Is it pop, is it R&B, it is soul? All of the above, says Kevin Michael of his sound. At just 22, he's lived on the both sides of the world, but that's what gives him the edge to produce fresh music and a unique sound. His voice is not that of your average R&B crooner and he's not looking to be the average, because well...he's not easily categorized!
With his self-titled debut album, Kevin Michael, out now, he's ready to give you a little bit of everything.READ THE FULL INTERVIEW
Melody: Well Kevin Michael, why don’t you tell everybody, who may possibly not know who you are, about yourself?
Kevin Michael: Hmmm...What about me, Kevin Michael. I’m 22 years old, from outside of Philadelphia, born and bread, and I do music. Music is my life, I don’t do anything else really that well. So I just do music, always have.
Melody: Tell me about growing up in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Kevin Michael: Yes, Chester. Chester is a not-so-nice city, know for some not-so-nice things, but we won’t talk about that because we focus on the positive. I grew up around a lot of music, my father’s a musician. So I was singing in a band early on in my life. That’s where I kind of got my passion for the music. I love live music and geeking and all of that. I didn’t go to school in Chester, I went to school outside of Chester, at a Catholic school, so it was a little bit weird going to Catholic school back then. Hanging out with predominantly affluent and white kids, then going home to the hood at night. So I got the best of both worlds. That was kind of what my childhood was like.
Melody: That’s interesting how you had to go between worlds, how did that affect you or how does it affect you now?
Kevin Michael: It left me a lot more open minded, I’m not so narrow minded. I think it opened up my musical tastes a lot, because that’s where I got introduced to alternative and grunge and Goth music, so I just call it the best of both worlds.
Melody: Your music is not one that is easily categorized; you’re very much a hybrid of a lot of sounds. So how would you put that into words for those that may not have heard much from you?
Kevin Michael: Honestly I just call it good music. I don’t like to focus on labels or categories. Yes, it’s soul. Yes, this is pop, this is R&B, this is funk, this is hip hop. It’s rock at times. It’s all of those things, not just one of those things. So I just describe it as good music, hopefully other people will say it’s good music and everything’s good.
Melody: Your debut album, which is self-titled, is out now, it came out on the 2nd [of October].
[click to buy]
Kevin Michael: Yes!
Melody: …and why don’t you tell me about the album, which I am sure is not going to be easily described either, because it’s your sound.
Kevin Michael: It is just all over the place. From track to the next, it’s very different, and I try to prep people by saying “expect the unexpected from me” because I don’t want people to put me in one box or hear the first single and say “oh, Kevin Michael’s this positive, happy-go-lucky dude, who you know…” I don’t want people to think one thing from me, just get prepared for a lot of different type of sounds of music but at the end of the day it’s good music and the common bond is my voice. The tone of my voice is a little bit different from everybody else, not saying I’m the sh*t, but you know, it’s different.
Melody: You can call yourself the sh*t, you gotta embrace that kind of thing.
Kevin Michael: [Laughs] Thank you mama!
Melody: Your welcome! I’ve listen to your album, front to back, back to front…
Kevin Michael: Thank you.
Melody: No problem, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now when someone does that, what would you like them to walk away with, after they’ve listened to the whole album? Like you said, it’s all over the place, it touches on a lot of different genres and sounds, it’s not necessarily something that you would expect from one person to go through so many different genres, but you could say that, what would you want people to walk away with?
Kevin Michael: Well, the message isn’t such a literal message as it pertains to the music. I jut want people to take away the fact that, here’s this young kid, 22-years old, living out my dream. I’m not doing anything that anybody else can’t do. I’m not a genius. I’m not this prodigy. I’m just somebody that was blessed to have a vision early on and stayed focused. I’m living out my dream right now. Anybody can do that and it’s not just about music, it’s about whatever, it could be you want to be a doctor, it could be you want to be the greatest housewife. It doesn’t really matter. Just be you, don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. Anybody could do it honestly.
Melody: Like you said, your living out your dream, you had a vision. When did the vision come to you to say, this it, I’m going to pursue music?
Kevin Michael: You know what? I don’t know if this sounds scary or cliché or whatever, but there’s never been a time in my life where I didn’t now that I was going to do music. I mean, my earliest memory is of singing or acting out something I saw in a video, listening to the radio. Like I’ve always been that kid.
Melody: That’s good that your living out your dream, not everyone is able to do that, so that’s definitely a blessing for you. Now who did you work with on the album, as far as production?
Kevin Michael: Obviously we have Wyclef on the first single, Bloodshy and Avant from Sweden, Brian Kid from Atlanta, L Rock from Atlanta, The Clutch, Erica Hudson, Shay Taylor, Paper Boy, J.R. Rotem, and that’s it. The rest is me on the album. There’s 13 tracks on the album, 2 bonus tracks. I wrote and produced around 9 of the 13 and it’s just me, man!
Melody: Which song on the album, was the first one that you wrote?
Kevin Michael: Wow! It would probably be “We All Want the Same Thing,” “It Don’t Make Any Difference to Me,” “Vickie Secrets,” and “Ain’t Got You” are all songs that we wrote in 2004 and 2005. But “We All Want…” was probably the first.
Melody: There are a lot of different sounds on the album, one that really sticks out with “Liquid Lava Love,” you listen to that and you probably, for most people, the first thing that comes to your mind is Prince.
Kevin Michael: Uh Huh…
Melody: Who are your other influences that you have musically, that will show up in this album?
Kevin Michael: Prince, Michael [Jackson], Stevie [Wonder], Rick James, there’s moments of like Quincy [Jones] and Rod Temperton. There’s definitely like that crazy, funky, Parliament, Bootsie [Collins], George Clinton, and weird type stuff at some moments. Brandy’s a big inspiration to me, I love her, I love the way she makes her background vocal arrangements like that. I don’t know, just some good soul!
Melody: That’s good, I like that! Both of your lead singles, “It Don’t Make Any Difference to Me” and
Kevin Michael: “All We Want...”
Melody: …right, are not your typical singles, it not about dancing, it’s not about clubbing, it’s not about…
Kevin Michael: Booties, ass, bling bling, all that stuff.
Melody: Right! So it’s definitely on that other spectrum and did you particularly put those out first?
Kevin Michael: Well, I don’t think I did it consciously, because I think there are playful moments on the album where it feels, quote-unquote normal, but I think these songs were just a good representation of who I am. I kind of wanted to let people know off the bat that I’m not just the typical average, snap-your-fingers, do-your-step, ringtone, here-today-gone-tomorrow, type artist, and I think those first singles kind of displayed that.
Melody: “It Don’t Make Any Difference to Me” is kind of autobiographical in a sense because you are bi-racial and it hits on that. Did you go into that saying, I want to write about myself, or did it just come out?
Kevin Michael: If I’m being honest, part of it was the label, and then the other part was me wanting people to know who I am because, putting it politely, I hear this all the time. “What are you?” I just kind of wanted to lay all the card on the table and let people know yes, he’s not white boy Black, he’s not Black boy white, he actually both. He’s bi-racial. I kind of wanted to clear that up and I also wanted to be the voice for the young, mixed kids in the world right now.
Melody: I’m mixed too so, hey Power to the Mixed kids!
Kevin Michael: Hey! We rule the world baby!
Melody: Most people are mixed at this point anyway! Now the two bonus tracks are the acoustic versions, which feature Akil Dasan, which some people may remember from the Missy [Elliot] show, which hit me about 2 months later.
Kevin Michael: [Laughs] That’s because he cut off the dreads!
Melody: He did cut off the dreads, that’s what it was! But both of the acoustic versions are getting critical acclaim, did you record the acoustic after or before?
Kevin Michael: After, it was right after we had done the album and we had just started hitting the road, and going to see people and the first couple of shows people were like, “Well this isn’t what I was expecting, the album doesn’t sound like that.” So we kind of wanted one, to wean people in to our like stripped down acoustic set, but number two, also set up an online presence before we dropped the album or did anything. So with the press we wanted to the online fanbase first. We released that EP exclusively on iTunes for digital downloads.
Melody: Well that worked out very nicely for you I believe.
Kevin Michael: Thank you!
Melody: Now you’re about to hit the road with Maroon 5, about to make a nice cross-country trek. How did that come together?
Kevin Michael: We did a Secret MySpace Show with them in San Diego and from that they liked us so much that they asked us back out and I have a great booking agent!
Melody: What’s next for Kevin Michael?
Kevin Michael: The tour, promoting the single, promoting the album, we just got Discover Download with MTV, I’m a Big 10 artist, shout out to MTV. We’ll go back overseas, do some more shows overseas, and just working everyday grinding. That’s it!
Melody: Now music is your life, but do you see yourself in any other realm outside of music, in the industry?
Kevin Michael: Oh, absolutely! But I can’t let those cats out of the bag just yet but I got to work on it. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to talk about it, I like to be about it! So in the next couple years, we’ll see!
Melody: Well that’s good you have aspirations outside of music and I’ll be looking for you, where ever you may turn up! Thanks for talking to pop-junkie.com and good luck with everything.
Kevin: Thank you very much, hopefully I’ll see you at the show!
Labels: Exclusive, Kevin Michael