Interview with Melissa Brooks (The Aquadolls)

1- We love your music and how it’s soft and heavy at the same time. Where do you get the inspiration for your songs? What’s the song you’re proudest of and what’s the story behind it?

I find inspiration from stories I make up in my head, which later develop into songs. Sonically, I love heavy music but I also love chill music that feels good, so I like to combine different genres throughout our releases to get a good blend of different moods. We like to have a little something for everyone. The band’s most successful song is “Our Love Will Always Remain”, a song about how the flowers their lover gave them may wilt away, but their love is so strong that it shall never wither like the flowers may. It’s always a song that I see people singing along when we play it live, and it has also been used as the theme song for the Aerie Real campaign about body positivity starring model Barbie Ferreira. 

2-Melissa, how did you decide to become a musician? What motivated you to start a band and start getting on stage?

Music is something that has always been around me, especially growing up. My parents started me in ballet, tap, and jazz dance when I was just three years old. I would sing to people in grocery stores and love to entertain strangers. I was so embarrassing, but I got a kick out of making a fool of myself in front of people. I played in a couple of bands in middle school and high school, but nothing serious came of it. After one of the bands I was in came to an end, I sat on my bed, covered in wet tissues from crying my eyes out thinking my life of being in a band was over, I looked over at my stack of songbooks. I’ve been writing songs since second grade. I knew it was time for my voice to be heard through my lyrics and my stories and my imagination, and I never looked back!

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3-You haven’t come out with an album since 2014. When are you thinking of putting out new material?

I know, it’s been forever. It’s been a long process for me, but I’ve been writing so much new music. I want to make sure the next release kicks major ass, and I’m spending a lot of time making sure I have the right songs with the best lyrics and melodies, and of course with a super tasty beat, new elements of synthesizers, and twinkling guitar riffs.

4-You’ve played in some cities for the first time, like Austin and New York. What was that like? How’d your first tour as headliners go? What have been the best moments?

Touring has been one of the most intense yet incredible times of my entire life. Playing the legendary Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, Texas was so rad. There were pictures of Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson in our dressing room, and it was a trip knowing that they had once been sitting in that same room we were in. New York was so incredibly humid but beautiful. I love the fast-paced energy of the city and how there is always stuff going on. We did a fun photo shoot with The Messy Heads, got really great Chinese food, went to an arcade, and then we finished the night by playing The Studio at Webster Hall. Everyone has been so incredibly nice to us and it’s amazing to see that no matter where in the country we’re playing a show, someone’s going to show up, sing along, and maybe even bring gifts for us. We even sold out our show in Reno at The Holland Project, and we had never even been to Reno before! I’ve met some of the coolest people on this tour, and I can’t wait to do it again soon.

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5-We noticed that you film and edit most of your own videos. What’s it like to do that yourself? And how was it working with other people, like for “Sinus Infection?”

I love being hands-on with our footage. I know what kind of aesthetic our fans want to see and what kind of content they enjoy, and I combine the elements of what fans want with special surprises and unique, natural footage to create the videos we have. “Sinus Infection” was an absolute blast to film. I love the eerie darkness of the haze the band is playing in, and the director did a fantastic job in making the video seem like a concert playing in a dreamer’s mind as they have rock and roll dark dreams.

6-From the outside we’re seeing a ton of bands coming out of LA and Orange County, a lot of them on Burger Records like you. What’s your strategy for standing out among so many bands?

I don’t really look at it like “standing out” from everyone else. I’m just doing me and being myself, and people seem to like that. This project is very personal and authentic, and the bands and artists that “make it” in the industry are the ones who have fans who believe in who they are. I’m so lucky and blessed that our aqua fam gets each other. Communication and interaction is so important to me and to this band. I’ll always answer dms, cover songs and do question/answer broadcasts on Periscope, Snapchat fans, and do anything just to make them feel like they belong to a community of people who can feel comfortable and be whoever they want to be.

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7-We’re not a fashion magazine, but we love your style and we are very interested about it. Where do you get such cool clothes? How do you like to dress on tour?

Haha thanks! My clothes are a mixture of thrifted/vintage pieces and a lot of hours of online shopping on random webstores I find through Instagram or Tumblr. While on the road, I like to stay comfy, but always fabulous. When we have six or seven or some days nine hour car drives to the venue, I’ll wear denim shorts, a crop top tee, beat up comfy Doc Martens, and a ribbon in my hair to keep it out of my face. On stage, I like to get wild with my fashion. Sometimes I’ll wear a shiny jacket, or a tight black mesh dress with sky high combat boots and glitter all over my body, face, and hair. My favorite shoes I wore on tour are my pink Ego Perspex booties with the clear pink heel. They aren’t the most comfortable, but they are cute as fuck and totally worth the suffering and pain. LOL.

8-What’s your favorite place to play? Is there somewhere you’d like to play in the future?

Even though we toured the entire country, there’s nothing like playing in your hometown. Really though, anywhere that people come to have a good time sounds like a great place to me. Someday, I’d love to play The Hollywood Bowl. I know I’ve got big dreams, but maybe we’ll be lucky enough to land an opening spot for a kickass band or artist someday.

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9-We heard they’re demolishing The Smell. It kind of reminds us of the movie Empire Records (if you haven’t seen it, you should—Liv Tyler looks great). We know you’ve has played there. What are your thoughts on what’s happening?

It’s honestly so sad that they’re demolishing it. I have so many great, sweaty, insane memories at The Smell.  I remember playing there after we released the Stoked On You EP in the summer of 2013. It was our first sold out show. We hadn’t even gone on yet and I remember I was dripping from my forearm with sweat and I never even knew I could sweat from my forearms. The show was unforgettable. I crowd surfed so many times during our set. I even wore a pink wig. The Smell is a safe space for people to be themselves and let go of all their troubles in the pit and just enjoy music organically. I really hope they are able to relocate the venue to continue their legacy!

10-What are your favorite movies? Could you recommend us a couple?

Clueless, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen are some of my all time favorites. I love horror films so much. Someday, I’d love to write and direct a scary movie. How cool would that be?

11-When is Aquadolls coming to tour in Europe?

Hopefully next year!! That would be incredible. I really want to play a show with Rat Boy! They’re killing it over there.

12-Last but not least, what’s your favorite smell? Favorite pizza toppings? And what song would you recommend for being stoned by the pool on a summer afternoon?

Vanilla. Pineapple. Anything by Kehlani would provide the perfect stoner pool party playlist. She’s dope.

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Links:

theaquadolls.storenvy.com/

instagram.com/melissabrooksla/

twitter.com/melissabrooksla

twitter.com/theaquadolls

theaquadolls.tumblr.com/

facebook.com/theaquadolls

Photos taken by Ryan Frailich, guitarist of The Aquadolls

 

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