It's been a hot second since I've pulled on my cutest Interviewing Mel outfit and gone a little deeper with a new potential popstar...and so I've remedied that via my little chat with Molly Roth.
Molly is fresh on to the music scene by way of her first single, "Pin Me Up", a primo pop jam doused with a little bit of retro pastiche. Ms. Roth is a classically trained singer and pianist with a unique, colorful timbre to her strong voice. Many of her available tunage including "Pin Me Up" displays the different characters and shades of her personality with a more complex type lyrical style that is definitely missing from the mainstream. Comparison's to Lady Gaga's more dramatic ballads and mid-tempos would be quite apropos -- indeed "Pin Me Up" sounds like a missing puzzle piece to the Born This Way album.
Like what you hear? "Pin Me Up" is available for purchase on iTunes or for streaming on Spotify. You can also follow her on Twitter via @mollyrothmusic. Her debut EP is slated for release this fall.
Molly and I talked about her experience in the music industry, what makes her tick in the studio, meeting Lana Del Rey, current artists she is really digging, and of course, which Spice Girls song is her ultimate favorite.
Read on for my exclusive interview with Molly herself...
MEL: Let's jump right in -- Your musical background is full of classic training via the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, Kilburn in the UK, and UC Berkeley. Clearly you're a big believer in being well-versed. Can you describe your educational experiences and how it influenced you as a songwriter, musician, and performer?
MOLLY: I do happen to have a lot of musical training but what I have learned through it all is that your natural ear for music/melody/harmony is the most important thing to being successful as a musical artist. I am just one of those people (or nerds?) who happens to love breaking down music and understanding the theory behind it all. I also love being able to communicate to my band or other musicians not like your typical/standard vocalist. I like being able to use my training when I get stuck in deciding which chord I should change to with a song. I like knowing that I can write and play anything on the piano because my classical training on piano has enhanced my technical abilities. I’m not saying my path is the “right path”. But, it was right for me. I actually never would have attended UC Berkeley but I received a full scholarship, which I guess influenced me enough to go.
In addition to your voice, you also play piano. Do you play on all of your songs? Do you plan any other instruments as well?
Yes, I have played piano on all my songs so far. I can play ukulele as well.
Like you, I also worked at a record label while in college studying music. What was your
My experience with Universal Music Group was awesome…the highlight of my college experience really. I was their lifestyle and marketing representative, which means I basically stood as the liaison between the label and the school. I would attend shows in both the Easy Bay and in San Francisco and write recaps on how the show was perceived, the demographic of the audience, and had opportunities to meet and/or assist the artist backstage after the show. I also held promotional listening parties for UMG’s artists where I was given free CD giveaways and merchandise items to give to attendees and to college radio stations, etc. I was always sporting a Tyga t-shirt with The Weeknd buttons all over my handbag.
My favorite experience was assisting Lana Del Rey at an Amoeba show and signing in San Francisco. I met her and her band. She was a sweetheart and the band was so cool. I also hung out with Far East Movement….hanging out with artists isn’t part of the job but every time I was at one of the events I would end up chatting with someone who knew the band and the next thing I know, I’d be invited to the after party! I never talked about my own music- I was always very professional when representing Universal- but, I was just genuinely interested in hanging out and I got lucky!
You have a really fun, descriptive lyrical style that really stands apart from a lot of modern pop stars. Do your songs typically stem from real life experiences?
Thanks! Ummm… mostly yes! I like to use metaphors and word-play a lot. I think, “Pin Me Up” is a really fun song but there are a lot of adult topics that are implied. (Ex: “Dirty Shirley’s dancing in the dark”. Also, “Driving down the west coast blazing” isn’t about just driving fast…) These are taken from my real-life experiences. Most of my songs definitely are but there are a few exceptions.
What is the studio process like with you? Do the lyrics come first or do you have a fun groove or hook that you build on?
I write each song entirely at home at my piano. If you listen to the home demo of “Pin Me Up”, it’s completely different. In fact, all my songs sound like musicals before the production aspect kicks in. I usually start with a cool chord progression, which inspires a melody, which sometimes, simultaneously transforms into a lyrical hook that I then base the entire song around. I never go into a songwriting session knowing what will come out.
A lot of the songs available on your SoundCloud have a decidedly throwback, stripped down vibe. Will this be the main concept for your upcoming release? What inspired you to take this path?
A lot of the older songs I have posted are like pieces from my diary. I love the songs and they have a lot of sentimental value but they aren’t the artist I am today. Don’t get me wrong- my favorite song of mine is one called, “Imaginary Friend”- I wrote it when I was 19. But, I am way more structured now as an artist and I have a very focused path due to my experience working in the music industry. Today, I have a creative team and producer I am working with (Daniel Ford/Dr Ford) and I am excited to debut the new EP. It’s my first “official” release of anything.
In addition to your vintage flair, do you draw inspiration from any modern day artists?
Many. Sia, Amy Winehouse, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande are ones many have heard but right now I am really into FKA Twigs and Banks. I also am inspired by a model named, Ophelia Overdose. You should check her out.
Will do! Your first single "Pin Me Up" is described as being based on different elements of your personality. How so?
I love playing characters. I actually use to be a professional faerie, mermaid, and pirate. It’s not that I actually have multi-personalities, but I guess I am some sort of performer of my own world. (I also once took an office job so I could wear a sexy pencil skirt and button-up shirt.) “Pin Me Up” opens with the “dramatic and classic vocalist Molly” at the piano, goes on to be the America’s sweetheart type of girl, becomes the naughty/ misbehaved “Dirty Shirley” (my favorite drink) and then in the bridge it’s all a fun party, we’re dancing, and we’re on a road trip with the top down and bass up! Wow. Should I go into therapy?
Finally, your bio mentions your first dalliance with the music industry was attempting to put together an all-girl pop band inspired by the Spice Girls as a child (amazing!). What's your favorite Spice Girls song?
Wow. That’s a tough question for me because as a child, each song meant so much to me. I probably loved either “Say You’ll Be There”, “Wannabe”, or “2 Become 1”.
In closing, any words for your fans out there or for folks just checking out your music for the first time?
Check out my first single, “Pin Me Up” on Spotify, iTunes, and Soundcloud! It’s totally a great summer jam and I hope you enjoy it and get my EP this upcoming Fall!
My thanks to Ms. Molly Roth and the LaFamous team for this opportunity!