Last week I had the privilege of being able to hear Armed Love Militia’s upcoming track White Lillies featuring Mel Sanson. It’s a beautiful song, and if you want to hear a preview and see the review you can see it here.

I got in touch with Fairuza and Mel to ask some burning questions about their collaboration together, and it’s my pleasure to be able to share the conversation with you all here at Feroce Magazine. I wanted to know how they discovered each other, the dynamics of their artistic relationship and what their plans are for the future. In between we discuss what’s important to them about the music industry and more.

In a world of mindless consumption, Fairuza brings honesty, authenticity and a tangible essence of pure talent to the industry. By her side in perfect harmony, Mel Sanson.

Photo by Valentina Socci

Photo by Valentina Socci

DR: Please tell us how you both met!

Mel: Like most alternative girls I’ve been a huge fan of Fairuza's acting since I was a teenager. In 2011 I randomly looked her up to see if she was on twitter. I must have watched one of her films. I discovered she was also a musician!! Not just any musician an AMAZING musician. She had recently released Stormwinds. I was immediately blown away. The textures, layers and emotion in Fairuza's voice were like nothing I had heard before. I loved it and wanted more, so I let her know! I sent over my music and she was very complimentary and super supportive about it. We’ve been sending each other songs we’ve been working on ever since and have become really good friends.

Fairuza: Ditto! What Mel said.

DR: Mel, what was your first impression of White Lillies when you heard it?

MS: It gave me goosebumps. I thought it was absolutely perfect and was a little terrified that adding my vocals would ruin it! I had some harmony ideas and mentioned where they would go and Fairuza said no, I want you to harmonise on ALL of it. Fairuza is the real deal. Music is in her blood and it absolutely pours out of her when she sings. She is unapologetically herself in every way and the music world is crying out for something so real.

ennifer Sanson Photography @Jensansonphoto

ennifer Sanson Photography @Jensansonphoto

DR: Fairuza, what compelled you to get Mel involved, can you tell us about the moment you realised she was perfect for the track?

Fairuza:  I really admire Mel’s voice and energy. She is a great performer and an even better songwriter which is saying a lot. If you ever seen her perform you know what I’m talking about. It wasn’t so much like I knew she’d be a perfect fit for this track it was more like “ Hey I have this cool Appalachian folk/murder ballad style song and I was thinking it might sound really great with some harmonies on it. Wanna check it out and see how it goes”? So I sent her the song, she dug it and worked out some harmonies which she recorded and sent back to me and I was blown away.

That song always felt like something was missing but I couldn’t quite nail down what it was. Once I heard it with our voices combined it just fit like it had always been done that way.

DR: Both of you, can you tell us about the day that you recorded the track together? What was it like? What is the most memorable part of that day for both of you?

Fairuza: Oddly enough, I remember being in a lot of pain. I’d had an impacted molar pulled out that week and the dentist has sprained my jaw badly. I couldn’t open my mouth more than an inch or so. Mel could only stay for those days so we had to get it done. Mel is such an awesome funny person. I was all swollen up looking like a hamster with cheeks full of nuts groaning in pain and Mel laughed and said “ “Use it! Take that pain and push it through “! Which I did. I’m surprised when I listen to it because that pain is audible in the track but it comes through in the emotion. Makes me laugh when I think about those hamster cheeks of mine. We were rehearsing and I’d be singing away @ White Lillie’s they ——— expletive———— to the ground” suddenly cursing really loud cuz I kept forgetting to keep my jaw closed. What can I say, making art keeps you tough ! Lol!

MS:  Absolutely! Fairuza’s heroic efforts were not in vain. Those hamster cheeks were like little mini acoustic halls. Her voice sounded incredible. We had this cool rehearsal/live music space for the week. I bought my home studio with me from the UK and set it all up. We were supposed to have the whole week to hang out, rehearse and record. We did hang out and got some rehearsals in the first few days but then we lost a few days post dentist surgery because it was so bad at first she couldn’t even open her mouth. We actually ended up recording the track in one take at 3am, the morning of my flight back to the UK. The most memorable part was that we managed to do it! There’s a little giggle from Fairuza right at the very end of the recording that I wanted to keep in because it sums up the feeling we both had when we realised we managed to get the take!

DR: We read in one of your blog posts that you realised you both sang really well together - what sort of things would you sing together?

FB: Mel and I share music back and forth. We email each other songs we're working on or ideas. We trust each other’s opinions and trust that we will get an honest opinion back. I’ve never had a friend I’ve really done this with in this way but it’s really wonderful. White Lillies is the main song we’ve worked on together but there are a couple other songs that we might work on. We’ll see.

MS:  It’s rare to find someone that you’re able to sing harmonies with so easily. They just come so naturally with us, it’s awesome :)

DR: What is something that you both believe is super important to the music industry?

MS: Real music firstly. I can’t get behind generation autotune. Over production wipes out the textures and layers that I spoke about before, the realness that grabs you in the gut. Each to their own but please don’t let the real music die.  Secondly women, cis, trans and non binary.

We have to keep fighting for our visibility. Whether it’s on stage, behind the stage, out the front or in the crowds. We have to look out for each other and the guys need to fight with us.

This year I have started to see this change because people are speaking up. Courtney Love and Shirley Manson have been vocal about it for 20 years which heavily influenced my generation to pick up a guitar and write songs. Now we’re seeing up and coming artists like Dream Wife & Jen Cloher kicking off about it, which is great. Isn’t it crazy though, it’s been over 100 years since we’ve had the right to vote but go look at festival line ups and award ceremonies, it’s all incredibly male dominated. It’s very easy to feel like you don’t fit in and give up. We have to speak up and support other female artists. Check out this article written about Sammy Andrews. A force of nature in the music industry at the moment who is pioneering this change as we speak :)

FB:  I agree with everything Mel just said. I think that the industry is in a big state of transition these days. I think that there is more interest in singer/songwriters than there has been in a while.

People are getting tired of the modern highly overly produced stuff. They want to be able to actually feel something from music again.

I think that’s why people are getting back into collecting records and tapes because the sound is so much more visceral.

DR: What’s next for both of you?
FB:  We’ll see. I’m not the kind of person who likes to really make plans per se but I love Mel. I have the utmost respect for her as an artist so I hope we will record some more tunes together. Fingers crossed :)

MS: I’ve just released my debut solo record Ghost and am writing and recording my debut EP. I’m very excited about the release of the Armed Love Militia Raw Life Lo-Fi EP. The more Fairuza music in the world, the better place it will be.

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