By: Gemma Mastroianni
All photos by Megan Moore
Michelle Treacy is a psych-pop/rock artist located in Toronto,ON. Her newest EP, High Heels in the Moshpit, out now on Position Music dropped just a couple of weeks ago. Recorded in her closet, it's the first she has truly felt herself with a new sound: Tame Impala meets Austin Powers. It's a groovy record with some flawless production.
With over 3M Spotify streams to date, her rise to stardom began with an impromptu duet with Lady Gaga during her ArtRave tour. A major label deal soon followed with a 16 week hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in Canada. Treacy then won the second season of CTV’s series The Launch, and released singles like "Armageddon” and “Emotional”.
We are beyond stoked to have her as our September artist of the month. Check out my interview below:
I’ve interviewed you a few times now and I've asked you, ‘when have you started playing music?’, and you always say right out of the womb, but obviously you didn't. So, when did you really start singing and playing music?
You think I'm lying, but I'm not. For real, out of the womb. The earliest video of me singing I was three and I was singing “Oops, I did it again” in my hallway. When I say I've been doing it my entire life, I meant it. Was I singing before that? Probably...
I did every single talent show from grade one to grade 12, except for maybe one. All the coffee houses, any time I could perform, I was performing every singing competition, which I never won. It made me learn how to perform with a band and how to be on stage, so that's why my favourite part of this all is being on stage because I just feel at home because it's everything I know.
My family used to help me make my costumes and glue stuff together for me, and my brother used to help me with my choreography, which is really funny when you think about it. I just literally played everything I possibly could.
Professionally speaking, it was pretty much after Gaga. I got signed to a management agency when I was 16, and then I was just about to turn 18 in 16 days, and that's when I sung with Gaga. I put out a song and then had some others with some labels in Canada, and then it took off from there. So the Gaga thing was definitely my biggest starting point.
Then you were saying when you were younger, you did a lot of competitions but didn’t win, did you ever feel defeated from that?
Oh my God, yes. I was sad every single time I was like, ‘What is wrong with me? Why Can't I Win?"
It's really funny because now I look back and I'm like, ‘Oh, those little competitions didn't mean anything!’ The people who were judging the competitions weren't even qualified. It's like some random person off the street that they hired to be there and judge these kids. It's crazy.
What encouraged you to keep going? Was it the support from your family and friends?
It pissed me off, and I was like, let me show these people what they're missing, 'cause clearly they're not getting it and one day they're gonna go, ‘Oops, I should have got it back then.’
I was always the outcast, I was a loser, I was bullied so badly in school, and I just wanted to prove everybody who didn't believe in me wrong, and I wanted to be the last person laughing.
That lit a fire in my ass because I thought I deserved better. I went and I worked my ass off and got what I wanted.
You obviously have a lot of experience with labels from a young age. What is one piece of advice you could give to artists who might be in conversations with labels?
Know who you are. Have your music and persona together already and go to a label only if you need to because sometimes you don't need. Some people think that labels are gonna make them famous, but it's not that at all. The good part about labels is that they can help you financially, and they have good connections to radio and such. But if you're trying to get with a label because you want to be famous, it's not going to work out for you like that.
I know a lot of people who are like, ‘I just wanna be famous and get signed.’ It's like, it's a whole other ball game. Once you're signed, the real work starts and you have to work ten times harder than you're already working, and you also have to work on being seen in the label and being taken seriously because they could forget about your project and move on to the next great thing that's happening that day.
Obviously, your persona has changed a lot from when you first started. Tell me about that.
When I first started out I was an angsty teen, so the darkness was where I lived. After lots of soul searching, removing bad people from my life and finding myself again, I just wanted to be this pretty lady thing, and it was ‘Time off from a Letdown’ which lead into this hippie era in a gentle way, I felt gentle and feminine. Now the EP is very happy.
I think this is always who I was meant to be, and I feel like I am both part male and female in my brain, and a lot of my clothing choices stand out and are different and showcase both of those sides. I feel free, I don't have anyone telling me what to wear, what to do, I'm just doing what I feel I am. And I feel like there's a lot of room for that because of social media, and I see people that wear clothes like I do, and I feel good that there's a community of this art, kind of fashionable art fashion. I think it's so cool.
What is cool about all of your personas though, is that they're both rebellious in their own way. Visually, very different, but they're still kind of both the same at heart because they are rebellious.
What tips would you have for an artist trying to define their persona or to make their look pop?
Make a Pinterest board. Figure out, what do you wanna look like? What do you wanna wear? What are your colours? What would you say?
I wanted to be a hippie six years ago and it wasn't cool, but I was still doing it, it was so hard to find bell bottoms, now you can find them everywhere. Everybody's into the 70s!
I would say just, if you have it in your heart that you want be this person or that person, just go with your gut. That's the thing that people usually don't do, nobody trusts their gut anymore, and I don't understand why. My gut has never steered me wrong.
So for this EP, tell me a bit about what it means to you.
This is the first EP I've ever written where I have no agenda and no one to tell me what to do. I literally recorded it from my closet, and it's the first time that I felt certain about who I am and where I'm going. It’s about feeling free and not caring what other people think, but I also wanted to inspire other artists to step out of their comfort zone and write some weird stuff.
Is there a song on there that sticks out to you the most?
“Love Every Minute”, it actually almost didn't make the record. I remember a couple of weeks before we were wrapping it, I was trying to fight for the song. I got to say how I wanted the chorus to be produced which was really fun, and the whole writing process for every song was super different and super fun, and some songs were rewritten five times. ‘Hustler Baby’ was first titled ‘Sunshine baby.’
Lenny produced everything in LA, but then he sent it to Philly for these guys to re-record all the instrumentation to tracks. So it's very authentic, 60s, 70s. I love it, I'm happy and I'm excited to do more in this space because I feel like no one's really doing it like this right now, not that it matters, but I just feel like it's where I belong.
Who are a few artists you are drawing inspiration from right now? Instrumentally and visually?
Semi-Precious Weapons, Austin Powers for visuals, Tame Impala, Janice Joplin and more.
You often express a lot of excitement and gratitude about your experience recording from home. What are some tips you can give for recording music from your closet?
Make sure you insulate it properly you can buy those foam pads for the walls for $20 on Amazon. Those are important.
It gets really hot in there, so I get naked. Also when I first started recording from home, I literally could have just pulled everything out of the wall and thrown it out the window. I was so upset, it was so daunting and difficult and I just could not figure it out. I didn't even know how to make sound come through Logic. A year and a half later now, everything is so easy.
When you get fed up and you want to throw everything out, remember that I thought that too, and then I put a whole record out and it sounds great. So you just gotta keep going.
Amazing, and do you have any final words about the EP or what you want people to take from it?
I hope that everybody gets naked and listens to the EP on repeat.