Although her career is in its early stages, Melody Cruz has already solidified herself as one of today’s rising stars in music. With her soulful voice and Martin guitar, the singer-songwriter has performed at some of the Lehigh Valley’s most acclaimed musical events. Wowing audiences on the stages of such venues as Musikfest, Harvest Fest, Oktoberfest & The Williams Brew State at Palette & Pour.
Cruz’s repertoire includes an eclectic assortment of cover material as well as songs from her ever-growing arsenal of original material, including “Too Late” and “Make Me Stay.” Cruz has also been featured on the local WFMZ TV 69 News’ “Music Monday” as an artist to watch.
I recently spoke with Melody Cruz about her music and more in this exclusive new interview.
How would you describe your style of music? Is there a way you can put into words what your music is all about?
Melody Cruz: I consider myself a pop artist in an era where it’s way too difficult to assign only one definition to the genre. What we consider pop has drastically evolved over the last few decades, but the word has also become an umbrella that encompasses many different styles. My goal is to continue reinventing pop and adding my own “Melody-isms” and unique flair to my favorite genre to sing.
Did you always know that music would be your calling? Was it something you always aspired to do?
Cruz: Well, I was named Melody, so I think my parents had already predicted what my calling would be [laughs]. My mother and father met through music. My father began building our home recording studio (CMC Sound) when he was sixteen and by the time he was twenty, he had a fully functional studio that many local musicians used to record their music. One day my uncle told my dad, “There’s a girl from school that sings, I think you should bring her in.” That girl turned out to bemy mom. I knew from a young age that I would be following in my parents’ footsteps and picking up where they left off.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?
Cruz: It’s funny because I’ve never been able to answer this question the same way twice, because the list is always changing. My influences range from Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Billy Joel, Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne to Bo Burnham, Prince, Michael Jackson, Adam Pascal, Pink Floyd and Joni Mitchell. While I look up to and idolize many artists, my inspiration mainly comes from music itself. A clever rap verse or musical theater ballad can both send me running to the studio at the same lightning-fast speed. I’m very open minded when it comes to music and listen to everything. Some of the newer artists I’ve been really loving lately are Greta Van Fleet, Billie Eilish, and Olivia Rodrigo.
What’s your writing process like? Does it start with a lyrical idea? A melody? A hook? What inspires you when you write and create?
Cruz: I think everyone is still searching for that golden routine in the writing process, but the more you try to control when you sit down and write, the more forced it all feels. Melodies are normally the first things that come to me. When it comes to lyrics, I usually hear phonetics first. So, I might start out scatting a melody as “na, na, na,” which then becomes “nae noh ni.” Then that could eventually become something like “made for me.” Truly, the more I allow myself to live and experience new things, and the more I allow myself to feel the pain I’ve spent so long trying to bury, the more everything just flows out naturally.
What’s your favorite part of being an artist?
Cruz: The freedom. People want to become rich so they don’t have to spend all of their time working and have the money to do what they want. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to ever achieve that kind of freedom, so we look for other ways to express ourselves and find a sense of identity in a world that wants us to conform. I like the idea that whenever I’m on stage or in the booth I can perform and say whatever I want musically without much pushback. At the end of the day that’s what we all want as artists, right?
What part about being an artist is challenging and what do you do to overcome those challenges?
Cruz: For me, the biggest challenge of being an artist is pursuing your craft while continuing to pay the bills. We live in a virtual age where there’s so much music that people are overwhelmed with options. It can be hard sometimes to find a space to share your art where people are ready to consume it. My goal is to find a way to connect with people despite the overwhelming indistinct chatter.
Are there any projects you’re currently working on right now?
Cruz: So far, I have released three singles: “Too Late,” “Make Me Stay,” and “Just Having Fun.” I’ve already laid vocals down for a collaborative track I plan on releasing in early June, though I haven’t officially announced the details of that yet. My plan is to release seven more singles, write three more, then re-brand and re-release them as an album.
What excites you the most about this next phase of your career? What are you most looking forward to about the future?
Cruz: There are so many talented people trying to attain the exact same thing I am, but what excites me is that I know I’m ready for it. I’m looking forward to the challenges I’m about to face. The only certainty in the music industry is that nothing is ever certain, but I’m going to keep creating and pushing. I’m aware that there are many invisible barriers set up. but I’m looking forward to smashing them to pieces.