"I was married last year, and I feel like a lot of the songs on the record [are] about the idea of feeling like a person again after not for so long. I feel like that happens when you meet the person that you love; it kind of puts all those pieces in the right place."
In 2005, Ingrid Michaelson was your typical independent artist peddling a debut album whilst trying to gain the attention of, well, someone, anyone. A year and another self-released album later, a placement on Grey's Anatomy flung the industry doors wide open for her. “That was a very coveted spot to get,” Michaelson admits humbly.
“I started to get attention from labels but it was already past the point – I feel like I had already gotten a lot of stuff on our own and so we were like, 'Well we'll wait, lets see' – we never said that we weren't gonna find a label. And then all these publications like the Wall Street Journal and Billboard Magazine and The Times, they all started doing pieces – not on my music, but on the fact that I was doing all this and I wasn't signed. And then it became like, 'Well, I guess we can't sign to record deal now!'
“It just never really made sense; I like owning all my own stuff and having the last final say on things. We do joint ventures with labels so right now in the States we're doing it through Mom & Pop Records, so we licence the record to them for a period of time and they help with radio and distribution and things like that.”
With the release of her fifth record, Human Again, Michaelson decided it was time to become bolder with her sweet brand of folk pop that has so enamoured the masses. “I feel like most people at least in the States know me for about three of my songs maybe… And they're all these kind of cute little songs that have been used in commercial. But while I'm very thankful for that, there's another part of me that just wants to not be known for that, so I made a conscious choice to not put any little songs like that on there. Even before I had written anything I wanted that, so yeah, I definitely was ready for a change,” she concedes.
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Working with producer David Kahne (Regina Spektor, Paul McCartney) further enforced the idea, particularly when he queried the difference between her live and recorded voice. “He was like, 'Well, when I saw you live I felt like you vocally were more daring and teasing and not as held back and as reserved as maybe you've been on your records'. And I almost took that as a challenge. I ended up writing a bunch of 20 songs in the matter of about six months; some of them were bad, some of them were good, but I just kept going. It sparked something…
“Also, I was married last year, and I feel like a lot of the songs on the record [are] about the idea of feeling like a person again after not for so long. I feel like that happens when you meet the person that you love; it kind of puts all those pieces in the right place. I was making a record and getting married in the same year, and I think the two just all collided. And that's where the music came from.”
Returning to the country this month, Michaelson recalls her 2010 Australian visit fondly. “They got my humour which is a big part of my show; I like to kind of tell stories that go along with the songs and interact with people. I didn't know how that was gonna come across, but it was great, so I'm just looking forward to playing for those audiences again.”
Ingrid Michaelson will be playing the following shows:
Wednesday 12 September - Brisbane Festival Spiegeltent, Brisbane QLD
Thursday 13 September - Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Friday 14 September - Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW