Singer-Songwriter MICHELLE KASH Opens Up About Her Cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ and More!
Get to know the singer-songwriter Michelle Kash, who recently released her moody, sultry cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” along with a cinematic video that serves as an artful peek into Michelle’s world. In between echoes of swelling synths, her voice tows the line between a coy croon and a commanding chant on “Personal Jesus,” painting her as a 21st-century temptress. PRESS HERE to watch.
With her smoky, soulful delivery and a personal style somewhere between Debbie Harry and Old Hollywood pinup, Michelle’s music is a sultry, sensual take on alternative pop equally evocative and empowering in its confidence and charisma. Michelle, who realized the full scope of her musical talent in the middle of a meditation at a desert retreat in Utah after becoming fascinated by spirituality, released her first singles earlier this year – check out “Smoking Gun” and “Hurt Me.” After being surrounded by art and creativity during her globe-trotting childhood, Michelle started performing in NYC where she was born before moving to LA. In addition to her music, Michelle has also had a lifelong commitment to philanthropy and advocating for gender equality, female empowerment and is a fierce fighter for animal rights. There’s a lot more music to come from Michelle into next year.
Connect With Michelle Kash Online Here: WEBSITE
Learn more about Michelle Kash in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today, Michelle. So how are you keeping busy and musical these days during this crazy Covid-19 pandemic? How are you staying connected to your fans?
This has definitely been a situation where I’m taking it one day at a time. I feel very up and down emotionally, like I know many of us are. I am trying to keep my regular practices. I get up, I write, I meditate, I move my body in some way. The first week or two it was difficult for me to stay musical. I found I was more turning to others music to comfort me rather than creating my own. I virtually attended some artists’ concerts. I tuned in to the Indigo Girls concert and to “prepare” I blasted their self titled album and sang along at the top of my lungs while I made lunch or baked or did something in the kitchen. I seem to choose cooking time as “time to sing along at the top of my lungs”. Cynthia Erivo’s Stand Up from Harriet has been a sort of prayer for me. It gives me hope and perspective. All that being said, starting at week 3 I returned to my own music. It’s definitely giving me a kind of release. I feel this kind of buildup of expressional energy in my body and singing through my own songs, the songs that are resonating with me at this time, has been cathartic. I’m staying connected through social media. I’ve been going live on Instagram weekly and I am planning a little live acoustic set with Neil Rambaldi (lead guitarist on Personal Jesus) who is out on the east coast. We are working out the technical details now.
What kind of music do you think is going to come out of these crazy times? Are you working on anything new right now?
I vacillate thinking that hopeful music will come out or songs that connect us to this crazy and sometimes very sad time. I don’t really know, but I do know that the art that emerges will be amazing. The albums, the scripts, the paintings. Whatever it is, we are in a collective experience right now. And although each of our stories will be unique and created at home or in our own mind and body experience, it is, after all, one thing that we are all universally going through. I am currently writing a new song. We’ll see.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out? How has that changed over the years? How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make? If not, why is that?
I think one moment was when a friend was helping me record a demo. I sang and accompanied myself on guitar. It was the first time I was singing in front of someone. We did one take. He played me back the recording. I didn’t even recognize myself. I couldn’t believe that this was my voice…that that sound came out of my own body. It was unreal to
me. Like a gift was placed in my lap, in this case, in my body. I was elated. I thought ok, if I suddenly found this, my voice… anything is possible. I think that experience still motivates me. I know that there was my life ‘before’ and my life ‘after’. The idea that I found a form of self expression that acts as a vehicle of release, of prayer, of love, of anger, or really any emotion or experience… that I found this new way of being…it continues to be a drive for me. Another motivator is that when I am at my most alone, my most confused, my most devoted, music was there for me. A friend, a lifeline. I have heard from fans how they have been moved… that is a motivation. To be there for people the way other artists have been there for me. To know that they too are not alone.
I’m not sure how my hometown has motivated me… I was very lonely growing up, I lived in a town that was secluded, semi cut off from others and from friends. Without a way to drive out until I was older. My siblings and I weren’t close and seemed to have a different value system. I didn’t relate to anyone. I grew up going to very strict schools and witnessing immense conformity, little art with no restrictions, and great hypocrisy. At a point when I was 15, I couldn’t take it anymore. I just knew that it was all wrong. I was never one to go along but to watch others go along was sickening to me. I would fight back, I expressed myself, rebelled, I just had to be authentically myself and also think ‘why aren’t you being authentically yourself?’ It was a crazy time but ultimately it really is why I am who I am today. I guess it did in fact influence me because that is what I live by as an artist. I just want to be as honest as possible.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Was your family and friends supportive of this career choice? If you weren’t a musician today, could you see yourself doing anything else?
Growing up, I loved music. I depended on it. Music was what I turned to during those lonely and emotional times. I would just blast everything and eat everything up. I would cut school to go watch daytime shows, I would always be listening to something. Usually something punk or grunge or folk or honestly anything. I would go to every show I could… Acoustic sets, grunge, classic rock whatever. Like any show. One night I sat on the floor of a quiet acoustic set, the next night I was moshing and crowd surfing.
I didn’t tell my friends and family about my music and direction until I was already doing it and sure. I met new people in the music scene who didn’t know I had another life, my friends and family had no idea I lived a different life at night, going out in the music scene, working with different people. When I finally told them, they were shocked. I sent them some music and they thought I was the one playing guitar, that couldn’t be my voice, or music… (shows how well they know me since really I am not the best guitar player..lol) My brother to this day can not believe it’s me on the track. I get it though, it can be a mindfuck for me as well since it was such a big shift in my identity.
I practice the Artist Way with a friend of mine. It’s basically a book with 12 chapters, so a chapter a week, with tasks, artist dates, writing, and other little assignments. It is to help support your creativity and creative process. The book is always asking us to make a list of what else we would be doing if we weren’t a musician or writer or whatever you do. Then she tells you to do something on the list that week to support the parts of yourself that want to do different things and treat it like an artist “date”. The top of my list is always a dancer. I feel a lot of joy when I dance. It has never been something I did other than a few classes here and there and a zoomba stint lol. But before quarantine I was going to be performing Personal Jesus dance mixes this month and the upcoming months so I was rehearsing with dancers and dancing myself. It was so incredibly fun and I really felt like I was living out a dream. I’m excited to get back to it once we are all safely out of quarantine.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part?
I mean, making music my career has been a complete u-turn in my life. That in itself was the biggest surprise. It was just not on my radar at all. The biggest surprise within that would be how much I love performing. Even though I struggle with nerves and stage fright, it is really something I want to do, and that I love to do. It has been a great gift to be able to say ok, I’m terrified but I’m going to do it anyway. It’s still in process and I can take a couple of steps forward and then a step back. But the inner experience of performing my own music, the emotions can be different every time. And since I am an emotional person, I know myself in and out…performing kind of shows me different sides of those emotions, the ups and downs, and I can learn more about them and learn more about myself. The best part has been connecting to fans. I have been so touched by the letters I have gotten and that the music is resonating with people. It’s very moving.
Let’s talk about your latest song and cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” What made you decide to cover this track? How would you say that it compares to anything else that you have put out?
It honestly just got in my head one day. I just started singing it and kind of arranging it but like without awareness, just going about my day. I thought oh maybe this is telling me something, maybe this will be good in the set. So I reached out to Neil and asked what he thought for the lead guitar. He sent me what he thought and I remember just playing it in my kitchen on repeat just seeing what resonated in me and I was just singing along. What you hear on the track is what I was singing in my kitchen that night. The kitchen seems to be the place for me it seems hahaha. Obviously, it’s different because I didn’t write it. But in a way that gives me this kind of internal freedom… it can be about anything, for anyone, to express anything. And my own songs can be that too. I actually love when one of my songs shifts its meaning for me. It’s very cool to watch when something just becomes about something or someone else. Music is a phenomenon.
What was it like making the music video for “Personal Jesus”? How creatively involved with the overall process were you?
Making the music video for PJ was incredible. It was my first time working with a cast and I loved it. Everyone brought such an amazing energy to it. Everyone that worked on the video really believed in it and I don’t know – honestly it felt like all the stars were aligned to create it! It really felt like that. I am very involved creatively with it. I am very attached to my music and projects as they are so so so personal to me. They are literally my heart on a platter for the world to eat or look at or to do whatever they want with! Tyler Dunning Evans, the director, was just phenomenal. He just got the vibe and what we were all going for and took it to another level and was able to execute it seemingly effortlessly. I love him.
Do you have plans to release more music soon and a full collection of songs? How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career so far? What is it like keeping up with all your different accounts? What is your favorite way to connect with fans?
Yes, my next song I am to release is called Lions. Although after being in this quarantine, I am in the mood to release a different song so who knows. Can we trust anything we feel and think and decide during this time? That’s my question of the week. I have a love hate with social media. I love that I can connect with fans and really feel and engage in that connection. I love that I can express what I feel in the moment on a platform. Instagram is probably my favorite way to engage with fans. Although I have received emails as well and I love that too. I think that social media can be addictive though and I have definitely fallen into the preoccupation. It has also been overwhelming during this time because of all the news being posted. So maybe when I went on social media before, maybe I wanted a distraction. But now I need some kind of distraction from social media because of the sad and crazy news! In a way that’s good because the ‘cure’ is to go inward, be present in my own life, even though that means isolation and being alone in quarantine. So I am definitely grateful for it right now because it connects me to friends, fans, and the outside world. Just looking for a balance right now.
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future? Who has been inspiring you and the music that you make?
There are so many artists I would love to work with. I think an absolute is Radiohead. What they have done with music and technology is amazing. Also since I have been “living” with Cynthia Erivo this last month, that would be a dream. I really have had a range of inspiration. I am inspired by the women of the 70’s who just voiced their authority and didn’t ask for permission. Like Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde. Patti Smith’s book “Just Kids” is a huge inspiration.
Where would you still love to hear a song of yours played?
Everywhere! Haha… I would love to hear my music on the station The Spectrum on Sirius XM. I love them. They have a great range of old and new music but I do find that they hardly play women on the station so I would love to help them with that.
What would a dream music video look like for you?
Hmm, to be honest I think I’m more thinking about music than the music videos. I think to have a great music video, it’s having a solid song, and going off what inspires me about the song, and where I want to go next visually and artistically. And of course, having a solid team, which I am so grateful I had for Personal Jesus. I think I am just taking it all one song, one video at a time.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
That they are not alone. We are all in this together and that there is hope.