Bethany met up with Ingrid Michaelson prior to her performance at the Beaumont Club in Kansas City, Mo. to chat. Read their conversation below:
Bethany, PopWreckoning: Can you tell me how you got your start in music? I know you started playing piano at a fairly young age.
Ingrid Michaelson: I took piano lessons when I was four and until I was 15. I was taking acting lessons and junk my parents put me in when I was little. I actually wanted to do theatre and I went to school for that, but then I graduated and I just sort of decided I liked to write music better.
After I got out of college I started to focus on that and put some songs up on my MySpace page and that was it. A licensing company found me and my song got placed in a bunch of different TV shows and commercials and stuff. That’s sort of how I ended up where I am now.
PW: Yeah, the Old Navy sweater campaign really helped give you some attention and momentum. How did your current fans react to that? I know you wrote a MySpace bulletin asking if people thought that was selling out. Did people think that was selling out? Do you think that’s an issue with today’s artists or are commercials a necessity of today?
(Greg Laswell enters the room to grab his dinner and quietly sits down in the back of the room to eat.)
IM: Well, I don’t think it’s a necessity. I think that it’s just up to the artist and what you want to do, who you are, and what you want to affiliate yourself with-have your name attached to. It’s kind of nice because it enables you so you don’t have to go through a major label. You can do your own thing.
PW: Would you ever sign to a major label?
IM: I don’t think I would never sign. I’d never say I’d never would. But things are going fairly okay the way they are now.
PW: You’ve done a lot for some TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree Hill,” such as one of your songs, “Keep Breathing.” Did you write that specifically for “Grey’s” or is that just a b-side/unreleased song?
IM: Well, I knew that they needed it…I wanted to get on the soundtrack. That was one of the reasons and I knew that they wanted music that had never/was never released yet. So I started working on this one song and I finished it and I sent it to them.
I didn’t really write if for “Grey’s Anatomy.” I didn’t, but I definitely hurried up with the process and got it produced really quickly just to get it to them before the season ended.
PW: Is that one of your favorite shows?
IM: Well, yeah. I mean, I really started watching it because my mother told me that they had really good music on it and then I kind of got sucked into it, but um, I don’t really watch too much TV anymore. But it’s a good show. The people, the supervisors, the music supervisors, are all like sooo nice. Like such nice, genuine people and they really care about music and you know, they love helping the artist out and they are pretty awesome people.
PW: Definitely. Did you discover any artists that you really like now through “Grey’s” soundtrack or other TV shows’ soundtracks?
IM: A long time ago I did. I used to do that on “Felicity.” This band called Esthero. It featured them at the end of the show. It like had an ad come up and it showed the CD and I went out and I bought it. But, like I said I really don’t watch that much TV anymore.
PW: How did you get hooked up with Joshua Radin?
IM: Josh? I played with him like a year and half ago in NY and then he just began writing.
PW: So was it a mutual collaboration for “Sky?”
IM: Yeah, that’s just his song. He just asked if I wanted to sing on it and I said yes. But that’s all him-all his writing.
PW: Would you have him ever sing with you on a song?
IM: Yeah, who knows? I mean there’s so many people in my life that I would love to work with.
PW: What would your dream…[collaboration be]?
IM: [interrupts and says loudly (because he’s in the room)] Greg Laswell.
PW: (to Greg) Would you accept?
PW: Oh, denied.
IM: He would accept.
GL: I would accept her offer. Of course.
PW: “Breakable” is your new single.
PW: What was your motivation behind that song and why did you choose that as the next single?
IM: I was told by people that it was a good song for radio so I kind of just went along with what other people thought.
And my motivation? I don’t know. I kind of just wrote…Broken songwriting. I think everybody can kind of relate to that sentiment.
PW: A lot of your songs kind of do have a sad/broken feel to them, but on YouTube you have some hilarious videos like your trip to the Mall of America or the “Full House” house-you have a fun sense of humor. How do you balance that out with your writing and your live show?
IM: I don’t know. It’s not really a conscious effort. I just do. I just am what I am and that’s whatever comes out. Sort of me.
PW: You’re finishing up your first big headlining run. Has this changed your tour or life?
IM: It’s been decently successful, I’d say. It’s been alright. I have fun. We haven’t been selling out though. It’s been good, it’s been fun times and I’m kind of looking forward to having some time off.
I’ve been on the road basically since November. It’s sort of made me miss a life of normalcy.
PW: You don’t really have that long of a break before you go out with Dave Matthews Band.
IM: Oh, I have no break. I don’t have a break until August.
PW: What do you think you’ll do with your time off? Write some new songs?
IM: I have a lot of songs. I’m going away to Europe for a couple of weeks and I’ll work on some recordings.
PW: Sounds like fun. Your first music video for “The Way I Am” let you work with Autumn De Wilde on that. Were you involved in the clown idea or was that all Autumn?
IM: Well she had the clown ideas; the sort of fish out of water was sort of my idea. She kind of branched out on it and came up with the clown idea.
PW: Do you have any ideas for a “Breakable” video?
IM: It’s already been done.
PW: Oh. Can you give our readers any idea of what they can expect to see in it?
IM: Um, it’s just about-No. I like the surprise. It’s in the editing process. It should be out by the end of the month maybe.
PW: Very cool. We’ll look out for it. Well, I know you’re busy so I won’t take up anymore of your time and I appreciate you doing this.
Photo Credit: Jessica McGinley, PopWreckoning.com