetry to doing Hip-Hop seems like a very natural progression. What connected the two dots for you?
I like poetry, I like hip hop. I write poems, I write rhymes. I got my hands on a notebook, a mic, some beats, a studio and BAM!
Milwaukee is an interesting town that doesn’t have a ton of female presence in Hip-Hop as far as rhyme spitters. Do you feel that you’ve been well received or has the Hip-Hop scene been not as supportive as you’d like?
I feel that I have received nothing but love. Milwaukee is a open and welcoming scene. We’re like one big dysfunctional family with love all day.
Speaking of the Milwaukee Hip-Hop scene, what are you views about it on the whole?
Milwaukee is a raw city that is fiending and putting in some major work. I think we feed off each other and that energy is allowing us to cultivate some crazy talented artists and music. I also think that Milwaukee, on a social level, is struggling to make it. I feel that this struggle is often reflected in the music here, which makes it uniquely ours.
After your new record comes out, you’ve played some shows, and received some press, what are your plans for the future?
East Coast tour, West Coast tour, Midwest shows. I want to book a European Tour. I just want to perform and see different parts of the world. And this is where I’m starting, in the heart of the Midwest.
Any shout outs?
To Eric Mire, Maurice Cotton, Chip Baily, Don Bradshaw and Brad Bloom I would like to say, THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.