The problem with being enthusiastic all of the time about as much as possible is that it's then very difficult to get across when something is 14/10 exciting. New York City collective MICHELLE, though - they have something really special. Breaking out with not-super-recent-but-def-having-a-resurgence track 'The Bottom', and 2018's self-released debut album 'Heatwave' too, their blend of R&B and retro synth-pop is warm, intimate and danceable all at once. If we weren't all largely stuck indoors rn, it'd be perfect for breezy summer road trips, windows down and fish and chips waiting. It's been a bit of a slow-burn for them so far, but with new single 'Sunrise' out now, a rapid ascent is on the horizon.
Hi MICHELLE, how's it going?
Sofia: It's going okay, I guess. This is exciting since I have my copy of Dork's June 2020 issue on my bedside table as I answer this.
New York feels pretty volatile at the moment, are you all doing ok?
Emma: It's intense to be in the city right now, intense in the body and the mind. But I'd rather be here and be a part of the revolution than be somewhere where people could avoid it. We've been spread out because of the pandemic, but the call of the city is very much felt by everyone here.
It must be exciting to live somewhere that holds such cultural influence, how does it feed into or impact your craft?
Jamee: New York City has an electric energy that encourages collaboration between creatives, and the music scene is an expansive web of mutual connections as a result. MICHELLE is a product of New York City; Our first album HEATWAVE was a tribute to our city, and the NYC music scene is what brought us together. Our proximity to beautiful art and talented artists inspires us to continue creating music, as individuals and as MICHELLE.
Did you grow up in New York, or move in from elsewhere?
Jamee: We all grew up in New York! And almost all of us were born in NYC (but I won't name our one outlier).
Julian: I've lived in the same apartment in a non-residential neighbourhood my whole life, but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
Does the city feel to have changed at all during your time there?
Sofia: Definitely strange seeing the skyline change, watching storefronts from our childhood shut, and bear witness to gentrification. But the music and art scenes we've been grateful to be a part of are committed to maintaining the NYC spirit that makes our home truly our home.
Tell us about MICHELLE, how did you get together, and what have you lot been up to so far?
Sofia: In 2018, Julian and Charlie wanted to make this album about NYC; Julian knew me and Emma, Charlie knew Layla and Jamee, and we each went over to Julian's place to write and record. The first time all of us finally met as a group was at our first show at Bard College in November 2018… Julian wasn't there because he was still at school in Ohio. Now we just write and record music at Julian's apartment and a studio.
You're often described as a collective, do you all have other projects going on?
Jamee: Yes! Emma and Julian are in another band called "The Booyah! Kids". Jamee and Charlie are in another band called "Badabing." Layla (Layla Ku), Sofia (Sofia D'Angelo), Emma (Eliza Moon), and Charlie (KES) are all solo artists as well. Julian is always producing tracks for people. Emma is a dancer. Jamee and Sofia are both in college.
And you're just breaking into the UK now, right? Having signed with Transgressive?
Julian: The UK is a place we are just getting into. It's a strange feeling breaking into a market we've never played in, but hopefully, when it's possible we can tour abroad!
Sofia: Dream for me is to come across the pond and play shows there.
Have you spent much time touring abroad? Where's the most exciting place you've travelled to?
Julian: If abroad means the tristate area, we are seasoned travellers. We once got to play at the Soho House, which was very cool. We only travelled within the city to get there, but it felt like a whole different world.
Your new single 'Sunrise' is great, what inspired it?
Emma: We wrote sunrise in the winter, though it was inspired by some sticky summer longing. The instrumental is what initially inspired the vocal- calling on the blooming keys and the groove of the drums to create something that we think melts and moves with you.
Is it a standalone, or do you have a larger body of work on the way?
Julian: We have been working on new music since our first album came out. We have had to learn patience. Hopefully, a great song will still be a great song whenever it comes out. As long as what you're making isn't too trendy.
What else is coming up for MICHELLE?
Jamee: Considering the pandemic, we're not entirely sure when will be the next time we're able to gather to write, record, or perform. However, we're currently working on releasing new music and sharing our recommended anti-racism resources with fans.
MICHELLE's new single 'Sunrise' is out now.