KM: All your songs are so positive, where do you get you inspiration? What advice do you have for our readers when they get “down in the dumps?”
MS: This may sound cheesy, but I believe that each day of this life is a gift! We wake up every morning and we have the choice to go and get exactly what we want. We can change our lives and make a new start at any moment. All we have to do is dream it and believe it! That is the theme of my album "Run For Your Life".
"Take a chance at last, make up your mind and Run For Your Life! "
My dad once asked, during a time when I had walked away from pursuing music and had spent a year working as a real estate agent, "What would you do in life if you knew you wouldn't fail?" Of course my answer was "Music". He said that life is too short not to do what you love because at the end of the day, money and things don't make us truly happy, doing what you love makes you happy. It really left an imprint on me. It's so easy to get discouraged, especially in the arts when your success depends on the opinion of others. Making music makes me feel ALIVE! So, my advice to those feeling "down in the dumps" is to do what you love, what makes you most happy, what makes you feel alive! It helps to spend a little time each day looking for things and people that inspire you. I think you can also be your own inspiration. Even if nothing surrounding you is inspiring, let the potential "you" be your inspiration! It's Never too late! Remember that your mind is very powerful. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. So in a way, we are continuously creating our own universe. A huge lesson that I had to learn is to not let others be in control of my own happiness. Our joy lies in our own hands and we have the choice to make ourselves happy or miserable. I choose Happy! :)
KM: Growing up, when did you know you wanted to be a singer and who were your biggest influences?
MS: As a kid I would sing constantly and I grew up in a house that it was completely acceptable to do so. I guess the very first music I sang was from Disney movies. I loved them all, but my favorite was "Beauty and the Beast". I think I believed that I was Belle..lol. I was the oldest of a big family and I would always organizing a play, musical, or talent show. The first tape that I remember listening to was Amy Grant and I played it over and over and over. When Cd's came out I remember doing the same thing with Jewel, Alanis Morisette and Mariah Carey. I knew that I wanted to be a singer and I asked my mom to put me in voice lessons. I started writing songs at age 10 and learned very quickly what an outlet songwriting could be for dealing with emotion. It's a form of therapy. The very first lyric in the first song on my album "I Can't Wait" is
"Staring at the road, out of the back seat window,
I'd think to myself about, all the places I would go.
Listening real close, to the girl on the radio,
I always had a feeling, that's where my voice would go"
This is a specific memory I have of sitting in my assigned seat in the back corner of a van packed full of kids during one of the many long family road trips. I would stare out the window and just imagine where music could take me. I'd imagine myself on stage, performing for thousands of fans. I'd sit there for hours and hours staring out that window of our old light blue mini-van and live in my daydreams. Usually there was country music playing on the radio, my parents favorite, which I grew to love and eventually sang along to every song. Country always felt so natural to sing, so I say that it's my roots.
KM: If you had to classify yourself in a genre, what would it be? Or do you prefer to stay away from labels altogether?
ML: I definitely have country influences in my music, but if I had to choose a main genre it would be pop. I don't want to limit myself, so when creating a song, the genre is not important to me. I have such a mix of sounds in my album, from energetic 80's type pop (Run For Your Life) to country-pop (High heels & Too Cool) to a darker indie sound (Waiting Tables), to hip hop(Never Enough). Maybe that will change, but I'm cool with being a trans-genred artist! I just try to have fun, and to write and sing from my soul.
KM: Do you write all of your music? What’s that process like?
ML: I do write all of my music. For this album, I worked with my friend/producer, Roberto Horns, who helped co-write. We developed a sound and songs that we felt, in a way, could connect to one another. Sometimes we collaborated with different guitarists and then built everything from there. Sometimes we started from scratch and made it entirely on our own. He's great at hearing catchy melodies and I would say that I'm the lyricist. We're all about having a specific and unique concept. We also try to write songs that could last over time and not just fade out like many music fads do. Once we have a strong backbone for the song, which could take minutes, hours or days, we record it. You never know when things will flow easily, but when they do it's magic!
KM: If you could sing anywhere, what’s you ideal performance venue?
ML: Anywhere that allows me to travel to a cool place that I've never been is ideal! I have always been excited to see new places and travel the world. I have some friends/fans in Ireland and have a dream of traveling there to do shows! It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been and the people are amazingly friendly! I think outdoor venues are awesome, like at a beach or in the mountains. I'm a huge nature lover! I would like to perform anywhere that I can also spend a few days off hiking in the mountains or sup boarding in the ocean! Destin, Florida and Williamsburg, Virginia will always be at the top of my ideal venue list because I have family there. My family is the most important part of my life. They are my biggest fans and huge supporters of my music, so any time I can bring my show close to them, you better believe I will!