In the last year, Melissa Etheridge launched her own label and a new album, This is M.E.. Now she is in the midst of a North American tour. We reached her in Los Angeles for our first Civilized Conversation: a series in which Civilized founder and publisher Derek Riedle chats with entrepreneurs, politicians, and entertainers. We're publishing three edited and condensed excerpts of that conversation with Etheridge. In the first one, she discussed her experience with medicinal cannabis. In the second one, she discussed her cannabis-infused wine, No Label, and the legalization debate as a social movement like LGBT equality rights. In the final segment below, she talks about starting her own label, and the influence of cannabis on her music. You can listen to their entire chat on our first podcast, below.
You speak about truth and authenticity in your life and that obviously comes through in your music. And your new album is your first on your own label. Was that pursuit of truth and authenticity part of your decision to do it on your own label?
It's part of the walk definitely...I haven't ever made any money off any record that I've made. That all goes to the record company. And so when I changed my management, and they said, 'Hey, we think you can release an independent album.' I said goodbye to my record company, and I took the jump, and believed it. And I've sold just as many, if not more, of this album. And I'm able to work it as long as I wish and the way that I like. It was a very empowering move, and I have no regrets having gone independent on this.
What was it like to do it on your own, and was it what you thought it would be?
It was scary, because I had no one else to blame. I had to do it all myself. The budget was different. There wasn't that upfront corporate money. So we had to put it together differently, where I go to producers and writers, and I use their studios. And if we use their song, then they get the backend, and it's very different. Yet, you can make incredible music for not that much money upfront now. That was a different experience. And I was able to collaborate with the kind of musicians that I'd always wanted to, and that I'd never had the opportunity to. Really stretch out, and see if I could work with some R&B artists or soul artists - the sort of musicians that I'd always wanted to sit beside and create with. It was just a great experience.
How do you think cannabis impacts the creative process for you?
Oh, there is nothing like a good sativa when you're creating. I find it very, very, very useful. I think the relaxation and the opening of the right side of the brain...it allows the creative force to hook up with that collective unconscious and subconscious and whatever we're doing. I think cannabis is an incredible creation tool.
Have you written songs about your experience with cannabis?
On this album, This is Me, there's a song called "Ain't That Bad" that I was working on with the rap artist, Rockstar. He's worked with Chris Brown and Rihanna. We've got on day together, and he's like, 'Who is this lady?' I said, 'Well here, let's see.' And we lit up, and it was from Greenway dispensary. It's called 'The Honey Stick'. But it's a Sunny Day Honey Stick, which is a pure sativa honey stick. He said, 'What's this?' And I said, 'It's called Sunny Day Honey Stick.' And then a little bit later he says, 'Can I have some more of that sugar pie honeycomb?' So, when it comes to lyrics the song starts: I got a sugar pie honeycomb/I got a sunny day honey stick. It's like Saturday honeycomb, I like the feeling it's gonna give.' A lot of people don't know what we're singing.
Well, they'll know now.
Yes they will, Sunny Day Honey Stick.
So, tell me, what's next for you?
I am back on tour. I'm creating music. I've got some things coming down the line that I'm not quite ready to reveal, but you're always gonna be getting new music from me.