We catch up with Mel Parsons as she and Greg Johnson get set to hit the road on a 13-date national tour playing their own and each other's songs.
1. Who is Mel Parsons? Describe yourself in a single sentence.
I am a singer-songwriter and touring artist.
2. You've been busy already this year with touring, including Germany, Australia and NZ shows. Have you found much time to work on that next album?
I've had snippets of time on the road, which isn't ideal, but I take what I can get on that front. I've had a bit of time over winter where I hunkered down writing as well ... I'm really looking forward to making a new album, not long now.
3. In our review of your album Drylands, we noted a major theme of travel and being on the move. What is your life like outside the world of touring and music?
My life is fairly well consumed with touring and working as a musician these days, but when I'm home it's pretty quiet. I love hanging out with my nieces and nephew whenever I'm home and not working. My job involves a lot of work from the office so you'll usually find me there. If it's winter time I'll be skiing. I also like being in the garden and going to the gym. To balance out the road living I find I need a routine when I'm home, otherwise chaos ensues.
4. You're back in the country to play New Zealand dates with Greg Johnson - what is unique about the Kiwi audience and the way it embraces your music?
I think all audiences are essentially the same in that everyone is there (at the show) to feel something. I'm grateful that Kiwi audiences are so good to me - they're always warm and appreciative, and usually keen for a laugh too.
5. What is your favourite Mel Parsons track and why?
I think my favourite is probably Driving Man, it feels nice to play, especially with my band - almost a bit hypnotic.
6. What is your favourite Greg Johnson track and why?
Swagger is one of my favourites, there's a melancholy that I love in that song, I think that was the song that first drew me in to Greg's music.
7. Besides Greg, who do you admire in the NZ music scene and why?
This section could be as long as my arm - there are so many great people in our industry here in NZ. I'm lucky to have a lot of friends who are artists as well, and are doing amazing jobs of juggling lives and careers. I take my hat off to each and every one of them. I really admire Victoria Kelly at APRA, she's an accomplished musician and composer in her own right, and is a strong advocate for musicians across the board. She also has boundless energy and a wicked sense of humour. There are a lot of unsung champions behind the scenes as well - people like Andre Upston at RNZ, Fly My Pretties producer Mikee Tucker, and music manager Cushla Aston.
8. You can only fit one album by another artist on your device - what is it?
Paul Simon - Graceland.
9. You're curating a music festival - who's on the bill, alive or dead?
Well, it'll have to be multi-day: Mark Knopfler (two sets - one solo, one with Dire Straits), Feist, Tom Petty, Ladyhawke, Spiderbait, William Crighton, David Bowie, Amelia Curran, Crowded House, Eden Mulholland, Anaïs Mitchell, Hilltop Hoods, Cat Stevens, Beyonce, Chris Isaak, Don McGlashan, Melissa Etheridge, Seth Sentry, Kimbra, Neil Young, Cake, Fleetwood Mac, Terrible Sons, Greg Johnson, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Gillian Welch, The Sami Sisters, Ray La Montagne, Julia Deans, Paul Kelly, Tami Neilson, Salmonela Dub, Anika Moa, The Eagles, Anna Coddington, The Black Keys, The Phoenix Foundation, Kings of Leon, First Aid Kit, Flight of the Conchords, Shakey Graves, Supergroove, SJD, Gin Wigmore, Dave Dobbyn, Aldous Harding, Rudimental ... Also, I'd be on the bill because I love playing festivals.
10. What does success look like for you? What's your ultimate goal as a musician?
I think 'success' is a pretty loaded term. To me if people are listening and getting something out of the music, that's as much as I can ask for. Obviously it helps if I'm touring and writing 'good' songs, and of course as an artist - the more people I can reach the better. As long as people keep coming out to shows and buying records, I hope to be able to continue writing and touring for as long as I am able to perform.
The Together & Alone Tour begins in Auckland this week. See gig and venue information here.