To be 14 years old and have a music career already in the works and gaining traction is impressive in and of itself, but to be an “old soul” with a passion for music to rival that of the hardest working musicians in the industry should be indicative of what’s to come in the career of Philadelphia’s Amelia Scalies.
We had the chance to speak with the young singer/songwriter about her musical background, how she balances her music and schooling, and how she sees her vocation developing as she gets older and more experienced. Read through the break and check out our interview with Amelia Scalies, who is now officially our youngest interviewee here on UTG.
Before listening to your music, obviously the first thing to stand out is your age, which I’m sure you hear plenty about all the time. As impressive as it is, I imagine that you’re a lot more than just an age, so tell me about yourself. What do you think makes yours a name worth knowing in the industry? What sets you apart from the countless others in the genre?
I’m an avid reader and writer and a pretty deep thinker. Most of my free time I spend writing (songs, music, poems, short stories, and novels) or playing or listening to music. I spend hours developing my characters for the people in my stories and songs. I hope my music touches people as I try to write about everyday situations. I would like people to appreciate the characters and stories in my songs. I think people will appreciate my record and that it covers multiple genres. In addition, these songs were written by me when I was 12 or under. “Don’t Let Them Win” was written when I was 9. I wrote the anti-bullying song for my brother when he was being emotionally and physically bullied at school. I think what sets me apart in my genre is my prolific ability to write. I have an additional several hundred songs written and composed including two concept albums.
Being as advanced as you are for being only 14, I would assume you’ve been involved with music for most of your life. Can you share about your history with music and where it all stems from?
My family loves music. My mother would play classical music for both my brother and I when she was carrying us. Music was always on in my home and singing while playing was always encouraged. My father managed a record store while he was putting himself through pharmacy school. From this experience, he was exposed to a large amount of music in varying genres. He would always play the music in the house and the car and would change the music on our iPods all the time. I started playing the violin in third grade and then began playing the piano in 4th grade. In 7th grade I taught myself how to play the guitar. I have participated in a few musicals as well.
How does school affect your progress with this project? And how does this project affect your progress in school?
I work my studio time, performance schedule and rehearsal time around school. I understand my schoolwork is important and work hard on my studies. My dad schedules my out of town shows on weekends only when school is in session. So far, it is working out wonderfully. My family is very supportive of me and my music. So far we have been able to juggle everything nicely.
I was 14 around 2001 and social media wasn’t nearly what it is today obviously. Things like Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter, Bandcamp, etc. are so helpful for musicians in this day and age. How do you think you would have got your music noticed back then if you didn’t have the resources you do today?
I actually think the rise of digital technology makes it much harder for today’s artists. The issue is that basically now anyone with a laptop and Pro Tools can make a record. Therefore, there is a plethora of music all over the web. Since there is so much music, the A&R of yesteryear has vanished. Now, an artist must not only have a quality product but must now create the album, market the album, tour and form a fan base before ever getting a chance to be taken seriously. I feel it is much harder now to be noticed. Simple supply and demand – and supply is very high.
So what are some of your favorite bands that you find yourself listening to frequently. I know you covered MCR. Why did you choose to cover “Welcome To The Black Parade” in particular?
My taste in music is quite varied. My current Top 25 on my iPhone contains Pierce the Veil, Paramore, Ellie Goulding, Metric, MCR, Black Veil Brides, Of Mice and Men, Mindless Self Indulgence, All Time Low, Mayday Parade, Green Day and others. Covering “Welcome to the Black Parade” was actually my dad’s idea. While I absolutely idolize Gerard Way, I was a bit nervous about covering such an epic track. I have been playing MCR songs in a striped down acoustic fashion in my shows but putting it on my record was unsettling at first. My dad decided we should pay respect to the original while simultaneously making it different. We decided to use string and brass instruments on top of a rock drum backdrop. As the song builds, we introduce an electric grunge violin. My version of “Welcome to the Black Parade” is something that I am very proud to have produced. That song has been downloaded and streamed around the globe and has received a large amount of airplay.
Do you have any more covers planned for your next release or one-off recordings?
As of now, I have no other covers planned. I do currently play a variety of covers at my shows.
So you released I Should’ve Known this year, a full-length album, which is an incredible feat for anyone, let alone someone of your age. I know that some of the writing dates back to when you were even just 9, so tell me, what does someone that young put into song? What themes would you say are prominent in your lyrics?
The music on my record was narrowed down from over 50 or so songs I had written at the time. There is an underlying theme of battling betrayal in relationships, staying strong in times of despair, and spending times with the ones you love.
Most 14-year-olds, as far as I know, go to school, hang out with friends, do homework, do extracurricular activities and so on, so do you still do all those things in between working on music or do you even have time to focus on things like that?
Music and writing are my life. I’m always thinking about my book characters and my music.
So what are you working on now that the album has been released? Any new material in the works or do you plan to work on the leftover tracks?
I have so much music written it is silly. Much of it is much darker and more self-reflective. I think we will start reviewing all the new music soon and start working on the next project. I might only have 7-10 songs on the next record since 12 tracks took a substantial amount of time to record, mix and master.
With the dedication you’ve put into this, I’d imagine that this is what you want to do with your life. Do you have any other dreams or goals or is this your sole focus? Do you plan to go to college or put even more time into this once you finish school?
I will pursue my music vigilantly and see where it takes me. If I continue with my music for the next 3 years of high school and then through college and things do not work out, I’ll be 22 or so and then think about a “real” job. I am currently considering college where I could major in both art and music. I am also an avid drawer of Manga.
When I was 13, I went to my first real concert. I saw New Found Glory, Sum 41, and Blink 182. That concert changed my life. I’m sure the answer is obvious but have you been to any big concerts? How was your experience with the first one you went to?
My first concert was Hilary Duff when I was 7. After that I saw KSM, Taylor Swift and even James Taylor. My dad and I have just been to a few very cool shows. We recently have seen Paramore, Sleeping with Sirens, Mayday Parade, All Time Low, Pierce the Veil, Fall Out Boy, and Panic at the Disco. Yes, I have a music problem – and a cool dad!
I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Lorde but she’s a big name this year and she topped charts at only 16 years old. Do you think that can be you? What are you going to do to get there?
I’m not sure how Lorde has arrived at her current success but I do know that she is fantastic. I concentrate on writing and making music and I think the other aspects of my “career” will happen in time.
Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter