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(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #126: Michael Blume

 
By on Tuesday, 25th April 2017 at 11:00 am
 

On the Friday morning of SXSW 2017, Mary and I were invited to attend the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch on the lawn of the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin. “Progressive r&b” singer Michael Blume was the change-up pitch in the middle of the Acoustic Brunch lineup, shaking things up after a pair of performances by country artists Devin Dawson and Caitlyn Smith, and setting the stage for pop-centric acts Brayton Bowman and Morgxn.

Following Blume’s intense, riveting set on the otherwise mellow Acoustic Brunch, we asked him to answer a post-festival version of our (SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions via e-mail. Read his replies below to find out about his SXSW experience, his plans for the immediate future, and the academic background that makes Michael Blume unique among his fellow SXSW 2017 showcasing acts.

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Progressive, soulful, honest.

Was this your first time at SXSW? Were you nervous / excited / anxious about it? Did the festival live up to your expectations?
This was my first time!  I was excited to check it out after hearing so much – it was cool and definitely was something I could not understand until I experienced it firsthand!

Name something you had packed in your suitcase for the trip to Austin that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
Two steamers – one for my voice and one for my clothing.

What were some of the fun tourist/sight-seeing things you did in Austin during SXSW?
After we finished all the gigs, I stayed to hang for a day with a friend of mine who lives in Austin. He took me to this beautiful creek, and we swam and laid out in the sun. It was a very Mark Twain moment, and I lived.

Did you get the chance to see any other bands or artists play during SXSW? Who were your favourites?
I actually didn’t get to see as much music as I would have liked – I was pretty wiped by the end of the day.  But I did catch a part of the Chloe x Halle set at The Fader Fort and those girls can singggggg.

If we had run into you in a downtown Austin bar, we’d have offered to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
I’m not a big drinker!  Maybe a little champagne, but I’m tipsy after 1 or 2 sips.

What was your favourite album from the last year and why?
Definitely have more than one – one that comes to mind right now is James Blake ‘The Colour in Anything’.  I love his use of minimal lyric with complex textures.

What are your post-SXSW plans? Any touring, recording, other activities on the horizon?
I am working on my debut full length album!!! I am in the studio all day, everyday these days and I am running there right now actually.  Album comes out this summer and I am playing Governor’s Ball, Firefly, and Lollapalooza festivals! [You can find a list of Blume’s upcoming live dates on his official Web site. – CC]

Now, onto our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
1st grade choir!!

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘As’ by Stevie Wonder.

What song makes you laugh?
‘Work it’ by Missy Elliot.

What song makes you cry?
‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ by Harry Chapin.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)

I’ve never fallen in love.  Check my upcoming album for more details on that one. [If that doesn’t pique your curiosity, nothing will! – CC]

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Aretha Franklin ‘Amazing Grace’. The whole album is my go-to find myself, calm down, have a moment with the universe album.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
HA!  This is a funny question.  I mean . . . probably Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You.’

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Definitely can’t narrow this to one . . . James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Cultural Studies professor. [This is no joke; I’ve read that Blume studied at Yale. – CC]

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
Aretha Franklin, ‘Amazing Grace Live’.

Special thanks to Jodie for arranging this e-mail q&a. You can read our archive of Quickfire Questions and their answers, including a load of them with artists who showcased at SXSW 2017, through this link.

 

SXSW 2017: Friday morning at the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch – 17th March 2017

 
By on Thursday, 13th April 2017 at 3:00 pm
 

Mary and I started our Friday morning at the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch on the spacious lawn of the Four Seasons Hotel. The weather was overcast and a bit windy, but still nice enough to enjoy a lovely outdoor breakfast, and turnout was high for the showcase. I suppose, technically speaking, the brunch show wasn’t fully acoustic, as it required an electronic keyboard. But the morning’s bill did feature six up-and-coming singer/songwriters who could easily adapt to that style of stripped-back performance when the moment required it.

Vera Blue

Once the guests had gotten a chance to take advantage of the sprawling brunch buffet, the stage was set for the first artist on the bill, Australia’s Vera Blue. Vera Blue is the new project of Sydney folk artist Celia Pavey, who started her career as typical girl-with-guitar folk singer. Pavey has now expanded her sound to include a heavier mix of instrumentation, including bass grooves and electronica. Her Acoustic Brunch set was necessarily scaled back, but her sultry vocals and folk-tinged melodies were more than enough to captivate the audience’s attention. Check out the fully realised version of ‘Private’ just below. [Vera Blue is a recent signee to Capitol Records. – Ed.]

Devin Dawson

Nashville singer Devin Dawson has a definite twang in his vocals, but also enough raw edge and smooth charm to appeal to those who might normally shy away from mainstream country. His recent singles ‘All On Me’ and ‘I Don’t Care Who Sees’ were among the slow-burning highlights of his solo acoustic set.

Caitlyn Smith

Fellow country singer singer Caitlyn Smith is already a well-known name in American songwriting circles, having composed songs with the likes of Garth Brooks and Meghan Trainor. In a nod to that aspect of her talents, Smith performed an acoustic version of ‘Like I’m Gonna Lose You’, made famous by Trainor and John Legend, on her brunch set here. But her rich vocals were best highlighted in the muscular ballad ‘Before You Called Me Baby’, from her own recently released ‘Starfire’ EP.

Michael Blume internal

If anyone in the brunch crowd was still sleepy at that point, soulful r&b singer Michael Blume most definitely woke them up. His defiantly powerful songs force you to sit up and take notice, with silky vocals and bold rhythms defining their sound and brash commentary on political and social issues permeating their lyrics. In live performance, Blume’s charisma and massive stage presence were undeniable. His EP ‘When I Get It Right’ was released last July; have a listen to breakout track ‘Colors’ just below.

Brayton Bowman

Pop/r&b singer Brayton Bowman was equally brash and equally charming, and perhaps even more viscerally effective. His flashy vocal stylings and intensely personal lyrics were captivating, and his easy banter between songs only drew his listeners further in. His recently dropped autobiographical mixtape ’22 Minutes Later’ features standout track ‘The Second I’m Rich’, which you can sample right here.

Morgxn

The final performer on the Acoustic Brunch show was electropop songwriter Morgxn, whose brilliant blue hairdo was only upstaged by his rendition of smouldering single ‘Love You With the Lights On’. Keep an eye out for his latest track ‘XX’, due out tomorrow, the 14th of April. I didn’t get the chance to chat with Morgxn myself on the day, but you can hear his insightful interview with Austin Underground right here.

Special thanks to Jodie for her assistance with this review. Stay tuned to TGTF for post-SXSW 2017 question-and-answer sessions with Michael Blume, Brayton Bowman and Morgxn in the coming days. For an up-close perspective on the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch, featuring interview clips with the artists, take a look at the video below, courtesy of BMI.

 
 
 

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