Taylor Berrier: The environment we are in greatly influences the music we like, listen to, and play. Can you tell me a little about where you are from did that influence you to go into music?
Chelsea Dash: I was born in northern California in a small town an hour north of San Francisco. I had parents who were very into music. My dad was super into old school rock like Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, and The Who and my mom was really into pop like Madonna, Paula Abdul, and the soul stuff. That was sort of my initial exposure to music early on. Then high school came around and it was all hip/hop. After high school I moved to the east coast so I was exposed to so much more out there when at Berklee College of Music in Boston and after that I went to New York where there’s this really cool indie rock scene and the edm scene that was coming up in the club. So basically a very eclectic mix of music.
When did you discover you had a passion for music?
I was very young. The story my parents love to tell is that I could sing before I could talk. I would hear a melody on the tv or the radio and I would be humming it back right away. My parents at the suggestion of my preschool teacher put me in voice lessons when I was 5 years old. When I was that age I didn’t really know that wasn’t unusual. I thought everyone could sing. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I realized I’m a little better than most people at this.
So you definitely worked hard to get to where you are.
Yeah, although it didn’t feel like work because I had so much fun doing it. But even in voice lessons when I was five and the voice lessons I do today, going to Berklee, studying at a conservatory when I was younger. I went from loving pop music to doing local community musical theater and trained classically all through high school. Much to the dismay of my high school choir teachers I decided to go to Berklee which is known as a contemporary music school because I knew that I wanted to do popular music instead of being an opera singer. I studied all different types of voice throughout my life.
You are an alumni from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. I have to ask out of my own sheer curiosity, what was your major?
My major was Music Business and Vocal Performance on the side. It was a dual major. My whole idea going into Berklee was that I am always going to sing and I’m always going to write, but I don’t have knowledge of the music business and if God forbid I’m not able to make it as an artist or songwriter, then at the least I could go the route of maybe working for a record label. It took me until my last semester to realize that I didn’t want to be on the music side of business, which is unfortunate I realized that so late, but I am grateful I got that background because it made me much smarter in operating my way around the music industry as a young girl and avoiding all the people who try to pull fast ones on you. But not on me.
Did you explore the Boston music scene at all, or were you spending nights in the library?
I was so focused on exposing myself to as many different types of music and songwriting as I could at Berklee that I didn’t get to explore the local music scene there as much. I always wrote songs, but I didn’t know proper technique and music theory. So being a dual major, I was just hitting the books trying to learn all that and trying to dissolve my sound out the eclectic background from which I came. Getting exposed to Berklee, which was very eclectic itself, was a way to navigate and hone what was truly me.
What do you enjoy more, performing on stage, recording in a studio, or writing, or just an even mix of the three?
I probably enjoy writing the most. The reason being, every time I write it’s a different experience. I usually collaborate with one other writer, sometimes more, and sometime I am meeting them for the first time. I will walk in, we start listening to something, and we’re talking about what we want to say. It can be very therapeutic and a lot of fun. You never know where it’s going to go and how it’s going to come out. The emotions and the stories are always a new and different experience. I love performing and I love recording, but those can be kind of tedious because you have to sing the same thing over and over again.
Where would you want to tour?
I love to travel, so that’s a tough question. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa and do an African safari.
You’ve performed in the Staples Center, Madison Square Garden, and the White House for Christmas dinner. Is there anything left, or have you accomplished it all?
I would love to go on tour. That’s definitely my ultimate goal and I’m sure in the next year or so I’ll be able to finally. I was thrust into big audiences when I was quite small. I started doing national anthems for major teams in basketball and baseball. I think I was around 12-years-old when I performed for this year’s champs, Golden State. I got really used to singing for 80,000 people and I just thought that was cool. Most people would be way more nervous for that than they would for a club performance with two or three hundred people. I’m the opposite. I want the big audience.
What advice would you give other aspiring musicians still trying to make it big in the industry?
Always practice. Find a vocal coach. Take lessons. Piano, guitar. Hone your craft and get the music side down. But in today’s age, you can do so much on your own just by learning all the little nuances of social media. I’m still trying to understand, but I have friends who got onto YouTube when it was at its peak and were able to develop these huge followings. Amazingly, they can be full time musicians just by putting their work on YouTube. It’s one of the hardest industries to get into, so never ever give up.
For more info on Chelsea Dash visit her web site here.