Nashville-based Grammy award-winning musician and writer Buick Audra introduces her new single/music video, “The Melody,” a track lifted from her forthcoming album, Conversations with My Other Voice, slated for release on September 23.
The album, which will be accompanied by memoir-style essays, was written and produced by Buick and marks her first solo release without other writers or co-producers.
Talking about the song, Buick shares, “I wrote ‘The Melody’ about the ways we try to fit ourselves to what we think other people want—something I struggled with when I was younger. I wish I’d known that you can’t make someone care about you—and that’s okay.”
“The Melody” opens on gleaming guitars riding a delicious, low-slung country-rock rhythm as Buick’s deluxe, evocative vocals imbue the lyrics with haunting, vibrant timbres. It’s one of those expressive voices, dripping with subtle nuances and hints of aching textures.
“I think about the way I’ve been and where I went wrong / It often comes back to you / I never had the words but still I said too much / And none of it sounded true.”
The video, directed and edited by Jerry Roe, was shot by Jerry Roe and Roger Pistole and features Buick Audra, Kris Donegan, Lex Price, and Jerry Roe.
Intrigued and impressed, Guitar Girl Magazine spoke with Buick Audra to discover more about the song’s inspiration, her guitars, and her definition of tone.
What inspired your new single/music video, “The Melody?”
The song was written about how I used to feel about myself in relation to a certain person in my life. We met when we were kids (thirteen) when I was in a tough spot in my personal life. My mom had moved me out of her house in the Boston area and sent me to live with another family member in Miami. I was there for almost three years. This other kid and I became friends during that transitional time and developed an imbalanced dynamic that would carry on for years to follow. We grew up together and became collaborators, but there was always this thing between us, that I wasn’t good enough.
So, the song talks about how I thought my language had failed me, my voice had failed me, and I was going to try to prove my value through my songwriting—through the strength of the melody:
I wasn’t your first love; I won’t be your last
I won’t be thanked in your memoirs as the one who made you laugh
I won’t be there when your chapters end, won’t be there when your new ones start
no, but I’m gonna write you the melody that’s gonna break your heart
Looking back on it now, it’s wild that I put myself through that, but I did, and this song lives to tell.
The video is me and the band from my album performing it live, having fun being loud.
Walk us through your mindset as you approached recording the song.
The song is the opening track on my forthcoming album, Conversations with My Other Voice, which was recorded in a single day at Sound Emporium in Nashville, except for one song that was tracked later. The album is made up of five songs written in a previous life chapter, and five songs written in response to them, from here. They’re served up in pairs like that, mini conversations. I produced the album because I wanted a rhythm to the storytelling. I chose to record the songs in the order they appear on the album, to capture the progression.
Because “The Melody” is the first song on the record, I wanted it to have big, bold energy. My band and I tracked it all together at once, live (as opposed to layering our performances). I think the recording captures that live energy. I played the rhythm guitar, Kris Donegan played the other guitar, Lex Price played bass, and Jerry Roe played drums. I wanted my guitar to be the main structure of the instrumental performances, and I wanted the lead guitar to be soaring and non-repetitive. I didn’t want a riff or hook. I loved the band performance that we got, and then I sang it. I wanted big, strong vocals. I very much believe in giving a confident voice to these stories I’ve waited so long to tell.
How did you get started in music?
I was raised around a lot of music. Both of my biological parents are songwriters and there were always other musicians around. Music is truly my first language. I knew I was a singer, but I didn’t start playing guitar and writing songs until I was about twenty; haven’t stopped since. I literally got a guitar (a Fender Mustang), started a band, and wrote my first song one day. My first band was with my brother, who played drums. I just kind of knew it was where I belonged, so I sat down and did it. Sometimes you just have to start.
Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?
Rickie Lee Jones, Shawn Colvin, Ann Wilson, Chrissie Hynde, Tom Petty, Patty Griffin, Mariah Carey, Chris Cornell, Layne Staley. I’m all over the place with influences. I love so much music. But those artists have certainly influenced the sounds I make right now in this project.
What kind of guitar do you play?
On this album, I played three: a 1960 Fender Duo-Sonic named “Dignity,” a 1969 Gibson SG named “Boundary,” and a 1995 Gibson Nighthawk named “King.” I played the SG on “The Melody” and seven of the other tracks on the album! She’s got a great, slim, player neck, P90s, and a sound I love.
In my heavy duo, Friendship Commanders, I primarily play two Gibson Nighthawks, but sometimes my Fender Jazzmaster is in the mix, and our forthcoming album also has some Gibson Les Paul on it.
What is your definition of tone? And is your tone changing, or remained pretty much the same?
My tone changes, but I think you can always tell it’s me. As stated above, I play a bunch of different electric guitars from project to project. My tone(s) are certainly partially shaped by the instruments I play, my amps that I’m very particular about, and whatever pedals I’m using. But I believe my tone also lives in my hands and the way I play. And maybe my intentions when I play. Tone is as much who you are as what you play. Tone is voice.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?
First and foremost, I draw from my own experience. I write from a very personal place. I’m calling this album a memoir-in-songs because these stories are all things I’ve lived through. I draw inspiration from observing, from societal and cultural patterns, from people who are brave and step out of line, and from injustice.
“The Melody” actually has some lines inspired by hearing a famous music producer talk about how he thought the human voice was shaped by formative experiences in our childhoods; like if you’d had to speak up for yourself as a kid, you ended up having a more distinctive singing voice as an adult. Because this song is about communication that never reached the other person, I included that idea:
I’ve heard it said the voice we get is based on our past, and whether we championed ourselves
I know that mine was bitter-won from coming in last, not having anybody else
What can you share about your writing process?
I write music and vocals together. I play guitar when I write. Songs tend to come to me pretty quickly. I usually hear some section of a song in my head and sit down to figure it out on guitar and wait for the rest to come through. I believe in letting everything through at first, not judging anything or trying to edit it right out of the gate. Things can be edited later. If I let the raw work come through, it tends to be more authentic to who I am, and less like I’m trying to write a certain way. My favorite songs that I’ve written are the ones that I’ve allowed to show up as they are.
How do you define success?
This is such a good question for me right now—and so hard to answer. It’s tempting to define it by what others think, and I certainly believe we’re encouraged to do that, but I try to stay centered on better truths.
Success for me, today, is about staying on my own side as I put work forth. It’s hard for me, I won’t lie. I’ve had some difficult experiences around my music that have caused me to jump ship before. But seeing the ideas through, from beginning to end, and linking myself through the process is the goal. If I can do that, I’ve won.