By Kimberly Johnson
CITIES OF ORIGIN: Redlands
KINDERED SPIRITS: Selena, Christina Aguilar, Strokes, Fiona Apple, Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, Donna Summer and ESG.
RECENT RELEASES: I’m releasing a demo track called “Don’t Make Me” at the end of December, then a four song EP on Valentine’s Day.
WEBSITES: Instagram & Twitter: @_misschief_
FREQUENTS: University of Redlands.
By day she is Melissa Leora, by night she is Miss Chief. She’s a fresh new face on the music scene coming well equipped with “ooh la las” and other forms of melodic weaponry. While she is often out making the memories she later forms songs from, her roots are by way of Redlands. Accompanied by a legion of “misses and misters,” she sings songs of mischievous antics, angst and other whimsical affairs captured in the youthful Southern California kid psyche. Somewhere along her journeys, she’s picked up the attitude of a young Joan Jett, wrapped within the groovy nature of a female Buddy Holly. This should tickle your fancy if you’re an admirer of music you can dance to. Miss Chief has officially heightened the singer/songwriter position from a mellow hum to a frantic wail. She’s given it drumsticks and tambourines and has propelled it to the forefront of a crowd. To find out more about the 5’5 phenomenon, check out what she had to say to the Weekly.
Who is Miss Chief, and how did you come up with such a clever band name?
Melissa Leora: I am Miss Chief; I have a band of misses and misters who’ve helped soundtrack my stories. I’ve worked with a wonderful array of musicians. I’m currently working with Jesus “Chuo” Nieto (guitar, keys and backup vocals), Sergio Camarena (guitar), Daniel A. Flores (drums) and Devyn Trujillo (bass). Miss Chief is an alter ego of mine. She comes out whenever I perform because she’s this fierce, courageous part of me who just doesn’t give a damn. I was trying to think of a name that could convey my youth and trouble-making while still maintaining a title of a leader. I just thought to myself, “I’m a mischief, I’m a miss . . . I’m a chief.” It was the perfect combination of everything I wanted to stand for.
Can you tell me about the performance Miss Chief just had at the University of Redlands? How did you get involved with that show?
Leora: I actually work in the coffee shop at the University. One of my coworkers is a student who is in the Rotaract Club—an organization that mainly supports charities. I told her about my music and how I wanted to be more of an advocate for those in need. She asked me to perform to help raise the last $100 of their goal. At the end of the show they ended up making about $150, so I’m really proud I was able to help out.
What types of things is Miss Chief currently working on?
Leora: I’m recording my demo track “Don’t Make Me,” and then recording a four song E.P. at Chuo’s space. I’m working on a website and a zine for the E.P. with Daniel. I’m also prepping for my Pasadena show on Jan. 9 as well as booking shows for the rest of the year. Needless to say I got a lot to do, but man is it exciting!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Leora: As Miss Chief I’m not trying to be a role model, but a friend people can connect to. I don’t try to just write songs with catchy hooks, because they’re the tales of my mistakes and perseverance. I’m not going to pretend that I’m perfect, or try to stand for something with no depth or meaning. It’s easy to get into music for the hype and spectacle, but I’m trying to represent where I’m from, who I am, and where I want to go without filtering or compromising my vision. I think that young people can really create movements for our society through the arts, so I’m just looking for more misses and misters to join my band of misfits. (Kim Johnson)