An Interview With Newcomer MICHAEL BLUME On Busy Year Releasing “When I Get It Right”, Biggest Inspirations and More!
Posted On 19 Aug 2016
Born in New Jersey, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter, Michael Blume describes his music as “progressive R&B” and references Beyonce, Aretha Franklin and Frank Ocean as his influences.
He flourished in school and went on to study at Yale University where he decided that music was what he wanted to fulfill his life with.
Blumes says, “I do feel a responsibility to stir things up– to make people uncomfortable, to make them question some of their norms. I try to be real and upfront and truthful and say provocative and new ideas. I have some new ideas to share with folks, and I don’t hide them.”
Learn more about Blume and his latest collection of music in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that we are more then half-way through 2016, what are some words you would use to describe it? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you?
Dreamy, hectic, WOW, BugOutInducing, Frenetic, Fast, Important, Supportive.
There have been so many highlights — for me my favorite piece of what I do is the live performance aspect. I played some incredible shows in and outside of New York City that really stand out. The show I did at Mercury Lounge in NYC in February was a big moment for me. It was the biggest show I had done to date and it was PACKED. Like people outside that couldn’t get in type packed. That energy is what feeds me.
Playing at LA Pride was also a highlight – first festival gig I’ve done and we got such great feedback from those folks.
And… I am headlining Bowery Ballroom in NYC and my EP When I Get It Right is dropping on July 29th… and then in August we are doing some dates up and down the east coast… so still a lot of excitement to look forward to this year.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
As a kid I DID want to be a musician…. I dreamed of being a singer and looked at cats like Destiny’s Child and NSYNC and all those awesome 90s pop stars (you can hear it in my music I think!) Then in high school and college I went through a phase where I dreamt less. I was dealing with a lot of personal stuff and I had get through that stuff before I could allow myself as an adult to dream to the way I had as a kid… Now I dream bigger and bolder than ever.
I remember in high school I directed my a cappella group and one year we worked REALLY hard on this super challenging arrangement of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody… it took MONTHS to prep. When we finally were able to perform it at a school event I remember that moment of pride and excitement… definitely a moment that informed me in terms of my love for music.
I recently saw you perform in Los Angeles in Hollywood (It was amazing!) and the first thing I heard was your Frank Ocean influence. Can you talk about that influence in particular?
Yeah — I think Frank’s work is rare in a few ways. Its a combination of vulnerability, social conscientiousness, soulful sounds, and progressiveness is what really has drawn me in.
I have to admit I hadn’t been hip to Frank Ocean before Channel Orange. That album is so complex and layered — it makes real comments about real life. Makes you pause and think. It’s not just baby baby I love you lemme fuck you. Which is great music too — but there’s a lot more of that, which is why I call Frank’s work rare. I aim to make work that — in the vein of Frank Ocean’s — causes folks to stop and think.
Where do you get the inspiration for your music? Is that constantly changing?
All over. I mean early inspirations include gospel and soul music from the 60s and 70s — Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are prob the two biggest musical influences — I studied their stuff non stop as a kid. I’m influence by tons of other artists and styles now — but I also am influenced by current events, my own personal life, my friends’ lives, my family… living in New York City there is such a tremendous amount of FRICTION. People hate it and love it. I hate it and love it. It gives me great inspiration.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “Colors.” How creatively involved were you with the video for it?
I was quite involved in the creative process for Colors, but it would never have happened without the brilliant mind and vision of my friend and director, Luca Repola. Luca reached out to me about the song and coincidentally I had recently seen a different video he made and was a fan of his. So the whole thing felt meant to be… He and I had a series of great creative meetings where we planned out the mood boards and ideas for the video, looped in an incredible creative team, and shot the whole thing in one power day at a studio in Queens.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Well I would start by saying I am blessed to work with some of my favorite artists already. My band is comprised of some of the most talented musicians in NYC and I’ve had the chance to work with some producers who absolutely blow my mind with their talent… Looking ahead there are some cats I definitely admire on the scene — I love what Kamau is doing. He’s a new artist out of NYC. Saying real shit. That’s really what draws me — the “real” factor. D’Angelo, Emily King, Kendrick, James Blake are other examples — these cats are all making real music in a time when that’s a rare thing.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I think the message is: QUESTION EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. Doubt. Scrutinize. Complicate. Wonder. But also trust joy and trust love and trust that Good DOES win. Don’t get too comfortable or you will get sick.