Hi Christine, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey, thank you for having me… feeling pretty grateful these days.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Island”?
Sometimes we have stories that live within larger stories. This song is one of those…
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
Downtown New York was flash flooding; I ducked into a cafe on 14th street with some new friends…good company, lots of laughs you know, but it was a strange night. Hurricane Gonzalo had just hit the Caribbean. The water was haunting me…and the rest lives in the song now.
How was the film experience?
I had “Island” in mind, and when you see Justin Lynch’s work, you can immediately feel his connection to the ocean – that really spoke to me. Our collaboration was really fueled by that shared cultural understanding; both of us steeped in a remote seaside upbringing. I knew I wanted to use minimalist visuals to capture the mood and convey ideas about rising sea levels. I think he did that beautifully.
The single comes off your new album Maritime Cowboy – what’s the story behind the title?
Haha, there are a couple of stories behind it…after working in the studio, Reuben Allen, who plays organ on the record, was kidding around and it flew out of his mouth like a punch line. I hung onto the phrase; it had this nomadic, even reckless feeling about it. I knew it would become the title of the album.
In some way the album is a conceptual record?
It is…in many ways, it’s about navigating a tricky passage and captaining your own ship. It’s an ironic angle though from a feminine perspective, as you’ll notice on the last two tracks on the album, for example, as well as in the title, where the masculine gender juxtaposes the female image. I’m channeling the character Maritime Cowboy as a woman. She’s your captain – and her own captain.
How was the recording and writing process?
I’m very grateful for all of it and for everyone who supported me while I worked on this project for two years. I loved the entire writing process, and recording with Malcolm Burn was like entering another world. He’s a real old-school musician’s musician and a total master of his art – there’s no such thing as Auto-Tune, we recorded without a vocal-booth straight into the monitors, and he took whole takes of a couple of songs, and wouldn’t let me record them again!
What rituals did you go through on the recording of this material?
Early on, with pen and paper, I created word-collections to encompass geography and images. Those became my entry point into the subconscious landscape that would shape the stories on the record. I had a handful of daily rituals that kept my vision in clear focus, and those were usually paired with a lot of green tea and silence.
What aspect of our culture did you get to explore on this album?
In addition to all of the sea-faring references, I’m really interested in ideas about home – weather that’s a wild place, a city, a transient place in time, a place in someone’s heart, or that space we hold for ourselves within ourselves – it’s our shared longing.
Any plans to hit the road?
It’s not my intention, but that could definitely change.
What else is happening next in Christine de Michele’s world?
We’re starting to prep for a release show/listening party/screening in New York, but it’s an adventure over here… I’m open, we’ll see!