I have had the chance to interview a few Opera-Pop/Rock crossover artists, but…
none quite like American Josh Michaels. He is one of the most talked-about and respectable crossover artists emerging from the U.S. – his music is among the most arresting and passionate you will hear this year.
“Josh was born in New York in August 1990 and began singing at a young age. He is trained in Italian opera. Josh writes from the heart and uses his operatic qualities within his pop/rock music. Michaels’ music has been featured on various radio stations throughout Europe and the United States. Performance wise, Josh has performed throughout the world, but prefers his hometown venue where legends before him have started, The Bitter End. Most recently Josh has received much placement with his tracks, including short films. MTV’s Catfish (The TV Show) has placed Josh’s track Awaken Now”.
I was keen to catch up with Michaels and see how his year has been and his plans for months ahead. With the E.P. Out of the Deep Blue forthcoming: a perfect time to ask about the influences and subjects that have gone into it.
Hey Josh. How has your week been? What have you been getting up to?
This week I have been very focused on promoting my new E.P. Out of the Deep Blue. Alongside my P.R. help, I enjoy being hands-on with my own releases. I am an independent artist; I do not have any labels (helping) backing me. I have been very focused on my marketing as well as my craft. These past few months I have been writing with other artists. I have some great collaborations in the works, which I am greatly looking forward to announcing.
Awaken Now is your song that implores friends – going through bad relations and hard times – there is a light ahead. Were there any particular people who inspired the song and can you remember the moment you wrote it – what emotions were you feeling?
Awaken Now is a track I wrote for people stuck in bad friendships, relationships - anything holding them down.
This song is meant to remind them of the light ahead and the need to let go of what’s keeping them back. We all deserve to awaken into freedom and have peace of mind.
I wrote this song based off of an experience I viewed. I had a friend who was verbally abused by her boyfriend for many years. I taught her what she is worth and to let go of him and find the light.
Your E.P., Out of the Deep Blue, will follow. What can we expect from it in terms of themes and sounds?
Out of the Deep Blue was written based off life experiences to help others with their own life experience. Each song is meant to open all hearts and minds. I write based off of that universal message and for all people to link on. Sound-related - I personally never like to stick with one sound; each song holds a different flavour.
Are there any local artists you would recommend to us?
Two local artists that I would recommend to you and your readers are Kristin Hoffmann and Premik Russell Tubbs. They are both based out of New York. I have known them for several years. Kristin has a voice that will forever leave you wanting to hear more of her. She writes about world peace and unity; she is full of truth and healing. Premik is a brilliant saxophonist who has played with the best in the business, including someone I look up to very much, Carlos Santana.
In the U.S., the biggest musicians tend to play out of New York and L.A. What is it about New York musicians that give the state such an incredible reputation?
I have lived in New York my entire life. Many people tell me I should be living in Los Angeles because of the music scene and the belief that you need to be there to 'make it'. That is a false belief.
I have many friends who have moved there thinking that they need to be there for their music success. I know from experience that it is not the place you live, it is the work that you put into your music and your network.
You were born in 1990 so must have grown up on a combination of pre-'90s and '90s music. Were you parents influential with regards your musical love and which artists were important to you growing up?
My parents’ taste in music has most definitely influenced me. I grew up listening to my dad's favorites, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. To this day, these two bands are my favorite as well.
As a trained opera singer: how do you apply your talents and vocal style to Pop and Rock? Is it quite an easy transition?
I enjoy using my operatic tones within my Pop/Rock music.
I don't think enough artists are using their true voices within the music they are making.
Many labels today are controlling the way many artists sound. They induce fear into many artists and make them think that one way is the right way. Whether it be in making music or not, I create my own path and believe that everyone should be doing the same. It may be easier to follow the crowd, but making your own path is much closer to your truth and destiny.
What defines music for you? Exactly what does it mean to you?
Music to me is when I hear a lyric that stays with me forever. When I can apply that lyric to any situation I'm in to help me get through that moment of time. This is how I write. Beautiful voices are gifts. Not one of them should stay silent. Sing your hearts out.
You have performed far and wide and met a lot of new faces. Are there any dates or performances that stand out in your mind?
Not a place or performance stands out to me. What stands out are the connections I make with people from all over the world through my music. I enjoy meeting people from all ends of the planet and realise one thing: we are all able to connect through music. Music is the answer. A universal language.
Your manager Steven has worked with names we all love. Ozzy Osbourne, Leonard Cohen, Seal (to name a few). Which of these artists do you admire the most?
Seal is an all-time-favorite of mine. His voice to his lyrics are brilliant and are songs I listen to every day of my life.
Have you any advice for any other musicians coming through looking to follow in your footsteps?
My best advice is to keep going. Hold on to your visions. Never give up. Don’t let fear become your worst enemy. Face your fears and always listen to your heart.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can select any song (other than your own) and I’ll play it here…
R. Kelly, I Believe I Can Fly
Follow Josh Michaels
Purchase Josh Michaels' E.P. Out of the Deep Blue here: