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Metal Maven Podcast Transcript: Episode 6

The Power of Storytelling with Melissa VanFleet


Welcome to the Metal Maven Podcast, where we explore and discover the process and passions of artists in the Metal music and art community.

Metal Maven: In episode six of Metal Maven Podcast, we’re going to talk about the stories we tell. I’d like to welcome Melissa VanFleet, a crafter of dark songs who sings them very well. Melissa, I really appreciate you joining me to share your stories. How are you?

Melissa VanFleet: I’m doing very well. Thank you so much for having me on here. I listened to all the other podcasts and it’s just – what you’re doing is brilliant. So I’m very, very honored to be a guest on your show – thank you.

Metal Maven: Thank you. So, before discussing the present and everything that’s happening currently with you, I’d like to go back to another time and place. You began creating music at a very young age and seem to be drawn to it. What pulled you in? Where does your story begin? Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Melissa…

Melissa VanFleet: And she was… let’s see, addicted to MTV. My favorite activity as a two-year-old was standing on this tiny little makeshift stage and I was two inches in front of the TV, singing along with Alice Cooper and Lita Ford into this tiny little toy Fisher-Price microphone. And I can vividly remember pretending that I actually was them performing on stage. Like I told myself like, “You are Alice Cooper.” And it’s really strange sounding. But yeah, that was what I did all the time. Really, every memory I have from my childhood was accompanied by some sort of music, whether it be Metal, or R&B, which my mom loved, or just anything, it was just constantly there and that is really how my story began. And then still how it is now.

Metal Maven: Well, same here, which I feel we connect with a lot. I mean, I remember too, it’s like, “I want my MTV.” It’s like they would play that all the time – so fun. I mean, it was always on in the background too, because my house was always filled with music and if it’s all right, I’d like to speak with you about your father because I know he’s a very important part of your story and what you’re currently doing.

Melissa VanFleet: Yes, he is. The reason that Heavy Metal music was instilled in me at such a young age. Some of my earliest memories involve my dad rocking me to sleep to Ozzy’s “Shot In The Dark.” That was the song, that was the one that was my lullaby at night, which I don’t know why that specific song, but it just really, I guess spoke to me when I was a newborn. But he also would teach me names of musicians and his favorite bands. I knew some of their names before I even knew my neighbor’s names. So yeah, it was just so important to him and it was just passed right down to me. And you know, it’s funny because my mom was just talking today to me about this and she said she has a very distinct memory of constantly telling my dad, “You know, turn the music down. You know, this is just not gonna work.” But whenever I would cry, Metal music was the only thing that would make me fall asleep. Like, you can put on Sesame Street, it would do nothing. But the minute that I heard, you know, the heavy guitars and everything, I would just knock out just like that. So yeah, it’s really interesting. But yeah, so he definitely pulled me into that world and, and I’ve never left so I’m very, very grateful for that.

Metal Maven: You know, as I said before, same here. I mean, my father would play guitar all the time and I was listening to your cover of “Silent Lucidity” and I remember him playing that intro and behind him on the wall was Ozzy’s The Ultimate Sin album poster. So the recall was really specific, so – and also, I would like to mention that “Silent Lucity” made me cry, so thanks for that.

Melissa VanFleet: I’m sorry!

Metal Maven: No, no! It was so good. I mean, it was a good cry and then I realized what we should be talking about together.

Melissa VanFleet: Well, I’m glad to hear that. I’m sorry, but I’m glad to hear that it touched you, thank you.

Metal Maven: No apologies needed. But these Metal Lullabies and reinterpretations, are they a way to encapsulate or trigger episodic memories? Essentially are these songs a way for you to time travel?

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, absolutely. I would say I am just so nostalgic. And my favorite part about music is how it can, you know, transport you to another time and place and just make you feel the same exact feelings you felt when you first heard the song. And I just think that’s one of those things that’s just so special about it. And yeah, I mean when I picked the songs that were on my Metal Lullabies album, I of course, had a lot of help from my dad here again because even if he didn’t say, “These are the songs going on the record,” it’s still, I mean it was all of his favorite songs. So I mean it was certainly, certainly, certainly a way. Every time I hear “Sleeping In The Fire” by W.A.S.P., for instance, now I have some new memories since I played it when I was touring Spain and, you know, I’ve done versions with Doug Blair from W.A.S.P. now, who plays lead guitar in W.A.S.P., but so there’s some new memories with the song, but it still takes me right back to, you know, when my dad was listening to Metal Shop in 1980, or whatever year it was, 85, 86, or 87 – I don’t even know when. But anyway, it still just takes me right back to those memories and you know, it’s just really cool how now I can build off of them. But it’s just, yeah, it’s amazing. Music is just such a powerful, amazing thing.

Metal Maven: And was it your father that suggested you post these reimaginations of songs online?

Melissa VanFleet: It was, yeah. Because, you know, I never had any, at the time I was doing like Adele covers and just things that I thought would be, I don’t know, I was listening to metal all the time, but I just didn’t want to be like too out there at the time. I was afraid of like kind of venturing into that. And then one day for his birthday I did the cover of “Sleeping in the Fire” – the video, and that was a birthday present, nobody was ever supposed to see it. And then he said, “You know, you’ve got to put this up there.” He said, “You’d be crazy not to and what’s the worst that could happen? Nobody would see it.” And I honestly, that video has changed my life. It has absolutely open to so many doors that I never saw coming and yeah, it truly – you know this was really funny too is my mom, on the other hand, was like, “I don’t know, I think you should take that down,” because she always said that when she thought I did something a little more like out of the box, she wanted me to be safer. But then now she’s like, “Yeah, it’s good you didn’t take that down.” So it’s kind of funny because she’s not a huge Metal fan but she appreciates it. But yeah, it was definitely, he really pretty much forced me to do it and I’m so glad that I did because through that I met my booking agent, and I spoke with the people that are in W.A.S.P. now, and I’ve worked with Doug Blair and that’s actually – it kind of helped in some way get me over to Spain on tour and it’s pretty cool. It just really is important to get music out there and now we can with the Internet and it’s just brilliant how you’re able to do that.

Metal Maven: Well, it’s funny how your gift for your father became an even greater gift for you.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, yeah definitely.

Metal Maven: It’s weird how it works out.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, life is crazy.

Metal Maven: Your versions are interesting because they make me forget the original for a moment and it’s refreshing because it offers a way to re-experience music that carries heavy nostalgia.

Melissa VanFleet: Very cool. I’m glad to hear that.

Metal Maven: So, when I was listening, sometimes I’m like, “What am I listening to again?

Melissa VanFleet: Oh wow!

Metal Maven: And then I would get little memories of the original, and then where I was. So, it was a cool experience.

Melissa VanFleet: Very cool.

Metal Maven: I know family is a big part of your life and you know, obviously your dad has helped you and brought you to this moment where you’re actually playing your own Metal music, but you also have another aspect that you have lived with and this is your OCD and anxiety. And, if I’m not being too forward, what are your symptoms? I know you can have obsessions, compulsions, or a mix of both. What are your rituals? When or how did this begin for you?

Melissa VanFleet: I’ve never really spoken in a lot of detail about this. I’m a super private person – very, very private. But I do feel like I kind of want to dig into this a little bit more, and I think it actually might be a little bit therapeutic to do so. I certainly will talk about it. You know, it’s interesting because it’s kind of going off of the last topic we were talking about. My dad, I grew up with him having chronic illnesses and problems. He was a diabetic since he was 17, he had a kidney transplant when I was in fifth grade, he was in a coma when I was in third grade – they didn’t know if he was going to come out of it. They actually called the family in and – he has had his leg amputated. He had, I mean, I could keep going. And I don’t want to do this for sympathy, but I mean, as you can imagine, all of this starting – oh, that’s let alone all of the blood sugar, you know, times I came home from places and he was passed out and you know, I had to give him a shot to bring his blood sugar back up.

So, I mean, as you can imagine, you know, I know there’s a lot of people that deal with a lot of things and my heart just goes out to everyone that has to deal with anything. But just speaking personally, you know, dealing with that from when you’re three or four years old and just kind of your whole entire life not knowing what the next day is going to bring. I mean it’s – my therapist and my psychiatrist, they all say like, “You know, it’s pretty obvious why you have anxiety.” Plus, it’s kind of inborn in me. You know, it’s a genetic thing as well. But it definitely, I think a lot of that is also PTSD from different experiences that I have. Not to go too much off on a tangent, but for instance, you know, I would go now, even as a 33-year-old – if I go to the hospital where, you know, some of these things happened with my dad, I have panic attacks there because I am just always trying to find all like, “Oh yeah, what room was this? And this is where this happened.” And I’m actually shaking right now talking about this. That’s how – that’s how serious it is to me still.

And yeah, so I think a big part of that is from that, and I actually used music when I was little. I started with poetry and then I started having melody ideas and I would kind of turn them into lyrics, and that is how I started writing. And it really, really helped because I was an only child. I didn’t have a ton of friends, just by choice. I think with what I was going through with my dad I just felt like at any second, something could be taken away. So I even applied that to my friends. Like, if I had a friend and I was having a good time at any second that could just go away. And I don’t know if this is making any sense at all, but I’m just completely talking off the top of my head.

Metal Maven: No, it totally does, so just keep on going.

Melissa VanFleet: Okay. But yeah, I just was always afraid of something going away, because that was just that constant fear that at any time – so, you know, I’ve even had people that have lost their parents come to me and say, “You know, it was really hard dealing with the loss of my dad. But, you know, I don’t know if I would be able to go through what you went through – constant, constant, constant, you know, forever.” – until now – but yeah, as you can imagine, that brings me to the anxiety and the OCD. And I think the OCD was kind of what naturally happened to help me have sort of control in my life because I didn’t feel like I could control anything. And I remember when I was in about fifth grade when all of that was happening, my aunt gave my dad her kidney and you know I kind of felt like my life was falling apart anyway because you’re kind of at that adolescent age where you’re really not comfortable any way with anything. Like everything is changing around you, and you’re changing, and it’s just really uncomfortable, and I feel like I had a breakdown then and that’s when I was like really starting to – I just remember constantly shaking and just, I don’t know, I didn’t cry a lot because I just never felt comfortable crying. I just kind of kept everything in.

But then I started playing instruments and that changed my life completely because then I was finally able to get out what was inside and then that helped me to kind of not have so much inside. My obsessions were always more of the magical thinking, which is like, I would, for instance, look at a clock and only be allowed to do things at certain times. I would have like magic numbers and if it was on an unlucky or lucky number, and that sort of thing, which I’m sure you know, you can kind of understand how that would be hard to get things done because I would sit for instance on my computer for an hour waiting for a certain time that I could save a document or something.

So I mean, it’s just that sort of thing. A lot of, you know, undoing and redoing. Like, I would walk into a room, walk back out, and then walk back in. Just really looks so silly to anybody else, I’m sure. But I tried to keep all that in as well. But I would say – I could keep going on about the rituals, but I would say last year at this time, I had experienced some loss in the family. People you know, kind of felt like I was losing control again. And I kind of had a breakdown around this time last year, and it was the worst that I have had yet. And I thought, it was honestly like when you hear like people having a mental breakdown it’s kind of like that. And I just didn’t know what to do. So I went and I have to say I’m a super huge advocate for medicating yourself if you have any disorder like this because I’m on a very, very small dose of something and it’s just enough for me to still feel like myself, but to be able to get through daily life.

So with that being said, I was worried about going on medication because I thought, you know, I was a little bit concerned that maybe it would alter my creativity and it would maybe because all of my writing is from such a dark place. I actually feel like it’s easier to write now because it’s not, my head isn’t like, “Oh, you can’t write that word because that word can’t be next to this word,” and you know, all those silly OCD type things. So, it really is under control right now. But that’s not to say, that something might not happen later on. But, that’s pretty much my story.

Metal Maven: Well, I was curious because I had read that this was your situation and when listening to Ode to the Dark, it seems like you’re immersing listeners into your mental state. So how did you channel those feelings inside into telling this story in support of your mental health?

Melissa VanFleet: You know, it’s interesting because when I was writing the songs on Ode to the Dark, I initially thought they were from a biographical standpoint because I was thinking about maybe stories I had read or stories I had heard about other things. And then, as I was coming out of this dark mental place that I was in when I was writing, I realized they were completely inspired by my own encounters with anxiety and OCD. And I didn’t even realize it because I was just so deep into it when I was writing. So yeah, they were 100% about what I was going through, but I was just so in it, I didn’t even realize it. So, yeah, it’s certainly a healthy way to channel it, but at the same time, it was kind of like an out of body experience. It’s really hard to explain.

But yeah, so those songs are very, very personal and a very deep meaning to me. And the other thing I forgot to mention earlier about what we were saying about anxiety and OCD, is one of my biggest triggers is social media, which has been kind of a curse to me because, you know, as an independent musician, your life has to be on the computer to get yourself out there and to do all of that – or the computer, the phone, whatever, you just have to be connected technologically or else nobody’s going to do it for you. And I had to purposely step away and I felt really guilty at first because see what was happening – say, I would go on Instagram and I would be scrolling through, and then I would just get really anxious because I might see something that just didn’t click in some weird way in my strange brain, and I can’t even explain it, but I had to, you know, say, “Okay, I’m only going to use Instagram to post things that I need to post.”

And it’s just a very uncomfortable thing and that’s gotten a little bit better. But I felt guilty then because I thought, “I don’t want people to think I don’t care about what they’re up to or what they’re doing,” but I just actually physically and mentally couldn’t handle it. And I’m still kind of there, but it’s getting a little better. So, one of my goals is to just one day be able to go back on Instagram and just scroll through and see what people are up to without feeling any sort of anxiety about it. But yeah, it’s just kind of a bummer because I really do enjoy seeing what people are up to, but it’s, of course, most important to be healthy.

Metal Maven: Yeah. Well, I mean, I feel like a lot of people now are watching their consumption of social media. Kind of when it first came out was this ravenous thing.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah.

Metal Maven: And now everyone’s like, “Okay, you know, real-life – step away, put a limit on this so I’m living in the real world.”

Melissa VanFleet: And being in Nature is the one thing actually – being in Nature and I also have a bunny, and being around my bunny and just being out in the woods or wherever, that is just the perfect place for me. I feel like it’s just so comfortable and I can just, you know, breathe air and I don’t have to worry about just being connected all the time. Truthfully, if I wasn’t a musician, I probably wouldn’t even have a phone. That’s how bad it is because I just don’t even, I don’t know. But yeah, being in Nature, there’s just nothing like it. I think, so…

Metal Maven: It’s the best medicine, you know?

Melissa VanFleet: It is, it is. It’s so true.

Metal Maven: I mean, especially where it’s not as stimulating.

Melissa VanFleet: Right.

Metal Maven: You know, it feels very natural and easy.

Melissa VanFleet: Oh yeah.

Metal Maven: Having OCD and anxiety seem to be a double-edged sword in your case because, without it, you may never have felt and interpreted your experiences in the specific way you did, in addition to having the wherewithal and foresight to make something of it. And at the same time, it’s an extremely difficult path to walk, though you seem to have found healthy ways to channel it.

Melissa VanFleet: I hope so. Yeah, I feel like it, you know, without music, I don’t even know if I’d be here right now to talk about any of this. So, I definitely, you know, it is a double-edged sword. It’s – you know, I’m thankful for it in some ways because I certainly wouldn’t have been able to dig into some of those really dark places that I reached and some of the songs on, Ode to the Dark. So yeah, I definitely, I kind of appreciate it, but at the same time, I absolutely hate it. So it’s, yeah, it’s that double-edged sword for sure.

Metal Maven: It’s all that shadow work. Everyone thinks it’s love and light, but a lot of the way to make space for light is to, you know, go in – dive in deep into yourself, into the dark places, and kind of shift things around so light can come through.

Melissa VanFleet: Exactly.

Metal Maven: So you know, it’s a lot of work and I feel like when I listened to “Ode to the Dark,” that’s your pièce de résistance when it comes to dealing with those emotions inside of you or, at least, a first attempt into doing that for yourself.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, that definitely is a good way to put it.

Metal Maven: You also do a lot more than create music… a lot more. You play piano, write songs and sing them, and reimagine iconic Metal ballads, but you also teach ballet, you’re an equestrian, and you do this super cute, I don’t want to botch the word, but is it Amigurumi? It’s a Japanese art of knitting and crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. They’re so cute, I saw them on your Instagram stories.

Melissa VanFleet: Thank you!

Metal Maven: Did I miss anything?

Melissa VanFleet: Oh my gosh, I just – well, I think you’ve mentioned about teaching. Yeah, I teach dance and songwriting. I’m a professor at a college here nearby. So yeah, I teach that to children and adults. And the children, this summer, I’ve been spending a lot of time with kindergarten, first grade, teaching them, songwriting, ballet. It’s just been really fulfilling and I think that’s kind of what I was missing there for awhile. It was kind of just all about me and my music and it was just so intense. And now I’m stepping back a little bit and just breathing and saying, “Here, today we’re going to learn Swan Lake,” and it’s just really great. So yeah, I’ve been doing that. I also paint, draw, oil, pastel. Really any sort of art.

Metal Maven: All the artistic things.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, I just love art. Photography – I love editing pictures. I love, you know, Polaroid pictures. I can keep going. I just – I love hobbies, crafts, and all sorts of things.

Metal Maven: Well, that’s good! And, especially working with children, they will give you a new perspective every day.

Melissa VanFleet: Oh yes, absolutely.

Metal Maven: They excel in that.

Melissa VanFleet: And they will humble you, just like that.

Metal Maven: Oh, for sure. I was wondering, all of these things you do, are they simply interests or do you see them as specific ways to help keep your mind and body healthy, along with informing your creative process in music?

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, I mean I think they’re definitely my interests, but I think the reason I always did these sort of things is just to keep my mind, my mind healthy. I think. I never really thought about it like that until you said that. But yeah, I think I’m just always wanting to do something and for instance, with the Amigurumi thing, I was crocheting for a while – I even was starting to sell some of the little things I was making. And then, I had to put that on the back burner because I would make a couple of stitches and then, if I didn’t like what my mind was doing or thinking at that time, I’d have to undo a whole row of stitches. And it was kind of like, that was how it was creeping in. Even with something like that.

But now, I’m finally at a point again where I can, you know, if I want to make a little Pikachu or something, I can do it without having to unravel the whole thing a million times. So yeah, I think it certainly is just the way I think I was for a while, trying to keep my mind occupied all the time. But now, I think it’s just staying healthy and now I’m actually doing these things to enjoy them. Not to just be like constantly filling my brain with something so something else doesn’t creep in. I don’t know if that made any sense at all.

Metal Maven: It totally does. And it seems too that being younger compared to who you are now, you’re more aware of when these things are going to happen versus falling into it and being helpless in a way.

Melissa VanFleet: Absolutely, yeah. Being aware is, oh, that is so important. You can almost see the warning signs of when you’re going to start to feel a certain way. And then I think I didn’t have that for a while and it would just get so out of control so quickly and I would, you know, stay up until nine o’clock in the morning, just 48 hours in the studio and not even take a break. And of course, that’s going to drive you to some sort of insanity really. So yeah, just knowing those warning signs and letting your body take a break – letting your mind take a break, it’s just so important.

And another thing I just want to say really quickly while I’m talking about all of this is just not being afraid to talk to somebody about it. There’s nothing shameful about any of this. I am such a private person and it might feel weird going to your therapist or going to a psychiatrist and telling them what you’re going through. But I mean, we recently just experienced suicide very, very close to us and I don’t really want to say who it was, but it’s something that has absolutely turned our lives upside down. And I, with dealing with that, it was someone who was not comfortable and didn’t feel they needed help, and they absolutely needed help. So I just – oh, it’s so important. There are so many foundations and hotlines, and just things like that. I just can’t stress enough. I never thought I’d be that person telling everybody, “Go get medication and do this and that.” But I mean, it’s just so important.

Metal Maven: There’s been such a stigma for a quite a long time and I feel like we’re moving out of that.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, we are.

Metal Maven: Like self-care, be responsible for you and your life, don’t be a victim of your own issues. You can get help for that.

Melissa VanFleet: Yes, exactly. If you have some way of controlling it and, regardless of whatever it is, it’s, it’s just so, so crucial.

Metal Maven: Well, this kind of makes your current situation even more delicious in a way because now you’re going to be performing with Lacuna Coil this month in New York City.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah.

Metal Maven: All that hard work, all that mental workout. You’re onstage with Cristina and the entire Lacuna Coil band, which is such an amazing opportunity, congratulations by the way.

Melissa VanFleet: Thank you, thank you.

Metal Maven: How did you find your way to collaborating with Lacuna Coil? It’s a bit surreal.

Melissa VanFleet: It is. I mean, I can’t even put it into words. I honestly feel like I’m just in some sort of dream and I don’t even think it’s going to hit me when it does happen – after it happens – I just, I don’t know, it’s crazy. I’ve been a fan of Lacuna Coil for over 15 years and a friend in high school, when I was in high school, introduced me to them. I immediately purchased their album, Comalies at my local CD store and their music got me through some very dark times growing up. And actually, after listening to Delirium, their latest release produced by Marco Coti Zelati, I couldn’t believe how the arrangements were exactly what I heard in my mind. And you know, with the new collection of songs I was writing, which includes all the songs that are on Ode to the Dark. And I was just really grateful to be able to work with the entire team behind Delirium.

So yeah, it’s just, it’s crazy. I can’t even tell you. You know, working with them over in Milan was really, really cool and I had pizza one night with Cristina and that was awesome to just meet her and talk to her and see that she was just as down to earth as I thought she would be, just the sweetest person. And I’m really, really honored – so honored – to be able to play with them. And I think there are only two US shows this year so I can’t even believe it. I really look forward to meeting a lot of the people that have reached out to me over the time since my music has been out and I, hopefully, will be able to meet up with some of them and finally meet them in person and talk to them. And yeah, it’s just a very gratifying experience. And like you said, with all of that being said with the whole mental state I’ve been in, this has really happened at a good time that I can actually enjoy it instead of just having to, you know, walk onto the stage and walk off and back on again because it was a compulsion or something. So yeah…

Metal Maven: Well, it feels good when you can just feel like you.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah.

Metal Maven: You know, there’s nothing you have to kind of tuck away or hide from anybody. You can just be relaxed for a little bit. And I don’t know if you get a little stage fright at all before you go on. But besides that –

Melissa VanFleet: No, I really don’t.

Metal Maven: Oh, that’s good!

Melissa VanFleet: I really never have. I was a dancer my whole life, so that was one of those things, I kind of grew up on a stage. So I don’t know though about this, because this is like one of those mental things for me because it’s going to be one of those personal accomplishments more so than anything. You know, the band that I was listening to and here I am, and I don’t know. I’m saying I don’t get nervous, but this one might throw me for a loop.

Metal Maven: Well, you’ve done great so far, so that shouldn’t stop at these shows. And they’re sold out, which is –

Melissa VanFleet: Good timing talking about that!

Metal Maven: No pressure, it’s sold out. So, back to the question of how you began your collaboration. Was that through your manager or how did that end up working out?

Melissa VanFleet: You know, I really don’t remember the details of that whole thing. I know that I listened to Delirium and had it on repeat and I kept thinking like, “Okay, I need to work with Marco. I’m going to find a way to do it.” I don’t know, I really don’t remember honestly if I reached out to them, or I don’t know what happened. I feel like I possibly might have emailed their manager at the time and just told them – I really don’t know to be honest with you, I’m sorry.

Metal Maven: No, that’s fine.

Melissa VanFleet: But I just know, the next thing I knew I was sitting over there at BRX Studio and working with all of them. So, I wish I could tell you more, but I honestly it was like – well, there again, it was at a time in my life when I was very in my head and just all confusing. But yeah, working there was just such a great experience and I learned so much and about recording and just everything is just so, so great. Such a positive, positive experience.

Metal Maven: You need a mentor at times. So it’s great that you can step out of where you are and see how other people do things.

Melissa VanFleet: Yes, it’s easy to get stuck in your own ways and I think that’s one of the things that it did was just open up my eyes to like, “Wow, I never thought to do it like that,” or you know, and to work with seasoned veterans and just see what they do and know – it was just such an amazing thing.

Metal Maven: That’s awesome. I’m super happy for you that this is going to happen. So, what about the future? Are you currently conjuring another beautiful, dark journey to take us on? What would you like the story of Melissa VanFleet to be? And she lived…

Melissa VanFleet: And she lived… the life she dreamed of, even if that doesn’t mean she’s a massive, famous star. At least she can be confident knowing she wrote her own rules and used music to help herself and hopefully others through her art? I don’t know, I just came up with that off the top of my head.

Metal Maven: You know, that works for me.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, I just definitely want to go back to Milan and work with Marco again. That’s on my list of things to do for sure. But in the meantime, I’m writing so many songs in all different genres, recording music for TV and film, and I’m also doing some exploration with collaborations with artists of different genres, which has been so much fun. Like, some dark electronic things. And I’m planning something cool for October because I didn’t even realize, but October 13th, the last two October 13ths we had, I released something, so that’s kind of now like a tradition.

Metal Maven: Your special number.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, there we go, that magical thinking!

Metal Maven: It’s the number thing again – magical thinking! But you know what, you’re letting it work for you. It’s good.

Melissa VanFleet: Right, exactly. See, that’s a positive thing, not a negative thing. But yeah, so I just, not too long ago, released a really fun feature that I did with Genus Ordinis De, they’re a Death Metal band from Italy. And that was really cool because they’re a very, very different style than I am, so that’s kind of neat. So yeah, just that kind of thing. I love collaborating with people and I think it is just such a way to explore all your different parts of you as a musician, and as a person, and as a writer and, and it’s just really fulfilling at the end of the day to listen to it and think like, “Wow, I didn’t even know I could do that.” You know? And then you hear it and you’re like, “Wow!”

Metal Maven: It’s very empowering learning something new about yourself. It’s amazing.

Melissa VanFleet: It is, right. And then you just tuck that away and then just kind of have it in your repertoire of things that you know how to do or know you can do and it just opens up your eyes, and your voice, and everything. So, yeah.

Metal Maven: Well, that’s all the questions I have for you today, Melissa.

Melissa VanFleet: It was a pleasure. I’m sorry I talked your ear off about that anxiety thing, but I just never opened up about it before, so hopefully, it wasn’t too much for you.

Metal Maven: Oh my goodness, absolutely, don’t apologize at all. I would like to thank you for your vulnerability today because this is a very intimate and personal subject, and I know speaking about it can bring anxiety in itself.

Melissa VanFleet: Yeah, definitely. Definitely does.

Metal Maven: So, you did fantastic. And you know, I just – I do – I really appreciate that you took time out of your day to speak with me, and… yeah.

Melissa VanFleet: Of course, thank you so much for listening and for thinking to have me on this great podcast. I really, really do enjoy it and I will continue to listen as the episodes go on. So, thanks so much, and thanks also for supporting my music. I really appreciate that as well.

Metal Maven: Of course and I’ll always continue to.

Order your copy of Melissa’s latest EP, Ode to the Dark, as well as her Metal Lullabies album, at melissavanfleet.com/music.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Alliance on Mental Health helpline at 800-950-6264 or text NAMI to 741741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor, 24/7.

Visit metalmavenpodcast.com for links to Melissa’s social profiles, videos, and read the full transcript of this interview. Thanks for tuning in, and be sure to subscribe to Metal Maven Podcast on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google.