Edward Burnett chats to Canadian singer Michelle Treacy about her new song 'Time Off From A Letdown', her future career plans and the time she sang live with Lady Gaga.
RNRR: Hi Michelle! How are you doing? Would you mind describing what genre you perform for those of our readers unlucky enough not to have heard your songs?
MT: Hi Ed! I’m doing great. Most people know me as a pop artist but I’ve just recently released a new song called ‘Time Off From a Letdown’ that leans more psychedelic rock.
RNRR: Brilliant! You’ve teased us there with that new song of yours and we will definitely come back to that later on. However I’d like to first go back to the very beginning and ask you what your earliest musical memory was? What albums did your parents play to you as a kid which have stuck with you all these years?
MT: My earliest music memory is dancing and singing around in my underwear at 3 years old to ‘Oops I Did It Again’ by Britney Spears. My brother brought me up on Avril Lavigne, Madonna, Spice Girls, Paula Abdul, Amy Winehouse and Kyle Minogue. The list goes on.
RNRR: Some great picks there for sure. So what made you want to follow a career in professional music? Was there a tipping point when you decided that was what you were going to do and nothing else would suffice?
MT: I’ve just always known. There was no moment or point per say. I just had a gut instinct that this is what I wanted to do ever since I was a baby.
RNRR: That brings us round to the present nicely and of course we have to talk about that new single of yours that you mentioned! So what was the thinking behind ‘Time Off From a Letdown’, what do the lyrics mean to you?
MT: Thematically, the song represents the feeling of letting everyone down; however, the reality being that you are only letting yourself down by putting others first. It is about refocusing on yourself, as I have spent the last couple of years doing just that after going through such a dark time in my life. The cinematic video is a beautiful representation of this created by an all-female team. It is a piece of art in it's purest form, and I hope you take something from it.
RNRR: Was the process of creating this song lengthy in comparison to your previous singles or do you find that no matter the song, they all take roughly the same amount of time and care?
MT: There’s no set time or care per song. It’s all different. I care about each song I write. But the process is always different.
RNRR: With the pandemic, we’ve sorely missed live music of all kinds. What have you missed more, attending live gigs or performing your own?
MT: I don’t miss one more than the other. I miss live shows so much. I miss getting sweaty and screaming lyrics. I miss the ringing in my ears after a loud show. I miss people. I miss it all.
RNRR: While on the theme of live performances, you famously sang ‘Born This Way’ alongside Lady Gaga back in 2014. What does an experience like this do for a young musical artist? What was it like getting close with Lady Gaga?
MT: This experience changed my life and launched my career. After this I got signed and released Armageddon which landed on Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks. It was an absolute dream. Gaga is great. She is incredibly kind to me anytime I meet her. I’m grateful.
RNRR: For those that don’t know, you’re from Ottawa, Canada. What’s the best thing about Ottawa? Do you find your living environment affects your music in any way?
MT: I love Ottawa because it has a small town feel. I love the river and the bike path. I love the whole vibe of the city. It’s just so chill. This environment is great to make music in. It’s so laid back. Most people who do music live in Toronto tho which is why I’ve moved.
RNRR: What do you like to do outside of making and performing music? Do you have any interesting hobbies?
MT: I like eating food, teaching music and cleaning. Haha so boring!
RNRR: Where do you see yourself in two years time, post-Covid, as a musical artist? What do you hope to have achieved by then?
MT: I’m hoping to get signed to a label that really fights for me and loves who I am. I hope to have new music out and start touring. Who knows though with covid.
RNRR: Finally, here at Rock N Roll Reports we ask the same most important question at the end of each Spotlight interview as I’m sure you’re fully aware. The old famous desert island question. One album, for the rest of your days on said island, what are you picking and why?
MT: CTRL SZA. It’s my favourite album of all time. Good for any mood and always pulls me out of the worst places. I still can’t believe it’s a real album. What a gift.
RNRR: A brilliant choice there as it does suit any mood as you say. It’s been a pleasure Michelle and we’ll be sure to update the page with any news from your front.
If you would like to find out more about Michelle Treacy or keep up to date with her latest news, you can find links to all her social medias below via the icons:
Edward Burnett chats to Brighton rock band YONAKA's Theresa Jarvis about what the band's debut album meant to them, why it is so great to live in Brighton and why she now wants to pick up playing chess.
RNRR: Hi YONAKA! First of all, how are you doing Theresa? Would you say that you have been managing to deal with the pandemic and lockdown well?
YONAKA: Hello, I’m doing well thanks! Lockdown has its ups and downs, a lot of music has been made and also to have the time to really think was nice. Yet at the same time I’m so ready to play shows and see all our fans again.
RNRR: Going back to the very start, what is your earliest musical memory? What was the first song, album or artist which majorly influenced you at a young age?
YONAKA: My earliest musical memory was dancing and singing along to the Spice Girls, Tina Turner and lots of Motown. Then the first time I sang in front of an audience was in a school play and I was dressed as a mouse singing S Club 7’s ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’ [laughs]. As for influences it was Whitney Houston for me. I was obsessed with trying to sing her big notes which I for sure did not hit! Pink and Mariah Carey were also important artists for me when I was younger.
RNRR: So on May 31st 2019 you released your debut album ‘Don’t Wait ’Til Tomorrow’. What is your proudest achievement from doing this? How great was it to finally have an entire album of your own on physical copy?
YONAKA: This was super exciting for us to have an album, our first album, a big piece of work. The most joy we get from it is from the fans. To know that we’ve touched somebody’s life with music that we have written is incredible especially when it has a positive effect. In that album I talk a lot about mental health and my own struggles which I know is a topic that a lot of people relate to. Many share the same experience so to know that it could have potentially helped is BIG news for us. Also just people hearing it and the crowd singing it along with me at the shows.
RNRR: The album is an intense, energy-charged ride which encapsulates themes of commitment and underlying devotion. Was it always the idea to cover these sort of topics and are they influenced by your own life experiences?
YONAKA: Yes the album is about my own experiences and ones that I have found people who are dear to me go through also. I didn’t intentionally mean to write about this stuff but it was the only thing I could write about and it was consuming my life. I found when I wrote about other people’s experiences it made me feel better.
RNRR: All of us in the musical world are missing being able to attend gigs and festivals greatly due to the current COVID pandemic. What would you say was your best show before lockdown? A gig where you really connected with the crowd and everything just went right?
YONAKA: It was our last london headline show for sure. The energy was on fire and it just felt like magic. I mean that whole tour was magic to be honest. When the room is literally electric, aghhh! I can’t wait for it to come back.
RNRR: So the most important news coming from your camp this year is the preview of your new music we got this summer. ‘Ordinary’ debuted during your live performance on Twitch back in July. Is this going to be your next single to be released? The song is about getting away from a situation or time in your life which is no longer right and not settling for the norm anymore. What inspired this song and why did you choose to release it during this summer? Have you got more new music in the pipeline?
YONAKA: So ‘Ordinary’ isn’t actually the next single to be released, we just wanted to give a sneak of what we’ve been doing. We’ve actually got a big single dropping early next year and it’s just ahhhhhhhhhh my favourite! It’s so BIG and empowering! I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. ‘Ordinary’ is great we are just putting finishing touches on it in the studio. It is taking its time but we’re turning it on it’s head. We have so much music ready now!
RNRR: You recently covered Taylor Swift’s ‘You Need To Calm Down’ for Spotify. How was that to cover? Is there any other songs you’re desperate to cover either on record or when live music shows are resumed?
YONAKA: Ahhh yes! Taylor Swift is just AMAZING and that song was so much fun to cover! I have recently been working on a little ‘Happy Together’ by The Turtles.
RNRR: So away from the musical side of things, what are your biggest interests and hobbies? Have you watched anything good while in lockdown?
YONAKA: I love to cook and actually I just watched ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ on Netflix so now I wanna learn chess so let’s see!
RNRR: With the group being based in Brighton in the UK, what would you say is the biggest charm to Brighton? There is the seaside of course but what else allows you to really call it home?
YONAKA: So yeah the seaside is the best, then The Lanes is super cute. I dunno it’s just nice it’s like chilled and fresh air. I really like that you can look out at the sea for miles and not stop, it’s so beautiful.
RNRR: Finally is the most important question we ask all our guests. If you were stranded on a desert island (which somehow has electricity!) and you can only play one album ever again, what is each member picking and why?
YONAKA: Ok so I would choose either ‘The College Dropout’ by Kanye West or Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’. For George it’s ‘Doris’ by Earl Sweatshirt. Rob has picked ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac. Finally Alex has gone with ‘Voodoo’ by D’Angelo!
RNRR: Some smart and varied selections there guys! Thank you for your time and I’m definitely not alone in saying that I’m very much looking forward to what comes next from you!
(Photo: Rory Barnes)
If you'd like to keep up to date with YONAKA's latest news and releases then you can find the links to all their social medias via the links below:
Our Halloween themed week comes to a close with one final special feature, an interview with South-West London band Bosco Bosco. The guys talk to Edward Burnett about their origins as a band, their new Halloween single, ‘Witch Hunt’ and that one time Rachael dressed up as a candle...
RnRR: Hi Bosco Bosco, would you introduce yourselves to the Rock N Roll Reports readers who may be unfamiliar with your music?
BB: Bosco Bosco are a rock band from SW London experimenting with synths, nostalgia and a touch of 80's.
Formed of two siblings and their bass-slapping friend, the group create music through the influences of Bring Me the Horizon, Enter Shikari and Taylor Swift giving their songs a high energy, alt-rock sound.
RnRR: Nice to meet you guys! Now this high energy, alt-rock sound is becoming more and more popular these days on the main rock scene with bands such as Yonaka dominating. What do you feel is the reason for this surge in this genre of music?
BB: The great fact about alt-rock is that there’s variation between each band and their style. For many years now the indie and alt-pop scenes have been expanding- we feel it’s time for alt-rock’s moment. Woohoo! People love the energy and excitement of each track. Last year we actually went to see Yonaka perform in Brighton- they were so fun live and we look forward to seeing them and similar bands gig again soon!
RnRR: You mention wanting to see similar bands soon and with that comes my next question. Has the hardest impact from the pandemic been missing going to gigs or has it been a bigger blow not being able to perform your own shows?
BB: Both have been very difficult- going to gigs has always been one of our favourite things to do! We all had tickets for loads of crazy concerts this year- Taylor Swift, My Chemical Romance and Enter Shikari to name a few. So not going to gigs has been tough. We hate seeing what’s happening to the grassroots venues and how hard it is for them to stay open. We had our first headline show booked for April which had to be postponed. We were gutted as we had worked so hard for the last year in the studio. The gig poster is still up in the venue- it makes us sad whenever we see it but we’re determined to make the gig amazing when it finally happens!
RnRR: What was the last show that you managed to get to before the pandemic hit? While we are on that topic too, what your all time favourite gig or festival that you have attended?
BB: Oisin, our bassist, says the last gig he was able to get to was Crossfaith and Ocean Grove at Chalk in Brighton. Such a sick show! Matt saw Nile Rodgers, one of his guitar icons, days before we went into lockdown. He almost didn’t go because things were already starting to shut down but it’s now a great reminder of how good things are going to be once the live industry gets up and running again.
In terms all of time favourites- that’s a tough one. Rachel’s fave has got to be Don Broco in Paris- the energy was irreplaceable! Swinging her T-shirt around her head to ‘T-Shirt Song’ was not a moment to forget.
RnRR: Let’s talk about your music now, what’s the story behind you guys forming as a band?
BB: Matt and Rachel were jamming one day and wanted a bassist to play along. They had met their mate Oisin at youth music organisation, Groove Academy. Oisin was studying in Brighton and came all the way to London just to jam. It was only meant to be one jam session- they couldn’t get rid of Oisin after that!!!
RnRR: Your new single ‘Witch Hunt’ is seasonally themed around Halloween. Is Halloween an important season for you guys?
BB: With not being able to perform over the last few months, we wanted to do something a little different. As Halloween was coming up, we gave ourselves the challenge of creating a spooky EP in time for Halloween. So, it’s not Halloween itself that’s super important to us but it’s a fun time and a great excuse for some spooky tunes!
RnRR: What’s your best ever costume that you’ve worn at Halloween?
BB: Rachel's best Halloween costume was a candle. (She’s ginger and modelled her hair up to be a flame). She is very glad there is no photo evidence!
RnRR: Who would win in a musical fight between Rob Zombie and the entire cast of the ‘Thiller’ music video?
BB: Rob Zombie. No question.
RnRR: What does the future hold for the band following Halloween and as the pandemic restrictions hopefully lift?
BB: We’ve got a few secret songs up our sleeves that we cannot wait to share after the Halloween season. We also hope to gig as much as we can- we’ll no longer be sad when we see our gig-that-never-happened poster up in The Fighting Cocks.
RnRR: Where would you like to be as a band in 2 years time, realistically. Do you feel like setting goals this early on in your professional career is a hinderance or rather healthy competition with yourselves?
BB: We think it’s fairly important to set goals- they help with motivation and excitement. You can’t be disheartened however if goals are not achieved in the ideal timescale, especially at the moment. We hope to continue sharing music and expanding our fan base while hopefully getting some bigger gigs! We’ve all agreed to get band tattoos if we reach a certain number of streams….is that sad?!
RnRR: Finally, I ask this to all our Spotlight interviewees and is regarded to some as the hardest question of all time. You’re going to a desert island for the rest of your days but can only take one album with you to play. What are you choosing and just as importantly, why?
BB: If the whole band had to pick one album it’d have to be Automatic- Don Broco. This album inspired us as a band in our early creative days. We’ll never forget yelling the songs out of a car window as we drove through the Welsh countryside. We love it!
RnRR: Great choice there guys and thanks for your time! All the best for the future!
If you'd like to keep up to date with Bosco Bosco and their future releases, the links to all their socials are below via the icons: