Free Press Radio
Song - Artist - Album
Way Over Yonder in the Minor key - Nathalie Merchant & Billy Bragg & Wilco - Mermaid Avenue
Jessica is a native New Yorker that has played across the country and internationally with several Irish rock and folk bands based out of the NY area, and she has recently released her album American Dreams with a country altnerative/folk sound. Some of her influences include Patty Griffin, Dar Williams, Shawn Colvin, Kasey Chambers, Bob Dylan, and Josh Ritter. The following interview gives some insight into her music.
How would you describe your music for audiences if they have never
seen you before?
For me, music is about evoking images and creating timelessness. I can simply tell people what genre I consider myself- Alt Country/Americana/Folk- but it's so much more than genre- It's about painting pictures with words through the stories I tell.
Thinking back to your childhood and growing up, how did you first get
involved with music? first instrument?
For as long as I can remember I've had music around. Although my parents did not play any instruments, there was always music in the background and they always made sure I had all kinds of instruments. Every Christmas Santa brought me another instrument to explore- one year a harmonica, then a tin whistle, drums, a keyboard, slide whistle, you name it! I also learned a little about piano from my grandmother. Then when the time came to choose an instrument in elementary school, I picked the violin. By the time I was about twelve though I got tired of classical music and realized a developing interest in folk music.
What can people expect to see at your live performances? Also, where
can they find more information on dates, venues, times for your
When I play my solo shows, I do the Bob Dylan thing with my guitar and harmonica rack! I am ever so grateful to and humbled by my audiences every time I play. We're participating in humanity together. I'm up there sharing pieces of myself, but they're also sharing themselves by letting themselves feel and be receptive to my art. It's such an amazing and extraordinary experience-and a great gift and privilege- whether I'm performing for five or five hundred people. I think musicians have such special insight into the world- you learn so much about not only yourself, but also life and humanity from playing for people. I've played for all kinds of people and in all states of life. And I really hope I leave my audiences feeling warm inside from the experience we've shared together.
Information for my upcoming gigs can be found on my Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/jessicamichel
What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I always thought I'd go into acting. When I was younger, at school I was in every play they produced and I went to a high school for the performing arts to major in Musical Theatre. I discovered how much I loved the music part of it. I started writing songs, playing guitar and performing them and realized how special it is to be able to share pieces of myself and hopefully make my listeners feel less alone in the world.
What themes did you find yourself incorporating into your songs on the
new album American Dreams?
What are a few of your immediate music career goals? Also, what have
Right now, it's all about getting out there, spreading the word about my music and sharing it with as many people as I can in as many ways as I can- live performances, radio, etc. That's also the challenge too, although, it's all so exciting. I think a lot of artists struggle with "the chicken and egg" dilemma. They want exposure but the places they want to play at want you to already have a built in following- when that is exactly what you're trying to build up. That's why places that support and promote local and independent music are so very important to us- both the musician and the listeners.
been some of the biggest challenges so far?
Now you have a solid background in Irish music, has this had any
I've been playing Irish fiddle professionally for several years now and that's really where I got to hone a lot of my performance skills. Since college I had an interest in ethnomusicology and love looking at the historical connections between Irish and early American and Appalachian music. Many of my musical influences are artists who have been influenced by folk music. So, for me it was a natural progression the way it all happened. I absolutely love American history, too. When creating "American Dreams" I knew the vibe I was going for- Laura Ingalls meets the big city.
influence on the type of music you play currently? What made you
choose to follow a different path with folk and alternative country?
You just released your debut album American Dreams, are you already
planning to get back into the recording studio again?
There are definitely songs I'm playing live that I would love to get on the next album! It's sometimes difficult to live in the moment, but that's what I'm trying to do now- just keep promoting "American Dreams" and enjoy this really exciting journey and touch as many people as I can. Hopefully in a year or two I will be back in the studio, though, with the next project!