Girl Power, the 90’s, and a New Music Project in the Works: Melissa Brooks of The Aquadolls Speaks to 50thirdand3rd


Last week, Melissa Brooks of SoCal surf-rock group , the Aquadolls, took some time to talk about her new production deal, as well as a few other topics here and there. From describing the sound of her new music project (with fellow Aquadolls bandmate, Ryan Frailich) and her songwriting process, to her fondness of the 90’s and “girl power”, Brooks seems well on the way to achieving her dream of superstardom.

NS: You recently signed a new deal, could you talk a little bit about that?
MB: Yeah! I signed a management and production deal to work on my album—my solo album that I’m working on. It’s a pop album.

NS: Is that “Psychedelic love”?
MB: Umm that’s the working title for the album, but it’s under my name, Melissa Brooks.

NS: You’re doing that with your guitarist from Aquadolls, Ryan, right?
MB: Yeah Ryan’s going to be playing keys in the band.

NS: What kind of sounds are you getting from what you’ve worked on so far?
MB: Umm really pop…spice girls, like bringing back the 90’s pop movement with more attitude.

NS: You’ve mentioned in previous interviews a fondness for the 90’s. What about 90’s music really inspires you?
MB: The 90’s really inspires me. I really like how it was artist-driven. And people seem to have more things to say

NS: Do you have any favorite 90’s bands?
MB: Umm I really like Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland. I also really like Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, Spice Girls. They’re all about girl power. And girl power is really important to me too.

NS: So you’re really into feminism then? Or, as you put it, girl power.
MB: Yeah! Girl power is really important to me. A lot of rock music is male-dominated so I think it’s really cool when girls come to the front because I feel like they stand out, and have really powerful voices and…I don’t know. Girls are awesome!

NS: It’s really cool to see a lot more women establishing themselves in the rock genre, as you said it has historically been very male-dominated. I read an article recently, and in it a few female artists were talking about how women in the rock genre are sometimes perceived as being significant only in relation to the established “male standard”. One of the examples mentioned was of people who would come up to them after a show and say things like, “You’re a great guitar player for a girl!”
MB: It shouldn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. If you write music and you have a message to get across, you should do it! Doesn’t matter what sex you are
NS: Exactly!
MB: Hell yeah!

NS: You guys played with Vivian Girls for their last show, right?
MB: Yeah, we played with them last month and that was really cool.

NS: How’d that come about?
MB: They tweeted something online, and we responded asking if we could play with them. I was really stoked, but, like, sad that they were breaking up too. It was a really good show!

NS: Do you think you’ll keep in contact with any of them, maybe for a future project at some point?
MB: I would be down! I like them. Cassie Ramone’s really rad.

NS: So as for the Aqua Dolls right now, are you all working on anything? Maybe some new music, or a tour sometime in the future?
MB: I’m working on my current project right now. It’s headed towards that direction. That’s my main focus right now, finishing up my album.

NS: Is it safe to say we might expect that to come out sometime later this year?
MB: Umm, I wanna shoot for later this year, yeah.

NS: Could you talk about your songwriting process? Are you the type of artist to sit around with your band mates and jam and let something evolve from that? Or do you sit in your room and something comes to you and you write? Or is a little bit of both…
MB: Well, most songs just kind of come from me just getting random bursts of inspiration. I can’t just sit down and be like, “Ok I’m going to write a song”. Like, it’ll just randomly come to me, and I’ll just write it down in my notebook and maybe play it on piano or with guitar. And then just write it out and yeah…

NS: I understand that you and Ryan have been dating for awhile now. Did you guys first meet and start dating, or did you start playing music and then the relationship came later?
MB: I met him at a music festival in May of 2012. I actually thought he was my friend cuz they have the same curly hair, but it wasn’t him (laughs). But we got in contact, and went to a show together and like, started dating, yeah (laughs). Then we recorded our first EP and then his friends hopped on bass and drums. Colin is on drums and Josh is on bass.

NS: What sparked you guys playing music together?
MB: Well I’ve always been writing music since I was, like, 4. And I’ve had all these songs that I’ve wanted to record and he recorded music in his room, so I recorded all the stuff, and he added some guitar licks over it and we put it up online.

NS: If you could be born into any time or era, which would it be and why?
MB: I would love to be a teenager in the late 60’s. I think that was a really rad time for love and good vibes, and a lot of good music.

NS: I might do the same.
MB: I’d definitely go to Woodstock!

NS: Yeah!! Monterey Pop Festival would be awesome too.
MB: My uncle went to the Monterey Pop festival!

NS: Whoa!
MB: Yeah, he’s old though (laughs).

NS: How’d you guys get involved with Burger Records?
MB: Burger Records put out our first EP on cassette, and they’re putting out our current album, “Stoked on You” later this year.

NS: How did that relationship begin?
MB: Umm I use to go help out at the shop, and I told Bobby that I had a band. I gave him my CD and they said they’d put out a tape.

NS: Do you have any tour plans with the Aquadolls?
MB: Umm yeah, I mean, nothing’s set in stone, but we definitely wanna play as many shows as we can. Start playing shows under my name, too. We’ll be playing some shows later this year.

NS: Have you guys played out of California?
MB: Yeah, we’ve mostly played in Southern California, like LA and Orange County.

NS: Was there any show that you played that stuck out to you?
MB: Umm well, on Saturday (mar 22nd) we played Burgerama and that was really fun. That was a really good experience for all of us. There was a lot of people and we were all excited, and it sounded great.

NS: This one’s kind of random, but what’s your zodiac sign?
MB: Aries.

NS: I’m an Aries too!
MB: Hell yeah, the rams! Ryan’s an Aries too.

NS: Wow, so you both are Aries, I’ll bet that makes for some interesting chemistry!
MB: Yeah, we’re hardheaded and know what we want; and we’re passionate. We go for what we believe in.

NS: As I’m speaking with you, I can’t help but notice that you come off very happy, high-spirited, and positive. I was wondering if there was any life philosophy or anything like that that you follow?
MB: A life philosophy…oh man…I just wanna be a super star, honestly (laughs). I’m kidding…well…seriously…I’m not kidding, but umm… (Laughs). A life motto can be to work hard, follow your dreams, and you can accomplish anything! Go for good vibes and don’t pay attention to the “haters” cuz everyone secretly loves you.
NS: Awe, that’s great advice!

NS: Are there any current bands that you’re listening to that inspire you?
MB: I’m listening to a lot of Charli XCX, Haim…and Brittany Spears! I’m also watching a Michael Jackson documentary right now, “King of Pop”. He’s such an amazing entertainer! It’s crazy, like, I wish I could be one-fifth of how talented he is.

NS: His talent is undeniable! It’s so sad that he passed right before that tour.
MB: It is really sad and everything. He was a really talented man. Most of these people in the documentary have moved on, but it still is really sad.

NS: It is…but you know everything is in a constant cycle of change. I think his energy molecules probably went out into the universe, and maybe you got some and that’s why you’re drawn to him right now!
MB: Whoa, thanks so much! (Laughs) That means a lot!

NS: Anytime! I think that if you strongly identify with someone, especially someone dead, I think you could possibly be channeling a bit of that person’s energy that has scattered throughout the universe.
MB: I can only hope so! I can tell he wanted to inspire people. He’s a really inspiring guy! He inspired me, and millions of other people all over the world.

NS: Anything you’d like to say to the fans or anybody out there in general?
MB: Stay tuned for my new album! I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I’m working with Aaron Greene, he’s a producer in Hollywood Hills and we’re making gnarly tracks that are going to change the world, so, get ready! (Laughs)

Melissa Brooks, Twitter

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Orlando-based guitar yielder and music slut. I play in the band, A Room Full of Strangers, work at a record store, and write for this blog from time to time.

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