SIA recently had the pleasure of chatting with Vinny Crippen, the creative force behind Melody Lines, one of the many innovative acts that Denver has to offer. We picked his brain to find out more about how Melody Lines got started, his creative process and where he is heading next. Check out the interview here, and also check Vinny out as he takes his Melody Lines project live at Cervantes Masterpiece Theater on July 8th.

Tell me a little bit about your musical background—how you got into making music, how Melody Lines get started?

I’ve been playing music for 14 years now. I started playing guitar in third grade but wasn’t really serious until high school. I played in a couple bands throughout high school; we did pretty well for ourselves and played a lot of gigs for a high school band. We played all throughout the local Winter Park/Grand County area.

I knew after high school I wanted to continue with music, so I decided to go to CU Denver for Music and even got some scholarships to help me. I started out listening to mostly rock and metal but fell in love with electronic music around 2009. I started out playing only guitar, but when I went to college I expanded my outlets to also include, piano, music theory, music business, recording arts, synthesizers, and composing electronic music. I spent a lot of time developing my new skills and developing a catalog of music so it would be ready to perform live.

Who are some of your influences (musical or otherwise)? 

I have a lot of different influences, but one of my biggest is the band Ween. Simply because every song they have sounds completely different, yet they all still sound like their style. I want to recreate that same mentality with my music but as an electronic act. My main influences in electronic music would be Lotus, Emancipator, Pretty Lights, STS9, EOTO, Bonobo, Tipper—the list goes on, but I want to incorporate my favorite elements from each of those, mixed with various genres and infuse everything with my own style.

So how did you come up with the name Melody Lines?

I thought for a while and really wanted to come up with a name that was unique and represented my style. I came up with the name Melody Lines thinking about how music is like a drug and how some people may give out lines of drugs, but I give out lines of music. One of the first people I told about it said that it sounded like a woman’s name like Marilyn Manson or Alice Cooper. Although I had never thought of it like that before, I realized it does sound like it could be a woman’s name and made me like the name even more. I think my music sounds sort of feminine anyway—it’s very soft and pretty for the most part. The more I thought about it the more it grew on me, and it seems to fit my unique melodic music.

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Take me on a tour of your creative process—how do you like to write songs?

Right now I’m basically a bedroom producer. Although I did some tracking at the studios on campus, I make the vast majority of my music at home on my laptop. I use Ableton live to record synths, guitar, bass, and samples. I like to dedicate an entire day to writing music. I turn off my phone and internet and bust out a song in one all-day session. I try to make every song different but still sound like my style. I’ve gotten to a point where I can recreate what I hear in my head fairly well, so I normally start with a riff or sample I know and work until it sounds like what I hear in my head. Although sometimes I start with nothing and just create; I like to mix it up. It just depends on how I’m feeling the day I decide to write the song.

Tell me about your live shows/experience, as you obviously have a pretty unique live style going on. 

My live show has been constantly evolving, and I’m really proud of where it’s at right now. I knew for a while I wanted to play with a live drummer because I thought it would be more organic, fun and match the organic sound I was going for. I played with a couple drummers, and then I jammed with Nick and it sounded like it could work. I’ve known Nick since first grade but we didn’t start playing music together regularly until college. After months of practice, I asked my friend Mikey Thunder to get us our first show. We had talked about how we wanted him to get me my first show, and he came through last August and we had our first show opening for ProperSquabi (Proper Motion & Sunsquabi) at 1up Colfax. It’s been under a year since our first show and things have started to take off especially after the release of Into The Next World.

Although I prefer to play with Nick, I do play some sets solo. I prefer to play with a drummer because it allows for us to improvise and change the song each time. Sometimes I won’t have the stage space or resources to get him there. Eventually I’d like to add more members and keep it growing, but at the moment I don’t have the money to pay any more members.

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What have you been working on lately? Do you have any big projects in the works?

Right now I have a lot of plans; it can be a little overwhelming at times. I’m sitting on a decent amount of unreleased work right now, so I’m thinking there will be an EP or another full album hopefully by the end of the year, if not early next year. There will probably be a couple of singles in between. I really want to start releasing more diverse music. With Into the Next World I tried to cover the diversity of electronic music but didn’t get to explore other genres to the extent I wanted. I’m planning on having a lot more genre-bending material in this next work. I’ve been writing a lot of jazz lately and am thinking I will have a full jazz album soon.
I’m also working on revamping my live performance to something overly complicated but quite badass. It’s going to incorporate more instruments and live looping. It’s going to allow me to write entirely new songs on the spot and create new remixes on the fly.
I hope to take my new live rig on stage within a year, but it still needs a lot of work and practice.

Take some time digging into the world of Melody Lines. Check out his awesome debut album, Into the Next World in addition to his most recent release, a remix of Emancipator’s “Valhalla” (streaming in the header). The tunes are available for free, but be sure to support the artist however you can.

Be sure to check out Melody Lines live at the Cervantes Other Side on July 8th with J.Wail.

Stay in touch with Melody Lines by visiting his FacebookTwitter, and Soundcloud pages or by checking out the official website.