RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN ARTIST MICHELLE ARI
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide to that music is a thing for you?
It was always there because it is who I am. You are what you are and if you are not true to yourself you can foul yourself up and deny yourself the real pleasures in life. I knew at a very young age and listened to music beyond my years. It took me a bit to face who I am and do it but once I made that decision the world opened up to me and a life that is mine.
Introduce us you and your musical history.
I work and perform as and record as a solo artist. The members change when I change cities or simply change my mind about a player. The new EP New Page is loaded with talent. John Ashton of The Psychedelic Furs produced it, wrote with me, and plays guitar. Before he was in The Furs, Roger Morris and Duncan Kilburn formed the Furs’ original lineup. They both play on New Page along with Joe McGinty, who was in the band later, a friend of John’s has a vocal part and an old friend of mine joined us too. It made it really special to have them a part of it and they sound terrific.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
I don’t tire of any questions. I am happy when people are interested in what I am doing and my music. Nobody caring would be worse so ask away.
We set up RGM USA and many other countries in the world to share music with America and the UK, good idea?
One thing that can and should always be able to freely cross borders is art and music. Dissemination of arts and culture will save this planet more than any other thing. I am suspicious of those who try to stop it or make it complicated.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
The problem with that term is it is often used as a substitute for “I don’t like your opinion” so, welcome to the world. It is full of all kinds of opinions as it should be. Every one of us looks at life from a different point and we are entitled to do so without getting clobbered over the head about it. We could use more tolerance of others, not less.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Nothing of any significance. As I have moved a lot, and surely will again, I try to keep my belongings to a manageable amount.
What useless party trick do you have?
Oh wow. I can’t remember the last time I went to a proper party. The chorus on my new single Little Parties states this very specifically “Don’t care much for little parties.” I’m quite social and enjoy others but I can get bored if there isn’t good conversation and music and if anyone gets too interested in knowing everything about me. I might like to just have fun you know?
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
Actually, it was a very tough weekend but there was a moment I simply glowed. I played the First (and last) James Brown Music Festival in Augusta. Georgia in the dead of summer-just to make the tough things a greater misery.
One of Mr. Brown’s sax players had noticed earlier in the day that I was blue and when our set came around, I heard the sweet sounds of a sax only I had no sax player in my band! This dear man had jumped onstage and played every song with my band and I. It was deeply moving and in that moment I knew that no matter what my future as a musician would hold for me, I was always going to be OK and I’d always come out the other side all the better for it. This has been proven itself to be true.
What was the worst experience on stage?
I will tell you the one I saw that was not my own because it was bad for me as a paying member of the audience who was also a musician working her tail off.
I had just moved to Nashville and there was a big music festival coming up. I was told there was a “must see!” A hot new band that was on MTV and had a famous producer and such. I happened to have been piss broke at the time but I spent my last $25 on a ticket.
The band comes out. They are so hungover from the night before that they are still drunk. They hid their bassist behind a curtain because he was overweight. The lead singer left the stage a handful of times to go throw up. I was furious I paid for that and that they were such idiots yet were successful.
A year later I was in a local bar and the guy next to me starts telling me his troubles and how he’s lost everything.
He was the lead singer of that band.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about?
All of the titles of my commercial releases refer to places even if in one’s mind or conceptually. 85th and Nowhere, mal a’ propos (meaning “out of place,”) Uncharted Territory, and now, with the new release we are turning a New Page. I will update you when I know my next destination.
If you had to describe your band/music to an alien how would you describe it?
These are stories about humans, human emotion and the people we really are and the people we hope to be.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
Musically, what people say is they feel connected when they hear my music. They say it lifts them up and though I am as generous with silver linings in my writing, as real life is, my music can be quite dark too, as life can be. I am real and those who want that are the ones who gravitate to my music.
We all have triumphs and losses and I don’t feel there is a reason to sugarcoat. Sugarcoated was, incidentally, the name of my first three song EP and set the pace for also being playful. Life can be funny after all even at one’s own expense and I am more than happy to laugh at myself.
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
It’s pretty hot in Florida and there are a lot of bugs outside in the summertime. Other than that, I have nothing to be pissed about. I am a pretty happy person who has been to Hell and back and now that I am back (the trick is to always find your way back) I am very much enjoying myself. I have plenty in life to be grateful for and worthwhile goals of my own choice to pursue and I’m excited to get New Page out there for people to listen to and enjoy.
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
I can have a good time with 6 am off of mal a’ propos. There is a talking bit and, at least in the past, I would single out a man in the audience and “sing” that part to him. But, Uncharted Territory is full of energy, and its a fun one to arrange for live shows.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it?
I’d been living in Nashville and had gone to an exhibit at the Frist Art Museum that was curated by the Warhol Museum. It was a magical transport back in time. I stayed at the museum for hours and immersed myself in it completely as though I was really there at The Silver Factory. It was then that I decided to leave Nashville because I didn’t feel as though I had yet found “my people.”
Shortly after I saw a poster for The Psychedelic Furs coming to town. My eyes welled up because I felt relief to connect to what’s most important to me in music. After the show, I noticed Richard Butler outside the tour bus alone. I went over, we got to chatting and the seed was planted. I needed to leave. Wild adventures ensued but, eventually, although I was not specifically looking for a member of The Furs to carry me to the next step, it so happens it is exactly what happened. Perhaps it is exactly what I intended. I can’t give away all my secrets.
Talk me through the thought process of the single/album/ep.
In truth, writing did not come as easily to me as it had previously. I was living in Portland, Oregon at this time and my environment was starting to get heavy and I was restless as can be. I ended up leaving and though there were things I had to push through I did arrive at John’s studio and between the two of us, New Page became a reality.
What was the recording process like?
It was a lot of fun! John’s super fab wife Catherine picked me up at the airport and we stopped at Whole Foods on the way to their place. A Psychedelic Furs song came on and I felt awkward because I wasn’t sure if I should do what I normally would, which is to sing along or if I should act far cooler than that. I waited for Catherine outside in the cool Albany air and felt like a million dollars. Soon enough I met John and his great kids and had an instant family.
Every day John and I would get up and have coffee and start. Probably there were times he thought “Aye, this girl” but, he knew I wanted to do well, learn, and was honest about what I was good at and where I needed his guidance. Sitting in the shadows of a gold record and his guitars that have played and seen the world was inspiring. I learned an awful lot from him and, my god is he funny. Brits tend to be.
On my last night there, when it was a wrap, we all sat at the family dining table enjoying our last moments. As John made his way to bed, he placed a kiss on my forehead. It was quite sweet.
John next brought in the rest of the players, plus one of my own, and recording from different parts of the world, we made a record.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single/album/ep?
That there is no curve. I asked John how Elvis Costello comes up with all those great words. In true Brit form, he dryly replied, “ a dictionary.” I died!
He gave me insight as well into some of the recording experiences of The Furs and Richard’s writing that surprised me. Still, it all fell under the umbrella of simplicity and, above all, being free and unserious even if the content of the song is more so.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Absolutely not. There is no sense in thinking about such things. One can always be and do better but that is for the future, not the past.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
To play live again, get New Page out far as wide, introduce people to my other recordings and I’d love to get to England if only to visit with and meet the amazing people I have met over the years via the internet. I am in a very good space right now. I am enjoying having accomplished what I set out to do, the confidence that I can overcome anything and carry on to create into the future.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
There is an uncomfortable amount of unrest in every part of the world right now and the news is being what it always is- a highlight of the bad to sell whatever the commercials put forth as a remedy to the ugly. But, get out into the world because there is more good than bad and we can’t forget that. One way not to give in and to best it all is to make art and make art a regular part of your life. Hitch your wagon to aesthetics and you will feel more alive.