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Music Interviews : MICHAELA SLINGER | The Partae

Michaela Slinger

Where are you currently based?

I’m so lucky to have been born and raised in BC, and I currently live in Vancouver on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil Waututh nations.

How did you first start playing music?

My mom swears that I loved music in utero and kicked along to my favourite tracks, and I was singing as soon as I could talk. I think I was around 10 months old in my carseat on a drive with my mom, and she was listening to My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion. Apparently, I was singing along—we’ll use the term “singing” loosely. But it’s always been something I’ve done for as long as I can remember.

What’s been happening recently?

That’s a big question. At the start of 2020, I was thinking mostly about my excitement for music and all the songs I was working on. Obviously, the past 6 months were not something I predicted. COVID threw me for a loop in terms of my release planning, especially as I was starting to play more live shows in the city. And, most importantly, the long overdue spotlighting of systemic injustice and white supremacy (including in the music industry) has given me some pause. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, listening, and discussing—particularly about Canada and the US’s histories, and how race-based inequity and violence manifest today—while simultaneously crafting intentional plans about how I’d like to show up as a white artist.

You’ve recently signed with 604 Records, how did this come about and how has the experience been so far?

I feel so lucky to be a part of the 604 team. Two summers ago, I quit my full-time office job to pick up contract gigs and pursue music. I went to this music conference in Victoria, BC, feeling total imposter syndrome, and I met Louise Burns (a producer and artist with 604 Records). We started writing and recording together and she was instantly such a mentor and advocate for me. I did another songwriter’s workshop about a year later where I met Kevvy (also a producer and artist with 604). Together, Kevvy and Louise pulled me aside and said: “We have a plan for you.” We started writing together, and then I got the opportunity to do a demo deal with 604 Records last fall. Those tracks were shared with the whole team, and then I was offered a record deal. Kevvy and Louise have been instrumental in my growth and confidence as an artist.The experience has been a dream, honestly. Before signing, I was concerned that “record deal” would be synonymous with “loss of creative independence.” In fact, every single person I’ve worked with at 604—Kevvy and Louise and Jonathan and others—have supported my vision so fully and only enhanced my artistry. Being in the studio is like dropping into an alternate universe where time is non-linear, there are endless snacks and weird inside jokes, and we just get to try things out and make beautiful music.

You have a new single ‘Tarot’ out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting for this track?

I love pop music that is emotionally intelligent, and simultaneously catchy yet lyrically dense. Tarot is an electro-pop song, and at the time of writing it I was listening to a lot of Maggie Rogers, Janelle Monae, and The Japanese House.

How did you go about writing Tarot?

I was messing around on my new MIDI keyboard and trying to gain proficiency with Garageband. I don’t usually write first thing in the morning but I remember being semi-sleepy and laying down a more R&B-influenced beat, usually those vocal “mm, mmhmm”s as part of it. Usually, songs start for me with a few lyric lines that somehow emerge in my brain. I thought of the first two lines: “It’s something about energy, position of the moon / I need a way to justify unwelcome thoughts of you” and that set the theme of the song.

Where and when did you record and who with?

I recorded the unfinished song as a rough demo in my very DIY home studio (aka bedroom with a laptop). I sent it to Kevvy and Louise, and we finished it off between Kevvy’s home studio and the studio at 604 Records. Kevvy kept elements from the original demo, which I love!

What did you find most challenging and rewarding throughout the creative process?

Finishing what I’ve started. I loved coming up with ideas, but then I don’t always see them through. I have a lot of half-finished songs on my computer.

You also have an upcoming album on the way, what can we expect?

I do! You can expect a few more singles later this year that expand my sound. I see Tarot sitting perfectly next to Flux, my first independent release—they feel like musical siblings. Some of the other singles build off of these and feel even bigger, with more harmonies and more instrumentation.

What do you like to do away from music?

I work for a couple nonprofits part time locally, so I do that. I always want to be outside and do fun things with people I love, so lots of family dinners and bike rides and park hangouts with friends and hiking.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

I rediscovered Tierra Whack’s record, Whack World, and I’ve been into that. I’m just digging into HAIM’s new record, Women in Music Pt. III. 

What’s planned for the remainder of 2020?

Some COVID-safe travel locally. I get to spend some time at a cabin with my family, so we’ll do lots of swimming and lounging and likely some competitive games of Spikeball. I’m going on a seven-day canoe trip with a friend at the end of the month. Once I’m back, I hope to plan some smaller, intimate outdoor shows throughout the remainder of summer and fall. I’m also starting to write again, so I’d like to carve out some time to lay down tracks—maybe somewhere outside of the city.

Favourite food and place to hangout?

I love almost all food and I have a huge appetite. That feels like the hardest question to answer. Lately, I’ve been wanting sushi if I’m going to indulge in takeout. I also love spreads—is there a better way to describe them? Like a board of cheese, hummus, olives, some crackers, bread, veggies. My favourite place to hang out is anywhere outside with a view of the mountains and the Pacific ocean.