Al’ Michael is an artist from Missouri who prides himself on doing everything on his own; he writes everything himself, including his own melodies. He wants to inspire others by showing them there isn’t anything you cant do, because he is doing it all by himself. He watches all the biggest artists have the machines behind them, but knows with a little faith you don’t need all that and can do it yourself – and he is.
Words by N. Sella
Mechanical Dummy: Who are you and what do you do?
Al’Michael: My name’s Al’Michael and I create music that is all about inspiration and my life. The EP’s called Heart vs. Head because I like to talk about things that anybody has dealt with. In my personal experience, they’re a part of everyone. Everyone and every situation either go through the head or the heart. That’s what I struggle with. I’ve always been able to speak openly about my problems and not be ashamed about it. That’s been like a gift for me and that’s what the EP’s about.
MD: How long have you been working on it?
A: About half a year ago. It came from people my whole life telling me the way to go. And I spoke to my mom and she was like, “Everybody likes you for just being you. So why don’t you just be you. That’s the best route.” So I just decided to just do me and that’s been the best response I’ve gotten my whole life for real.
MD: First moment as a kid you realized you had a gift?
A: I always knew it from like church, ‘cause that’s where I started. But I could just write songs, like write how I was feeling since I was little. And put it into songs. So I just decided to step out on it, went to a talent show when I was younger. And that’s when things really started taking off for me. That’s kind of how it happened.
MD: When did you realize it’s what you wanted to do?
A: I was an athlete in high school, so that was my thing. But earlier in life I realized what’s real and what’s not. And I knew I wasn’t going to the NBA. And I loved teaching, but I knew what really was gonna make me happy and how I was gonna touch the most people. And that’s really what I wanted to do. Be personal with people. And show ‘em how I live my life and show ‘em that it’s OK to go through things and mess up and talk about it and overcome it. And get where you wanna be but still have flaws in the process.
MD: When did you start doing covers?
A: I used to be like, no covers. I’m a real artist. But then you realize, “Yo, great people do covers. All you’re doing is complimenting the artist and putting your own little flag on it. And I have fans from before from past things I’ve done that really wanted to keep up with me but my EP wasn’t finished. So I was like, “Yo, let me just try this.” And they started getting like over 100,000 views and stuff like that. And that was what sparked a lot of industry people really hitting me up and becoming interested and has created the buzz for my EP that’s coming out.
MD: What do you see the artistic merit of covers and using samples?
A: The person who writes the song says it a certain way, the way they feel the song. But when someone hears it, someone can take it totally different. It’s the same way with singing. If I sing it a certain way, it’s cause it felt that way. So why don’t you have a different feeling and sing it your way? Because it means something different to you. Everyone can be creative in their own way and do it their own way.
MD: So your sound is to pioneer new pop, electro, soul and hip-hop? How do you go about this?
A: It really just came naturally because of all the things I’ve been exposed to. Like I’ve been through a lot of different things in life and a lot of different music. The way I’m doing it, I’m not doing hook-driven music. These days, they just want a hook that repeats over and over that gets stuck in peoples’ heads. I really wanna do something classic where my music is gonna be around forever. Like that’s why my favorite artists are people like The Beatles, Donny Hathaway. My music just came together from really just every experience of life. I love pop, I love soul, I love all that and I have a little touch of everything so it just came together on its own really.
MD: Whom do you think of as peers, competition and influences?
A: I don’t see too much competition. Not because I think I’m better, just because my story’s my own lane. No one can do what I do the way I do it. So it’s like, there’s an element of that’s just the way it is and I can’t do anything else the way anybody else does. I stopped listening to the radio a lot and started listening to older music. And I like to listen to country, like the Rascal Flats. Just to get my mind out of what people think I should do.
MD: You made the move to Los Angeles; did you have faith to make that jump?
A: I’m from Missouri originally. I had to make that jump because this is where it is. I went to New York first and was there, but LA is my vibe. It’s where the whole industry has moved. You just get to see where you stand against some of the best talent in the world. There’s great talent all over, but people are really trying to get it here and competing and trying to perfect their craft here. And I just gotta stand up against it. It’s been a great experience for me.
MD: What is your ultimate goal?
A: I just wanna change the world. I wanna show people that you can still be a good person in this industry. You can still have faith. You can still have faith in God and do all those things without shoving it upon people. But still living life a certain way. Because I’m very far from perfect, I still go out. But I still have a very strong base faith.
MD: What gives you faith to move forward and keep creating?
A: I read the bible every day. That inspires me. That’s where I get most of my wisdom. My mom, it’s about my family. Putting my family on. One person can change generations. I wanna take that responsibility and change it for the next generation that’s to come in my family.
MD: What advice would you give to young artists?
A: Don’t think you know everything. Some of those people that you think don’t know anything about that industry that are giving you everyday advice, they know what they’re talking about. If I had listened to normal people working everyday jobs, it would have saved me so much. I was like, “You don’t know, you’re not in the industry. You don’t get it.” But those people are just telling you, “Be yourself. Do what you feel in your heart.” If you can just listen to those people and stay grounded. Believe in something, if not, people will take advantage of you. I’m not saying to believe in what I believe in, but if you don’t believe in anything it’s hard to stay strong.