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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2018.12.01 - People Asia - Out Of The Blue (Melissa)

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Post by Blackstar Fri Feb 16, 2024 2:13 am




MELISSA REESE
OUT OF THE BLUE


This musician may be the first female member of Guns N' Roses, but she's more than that. The Filipino-American is part-singer, part-composer and part-film scorer—not to mention 100-percent rock and roll.

By BRYLE B. SURALTA / Photography by MELO BALINGIT

It's been a while since Melissa Reese visited the Philippines. "Oh God," she says, as she hesitates for a second. "I think I was maybe 13 or 12."

Now 28, the first and only female member of Guns N’ Roses knows that it’s been ages since she's been to her mother’s homeland. After all, 15 or so years feel like a lifetime ago, especially in music, specifically in the rock and roll business.

During Melissa's childhood, which was in the ’90s, rock practically dominated the era. It was also one of the best decades for pop music in general. Bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Oasis and Nine Inch Nails were all in their prime. And that’s just four of the many acts associated with the '90s music scene.

Of all the bands though, Guns N' Roses, also known to its fans as GnR, was in a league of its own. The definitive hard rock kings of the '90s were in rarefied air.

Perhaps that was why when Melissa got a call in 2016 from her friend, Caram Costanzo, who was one of the producers of GnR’s 2008 album Chinese Democracy, that the band was interested in having her on board, she was equal parts baffled and petrified.

"It (GnR) is this iconic rock group that is (comprised of) basically rock gods, infamous for their music and crazy partying. Who would have thought that they’d want a new-school, millennial chick in the band?" she tells PeopleAsia.

Melissa had already accomplished a lol even before the call. In her time away from the Philippines, she’d sung in front of tens and thousands of people, scored films, composed soundtracks for commercials and videogames and released her own songs. Best of all, she’s done it while battling skepticism about her talents.

"In the composing world, she’s the only female and the youngest person in every single room," says her older sister, Broadway star Stephanie Reese.

"People just assume that I’m just someone’s girlfriend," Melissa interjects.

Nevertheless, the Filipino-American musician has definitely carved out a niche for herself in music, much to the delight of the older Reese, who Melissa considers her “consigliere."

Not to be outdone. Stephanie has made a name for herself in theatre as well, having played the part of Kim in the German version of Miss Saigon. What can they say? The part-Bicolana sisters are just innate performers.

Life with GnR

"I was really into a lot of different things, ranging from hip-hop to classical, which is basically where 1 started," the GnR keyboardist and synthesizer says, describing her musical palette.

From Slash's top hat and legendary riffs to Axl Rose's bandana and six-octave vocal range, everyone knows about the iconic GnR lineup and the hits. The band is rock and roll royalty after all. But was Melissa a fan? If she's being honest, she really wasn't.

"It (GnR) was ahead of my generation. I do remember seeing the album cover of Appetite [for Destruction] and being afraid of it because we were raised Catholic," Melissa says, as she shares a laugh with her sister.

Axl, Slash, Duff Mc Kagan and the rest of the guys, Melissa says, have all been like "big brothers" to her. In her eyes, even as the only female member of the group, she's been the luckiest person on earth.

"They're the nicest dudes in the world," she claims. "Everybody was so rad and supportive. "There's no other group of people to be in the trenches with than these dudes."

Today, "Blue," as her bandmates call her, is as close as can be with the guys. She’s "candy buddies" with Slash. She cheers for the Seattle Seahawks with Duff. And she performs just like a wily rock and roller.

She also credits band manager Fernando Lebeis for being such a big supporter since the beginning. It was Lebeis who saw how vital Melissa's role as GnR's "enhancer" would be now and moving forward.

Melissa may have questioned how she would fit in with the band at first, but any reservations she had may now be buried beneath the $480 million the band has made so far with the "Not in This Lifetime..." tour. Right now. she’s in “Paradise City."

More to come

Melissa already has her hands full with other projects, one of which is Bodied, a 2017 musical drama that was directed by Joseph Khan. The film was the first theatrical release from YouTube. It hit theaters in November 2018 and arrived on YouTube Premium on the 28th of that same month. She co-scored the film with long-time collaborator and friend Bryan "Brain" Mantia.

Produced by Eminem, the film tackles the rap battle scene in Oakland. It premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, earning the "People's Choice Award Midnight Madness."

"It was a sort of labor-of-love film," she says.

What about performing again for the Filipino crowd? "I would totally love to," says Melissa. "It's a whole new world," referencing the Lea Salonga Disney song in her tune.

"I knew once she came in the country as an adult, she would be able to finally go, 'yeah, I can come here and do a lot of fun things,'" says Stephanie.

The older Reese says that Melissa is currently "looking into indigenous instruments here to put rhythmically with her music."
Melissa, being a musical savant, has built a career on rhythm. It's no surprise that she’s found it here.

"It's a feel," Melissa says about Filipino music. There's an emotional quality for people up here. It's so much like a full-body, emotional thing—nostalgic."

And, for Melissa, “it's so much of what music is all about."
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