Melissa: I am for Chicago, Illinois, and I started to do music, because one day during my last year of college I was looking through the Village Voice, and I found this ad that a producer had placed. He wanted to create the next big act, and I answered it, and I feigned enough self-possession and confidence to land the gig, and a year later we [the band was called “Product”] were signed to Arista Records.
Me: However, that didn’t quite work out the way you had hoped-you sort of floated around a bit-how did that go?
Melissa: Well, our record was shelved because the music was too controversial-it was for kids, but it was about all sorts of unsavory subject matter. Then there was a period of kind of trying to figure out what to do next, and then I became a solo act and made a new demo with my boyfriend at the time, who was also a producer. Then I got signed by Jive, based on again a feigned-or perhaps maybe by this point maybe some degree of actual talent. Then there was about three years of not knowing how to market me because again I stuck to my guns, and I was making it very controversial-it had sort of sarcastic, dry, dark subject matter, and they didn’t know how to place it. So, they sent me to LA to be an actress and to sort of create a context around this personality that was a bit incoherent sonically. So I ended up in some ”Dawson’s Creek” type stuff, and that didn’t work, and then record deal number two just died on September 11th 2001.
Me: Yeah, that was definitely a tough time to be a pop act. Since then, however, you’ve still certainly still been doing music. What have you kept yourself busy with in the years after?
Melissa: Well, my failed attempt to become a rock star kind of phased into a fairly thriving career in the jingle industry, just endorsing some major products like Gillette, McDonald’s and Chevy-whatever was tossed my way, and I was pretty good at that, so it worked well.
Me: What’s the recording process like?
Melissa: It’s absurd, and ridiculous, and fun, because there are no great overarching consequences. So coming from where all this importance is put on your career as an artist, it just didn’t matter when you’re endorsing products-it’s more fun and light.
Me: All right, and moving on to the actual song, “Dance, Dance, Dance”. First of all, how did you find out you we’re going to get to do it?
Melissa: My jingle agent-she sent me the work. I get my three or four things a year, my work from her, which is pretty scarce in today’s turbulent economy, so I take it when I can get it, I hop to it, and that’s what it was.
Me: What are some of your favorite parts of it?
Melissa: I think it’s the part where I go “Dance, Dance, Dance! I wanna dance forever!”
Me: Any particular reason, or was it just fun?
Melissa: Well, it’s to the point, you know? “I wanna dance forever”? You kinda can’t beat it as a sentiment.
Me: You definitely had a good time there, glad to hear that. What else do you work on in your spare time when you’re not busy doing jingle work?
Melissa: Well at this point I’m pretty much an “old hag” who’s given up on all her ambitions, so I’m content to sit with a cup of tea and make small, impactful decorative changes to my apartment. In terms of music I still have this sort of finger-picking guitar stuff that I do and I have no idea what I’m gonna do with it, but it is a hobby-quite a hobby-I like it. I’m also investing a bit in gold-I think the sector is due for a comeback. The gold miners have been hit really hard, but I expect to see a recovery in the not-to-distant future.
Me: All right, thank you very much Melissa. We certainly look forward to hearing you again either on Pokémon or in your other work.
Melissa: Thank you.
Me: This has been Steven Reich from the PokéPress/PIRN studios in Madison, Wisconsin, on the phone with Melissa Lefton, the performer of “Dance, Dance, Dance”, the ending song from the Meloetta short.