Album and tour are just the beginning, writes Paula Yeoman

In a year in which Mel Parsons released her third album, Drylands, completed a 22-date New Zealand tour and made the top five shortlist in the prestigious Silver Scrolls, it's reasonable to expect she might be kicking back and looking forward to a relaxing summer.

Except that's not the case. Instead, Parsons is preparing for an upcoming theatre tour, supported by fellow Kiwi singer-songwriter Julia Deans, and busily organising next year's schedule, which will take her to Australia and North America.

"I've always got things on the go," laughs Parsons, who grew up on a farm at Cape Foulwind on the West Coast.

It's all part of being an independent, self-managed artist and Parsons wouldn't have it any other way.

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"The odd person will say, 'So, when you finish a tour, are you just on holiday?' They don't realise that 90 per cent of your work is administration. It's like running a business.

"That whole side of it takes a lot of time, but it's great. I feel very fortunate that I've reached a point where I can do it full time," she says.

Parsons debuted her unique and refreshing take on indie-folk in 2009 with the album Over My Shoulder. Since then she has toured relentlessly as a solo artist and has lent her talents to a handful of collaborations and projects, including the Fly My Pretties collective.

She is undoubtedly one of the country's hardest-working touring artists and says although it has been a tough slog, it's a great feeling to look back on what she has achieved.

"I studied music and had always been on that pathway. But I ended up mucking around overseas for a few years, as you do, being a musician but not really dedicating myself to it.

"Until my first album, I think I had kind of been waiting for something or someone to come along and do it for me. Then I realised it would only happen if I did it myself."

At that point, Parsons decided she would put everything into music and that meant not having a back-up plan.

"Initially I had that dream of 'I wish I could get signed'. But now I really appreciate the fact I've been made to work for myself and that [my career] is now in a position where I'm not making millions but it's sustainable. It's been hard yakka but so rewarding."

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Parsons will be joined on stage by a full band for the five-date tour, which takes in the newly refurbished Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch and one of Auckland's best-kept secrets when it comes to venues, Crystal Palace.

Mel Parsons' tour kicks off in Tauranga on October 28 and finishes in Christchurch on November 5. For dates and venues visit ticketek.co.nz