Monday January 25th, 2021
Rising indie-pop recording artist Michaela Slinger https://www.michaelaslinger.com has just released her new single “Make You Sad” https://tinyurl.com/y6fnbw85 . Rudy Blair Entertainment Media rudyblairmedia.com speaks with the Vancouver 604 Records https://www.604records.com/artist/michaela-slinger/ singer about her career and the story behind her latest release:
Michaela Slinger- Rudy Blair Interview
How was 2020 for you as the world was (and still is) dealing with Covid-19, how did it effect you personally and professionally?
You know, I don’t think I fully let myself acknowledge the pain and loss I was feeling during the pandemic until I was chatting with a friend on the phone and she was like: “Wow. It sounds like you’re having a really hard time.” I’m a true extrovert and I’m super connected to my family—everyone lives locally, and I have all four of my grandparents within a 40-minute drive. I struggled with isolation and missed my family and friends terribly. Early on, I would go on long solo bike rides to the eastern edge of Vancouver and sit teary-eyed at a lookout on the ocean, looking up the Burrard Inlet towards the city of Port Moody, where most of my family is.
Professionally, I had just started to find my footing performing live around Vancouver with loose plans to go to LA and Toronto for song-writing sessions and showcases. My momentum felt abruptly halted. I also lost my primary job, which at this time is still outside of the music industry. I don’t do well with uncertainty or a lack of financial security, so that threw me for a loop.
Although there was lots of pain, though, I feel like I’m gentler with myself and unlearning some of the wild expectations of productivity I’ve inherited throughout my life. I’ve spent more time on walks and bike rides than ever before, and I’m lucky that I have a group of friends who already enjoyed connecting on hikes or outdoor camping trips. I cooked things from scratch and learned to knit and read a ton of excellent fiction. And, after the first few months, I started writing and producing demos again.
Congratulations on your new single “Make You Sad.” Hearing your voice, you have very strong and unique vocals. What kind of training growing up did you get and did that include dance and playing instruments?
Thank you! I appreciate that. I literally started singing as soon as I was old enough to speak, so in a way, I’d say that my singing voice comes naturally to me. I don’t think about the mechanics of it. That said, from the time I was four, I was involved in musical theatre, vocal lessons, piano lessons, and a variety of dance lessons that I carried on until late in high school. My vocal and piano teacher Elaine Lindbjerg was an incredible support for me, and she also founded the musical theatre academy that I was in. I think I put her through a lot—resisting Royal Conservatory music theory training in favour of learning pop songs, not paying attention to vocal technique just so I could belt like my favourite singer at the time.
I don’t consider myself highly “trained,” but so much of my learning as an artist and performer came from just doing it all the time, for over a decade. It was the air I breathed.
Who were your role models growing up and what was the best advice you ever received?
I’m so lucky to have had lots of role models growing up. Outside of the obvious ones—my parents—I think various important figures in my life taught me different lessons. I had incredibly strong, inspiring soccer coaches growing up who were the fathers of my teammates, and who instilled a hard work ethic in me. I was frequently enthralled with my teachers as a young student, who nurtured my appetite for learning. Of course, there were celebrities I was obsessed with—I’d read about how young Taylor Swift was when she started her career or listen to John Mayer’s early songs and feel a connection when I was in high school.
My mom always says, “You can be right, or you can be happy.” I never started to understand that until I entered my early twenties (because until then, I thought I was constantly right), and I think it’ll continue to resonate in new ways the older I get.
You’ve released singles including “Flux” and “Tarot.” How do you think musically you’ve progressed from those songs to your latest “Make You Sad”?
I definitely notice an evolution! As a writer, I get more confident in playing around with the form of a song. Flux was my first single, and first studio experience. I wrote that song very true to the typical structure of a pop song. As my critical music ear develops, I like to think about ways to make something novel or unique happen within the confines of a 3:30 track, with the help of my trusted mentors and producers at 604 Records. Make You Sad is a bit more grandiose. There are things like background vocals used for impact, breaks in the percussion that make the listener notice them, and I also think I’m maturing as a lyricist. I’m trying to lean into my personal writing style, where I tell a specific and personal story with the ability to zoom out into something more universal.
What is the inspiration behind your latest single “Make You Sad”?
Make You Sad was inspired by a challenging conversation I had with someone in my life, where we both brought past hurts and assumptions and unsaid feelings into it. Later on, I recorded a quick voice note that ended up sparking the song in a writing session. That voice note idea is the opening line of the track: “Say you want to have a candid conversation / Doesn’t seem like that.”
The cool thing about this song is that it was co-written with my two producers, Kevvy and Louise Burns. In a different way, Louise was going through a similar challenge in her own life, and we were able to use our converging experiences to create something powerful.
How did you record it during the pandemic?
We actually finished recording this song—and my entire debut album—about a week before lockdown happened here! This track has been a long time coming. I’ve had to be patient about releasing everything, but the time is definitely right now.
Are you planning to release an EP or Album in 2021 and if so, what would its theme be?
I am! It’s out before the summer. Since this is my first release, I’d say the theme is mostly me trying to decode the experiences I’ve had throughout my life until this point—making meaning of past and present relationships, questioning thought patterns, reminiscing about childhood, and looking ahead to the future.
Are there any plans for virtual performances in 2021?
There are a couple virtual shows we’re doing at 604 in the coming weeks. Besides that, no plans as of yet. Depending on public health protocols and the vaccine rollout, there may be a possibility of some adapted live performance later this year! I performed a mini outdoor acoustic tour last summer, which went well, so I’m always open to making it work if I get to share my music personally with others.
Tell me something about yourself that no one knows (could be a fun skill, quirky habit or hobby, or something you have overcome).
I don’t feel like I have any secrets! But one potentially interesting fact is that I was equal parts artist and athlete growing up. I started swimming lessons at 6 months old and played soccer all the way up until university. I actually played on a women’s team in Vancouver until the pandemic.
Michaela Slinger Socials