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Interview with Amelia Scalies: Inspirations, Guitars and Anti-bullying

Amelia Scalies has achieved so much at the age of 15. She is the winner of both the Chester County Hospital Foundation and Strawberry Festival Battle of the Bands; is a Friday Morning Quarterback charting Top 40/AC artist, and as well as a singer, is a writer, guitarist and violinist. Her songs have moved audiences well beyond her years.

Amelia is from Pennysylvania. Her lyrics focus mainly on the human experience/universal theme. She has recorded an anthem on her debut album I Should’ve Known called ‘Don’t Let Them Win.’ This track is dedicated for children impacted by bullying. It encourages children to speak up and speak out while installing an uplifting message. Here is my interview with this inspiring artist:

GGM:  When did you first realise your great musical abilities, were there any ‘key’ moments?

AS:  I actually struggled with my faith in my singing, especially when we were recording for the record, and I really only learned to play guitar so I could pick chords for my lyrics. So my musical capabilities, I haven’t really had a big moment with them. For me, the big “key” moments were more when I wrote my first song, back when I was like four feet tall. I started singing random words in art class, and when I got home, I wrote them down and added some words and got a song. I remember reading it and singing it in my head afterwards and being like, “I’m Hannah Montana!” and then going to sneak Oreos out of the cabinet. Or like when I first put chords to one of my songs. I first put chords to ‘I Should’ve Known,” and when I sang it and played the guitar chords together for the first time, I had this little tug in my gut that said, “This is right. This is it. This is what you should’ve been doing this whole time.” It was awesome. And then my dad came into my room and we went out to a restaurant and ate enchiladas for no reason. It was a Thursday, and we just went to get enchiladas because we wanted enchiladas. I think my dad, even though he didn’t know anything about my music yet, had this feeling inside of him that he wanted to celebrate. A feeling that compelled him to take me to eat enchiladas. I believe that fate drove me to consume those enchiladas, and I will stick by that belief. I think that writing my first song and the Night of the Destined Enchiladas were my big “key” moments. They might seem small, but to me, they were huge, even if no one else knew what I was doing yet.

GGM:  Is there a particular celebrity who inspires you?

AS:  Ah. Well, there’s a lot, and for many different reasons. Pete Wentz, the lyricist and bassist of Fall Out Boy is a big inspiration for me. As corny as it sounds, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus (yes Miley Cyrus, calm yourselves down) were huge inspirations and influences on me when I was younger. All of the guys in All Time Low and Mayday Parade helped me get through seventh grade. Gerard Way, among the other guys in MCR, helped me through a lot in the last couple years. I can’t thank him enough for that. Moving away from music, J. K. Rowling and Cassandra Clare (author of the Mortal Instruments and the Infernal Devices series) have inspired to keep working to improve my writing skills, for both my stories and my songs.

GGM:  Your album, ‘I Should’ve Known’ is an intelligent, eclectic mix of music styles. Do you have a particular favourite song on the album?

AS:  My favourite is either ‘Memory’ or ‘Welcome to the Black Parade.’ ‘Memory’ because the instrumentation is fascinating to me; we used a guitar and got it to sound like a cello, we used low pitched drums, and the overall sound is just intriguing. And ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ is also a favorite because of, again, the instrumentation, as well as the fact that it’s an MCR song that’s really important to me.

GGM:  You have chosen to cover Emo/Rock band My Chemical Romance’s song ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ on your album, were they a favourite band of yours?

AS:  Yes, My Chemical Romance is my favourite band. I just feel like every song is an enigma, and everyone deciphers each one differently. Once you understand and give meaning to the song, it almost becomes yours. By leaving their songs so ambiguous, and also not saying “this song is about my ex-girlfriend and her pet chinchilla” in their interviews or at their concerts, they allow us to decide on our own what each song is about. Along with My Chemical Romance, Mayday Parade, Fall Out Boy, and Avril Lavigne are some of my favourite artists.

GGM:  Do you have a musical preference for Rock Music?

AS:  Yes. Rock music and alternative music, although I’m open to all genres. My dad played alternative music all the time when I was little, so I just grew up listening to it. It was normal for me; I didn’t realize that my friends didn’t listen to the Ramones and the Violent Femmes. It was my normal, and it was sort of an abrupt shock when I realized that while they didn’t know who Billie Joe Armstrong was, they knew every word to ‘Baby, One More Time.’

GGM:  Do you play any other instruments as well as acoustic guitar?

AS:  I’ve been playing violin since I was nine, and I picked up the ukulele two years ago.

GGM:  How many instruments do you own?

AS:  I own a Lanikai soprano ukulele and a beautiful violin. I have my first guitar, which I hardly play anymore; it was $200, a Fender guitar that I got in a box from the local music store. I have a blue Stratocaster Fender electric, which is really cool and way easier to play than my acoustics. And to save the best for last, I have a Martin acoustic/electric guitar, which is what you’ll see me performing with.

GGM:  You have achieved so much in such a short space of time, including your anti-bullying anthem, ‘Don’t Let Them Win.’ Can you tell me a bit more about that song?

AS:  That song, I started writing in fourth grade. My older brother was getting bullied, and remember that I got so mad about it. I told him I was gonna go to his school and take care of the bullies for him. I was ten, and he was twelve, so I’d assume the guys who’d been bullying him were a little too old for me to try and take on. Obviously, my parents stepped in and were like, “no, sweetie, we’ll handle this.” And they did, to the best of their ability. They talked to the principal over and over again, but the school did nothing. I was outrageously frustrated, so I just decided to write about it. I didn’t pick the song up for a while after writing the first draft, I remember I just started randomly humming it in the airport a year later on the way to relatives in Colorado. I wrote it in my head, and wrote it over again, and when we got home, I rewrote, then shelved it again. I didn’t finalize it until seventh grade, but most of the lyrics are the same as in the first draft, if you’d believe that. I mostly added stuff, went “that’s nice,” put the song away, took it out again, read it, went “oooh, that’s not good” and crossed out what I wrote the time before. Basically, the first and last drafts are the closest out of all of the drafts. Weird how that worked out

GGM:  Is there anyone you would love to share the stage with?

AS:  Hayley Williams. That sounds pretentious, like I automatically think, “yeah, we’re on the same level.” That’s not it at all. And it’s not because I’m a teenaged “punk” girl, and the stereotype dictates that I must be obsessed with Paramore. No, that’s not it at all. I genuinely like Hayley Williams. I’ve seen Paramore twice now, and after getting over the initial “wow, yeah Paramore is great live,” my second thought was “Hayley Williams is so vibrant on stage.” She’s alive and energetic and explosive; she kicks and dances and runs and jumps. She has the kind of energy that people envy. I think it’d be unbelievably fun to perform with Hayley Williams. She draws your attention like a moth to a flame, and I think that kind of light is something that’s contagious, and maybe if I perform with her, I’ll catch some of it.

GGM:  Where would your ultimate venue to perform at be?

AS:  Electric Factory. That is like the magic land where dreams come true and people mosh and punch each other to get to the front of the venue. It’s amazing- when you’re not getting shoved against a wall, that is- you can feel one person’s vibrations throughout the entire crowd. If the crowd jumps, you jump. Not even voluntarily, most of the time. You’re just so squished in that you’re lifted off of your feet as well. The crowd there is like one living being, and if one part of that being decides to do something, the whole being knows and is affected. It’s awesome. I can’t imagine how wicked it would be to be on stage, looking out on all of those people, who are getting their guts squished out, getting all bruised up just so they can hear you play. I think that’s amazing. I think that’s what music is really about.

GGM:  Do you find time for any other hobbies and activities?

AS:  I constantly write not just songs, but books and poetry as well. My mom would read to me when I was little, before I learned to read myself, and I remember thinking “oh, I’m gonna be an author someday.” Like with music, it wasn’t an aspiration to me, it was a fact. I wanted to do that, and I was going to make it happen. There were no doubts that somehow, I would do it.

GGM:  Have you any more burning ambitions?

AS:  I want to get my books published, I always have. I remember in sixth grade I would go into the shoe closet in my house and pretend that I was on television (I don’t know why it had to be the shoe closet, the bright lights reminded me of cameras I guess), that I was being interviewed about my books. It would be so much fun, I would talk into a loafer, and use a flip-flop as a fan, and use some heels as a telephone (to answer questions from my fans, of course). Other than wanting to get my books published, and to be in a band, I love drawing. I love manga, and I want to put out a graphic novel one day, maybe an adaptation of one of my own books. They’ve been doing that a lot recently, with the popular series, making graphic novels. If my books ever got popular, I would never cough up my words for some artist to represent. I’d be like “hahaha, no I’ll call you when I’m done drawing, thanks.” I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to my words. At so many times in my life, in recent years alone, my words have been all I own, and I think I’ll always be reluctant to relinquish them.

GGM:  What is on the cards for you in the future, do you have any more musical releases or a tour in the pipeline? 

AS:  I have been selected by Specialized UK to record a duet with Billy Brown for their charity album which benefits The Teenage Cancer Trust. I’m excited to cover Madness’s track “Blue Skinned Beast” and I am thrilled to have been chosen.

“Don’t Let Them Win” was selected, and donated to in the UK. Beat Bullying provides support and education to children, teachers and parents suffering from bullying. I applaud their anti-bullying efforts and I am proud to assist them in fighting this worldwide epidemic.

I have been nominated by WSTW Radio in Delaware for three 2014 local music awards. Namely, Best New Artist, Best Female Artist and Best Song for my track “More Than Words”

I will continue touring the USA this Spring in support of my album but have to work my shows around my high school schedule. This Summer I will be touring the West Coast and then will be touring England, Ireland and Scotland on a monthlong tour. I have been booked for The Resonance Festival in London, England which will be the largest music festival of the year in England.

I have hundreds of new songs written but nothing recorded yet. When the time is right, I will do rough demos with my dad on each new track and we will begin the hard work of narrowing down to an album’s worth of music.

GGM:  Thank you, Amelia!

For more on Amelia Scalies, visit her site HERE.

~ Karen Hill

Guest Blogger



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