INTERVIEW: R&B Pop Singer/Songwriter MICHAEL MINELLI Gets Vulnerable With “Somebody Else” In First Look At Upcoming Album. Talks Hearing Himself on Radio, Meeting John Legend & MORE.
Connecticut based R&B/Pop singer-songwriter Michael Minelli has given fans a taste of his upcoming solo album with the latest release “Somebody Else.” With a feature on CBS This Morning, a song previously featured on ESPN and another that ended up in strong rotation on a national radio station, a performance at the Lakers/Suns game and nearly 90,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone, Minelli has already had a career worth striving for – but he isn’t slowing down yet. Following up the collaborative album, I Know What You’re Thinking with rapper Futuristic that released in April 2021, Minelli looks to get back into an R&B driven sound with the latest release and the solo album, A Long Way Home expected to arrive in 2022. The talented singer and songwriter took some time to hang with All Access to talk about the latest single, how Jackson 5‘s “ABC” served as his introduction to a music career, how he handles being so vulnerable in his music and so much MORE. Check out the full interview below:
ALL ACCESS [Austin]: Looking at the beginning – what was it about music growing up that you were so drawn to? Was there a specific moment when you knew you’d pursue a career in music?
MICHAEL MINELLI: Honestly, what drew me to singing was the attention. I remember watching performances on TV & think to myself “I want to command a room the same way these artists do”. Growing up I was always the class clown. I was always doing whatever I had to so that kids, teachers, my family, or my friends would pay attention to me. The first time that manifested in my trying to sing was in 4th Grade for my elementary school choir show. I don’t know what inspired me but I remember going up to my teacher after class and telling him I wanted the lead in the performance of the Jackson 5’s “ABC.” I was a super fan of Michael Jackson and he was always an inspiration growing up, so I’m sure that had something to do with it. When I asked the teacher though, he basically laughed at me and brushed me off. I just looked at him like, “No, I’m serious. Give me this chance.” To his credit, he told me to go home and practice and come back next week and show him what I got. I went home and ran back the record, wrote down all the lyrics, and practiced non-stop. Next week, I sang for him, and got the spot. I can’t say that I remember the performance because I think I’ve always basically blacked out while I’m performing, but I remember opening my eyes after and seeing the whole crowd going crazy. That feeling, that attention, and making all of those people so happy was the feeling I wanted for the rest of my life.
AA: Congrats on the release of your first solo song of 2021 with “Somebody Else.” The song is described as dealing with your “inability to accept that [your] actions led to losing a woman” and “looking for something to justify our actions and reassure us that we aren’t in the wrong” which is a deeply personal (but relatable) topic. As an artist, how do you find having to be so vulnerable in your music? Any songs you haven’t released because they are too personal? What would you describe as the most personal song you’ve released?
MM: Thank you! Honestly, it feels really good to be releasing my own music again. I’ve got such a massive catalog that I’ve held onto for too long and I just keep writing and writing. So, I’m beyond ready and happy that I’m back at it. When it comes to being vulnerable, for a long time I didn’t really know how to reach deep inside myself and be that honest. I think sometimes we aren’t even aware whether or not we are being vulnerable. At some point you grow up and just feel like you need to get some things off your chest, regardless of what people are going to think. The most difficult part is coming to terms with things yourself. When you start being honest with yourself the fear of being exposed evaporates because you’ve accepted it. The first time I really feel that I was that honest was on my song “Man Who Looked Like Me.” That song is about me coming to grips with the fact that my father, who died when I was seven years old, isn’t here anymore. All I have are distant memories, stories from family, and some photos of a man who looks like me. The crazy part is that I had no intentions of releasing the song, but my manager at the time told me I had to open up and show people this side of me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made and still have people reaching out to me saying how much it has helped them cope, or just trigger emotions they’ve buried inside.
AA: This new song follows the release of collaborative project I Know What You’re Thinking… that you did with Arizona rapper Futuristic. When deciding who to collaborate with, are there specific characteristics/talents/etc. you look for? Who would be a dream collaboration for you?
MM: For me, every situation is different, but most times when I chose to do a record with something is because I’m an actual fan of their skill set and want to see how our chemistry will work together on a record. The way it came to be that I collaborated with Futuristic was that after I had performed at Mohegan Sun on NYE 2020 I had decided that I was going to start saying “yes” to any and every opportunity that came way. Next thing that happened was the pandemic and everything practically shut down, I had previously done a couple records with him and honestly, we’re very similar people. I knew it was long shot but I just kept telling him “I think we should do a project together” and every time he hit me with the “yea, let’s do it” but we never really started. I decided to start working on records because I knew I had to show him I was serious. I remember sending him what was now our first single “2K” and everything just started moving from there. As for my dream collaboration, I’d have to say Bruno Mars is at the top of the list at this point. That man is one of the most talented artists out there, and it would just be so much fun. That’s what this is all about, having fun!
AA: “Somebody Else” is part of Redfined’s 617 Sessions music program that provides complimentary studio time to local artists. Once released, “Somebody Else” then gets voted on and the winner gets to perform at House of Blues for the Boston Music Awards. Describe how you get nominated for this program and what it means to be a part of it. If you win, do you have anything special planned for the performance?
MM: I honestly don’t even know how I got nominated for that program, hahah! I just got a call one-day saying they wanted me to be part of it. As mentioned before, I had been saying “yes” to everything and so next thing I know I’m in this amazing studio in Boston and recording the single. It does mean a lot that someone believed I was talented enough to be included. There are so many incredible acts in Boston and on the east-coast in general and I’m just really grateful to be considered and included. Only time will tell what I’ve got planned but I can tell you that every show I do, I give it everything I have.
AA: Your collaboration with LA pop singer, OSTON “Stay For Me” was featured and charted on the national radio station Radio Disney. Describe that moment of finding out you were going to have a song on the radio. Do you remember where you were and what you felt when you heard it on-air for the first time?
MM: When I found out it was going to play on Radio Disney, I thought that was cool. Then being interviewed on-air was exciting. Then hearing it once was super dope. Then hearing it again, again, again, and again, really blew my mind. I think they played it something like 500 times. I had gotten featured on the radio before, but I had never been “in rotation.” It was a surreal feeling, and I can’t even begin to express how grateful I was for that. I was grateful one because I loved that record and it really deserved to be there but also because I had NO CLUE how much money you get paid from being on Radio Disney and getting a random check one day was the icing on the cake!
AA: You and Futuristic got to perform your song “2K” for Game 2 of the Suns/Lakers game this past May. In a social media post following the event you wrote “My greatest advice I can ever give someone, is prepare for everything.” Do you remember when you learned that crucial piece of advice? Before you learned that piece of advice, was there anything you weren’t prepared for that you wish you would’ve known this advice beforehand for? What other advice would you give to artists who are just getting started?
MM: I used to watch documentaries where artists would be obsessed with the preparation of anything they were doing and so right from the jump, I always said I have to be prepared. I became obsessed with it too and now I feel like I know it’s the key to everything. Well, I don’t actually know but I really feel like it’s true and so I never really let myself be unprepared. Plus, when you really love what you do, you don’t mind putting in that time. It will only benefit me in the long run. Truthfully, I think it also comes from being a little insecure in my talent at times & I knew I’d always feel better over preparing, so that I didn’t under deliver.
The best advice I can give to any artist that’s just getting started is, exactly what I said in the original statement, “Prepare for everything” meaning, I worked hard on myself when there wasn’t a reason to, or an opportunity on the horizon, other than knowing the day will come when I need to be ready and could never let myself miss that moment. A mentor of mine, NBA Hall Of Famer, Ray Allen told me “People only see 10% of what you do, but it’s the 90% that they don’t see, which makes that 10% possible.” That is the motto I’ve lived by since that day.
AA: If you could headline one music festival or music event, which would it be and why?
MM: I think seriously it’d probably be Rolling Loud. It’s such an iconic festival with nothing but legends gracing those stages that I feel like I’d want to see my name at the top of one of those flyers. I think it’s interesting being a part of a show where there are all different kinds of artists performing, and you have the opportunity to gain new fans while putting on a great set. Really though, I’ll perform any festival. I just like performing, so if you wanna put on an annual festival or block party or whatever and you need a performer, email me! We’ll make it happen.
AA: What’s been your biggest “pinch me” moment so far in your career?
MM: Feel like I’ve had a bunch of those moments but two really stick out. The first would be when I covered John Legend’s single “All of Me” and ended up being featured in a interview with John during Gayle King on CBS This Morning. Then I end up going to a show of his, and with the help of a good friend Shannon Allen, I was able to go backstage and met John and the craziest part was, he recognized me from my cover. It was an incredible moment to be able to see something I did on YouTube provide me such an amazing moment.
The other one isn’t really music related. I’m a huge basketball fan, and a really big Lebron James fan. One of the things on my bucket list was to see Lebron play before he retired. Being a up & coming (struggling) musician, I haven’t really had the funds to just purchase tickets to a game. So, for me to write a song in October of 2020 about NBA players, to end up performing at a playoff game that Lebron was playing in, and sit in box seats just last year, was a “How TF did I get here” moment lol.
AA: If you could only listen to (5) artists for the rest of your life, who would they be?
First and foremost, Michael Jackson. He is the reason I fell in love with music. “PYT” is actually my favorite song of all time. Drake…I’ll admit, I pretty much am a Drake superfan, I just think he’s an incredible writer, relatable, and that he changed the industry. Even though she gets me more emotional than I like to be, Adele’s voice controls me in such a way that I can’t ignore it. The way she delivers her records is with an unreal amount of passion and authenticity. Justin Timberlake is another one because then I also get to listen to N*SYNC lol. But Justin has been someone who is able to blend a lot of different genres into one sound. Last but nowhere near least, Bruno Mars for his just pure musicality. His ear is unmatched ear and hasn’t really missed with any release! Every record and each album are fine-tuned beyond my comprehension. Every deep cut could be a single on it’s own because they are always so catchy and relatable
AA: What else can fans expect from Michael Minelli for the rest of 2021 and early 2022?
MM: Right now, I’m rolling out a more R&B driven project I plan to release in late March/early April of 2022. I’m working on a full-length album now that shouldn’t be too far behind, but I don’t want to talk too much about that one quite yet. Real talk, everyone can just expect… music, music videos, more music, more musical performances, more of me dancing to music, merchandise, and more of me talking about MY MUSIC!! That’s right 2022 is about me, Michael Minelli! To anyone reading this who’s been apart of the journey, thank you so much. And to those just tuning in, I hope you stick around. We’ve got so much more to accomplish!
A huge shout-out to the talented and dedicated Michael Minelli for hanging for this latest All Access interview! We’re all looking forward to hearing all that new music in the new year. To keep up with his journey be sure to follow along with the links below: