The Covid Chronicles... Blues Rocker Melanie?
Much like her full-on approach to music, Toronto blues-rocker Melanie?
By Jason Schneider
Much like her full-on approach to music, Toronto blues-rocker Melanie? (yes, Melanie with the question mark) has taken up of the challenge of Covid-19 fundraising by launching the Masks For Music initiative in support of Spotify’s Music Relief Project and the Unison Benevolent Fund.
Along with custom-made, 100 percent cotton masks adorned with her signature “M?” available for a minimum $10 donation, Melanie? has also partnered with over a dozen businesses in the Greater Toronto Area to offer a range of goods and services for donations of $100 and up.
Her goal is to raise $10,000 through her GoFundMe page, which will be donated to the Unison Benevolent Fund and matched dollar for dollar by Spotify. Unison was chosen, she explains, for the important work the Toronto-based non-profit does to support Canadian musicians with financial assistance and access to health services, things needed more than ever at the moment.
We caught up with Melanie? to find out more, and full GoFundMe details are here
How are you coping with self-isolation personally?
At first I wasn’t dealing with the acceptance of changing my whole life around. But now I have newfound gratitude for the whole pandemic. I have a whole new acceptance to change what life might look like for me as this evolves.
Your Masks For Music fundraising campaign has been successful so far. What inspired you to do it, and how challenging has it been to pull it off?
My boyfriend’s mother inspired me. She custom made all these masks and is one of the most talented women I know. She custom makes me t-shirts, necklaces, mugs and pretty much anything you can think of. I have always wanted to run a fundraiser for mental health. But with Covid-19, helping musicians who are struggling with economic, physical and mental health specifically in a time like this didn’t feel like something I could put off any longer. On top of that, I am a community-driven person who is always looking for ways to use my platform to connect and promote what others are doing, and I was able to get 18 local companies involved. At times it’s been tiring and gruelling, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We’ve raised $15,000 and counting, and I thank God every day for peoples’ generosity.
What plans did you have pre-pandemic, and how have you been forced to adapt?
We were working toward releasing the next single and planning for videos, live shows, photo-shoots and all the rest. So everything has kind of stalled, but I’m hopeful we’ll get back on track as soon as we can.
How has the inability to play live affected you overall?
It’s allowed me to hone my songwriting, and spend more time connecting with fans and others online. I also still practice a lot, so I’m ready! I recently took part in a live-stream festival called Homebody with a bunch of other amazing Canadian artists like Allan Rayman and The Reklaws, and it was so amazing to watch artists and industry players come together and adapt to this time.
What do you believe the long-term effects of the pandemic will be on the music industry?
Just like people weren’t paying 10 bucks to go to the movie theatres much anymore, it’s going to be hard to get people to pay for live shows that are considered a luxury. I’m praying that people understand that as artists, all we dream of is being on a stage, and from the looks of it that’s not happening anytime soon. On top of that, artists are being dropped from labels, new artists are not getting signed and independent artists are competing for spots with big-time artists who are working harder than ever to keep their fans engaged online. But for now, we are just trying to survive in general, and it goes beyond the industry. It’s people—we just have to go day by day for now. So, I think the longterm effects have already hit! It’s sad, but it’s reality and we must use music to heal our pain.