Studio Visit appears first in print, in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, Melissa Merli visits with musician Pamela Machala. In the July 8 newspaper, we'll have a visit with Scott Moore.
Q: Did you want to come back to Urbana after you graduated from Oberlin?
A: Yes. I really liked growing up here, and it seemed the natural thing to do at the time because I didn't have other specific plans.
Q: I think it's cool that other young musicians like Sara Sasaki, Matt Turino and Mimi Larson have come back after college, too.
A: It's just really a great town, a good music scene. It's a nice place to live. Good places to eat.
Q: I thought you had gone to the Oberlin Conservatory to major in music.
A: I actually was in the college there. I majored in philosophy but took piano lessons and music theory at the conservatory. And I got to study with Sedmara Rutstein, one of the faculty members in the conservatory, which was a really great opportunity.
Q: When did you graduate?
A: In 2008. Then I went to Eastern Illinois University in the fall of '09 to get a master's in piano performance.
Q: What did you do in between?
A: I worked at Espresso Royale on campus — I still work there — and I started playing shows around town that year.
Q: Did you study with your mom (classical pianist Susan Teicher) at Eastern?
A: I primarily studied with the jazz piano professor there, Paul Johnston. And I took classical lessons with her.
Q: Do many people of your generation know you are the granddaughter of Louis Teicher (of the famed piano duo Ferrante & Teicher)?
A: I don't think many people of my generation know who he is.
Q: What are your goals in music?
A: I would say my primary goal is to be able to make a living as a singer-songwriter and find some level of success with that. That would be like my dream come true.
Q: What kind of songs do you write?
A: I have been describing it as piano-pop influenced by my love of jazz. I listen to a lot of singer-songwriters such as Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor.
Q: Do you do covers, too?
A: Yes, the aforementioned artists. And Aretha Franklin, Carole King, the sort of classics, the originals of the genre. We cover Fiona Apple and Norah Jones, too. Any and all of those from the genre — the-chick-with-the-piano genre, as I like to call it.
Q: How many songs have you written? When did you start writing songs?
A: I was writing songs when I was 17, although I didn't start playing them in public until a few years later, probably my sophomore year in college, when I started doing open mics. I've written a lot of songs, but some have fallen by the wayside, and I don't play them anymore because they're not that good. I wrote them when I was 17. Or just because I've since written songs I enjoy playing more.
Q: Do you play any other instruments besides piano?
A: I played the euphonium in high school (University Laboratory High, class of '04) but haven't picked it up in many years. It's mainly piano.
Q: Where do you play around town?
A: The Iron Post, Mike 'N Molly's, The Canopy Club. Those are the places I've played most often. I've also played at Buvons Wine Bar and Luna.
Q: Didn't you just release your first CD?
A: Yes. "Golden Delicious." That's the name of the title track. We recorded and mixed it at Pogo Studio with Mark Rubel, and we mastered it at the private studios of Jonathan Pines in Urbana. It has 13 tracks, all by me.
Q: Where can you get it?
A: It'll be available soon through my website, wwwpamelamachala.com, and hopefully at Exile on Main Street in Champaign. My gigs will be the main locations for sales, though.