I’ve met Mee through the Women in Music group shesaid.so and after we had lunch together, she already left a mark in my life. We were able to send her some questions and we cannot wait for you to read her answers as she is one remarkable woman!
Hi Mee, Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Before we start, how are you today?
Thanks, AK. I’m okay thanks! To be honest, today I cried, also I laughed. Had lunch with an inspiring woman, ie you! And messaged with friends in London, LA and Spain, plus worked on a book. So it’s been a first world day, a lot easier than most people on this beautiful planet, I’m lucky! Good to keep this perspective even when it feels tough, we all live like kings when our lives are compared to 99% of the rest of the world.
We met through the Women in Music group shesaid.so Would you mind telling us a little bit about your profession in the music industry and how you started?
I’m a composer and arranger, I specialise in strings and soundtracks. That said, I’m perhaps best known for playing violin, viola and cello on stage, and for my solo records. All of which has also led to managing artists who are starting out, particularly young women, as it’s nice to share my experience with them and hopefully cut their learning curve a bit. These days, I’m focused on building Yntegrity, a series of immersive experiences built on a foundation of music, for all of the senses. I started out playing electric violin at clubs and raves, playing with effects at a time when that was super rare. I went from playing at London clubs to playing globally, in Japan, Germany and Austria notably, and then started to compose and arrange for people I met on the road. My first TV series commission was for Lonely Planet, a big show, and came from someone hearing a solo set I played in a club. Being active is still probably the best way to start anything, better than the internet, I think. Having your stuff on websites is essential, but meeting a person in a club is still the best way to connect with something visceral, like music.
In addition to your solo career, you had the honour to collaborate with artists like Smashing Pumpkins, Tiesto and Christina Perri. Do you have any advice for people who want to start a career in the music industry?
First, take your time to find out who you are. Know your strengths, and build them into the unique and focused level they need to be to cut through the chaff. Once you’ve identified what’s unique about your offering, and what you specifically would like to do, make a list of strategic tasks you’ll need to do to achieve your desired result. And then do it methodically. And, be good – no, be the best you possibly can be.
Do you have a favourite artist or band yourself and do you remember the first memory that is connected to music?
I don’t have just one, as my taste is diverse. I love Bowie, also Wagner, also The Beatles, and also every artist I’ve had the pleasure to work with – these are my favourite artists because these are the artists whose music I know inside out, and have lived with on the road and in the studio. First memory? Bowie posters on my walls, and Tina Turner as my first show. She was electrifying, totally blew away my understanding of how a grown woman could behave. Favourite records today? Bowie – Blackstar, Radiohead – Kid A, Smashing Pumpkins – Adore, and I’m digging the new album by my friend Treya Lam that’s due out this summer. And one caveat, to say that favourite records change depending on the day you ask me, of course!
You have deep experience working in London and in the United States. Do you think there is a different kind of mind-set within the music industry in the UK and US, or can both music markets be compared?
It’s not just the music industry isolated – the whole culture in the States and in the UK is a totally different thing. To be honest, even the question is confusing, by defining ‘London’ versus the entire massive enormous country of the US. There is no such thing as the USA – there are only the micro-cultures of every major city, and every rural area. So let’s compare NYC and London, as these are the two most similar cities, and the closest geographically. I’d suggest there’s a heavier focus on technology and apps specifically, and on making money. Basically, NYC is even more expensive and competitive than London, so it’s naturally more money-oriented and more focused on tech due to being closer to the origin of the internet.
Our mission is to use the website to connect people through the power of music. People can share a story to a song that helped them and therefore encourage others to keep going. We believe that a song that helped someone might be able to help someone else too. Is there a specific song that is connected to something special in your life and would you mind sharing that story?
Pyramid Song is a song that stopped me in my tracks. I remember the first time I heard it, which was on TV in the UK. Thom was on one of the music shows, maybe Top of the Pops, not sure which show, but the moment – it was electrifying. It changed what was possible for popular music. The beauty of the cyclical time signature, the simplicity of the chords, the sheer genius of Jonny Greenwood’s string arrangement. The whole song saves lives with its sheer majesty, mystery and beauty. For me, it instilled a sense that magnificently creative music can still reach people en masse. That audiences are open to challenging music, and it gave me a sense of boldness in my own work, a bar that’s out of my reach, but within my imagination as a target to reach for, and within my own outer circle. Also, it was a gift to me from a friend, Roanne, and she took me to see them play ay Milton Keynes Bowl in a huge rainstorm, and it was one of the most amazing shows almost because of this torrential rain.
There is an ongoing debate whether music has the ability to save a person’s life. Would you mind sharing your personal opinion on that?
I know for a fact that many musicians write and perform songs for this reason. They are simultaneously saving their own lives at times, and sharing the fruits of this work with a wider audience in the hope that they can sustain and enrich others.
Besides music, do you think other artists’ expressions share the same power as music?
Yes, painting and all arts and crafts have the power of beauty. They can move us deeply.
Before we come to an end, is there anything you’d like to say to people who are struggling at the moment?
Hold on in there. And do something positive. Anything creative, comforting, or in some way nurturing and caring for yourself. Go for a walk, and find a café. Watch a movie. And when the spirit moves you, be ready to capture your thoughts and feelings in a creative way.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!
Thank you for meeting up, good luck!