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Amelia Scalies: “I´m an awkward teenager who really loves music”.

Translation by Leticia Lorenzo

Powerful, melancholic and strong. Anyone who listens to the voice of Amelia Scalies, could think she is in her twenties. Instead, after a quick search on the Internet it will not take a long time to discover that this songwriter and singer is only fourteen.

While other teenagers go from party to party during this period or do not have any purpose in life, Amelia goes from stage to stage and she has found the key to everything: music.

In spite of the fact that she has never considered herself a popular girl, the support of her family and social networks came all of a sudden. Her Facebook and Twitter accounts have more and more new followers each day. Something draws our attention: while other famous people ignore their followers, the first thing Amelia does is thanking her new fans. A good–will statement.

Her debut album I should’ve know is already in iTunes. It includes twelve tracks that range from Pop and Contemporary Country to Rock. This album proves that it is only a matter of time before Amelia becomes one of the new rising stars in the US music world.

It is a pleasure for MAKING OF E-ZINE to present this exclusive interview with Amelia Scalies, the first one with a Spanish media. 

You are only fourteen, but you already have many followers who listen to your music. How does Amelia Scalies coexist with that success?

I’m not really used to being ‘popular.’ Sometimes I don’t really believe that there are kids in Turkey who are listening to my music, and sometimes I’m like ‘holy god, how did this happen? I can’t believe this is happening!’ It’s so amazing. When I read the comments people leave me on Twitter or YouTube, I just want to cry and dance and run all the way to their house to shake their hand and show them that I’m not some super-cool rockstar stuck-up American. I’m an awkward teenager who really loves music. And that I think they’re awesome because they are too.

How do you combine your musical career with other aspects of your private life, like education?

Really, it’s always been music first, and education second for me. And I’m not saying that’s the way it should be, that that’s the greatest plan ever, but ever since I was about five years old, I’ve known what I want to do with my life and it’s always been to write songs and inspire other kids to do the same. Schoolwork has always been easy for me, and in elementary school I was able to get all of my home and schoolwork done before the buses were even being called. Now that I’m in high school, and there are more projects that require extra work at home, I accept that some of my free time needs to be dedicated to school. Somehow, I get my schoolwork done, usually before I allow myself to veg out.

At what age did you start composing songs?

I wrote my first song when I was in preschool, five years old I’m pretty sure. It was all about having a bad day and what you could do to feel better.

What is the story behind ‘Don’t let them win’?

When my brother was in sixth grade, he was getting bullied pretty badly, constantly teased and called gay and altogether being forced to endure mental and emotional torture every day at school. My parents had many meetings with the school principal and nothing got better. It only got worse and we could all see the toll it was taking on my brother. It affected all of us deeply, and my way of coping with being virtually powerless when it came to helping my brother was writing this song.

How did ‘Memory’ arise?

‘Memory’ is also a song about bullying for me. I’ve been bullied a lot, and I’ve moved around schools because it’s been so bad. This song was written in a period of time when I was losing all of my friends at my fourth school in seventh grade. I could taste everything going sour, and no matter how many times I pleaded with my friends to talk to me, to tell me what was going on, no one would listen. This song was written when my last couple of friends were deciding to abandon me and get in with my bully. They thought they were being so slick, asking the technology teacher to change seat so they could move away from me and not talking to me. Like I didn’t know what was going on. This stuff really got to my head, making me doubt myself, and wonder if there was something horribly wrong with me.

Amelia Scalies

Amelia Scalies, singer and songwriter. SOURCE

Does your passion for music run in your family?

I’d say yes. Most of my family on my dad’s side is into musical theater, and even though that’s not really my scene, they definitely taught my dad how to love music, and he taught me. My dad is definitely into music, all kinds of genres. All of the alternative traces in my music are probably due to my dad and my love for alt-rock music, or pop-punk music like Green Day and All Time Low.

What are your musical influences?

My musical influences. Ah. Well, like any other kid, I’ve had my phases. When I was really little, I thought Miley Cyrus was the best because she was the only other young girl I knew of who wrote songs. She definitely inspired me to keep writing. In fourth grade I discovered this band called KSM that really influenced my writing style, the way I write lyrics. In sixth grade, when I started getting bullied pretty badly, I became insanely obsessed with Taylor Swift because she was also a girl songwriter who’d also been bullied, and she was successful. Some of my favorite bands, like My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and Mayday Parade have definitely taught me how to become stronger and let all of the mean comments slide right off of me.

You have released a cover version of ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ by My Chemical Romance. It is a very complex song. How did you face it?

Covering this song, for me, was the biggest no-brainer and yet the biggest what-if of this album. My Chem is my favorite band, and this is one of my favorite songs by them. It helped me cope with being bullied, and having no one to talk to, and having to go into school everyday knowing that while no one would talk TO me, they’d all be talking ABOUT me. But I had my doubts about putting this song on my CD. I felt that it would just clash with my Taylor Swift Era songs, like Macey Brown and Rose Blossom.  But in the end I decided that this song meant more to me, at the period of time, than almost anything else. And I wanted this CD to be meaningful. I figured if the song could influence me so strongly, it could influence the people who’d listen to my CD just as strongly. ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ is definitely a hard song to cover. The trick with covering songs like this is that you can’t try to sound like the original artist. You’ll just sound like a singer at amateur karaoke night. You have to give the song a twist, and we did that by using acoustic instruments, like acoustic guitar  violin, cello and brass. This idea was actually my father’s, and while I did kind of doubt it at first, it did turn out pretty spectacular, don’t you agree?

Your music falls somewhere in between contemporary country and alternative rock. How do you achieve that?

As I said before, I had a Taylor Swift obsession from sixth grade to when she released her CD Red in eighth grade, which I didn’t really like. This affected the songs I wrote, and for a period of time, I wanted to be a country singer like her. After the release of Red, I became sort of disillusioned with her in her entirety. I realized that, in my opinion, she cared more about boys and dancing than she did about making a stand against bullying, or just making a stand for anything at all. In this lost period of time, I realized that I’d been getting really into alternative music since the start of seventh grade without even noticing it. So I started listening to more and more alternative bands, starting with Fall Out Boy, then My Chemical Romance, and then bands like Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens. Altogether, this musical odyssey affected the sound of my album, and I do struggle with not shaming my more country, boy-oriented, Taylor Swift-esque songs like Macey Brown. I do like these songs a lot, I’m just not sure that they represent who I am now. What keeps me from doing something like refusing to play these songs at my gigs is the knowledge that while they may not be who I am anymore, they are a part of who I used to be. And I feel like we should never be ashamed or embarrassed of the person we used to be, because they are the person who helped turn us into who we are today.

How did you feel when you listened to your music for the first time on the radio?

When I first heard my music on the radio, I was sort of numb. It was really cool to know that something you worked hard to create was appreciated by others. The other night, I was listening to my CD before I went to bed and there were a couple times when I forgot who I was listening to and I was like “wow this chick is really awesome.” I think that feeling that I got when I remembered it was me was better than I’ve ever felt hearing my music on the radio. When I listen to the CD by myself on my iPod, I don’t worry about other people and what kind of girl they’ll think I am when they hear my songs. All I do is listen, and when I cut all of the other stuff out, I like what I hear.

We like ‘Paramore’. You met Hayley Williams, among others, if we are not wrong. How was that?

Alright. I’m pretty sure everyone likes Paramore, and if they say they don’t, they are lying. Paramore helped me through a lot last year, when my last friend started ignoring me and hanging out with the people who bullied me, just like she’d promised she wouldn’t do. Waiting in line to meet Paramore, I’d felt so anxious, freaking out about the way I looked, wishing I looked better so that I could impress them. But the second I walked up to them, I forgot about all of that. I handed each member a flash drive with some of my unmastered songs on it (this was before the CD was done) and told them I was a songwriter and that, if they got the chance, I’d love it if they’d listen to my songs. Jeremy Davis actually looked me in the eye and said, “That’s really cool. You’re so young, too.” That moment was one of the best of my life.

How do you create such a powerful and mature music when you are still so young?

I write whatever I feel in my heart. The most powerful song of mine on the CD, in my eyes, is ‘What I Should’ve Said’. I wrote this song in the beginning of seventh grade, so I was only twelve years old. I’d been following this little girl with cancer on Facebook. Her story and her strength really affected me, and I wondered how her parents got through a time like that, what it’d be like if a loved one of mine was sick, and how I’d deal with it. Every song of mine has a story, whether it in itself is they story or if the inspiration came from one. I don’t sit down with a pen going ‘alright. I’m gonna write a really depressing song’ or ‘I’m gonna write a cute love song.’ I write, and whatever comes out is what comes out. This song is a great example of that. I hadn’t intended to write a song about that little girl, but she’d just had that much of an affect on me that I did anyway.

How do you feel when you go on stage?

Even when I was feeling down last year, whenever I got on stage and performed, I felt important. I felt like I had purpose, power, and a chance to change the lives of the people in the audience. Every time I got on stage, I rose to the challenge and sung my heart out, determined to make a difference, even if I only got through to one single person.

What would you say to your fans here?

Work hard. Nothing will come to you just because you want it to. If you have a dream, you need to work to make it come true. Work hard, but don’t forget that you’re a person, separate from your dream. Don’t let your dream absorb you. Remember that no matter what happens, you are you. You are amazing. And you’re better than you could believe.

What are your goals for the next five years?

My goals… well. I definitely need to graduate high school. I want to be the frontman and songwriter in a band; I have so much new music it’s not even funny. But if this music career still hasn’t lifted off enough to become substantial by the time I’ve graduated, I’ll need to go to college. I want to go to art school- I like drawing manga in my free time. I also think that I might be able to find other people with a passion for music in a school that is art-oriented. No matter what happens, my music is my priority. I will do whatever it takes to get the chance to help people through my music.

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Carlos J. Eguren
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Eterno aprendiz de periodista. Graduado en Periodismo y Diplomado en el Máster en Dirección y Producción en Cine Digital por la Universidad de La Laguna.

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