Focusing on the Entire Painting: An Interview with Melanie Fontana

“I feel like as artists it’s hard to focus on one thing because we see the big picture. It’s hard to focus on one piece when you’re focusing on the entire painting.”

One of the most exciting moments of buying a new CD was opening the plastic case, taking out the booklet and memorizing the lyrics of each song. That doesn’t totally ring true for Melanie Fontana.

When she would first crack open that plastic case, she automatically bypassed the lyrics for something she found more important – the people behind the song. Sure, the artist was in the credits as one of the writers. But who were the other people? She investigated.

When she wasn’t researching people like Larry Rudolph or Max Martin, she was writing songs of her own. Fontana initially started songwriting as a child, and can’t say how many cassette tapes her mom owned that should have had songs by Michael Jackson or The Monkeys but instead held home recordings of her daughter’s made up songs.

Her professional songwriting career brought her out to Los Angeles but things didn’t necessarily work out the way she planned. She ended up taking a step back and removing herself from songwriting to perform on a cruise ship. Once she saved up enough money and felt like she finally got her life back on track, she went back to North Hollywood and made it work.

“Having any kind of success is basically just luck plus talent plus timing and that’s really all it is,” Fontana said. “For me, those three stars just lined up at that moment.”

That moment she’s referring to is her first major label cut. It started out with a friend of hers running into Nasri, talented songwriter and member of the band MAGIC!, at a networking event. Her friend sent along some of Fontana’s work to him, and then suddenly she was in the studio with him writing “Home This Christmas” for Justin Bieber’s Christmas album, Under The Mistletoe.

After that, she signed a publishing deal with Universal Music. She’s had the opportunity to write songs for Britney Spears, Aaron Carter, The Chainsmokers, Krewella and BTS. Each opportunity has come from luck, timing and talent, as well as not being afraid to fight for what she wants.

“As a writer, as an artist, you have to push and put yourselves into situations,” she said. “Ask for people’s contact info and bug someone’s manager a few times. You can’t really take no for an answer because if you do you’ll never get into a room with anyone good.”

Her dedication to research and getting her foot in the door has paid off tremendously and continues to pay off. That Larry Rudolph name she read years ago that turned out to be Britney Spears’ manager? He used one of Fontana’s songs as an example of a good pop song at one of his workshops. Yasmine Yousaf, one half of EDM band Krewella who has co-written with Fontana? She officiated Fontana’s wedding. With a bit of luck, timing and talent, a simple name printed on the inside of a CD booklet can mean so much.