Each month we take the opportunity to sit down with some wonderful women and ask them questions on life, fashion, their careers and what inspires them. A moment to listen and learn, over an aperitif, and an occasional boujee fry...
This month we had the pleasure of catching up with award winning NZ Artist, Michal Bush of Music with Michal - and it was an absolute joy!
Location: Eliza’s Manor…we had to go back; it was just too good!
We ate: When we got home.
We drank: Pegasus Bay, Bel Canto Riesling
We meet Michal on the day her new single ‘Family’ is released and so we are feeling rather fortunate to spend a few hours with her and celebrate this beautiful new song.
First though, we need to discuss the most amazing earrings that Michal is wearing, so sparkly, so colourful…a one-off design by Pollydangles…definitely recommend a browse.
We sit and immediately start chatting. This is the first time we have met and already we’re discussing the ‘big’ stuff. Sharing the story of how we all got to be doing what we do now, we realise that motherhood has each given us an opportunity to explore different ways of working, different industries and has allowed us to change things up and create more joy in our lives. A message, we agreed, that isn’t often put out there…from change, can come opportunity, growth and new wonderful experiences & perspectives.
And from experience, also comes good recommendations on the wine front! A glass of Pegasus Bay, Bel Canto Riesling all round. Wine poured, glasses clinked, let’s find out more about the very talented Michal Bush…
A&A: First up – congratulations on your new song – Family. Tell us about the song, the inspiration behind it and where we can all check it out
Well, the inspiration actually came from my audience. I have a weekly online music club which I live stream, and so often I am inspired to write songs on their requests and their ideas. One of the parents in my audience commented on how they hadn’t heard any songs for children that celebrate the many different ways to make a family – fostering, IVF, two mums, two dads. And that acknowledges & celebrates the many different journeys and pathways in to having a family. So, the inspiration started there, I wanted to write something that really celebrated all children and all parents.
The song was produced by @theresponsenz , they did such a beautiful job. I just cried when I first heard it. Some songs have something special about them when they are recorded I can hear them almost as if I didn't write them - when I heard Family back it really spoke to my heart.
It can be found on Spotify and Apple Music and I will be doing a limited run of CDs too as parents seem to be hanging in there for CDs these days, mainly for in the car – haha!
A&A: Describe your creative process when writing a new song
That’s a good question. Songs just kind of tumble out of me. I can’t really explain how…they need to simmer away for a while whilst I go about everyday life and then I get a feeling that a song is ready and will grab my ukulele or guitar and more often than not, it all comes out there and then, melody and chords too, all together, they are birthed – although much less painful than giving birth!! I sometimes go back and tweak but most of the time it stays as it was originally written.
Often, I am inspired by a conversation with someone or by one of my children, plenty of inspo when you are surrounded by children. I will often record on the voice memos on my phone when in the moment so I can remember for later when I have more time to sit and process.
I have returned to writing my ‘adult music’, as I call it…and I had forgotten how different the experience is. It can be quite heavy. I do think sad songs are just as important as happy ones - I love listening to songs that I connect with that allow me to let my emotions out - have a cry.
Writing children’s songs though is living in joy and silliness and fun and laughter, so that’s really nice for my mental health, and the wellbeing of other parents and their kids too.
A&A: You specialise in music for little people – how did this come about?
Just super organically. I have always written music since I was little – it was how I processed the world around me. Then in 2012, I had my first daughter and found myself, often manically at the end of a bed, making up lullabies to get her to sleep!! However, I then released an album of lullabies with a friend, and this took me on a journey in to music for children.
I found a lot of the music out there was quite painful and I really wanted to create some beautiful music for children but also to make music that includes everyone. Words that children could understand and melodies that adults could enjoy too. Hearing from parents that they are still listening to the music in the car after they have dropped the kids off is amazing! So cool!
A&A: What was the role of music in your early years of life?
Music was a real joy to me. I wouldn’t say I came from a musical family; my dad did like to sing but I would raid my parent’s selection and listened to everything from Celine Dion to Michael Jackson. I learnt piano and the sax quite seriously, I wanted to be a classical saxophonist! But I always wrote music. I still remember songs I wrote from when I was 6 or 7 years old. One was about a butterfly and another about caring for the world, really sweet songs. I did think it would be cute to do a ‘from the archives’ collection, although I may have to get some permission from my old school friends that co-wrote them…share the royalties – haha!
A&A: Which skills have you gained that help you perform effectively as a musician – kids can be a tough audience!
I worked with Julie Wylie* and I learnt so much from her about letting children lead a musical experience and about being calm and being present. There seems to be this misconception that you need to be really hyped when you are entertaining children but keeping things simple and really getting a connection with children leads to wonderfully creative and inspiring moments for everyone. When I am performing live, I always let the children set the tone for the performance. Playing real musical instruments, rather than a backing track, means you can pause the song to interact with how the children are interpreting it, connect with how they are feeling about it and that’s when you make magic! Because I write quite simple songs it means the kids can learn them as they are growing up…and the most amazing part is that these children will remember these songs forever…creating the songs of children’s upbringings is so special.
The skills I have learnt by being a parent has helped enormously too, it’s been the best way for me to learn…my children can be quite harsh critics but I’m lucky, they are also super encouraging.
A&A: We see some of your songs have become children’s books also. We are always interested in how one artform can interact with another – how did it feel to see your stories & characters in print form?
It was such a dream of mine and then to see it in reality was so cool. Andy Knopp, the illustrator & who also produces my music – he can do everything - is a great friend of mine and so because we know each other, we work really well as a team and so he was able to get my vision and put it in to a visual form! I love that the books give children something tangible to hold and touch and keep in their homes that becomes special to them. That is really cool.
I would love to do more! Family would make a really good book…
A&A: Tell us about your sense of style and how this is influenced by your career?
I just love fun and colour and comfort – which is hugely influenced by my career. I have quite an eclectic style and tend to dress to my mood. What you wear tells a story and can make you feel a certain way, so I want to communicate a feeling of fun and joy and that is all about colour - especially when I am performing. I think I have definitely started wearing more colour since my career has taken off. I have these pink dungarees with love hearts all over them that I wear when I am performing & I am getting closer & closer to wearing them out in everyday life…
Music with Michal is not a persona, but it is probably an exaggerated version of myself. I definitely find that when I am feeling more tired, I will throw on more colour and pop a bright lippie on, I find it gives you a little bit more energy, or at least it looks like it!
A&A: Following on from this, when you are not in Music for Michal mode – do you dress in the same style?
It definitely changes. When getting dressed I think about where I am going and what I am doing that day, and that will determine what I wear – boho to the beach – dress up for town – I’m hugely influenced by my mood and schedule. I will dress up more when I’m feeling a bit down.
A&A: My mum always says, ‘The worse you feel the brighter the shade”!!
Michal: Yes, the brighter the lip colour definitely!
A&A: What moment in your career are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of winning ‘Best children’s song in NZ’ at the beginning of this year! Especially because I won it with the song, ‘Brave’ which is all about how true bravery comes from having a go and being yourself – it felt extra sweet and special that it was a song that really meant a lot to me.
I think it would also be my two albums and that my kids are singing on them and that they are so involved in what I do is super special. I mean, they have no idea how special it is, knowing a lot of NZ music artists is not normal – haha! And I am totally aware that they may go through an embarrassment phase at some point along the way…!!
A&A: If it wasn’t a career in music – what would you be doing?
Let me think about this…probably some admin job I completely hate! I have just always wanted to do music or maybe it would be film, visual arts…something creative. I really have no idea. Motherhood allowed me to throw myself fully in to music. In my case it really set me on the path I was meant to be on…I feel very grateful to be able to do this. I don’t take it for granted that I get to do what I love!
A&A: Your album 'Summer Days' is out soon how would you sum this up in 5 words or less?
Five words or less????
‘A fun celebration of childhood!’
Michal’s second album, ‘Summer Days’ is out tomorrow, the 10th December.
For bookings & enquiries: www.musicwithmichal.com