Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): How would you classify the music that you write and play?
Delrose Mendosa (DM): I don’t really have a defining style. I guess I’m more towards a folk-pop kind of genre. Some people tell me I have a Dixie Chicks style. But I don’t really write on demand, so I don’t think I have a particular style.
RMM: Do you find that certain environments are particularly conducive to songwriting?
DM: Mostly I get inspired when I’m outside or when I’m travelling. It’s that down time when I’m not stressed that I get inspired. And people that I meet, friends and family, things that happen in life. The days when I say I’m going to write a song – it never happens. So really it’s kind of random.
RMM: Do you have any broad topics or themes you like to write about?
DM: I pretty much write on emotion There are times when I will write something down on paper but it will never become a song, or maybe I’ll have a melody or chord progression that won’t turn into a song. If I try to force lyrics on to music, or the other way around, it loses its meaning. So what I’ve been doing lately is having a recorder on, and just jamming and humming along. That way it really captures the emotion, rather than having something on paper and then trying to find lyrics or music to fit that.
RMM: So your music and lyrics are strongly connected.
DM: Yeah. I try to make the music sink in with what I’m saying. It’s all about the rhythm. And it might change depending on who is playing with me.
RMM: So how does playing with other musicians influence your songwriting? Some of your songs are solo and some have other players.
DM: I used to be in a band, so some of my recordings are with that band. Now I’m more of a solo act. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the Red Moon Music Collective, which allows me to network with really amazing musicians. Those jam sessions are a progression; I play a song and people can just jump in. That makes a big difference.
RMM: Do those jams influence your songwriting?
DM: The jam sessions are more just integration for me. It’s a reason to keep singing and playing. Sometimes I collaborate. Awhile ago I had a song that I was working on and I played the guitar part for my friend, and asked her to write down whatever came to her. That ended up being the first verse of that song. So I guess you could say I’m a sporadic writer.
RMM: Do you hesitate to share your songs until they’re fully developed, or do you let the ideas bounce around as the song is growing?
DM: I used to be really paranoid about letting people hear my songs, because they share so much feeling. But I’ve been performing for three years now, so that’s helped me get over that. But either way it’s nice to have people hear your music. Sometimes, what I do now, is put a song together and then upload it to Soundcloud or Youtube. Then once it’s out there, it’s too late to retract it! So then it’s pretty much a song.
RMM: You mentioned different venues having an impact.
DM: If it’s an open mic situation, then I find it’s easier to go as a solo performer – I can just plug in. It’s easier to coordinate. But with Red Moon, I get up there and there are a bunch of guys I jam with on a fairly regular basis. They know a few of my songs, and a few of them are coming to the gig on Friday.
RMM: So you will be playing with some other musicians on Friday.
DM: Yeah. One will be playing percussion. He plays mostly the cajon. And I have a friend playing bass. So I’ll be with those two guys.
RMM: Let’s talk about your musical background. How did it all start?
DM: I’ve been singing since I was little. My dad was a guitar player and we used to sing along with him. Ten years ago when I was living in Japan I got really into music. I spent quite a bit of time at karaoke bars there [laughs]. And when I was living there, I told one of my friends that I had always wanted to be a backup singer for a band. I was just joking around, but the following week she saw an ad for a band that was looking for backup singers. So she said to me, “You have an audition!” I said, “Audition for what?!” And she just told me where to show up. So I went in there, did the audition, and I got the part! Then later I formed a trio with the other two backup singers, doing covers. So it’s been on-and-off for the last ten years, getting more into the songwriting for the last five years.
RMM: What a great story! And how did you get into guitar?
DM: When I was in high school, one of my cousins played. So I learned the chords from him, and it’s been on-and-off since then. I didn’t really work on it until the last five years.
RMM:You mentioned that the rhythm of music is important to you, and I find your guitar playing to often be very percussive. You don’t have a background in percussion, do you?
DM: [Laughs] I feel like I’m not coordinated enough to play drums, but maybe I have better luck with guitar.
RMM: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
DM: All kinds. Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston. U2 is a big influence. When I got older I got into listening to Amanda Marshall. She is one of the biggest influences in terms of my singing style. Also Bic Runga. She’s from New Zealand, and I discovered her music when I was travelling. I love her voice. Singing along to her music definitely influenced my style.
RMM: Tell me about your travelling and how it influenced your music.
DM: I’ve done quite a bit of travelling all around the world. My favourite travel spot was New Zealand; I wrote a song about New Zealand. I feel like it’s my second home – I have a big connection with the nature, the people. I have a big emotional connection to that place.
RMM: Has your songwriting style changed over the years?
DM: Oh for sure. As I’ve been practicing more guitar, I’ve developed some new techniques. And these [Red Moon] jam sessions are great. Anything goes, and I’ve been very lucky to play with these amazing musicians.
RMM: What are your plans for the next year or two?
DM: My goal this year is to try some different venues. I’m always looking for opportunities to play. I’m quite excited to play a full set! And I’d love to do some touring.
RMM: And a full-length recording perhaps?
DM: I hope so! It’s always a work in progress for me. Every song I write is different. But I’m hoping that with luck I’ll get to release a full album!
RMM: How do you feel about this gig coming up?
DM: I’m honoured to be playing alongside Pete Eastmure and the other guys. I’m very excited.