Mel Parsons

Sitting on a plane on the way to Canada, Mel Parsons took time out of her hectic tour schedule to spread a bit of light on what generosity means to her. New Zealand’s very own award-winning indie/folk/country songstress, Mel wants us to practise empathy, make sure we’re really listening, and to use our voices to spread the word on causes we are most passionate about.

What’s happening in the world of Mel Parsons for the upcoming summer? I’ve had a big year touring, so hopefully I’ll get a decent break somewhere – in my mind that means beach time, maybe some bike riding, and catching up with family and friends. I also have a few festivals over summer, and there always seems to be another tour just around the corner… 

What’s the most insanely generous thing a fan has ever done for you? One thing that blew me away was the number of people who joined in when I crowdfunded my most recent album. It’s a terrifyingly vulnerable position to be in – asking your fans to trust you enough to pre-order something they haven’t heard. Not to mention getting over our ingrained Kiwi-ness of not asking for help. 

While financially crowdfunding made it possible to actually make the album, even more valuable to me was the realisation that hundreds of people believe in me and enjoy the work I do. I can’t describe what that feels like, but it’s more than a little overwhelming to know that I have such a dedicated and supportive fanbase. I have eternal gratitude and respect for my fans, and am driven by the thought that I might be able to bring a little joy back to them through my music.

How important do you think it is for people who have a platform like yours to spread messages about creating positive change in the world? I think anyone who has a public platform and believes in something passionately should be free to spread that message as they see fit. With the myriad of issues facing humanity and the environment, people tend to get cause-fatigued, and creating positive change can seem impossible. 

Being too noisy about too many things can turn people off altogether. When we are constantly bombarded with causes people tend to shut off and think that the problems in the world are insurmountable, and so become overwhelmed and think their effort or contribution towards anything would be futile. 

I guess that is why it’s good to find the thing you are most passionate about, and use your platform and energy to spread that message. It has been proven time and time again over the course of history that positive change starts with one person – like you!

For me there are a lot of causes and things I believe in environmentally and politically, but the one that is closest to my heart and intrinsically woven through my music is mental health. I know from my own experience of depression and grief that music was truly the thing that pulled me through.

Can you name an everyday action that makes the world a better place, yet is underrated? Empathy. Let’s face it – everyone is busy. I feel like when we ask people, ‘how are you?’ it’s often a throw away greeting where we don’t really listen to the answer. When we genuinely listen and show that we care about other people and their situations, the outcome is always going to be positive. That person feels valued and loved, and those two things are contagious – when people love and value themselves they are able to spread the love! 

By taking time to ask people how they are and really listening to their response, we might just be the quiet reassurance they need at that particular time.

Photography by Geoff Browne

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