If Michelle Chamuel looks familiar, it is likely not a coincidence.
Chamuel was the runner-up on the fourth season of NBC’s The Voice, putting her own spin on some of pop’s biggest hits. Prior to her television appearance, Chamuel was the lead singer of Ann Arbor based band, Ella Riot. She reunited with her former band mates Tyler Duncan and Theo Katzman to work on her debut studio album, Face The Fire, which was released earlier this week.
We got to learn about the inspiration behind Chamuel’s music and a few of her favourite love songs through an e-mail Q&A.
Q: What was the first song in your memory that inspired you to pursue music?
Michelle Chamuel: That is a wonderfully worded question. I’ve never heard one quite like it. I would have to say Dixie Chicks – “Wide Open Spaces”. I have heard a lot of music before that that I loved and would play over and over and over and over, but that Dixie Chicks song was the first one that called to me to join it.
Q: “Face The Fire” is your first album under your own name, as you have previously been a part of different musical projects. What was the process like in developing your own sound?
A: It’s kind of like figuring out who you are from the time you are 12 to the time you are 28. It’s a slow process that can be awkward and painful and glorious and is very rewarding when treated with love and reverence. And to clarify, I’m still working on it :D.
Q: Was there anything that came up in the process of writing and recording Face The Fire that came as a surprise or was particularly rewarding?
A: I feel like there are moments in our lives where we experience deja vu or when we are certain we are on the right path. The way I have been going through life lately is figuring out what feels right in the moment and making decisions based on that. I didn’t know how each step of the way would feel, and one of the big moments that came out of this record for me was conceiving of and finishing the song “Golden”. Every step of the way for that song has been a joy.
Q: In addition to releasing your debut album, what else is coming up for you in 2015?
A: Many things! More writing, producing, playing, learning – however, right now it really feels like ALBUM ALBUM ALBUM! It’s ALBUM TIME!!!
Q: Emotions are something that is prevalent in your live performances and in your music. Is there difficulty in translating feelings into your songwriting?
A: Hmm, I never thought about it that way. It’s almost the inverse of how I view it, in that the songs are the way to translate the feelings when there is no other way. Sometimes I will listen to what I’ve written and know it’s not right, but I just keep working. So, I guess the answer is somewhat complex in that music is the outlet for me for my feelings, but it’s not always effortless to get there.
Q: With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, what are a few of your favourite love songs?
– “To Love Somebody” – Nina Simone
– “When You Sleep” – Mary Lambert
– “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” – Deathcab For Cutie
– “These Arms of Mine” – Otis Redding
– “Rhode Island is Famous for You” – Blossom Dearie
– “For Years and Years” – Helios
– “To Be Alone With You” – Sufjan Stevens
– “The Nearness of You” – Ella Fitzgerald
– “I’d Rather Dance With You” – Kings of Convenience
– “All I Want” – Dawn Golden
Q: If you could narrow down a message that you would want your music to convey, what might that be?
A: That is a really wonderful question. I like to leave the music fairly open for the listeners to experience their lives through it. I hope the music is like a friend to those who listen. A companion who offers compassion, support, excitement, confidence, patience, love, and/or whatever they need most at that moment.
Photo credit: Andy Taylor
Face The Fire is available now. For more information on Michelle Chamuel, head over to: http://michellechamuel.com.