Interview with Michelle Chamuel


AE: You’ve been on tour for quite some time. How’s the tour going right now? Do you ever get a second to breathe? How do you think your inclusion in Lollapalooza has affected your fan base? Do you think you’ve acquired more exposure as a result?
Touring is awesome; not a ton of breathing time, but we’re learning so much. As far as the effects of Lolla go, we’ll have to wait and see. Our next show in Chicago will be one way to see the effects of Lolla. Also, the press frenzy that happened at Lolla is still floating around. The proverbial dust is still settling.

AE: For those readers who have yet to hear about you and My Dear Disco, can you tell us a little bit about how you got your start at the University of Michigan?
I was around music early on. My dad is a violinist and an acoustical engineer, so I needed to major in music. I was a Performing Arts Technology major at the University of Michigan, but as for singing, I’m not formally trained and I had serious performance stage fright. I kept my singing to the confines of my shower and car, while doing the dishes, and in my basement, but I would burst out crying if anyone asked me to sing. I finally decided to perform and although I didn’t get called back to the school’s musical, I won the "Michigan Idol" competition, so that was pretty cool.

As for My Dear Disco’s start, in either my sophomore or junior year, my friend Bob and his band Toolbox wanted to collaborate, and we came up with our single "White Lies." I did my first gig with Toolbox at the Blind Pig and by late 2007, we became My Dear Disco.

AE: I love your concept and genre of "dancethink." For those of our readers who have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing "dancethink," how would you explain it?
I don’t really like labels and neither does the band. It’s dance-y, electronic, electronic-rock-dance music. "Dancethink" is a more focused concept. It’s an idea about thinking about dance music. It’s the kind of music to dance to and jam along to. There’s a lot of cheesy techno-dance music that people call their "guilty pleasures," like Alice Deejay and Lady Gaga, [who] we love. Our music is guilty pleasure music that is engaging to listen to and you can dance to. In our single, "White Lies," we make you dance, plus there’s an 11/4-metered breakdown. When people can get completely lost in our music, that’s when we know we’ve done something right.

AE: From which musicians have you drawn your inspiration? Any contemporary artists that really inspire you to get in the studio and make beautiful music?
I’m inspired by almost every artist I come across. I do make it a habit to try to find new music from Google, Amazon, music blogs. It’s exhausting. But man, all the cheesy electro-trance dance stuff from the 90s, that stuff for sure. Also, the stuff my parents listened to, everything from Schubert to the Beatles and Diana Ross and the Supremes. I really dug "Stop in the Name of Love."

The contemporary artists I started singing to are Mariah Carey, the Dixie Chicks, and Christina Aguilera, to name a few. Talk about inspiring, do you know why Lilith Fair came back? They’re opening up genres. They’re having electronic artists. If you get Jill Scott and Ke$ha, that’s really cool and encouraging.

AE: Are there any queer artists you look up to?
For sure. Most of the time I don’t know if they’re queer or not. Elton John and Ani DiFranco. I think everyone’s a little queer.

AE: Your music is not only unique in itself, but also rebuffs a lot of stereotypes about "lesbian musicians" or "lesbian music." Not that there is anything wrong with a lovesick girl and her guitar, but how do you think you, as a musician, break down those categories? Is that something you consciously think about when making music or performing at a show?
We don’t market our music as "queer music"; it’s not our agenda. It’s interesting because of the whole label thing. We don’t come across as queer music, and we don’t aim to. It depends what you focus on. Our focus as musicians is music. We’ve played a few Pride festivals, so there have been a lot of supportive responses from the queer community. Everyone [in the band] puts in a part of what they are; whatever I am is only part of it. People can interpret it as anything, but that’s not what we aim to be or market.

I don’t think of myself as "a lesbian musician" or a "Jewish artist." It’s not one and alone. I think of myself as a musician. I’m not in to labels, which makes it so that I don’t live by them anyway, so I’m not trying to fit into a category. I think people should do whatever they want. Look. I have a straight leg and a gay leg [shows us her one shaved and one unshaved leg].

These labels exist because a certain amount of people have done a certain thing, and as more people do that thing, it expands the stereotype. For My Dear Disco, if someone puts us into a category or labels us, we can either expand that or defy it.

As for me, it’s all about the music, but who I am is going to creep into my parts. At one show I had just watched the entire run of The L Word and I sang "White Lies" to Tina and Bette. And another show I sang it to Naomi and Emily from Skins.

AE: Oooh, we loveĀ Skins.
Skins is brilliant like a pop song.

Pages: 1 2 3

Tags: ,