Interview with writer, musician and actress Mélissa Azombo!


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Mels

Hi Méls, and welcome to the Writesofluid blog…

So you’re a writer, musician and an actress! How did you get into it all?

Well, I’ve wanted to be a singer since I was very little, so would always want to sing with the choir and take part in performances. I took up the violin and keyboard at school, which is how I learnt those instruments and got myself a recorder over a year ago and decided to learn that too. The only instrument I own which I am yet to learn is the guitar, despite it being the instrument most musicians seem to know how to play.

I grew a love for music as a whole, which lead me to want to become a music producer at one stage (after having produced the backing track to my original song End Of An Era during a Roundhouse course called Album In A Week) and also through the influence of Murray Gold’s fantastic Doctor Who scores, even a composer.

“I’d say he’s the main reason I started composing.” – on Murray Gold

I also decided to do a qualification called a Gold Arts Award, which really helped me to create more music whether awful or fantastic. I think when composing, the important thing is to try out everything that’s in your head. When you hear it back, it may sound awful, then you can fix it. That’s better than never creating anything in the first place maybe through fear it will sound terrible.

At the start, terrible is good, because it’s at least something. It’s something you can learn from and use to improve.

How about acting?

I first got into acting at school, as there would be productions I felt would be fun to take part in. Seeing Julia Roberts in a part of a film also made me want to act. At a young age, I found brilliant the idea of being able to play different people all the time. So I suppose I got into acting so I could be a school girl one day and a Time Lady the next day, for example.

I took my acting further by going to a drama group called InterACT which unfortunately had to close down about 5 years ago, due to lack of funds. I then joined another theatre group called DreamArts, where I feel I developed my singing, acting and acting skills. I continued my acting, though which involved being an extra in a few films. I’ve also been in a short film called Sheep In The Room, directed by Tara Tchablakian and more recently Merlin The Musical. I now await further roles.

And writing?

I got into writing, as I’d been in quite a few plays, so knew the script structure from that. What prompted me to start writing was when there was a short play at my school, which wasn’t auditioned for. The Drama teacher at the time had simply selected these students. I then stared writing my own play in the hope I’d one day be able to perform it with other people and continued to write.

Do you feel that you lean more strongly in one direction than the others? Why is this?

I probably lean more towards acting, simply as I’ve had more acting opportunities than in the music or writing field.

What are your career aspirations?

I really hope to one day play a really challenging character, as that’s the reason I got into acting. I would also really like to hopefully have an album in the charts, whether that’s with my compositions or singing. While I’m at it, why not stage a musical people like and produce/ direct a film or two?

Tell us a bit about your Crowd Hoot – The Musicals project. It seems as though this project is ideal for showcasing all of your talents, but it’s a big project. How’s it going?

Not too well, unfortunately – at least, not the original version. Crowd Hoot – The Musicals was a code name similar to the primary use of “Torchwood” but as that had already been used and was well known, I couldn’t use that, so chose Crowd Hoot instead. If you rearrange the letters, just like “Torchwood”, you’ll see it’s an anagram of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who: The Musicals was a project I was working on form around November 2011. It was originally going to be one story performed 11 times. I then got the idea to do a series – but on stage. I don’t think that had ever done before, as some of the theatres I called up seemed a bit confused at first, but there’s a first time for everything. It’s as I called the theatres that I realised I was told I needed to ask the BBC permission for this, so I did. Unfortunately, I wasn’t granted permission by the BBC to stage these musicals, so they are no more. I did try to stage it as “Space Music” by changing the characters and stories a little of my original ideas, but lack of funds meant I couldn’t stage “Space Music” either, which would have been a different story but still sci-fi.

I will see if there’s anyway I can show the Doctor Who: The Musicals stories to people, whether that’s by uploading the script to a fan fiction site (as I’m guessing that’s what they are now) or making it an audio uploaded to Youtube, as I did work on it for quite a long time.

If not, all is not lost, as I did learn from this experience.

I will get the funds before I cast in the future, as I now know to do that, because crowd-funding isn’t always successful for everyone. For now however, Crowd Hoot – The Musicals or Doctor Who: The Musicals is no more.

How does being a musician inform your writing?

It’s very useful when writing musicals – not that I’ve written a dozen – but what I have started working on has made it very useful. Being a musician means I can easily picture the scene with the music and compose as I write.

How does being an actress inform your writing?

When I write something, having seen how productions are directed, I like o think about how I’d direct that or how I’d act it out if I was the character. I guess it means I think about the actor and character more when I’m writing, than perhaps someone who isn’t also an actor would.

Who, and what (books/music/TV/film/theatre), inspires you and why?

When it comes to books, I would say Harry Potter, which is wonderfully written by the brilliant JK Rowling, has played a role in me also wanting to write books. I feel like it’s such a unique story, which requires a great imagination. It has the right balance of humour, tension and darkness. The books were obviously carefully written, which is very important. It’s possibly part of the reason why when I have an idea, I like to check whether something similar’s been done already. If it has, I won’t want to do it – not even in a different way. I’d want my idea to stand out, the way Harry Potter has, which is why it has so many fans worldwide. Michael Jackson and Murray Gold are huge inspirations for me when it comes music just because they are so talented. As for TV, Doctor Who is very inspirational in the same sense the Harry Potter books are.

The show has a unique quality about it and the storylines are always very intriguing. You never know where the characters will go next. I think that is very important in a script.

You’re a huge Doctor Who fan and often create and promote events. Will you be planning anything for this year’s 50th anniversary?

All I have planned so far is a Whovian Gathering, which will happen in Hyde Park, so I don’t have to charge, although people can make a donation if they wish. It will be on 27th July from 13h00 – 17h00. Ideally, enough people will turn up for it to be a fun event where that “I’m the only Whovian in London” feeling disappears.

I’m also hoping to do other things for the anniversary, but at the moment, nothing else is confirmed yet, as it depends on funds and interest from the fans, as I‘ve had to wave goodbye to quite a few of my ideas I couldn‘t do in the past due to lack of interest.

It’s the people who attend the events who really make them work.

What’s your top advice for an aspiring writer, an aspiring actress and an aspiring musician?

For all of 3, don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your goal. Also, work hard and be nice to people.

At a Performing Arts group I went to, I had a great experience. However, although my experience was at first fun and useful, as you will sometimes in this industry, I encountered people who weren’t as nice as they could be towards me and behind my back, so I left. I’ve always felt this was a great shame as I was really enjoying the performance opportunities my time there gave me. The team running the group were great too. However, although affordable, it was still money I was spending to go there and it began to feel more and more like I was paying to have others make fun of me, as opposed to the focus of having a great time learning new skills and performing more.

My advice to an aspiring writer, actress or musician would therefore be to make sure they are not the person giving the other an unpleasant experience.

We are all creative people and there is a lot we can all from one another. I was on a Writers and Composers course once and one of the course leaders Craig said there’s always someone better than you. I believe that’s true, so is something people should always remember in this industry.

Musicians and writers should just continue to create things – whether it’s a script or a song – as it means they keep those skills going even if they are having trouble getting their work out there.

Especially for writers, make sure you finish your scripts.

It’s easy to get distracted, busy or discouraged, leaving lots of half scripts lying around. Maybe set time aside each day so you can finish it. That said, a script or piece of music writes itself, so if the creativity isn’t flowing at that time, perhaps come back to it later, but make sure you finish it, so you can get your work out there.

That’s a bit of a long essay for an answer, sorry but to sum up: Don’t let anything get in the way of your goal, work hard, be nice and do as much as possible.

You never know when skills you pick up along the way might come in handy.

What’s next on the horizon for Méls the writer, Méls the actress and Méls the musician?

I’m just hoping to get more acting work at the moment, as I wait to hopefully stage and perform in Forgotten Bruises hopefully in 2014. Meanwhile, I am working on a documentary, or DocWhoMentary called The Doctor Who Effect, which I will upload to my PinkDiamond7777777 Youtube Channel on 23rd November 2013.

I always have lots of ideas all at the same time, so there’s probably lots more to come, but that’s likely to depend on interest and the success of crowd-funding, which is likely to be where most of the funding would have to come from. Sometimes you can have a great idea in your head, but the response you get doesn’t reflect that, which is why so many things – though brilliant they may be – don’t happen. So there may or may not be more than what I’ve mentioned so far. We’ll see.

Good luck!

Ways to connect with Méls:

Blog: mels7.wordpress.com
Website: www.melissaazombo.webs.com
Twitter: @PINKTROID

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