So, back in April, two days after Lemonade dropped, I wrote a tweet comparing the iconic sixth albums of Mariah, Janet and Beyoncé — Butterfly, The Velvet Rope, and Lemonade. Since then, the comparisons and likeness between those three albums both thematically and within my own life have been running through my mind. One result of that is the brainchild that I happily present to you today, which of course could not have come to fruition without the help of rising indie singer-songwriter, AlanMichael.
Not long after I sent that tweet, Alan and I had a chat about producing a mash-up that combined a song from each of those albums into one, original cover containing elements of each of the three different songs. After deliberating which songs would work best together, we finally settled on Beyoncé’s “Pray You Catch Me” — but you’ll have to listen to the cover to hear the Mariah and Janet choices. Our original plan was to find a singer to sing it… and some weeks (err– two months) went by before anything happened. Last week, Alan surprised me with a demo of the mash-up. He perfected it over the course of the week and finally we are ready to share it with you all:
I hope that AlanMichael’s cover makes you want to hear more from him, because he is a great artist with an immense amount of talent. He recently released an awesome EP, Honeymoon Motel, via soundcloud – and if you liked his mash-up, you should definitely check out. So that you can learn more about AlanMichael, his EP, and the creative process that went into both that and his cover, I interviewed him for y’all!
Vincent: So for our readers who’ve only listened to our mash-up, describe yourself and your sound in one sentence. Go!
AlanMichael: I can do you one better and use one word: ambitious.
True, indeed, after taking on the challenge I gave you… but more on that later. First – Your EP. Naturally, it’s short, but still manages to have a pretty tight, closely-knit concept. Is that something that is important for you as an artist, to create conceptual works?
Yes and no. I’ve always been a fan of concept albums, so I wanted to try my hand at it. Overall, though, it all just depends on what I’m inspired by at the time or how I’m feeling with the music that I may be recording at the time. The concept for Honeymoon Motel actually happened subconsciously. It wasn’t until after I wrote and recorded each song that I realized it was a bit conceptual. The first song I recorded for the EP was “Paradise”, which was completely freestyled. This actually isn’t my first concept project though. Earlier this year, I gave away a little mini mixtape I originally made for my girlfriend called A.M. Mixtape, which told the story of the very beginning of our relationship. Honeymoon Motel, is kind of the next phase of that. Its the “Honeymoon” phase I guess.
It’s clear that a number of different sounds and inspirations went into the creation of your EP musically – can you tell us about what those were? Was it a conscious effort or something organic?
Each song, except for “Midnight” was produced by a guy named Matt ‘Nastyjazz” Mathie. I was on soundcloud and came across his music and he had the instrumentals up. I sent him a message asking him if I could use them and he was cool with it. He was very pleased and surprised by how it turned out.
Lyrically, there is a lot of storytelling going on here, and it seems like it all comes from a personal place. Is that important to you, to tell personal stories in your music?
YES! I absolutely love storytelling within songs. With this EP, each song is definitely from a very personal place. I usually tend to write songs with double meaning, so you’re getting a story, but if you listen closely there’s something much deeper in there. For instance, “RM. 15” on the surface, sounds like the song is about having wild sex in a hotel room, when its really about the beauty of getting to know and exploring someone mentally; listening to their deepest thoughts and wanting to know their secrets and dreams.
Do you have a favorite song on the EP?
Lyrically, I would have to say that my favorite is “Morning Sex & Macarons”. I love that song for various reasons. It’s not your typical format for a song. Its an intro, one long verse, and then the hook. Its one of theist songs I’ve written so far.
The French, or American (coconut) kind? We must know…
The French kind.
Good answer! Another obvious talking point from your EP (for us) — the “Midnight” interlude is actually a cover of Janet’s “That’s the Way Love Goes”? Why did you choose that song for the interlude, and why title it “Midnight”? Was it a nod to Janet’s “Morning” interlude that precedes the song on her janet. album?
I knew you would pick up on that! Absolutely! Anyone that knows me, knows that I am one of the biggest Janet Jackson fans ever. Her janet. album was a big influence on this EP. I almost went with “Go Deep” from her Velvet Rope album, but something just felt right about “That’s The Way Love Goes”. The janet. album is such a sexy record, and it just fit. I tweeted it to Jimmy Jam and he favorited it nearly causing me to pass out. I hope he liked what heard. Just the thought of Janet hearing it makes me nervous.
I’m sure she’ll love it. So, ultimately, what do you hope the takeaway will be from your EP, for listeners? Is it a preview of what’s next? What is next for you?
I just want people to enjoy it honestly. It’s just a little something for the summer time. I’m actually planning on doing a few shows. I can’t wait to perform these songs! I’ve been in rehearsals with my band and its sounding so damn good. The EP live is gonna be a completely different vibe. It will still have the same elements and feel, but amplified. I’m also working on new music. I don’t like to stick with one sound so it will be different from Honeymoon Motel. More uptempo. We’re gonna dance with the new stuff.
Can you tell us more about the new sound? Any collaborators in mind?
I have one collaboration in the works but I can’t say who just yet. I’m playing around with different sounds but it’s gonna feel good I can tell you that.
I can’t wait! So, when I approached you with the idea of this mash-up and once we settled upon which songs would be used in it, how did you go about melding these three songs together? What was the hardest part? What was the easiest part?
I wanted to keep the instrumentation simple and not to over powering so I could focus more so on the melody. I really wanted to have a good base for it, so I figured I would use “Pray You Catch Me” as the foundation. The way it goes into the second verse fit so effortlessly with Janet’s “I Get Lonely”. It took me a minute to figure out how to fit Mariah’s “Breakdown” in there, but once I did, it worked.
What would you say to any member of the Beyhive, Lambily or JanFam that listens to your mash-up? How would you persuade them to listen to your music and hopefully become a fan of yours?
All three of those groups don’t play when it comes to their faves. At all. I just want them to enjoy the mash-up for what it is. A lot of people like to pick apart things instead of enjoying music for what it is. So yeah, enjoy it and if you like what you hear, then please feel free to listen to Honeymoon Motel! You won’t be disappointed.
Finally — and, I’ll leave this entirely up to you and not feed you anything to jog your memory — but when you think of 1997 in music, what songs, albums, or artists come to mind as being the most essential?
I was 7 in 1997. To me, that was just it for music. I remember still playing TLC’s CrazySexyCool album… a group of girls performed Destiny’s Child’s “No, No, No” at the talent show during summer camp and that’s when I became a fan. My mom would blast Brandy every morning with the sunroof down on her red Nissan. I would instantly dance to Michael Jackson. I was introduced to Missy, Aaliyah, Timbaland, and the Bad Boy family. I got in trouble for playing a Lil’ Kim song. It was also right on the cusp of the big pop outbreak with Britney, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys….so it was cool to see all of the unfold and really set the mold for most artists today.
It was definitely a great time for music indeed. Thanks, Alan, for the awesome mash-up! We hope our readers take a listen to your EP and whatever else is to come! 🙂 Head over to ItsAlanMichael.com for more information, and follow him on Twitter.