Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I always loved writing and storytelling ever since I was a little kid and just wanted to live in imaginary stories. I’m pretty shy in real life and sometimes struggle to speak up in the moment, so I think music is the best way for me to articulate my thoughts and opinions and to narrate my own story.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
My name’s Michelle Sutton, I’m an Armenian-Australian singer-songwriter living on Cammerygal Land in Sydney, I’ve been writing songs since I was 12 and busking and gigging around Sydney since I was 16. I’m influenced by many different genres including pop, rock, folk and country and I’ve been releasing music since 2020.
Name me your 3 favorite Albums.
Right now it would be Fearless- Taylor swift, Punisher- Phoebe Bridgers and Seventeen Going Under- Sam Fender.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
I am of the Taylor Swift generation so it was Love Story when I was 12. That’s what really prompted me to beg my parents to let me learn guitar and sit and write songs for hours and hours every day after school.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
It is hard to measure progress, but for me personally, I try to concentrate on trying new things all the time, and as long as I feel like every track I write and release is pushing me into uncharted territory maybe with lyrics, production or authenticity than I feel like my artistry is progressing and I can feel proud of myself or at least content. That feeling of internal progress helps me when the competitiveness, vastness and sometimes hostility of the industry can feel overwhelming.
Im seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Men performing or working at shows need to be allies and not just call out the bad behavior when they see it, but take action like kicking people out of their shows. Men attending shows need to reflect on the way they dominate a space and how they may be making others feel uncomfortable. I think the only way to actually change what is considered commonplace and socially acceptable, is for people that have a platform and social power to make being a creep uncool and not okay, rather than something to be encouraged. Hopefully, we can create a new culture at live shows that is actually safe for women, trans and non-binary individuals because live music is such a sacred and important thing.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
I think like everyone else I have been using TikTok in the past few years. I think my favourite way to use TikTok is to do ‘song story-times’ where I talk about the meaning of the song and play a bit of the song acoustically. I think that really connects with people and if you can make a kind of personal connection than they are more likely to want to stick around and hear that song and the next songs you write too. Sharing things that way feels authentic as if I’m playing a really tiny show to an intimate crowd and it makes me feel less weird about posting all the time and feels more like something I’m genuinely excited to do.
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.
I met Justin Bieber when I was 15, I once broke my ankle while watching tv and I studied abroad in Sweden.
What’s your thought on Spotify monopoly on the music industry?
It sucks that you basically have no choice but to engage with Spotify, even though it doesn’t pay musicians anywhere near what they deserve. It is something that I personally use for my music, even though I know it’s an exploitative model. So it’s definitely sucky and I really hope the situation changes in the future to be more ethical and to support musicians to be able to afford a decent standard of living.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
I don’t think so! My imagination is too over-active as it is, I really can’t afford to be going down any extra rabbit holes.
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
Yes, lot of pretty but necessary things for my share house when we couldn’t really leave. I spent an upsetting amount of money on pastel pots and pans and a pink marble cheese knife and cheeseboard even though I hate cooking and being in the kitchen.
What was the worst experience on stage?
When I was a teenager I used to busk all the time and that’s really where the most unpredictable and horrifically embarrassing things happen like a bird peeing on you while you’re singing.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about?
I really couldn’t speak to adults until I was about 19! Some would say I am making up for lost time now.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I think my lyrical style and live performance energy are pretty unique. I have an unrelenting directness but also a sarcastic, playful sense of humour in my songs and also on stage which I think makes my music an overall entertaining but also thought-provoking experience.
I hear you have some new music, what can you tell us about it?
My new song ‘Reliable Witness’ is an alternative pop/rock track that puts hypocritical men on blast and finds the ridiculousness in their cowardice.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
I wrote the chorus and bridge of the song by myself with acoustic guitar late 2019 and then discarded it because it made me too sad to sing. I found myself suddenly filling in the verses two years later and then finally brought it into the studio with Ingrid to record in 2022. It was inspired by a situation in my life where I had really been trapped by people who had all of the power and I knew whatever I said would only incriminate me further as they’d already destroyed my credibility and created this narrative where I was a vindictive villain. My words were literally worthless to them, so I knew I had to write a song to be able to reclaim my power and truth and decided to basically do it in the funnest, catchiest way I could.
What was the recording process like?
I recorded the song over 2 days with Ingrid Oram in Sydney, who produced and co-wrote it. It was the third song we worked on together in 2022 so by that point we had developed an amazing, supportive rapport and such a fun, relaxed way of recording. She’s so creative and also the biggest cheerleader for artists she collaborates with which is a perfect combination for creating together in the studio.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
From writing ‘Reliable Witness’ I learned that sometimes the most obvious image or lyric is sometimes the best one. I try not to use cliches that much and if I use illustrations or metaphors I try to think outside the box but with this song I had to accept that sometimes a phrase or an image that is tried and true can also carry the most emotional impact.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
I wouldn’t change anything about this track. It represents such an important story for me personally, and sonically it is a step into a new sound of alternative pop/rock that is so exciting, it has the exact energy I wanted to convey.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
That’s it! I’ve definitely rambled enough for today.
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