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Interview:
Ingrid Michaelson hopes to branch out on next album
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Ingrid Michaelson has been known, at least for the past few years, as pop music’s primary ukulele practitioner.

But, she laments, the group Train’s recent hit “Hey, Soul Sister” has quietly co-opted her status.

“Yeah, I heard that song and I was like, ‘Oh well, there goes that,’” Michaelson, 30, says with a laugh. “What I did is ... now stamped on that song forever, that very, very catchy song that will never go out of our brains.”

Fortunately, Michaelson has plenty to fall back on — five albums’ worth of melody-rich material, including “The Way I Am,” “Be OK,” “Maybe,” “Breakable,” “Keep Breathing” and “Masochist,” all of which have built a devoted following of mostly teen and college-aged women and have provided a go-to repertoire for angsty TV shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree Hill.” And her latest album, 2009’s “Everybody,” debuted at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 chart, Michaelson’s best showing yet.

Michaelson, meanwhile, is noticing the gradual growth when she plays live, which is what’s most important to her.

“You can sell a million downloads of one song and that’s great, but then if no one comes and sees you play, where’s the joy?” says the Staten Island, N.Y., native, who received a theater degree from Binghamton University. “On this tour I seem to be playing bigger venues and they’re selling really well. So to know that we’re slowly but surely increasing our touring makes me feel like people really care that we continue to grow, which is really cool.”

Michaelson is taking that momentum into the recording of her next album, a process that’s already started by releasing a new single, “Parachute,” that she says could be a harbinger of sorts for the future.

“It’s very poppy, different from what I’ve done in the past which is pretty much straight down the middle singer-songwriter stuff,” Michaelson says of the song. “I just felt like I wanted to put something out. I’m not ready to put a full album out, so we thought we’d put this out and see how people take it or don’t take it.”

Michaelson currently has “a good half an album’s worth of songs, if not more” written for the next album, with “a couple older ones that are floating around.” And she’s looking forward to hunkering down after her tour to take paper and pen in hand and craft even more, perhaps even taking “a couple months just to write.”

And, as on “Parachute,” she wants to keep pushing the parameters that she’s established so far.

“I don’t want to stay on the old singer-songwriter train for the rest of my life,” Michaelson explains. “I’d like to sonically branch out. I can do whatever I want. Either people hate it or love it. It’s not a problem.

“I’m not gonna do, like, death metal or go country, but I would like to experiment, try some other sounds and ... be a little braver. Maybe less ukulele, more synths. That sounds good.”



Ingrid Michaelson and the Guggenheim Grotto perform Monday, Oct. 18, at The Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $22 day of show. Call 248-858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.

Web Site: www.thecrofoot.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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