Melissa Mary Ahern is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who first began generating buzz after her featured vocals on Sufjan Stevens' "Lonely Man of Winter" EP (Asthmatic Kitty, 2018), on the Doveman remix. This next song release, Hard Luck in Love, was first written by the artist in 2015 after a series of back-to-back heartbreak. "It came to me in less than an hour. I was truly as exhausted as the lyrics sound, and was just being honest." Since then it went through 4 producers, none of whom she felt captured its simplicity or feeling, and none of which she reluctantly decided to release. Refusing to see the song permanently shelved, she eventually set out to self-produce it in 2019, knowing little about producing beyond what sound she wanted. She put together a budget, hired local musicians, and a tracking engineer, and booked a studio nearby in Brooklyn. Running rehearsals and meeting weekly with singer Dida Pelled, the goal was to record the song live in one, straight shot to capture its purity. "I didn't want to punch in to fix small imperfections. I didn't want to add the drums later or tap them in using Midi. I wanted a live, full-band sound, as raw and honest as the song itself. I think we achieved that."
Ahern has self-released music up until now, performing in small clubs in NY and putting together bills with other female and non-binary songwriters. "I enjoy reaching out to other women and forming bills to share. I believe it's important to support each other in this industry. My male peers are great, but there's something special in creating that kind of supportive environment."
Coming from a musical family of both professional and passionate players, she draws influence from the trad-folk festivals her mother exposed her to, to the rock bands her older brother played in at indie festivals like SXSW and Banaroo. "I remember helping the band carry gear into clubs when I was underage, just so I could get in and listen. That was all the ID you needed in 2005, and I'd take a bus down to the city just to do it."
These days she caught the wave of producing her own songs and does so along with the help of trusted mixing engineers and hand-picked musicians. "Right now I chose to have complete creative control. If that means I'm watching countless Youtube engineering tutorials to avoid another song going through 4 producers then so be it. My songs are simple but that simplicity is easily lost in the process."