The Kaje talks happiness to Ingrid Michaelson

Ingrid Michaelson is happy again. That much is apparent from her latest release, the sensational “Human Again”. Having clearly hit a low-point during the pre-production period of 2009’s strangely uplifting “Everybody”, “Human Again” sees Michaelson return to record with open eyes and a new found optimism. With lead single “Blood Brothers” a statement about human interaction, here at The Kaje  we have fallen head over heels with the touching introspection of “Ghost”. With such diversity of subject matter covered, we caught up with Ingrid Michaelson to found out what has triggered her new approach to composing her material.

It has been a few years between albums, but the general tone this time feels very different. While “Everbody” was a very personal break-up record, “Human Again” feels a lot broader in its subject matter. Was this a conscious decision?

That is basically what happened. I got married last year, so I met the love of my life a few years ago, I think that influenced my writing. With my previous records, whether they are break up records or not, they may have had happy undertones, with the music being happy, it was always me feeling sad, wanting to be happy again. This record is me having been through the darkness, having had the pain and now I am coming out the other side and I am ok. Even the songs that are from the present point of view, there is always a glimmer of hope at the end. I think I just have a more positive outlook on love than I had in the past. That is kind of where the title came from, it is that feeling of being whole again, not feeling empty anymore. It is a celebratory record for me in so many ways.

Given that your compositions are deeply personal, do you ever look back at a song and wish you had not said something so publicly?

I am thinking about it now and I am cringing. The very first record I ever wrote, which I took off iTunes, I just hate it. I was so young and I had just got out of school for musical theatre, so it was very theatre-y. So there are a few songs that I wish I had not written, more than a few probably. It is like looking back at photographs, seeing a hairstyle you had in the 80s and being embarrassed by it. It is just evolution, we change and we find bits embarrassing. I can take it down off iTunes but it is still going to be in the ether. People will still get it. There is no way I can erase my past work. The idea is to just keep it in the present, to keep creating things you like. It all comes out in the wash.

Are you ever surprised by how a song is received?

I think the public make the song in to what they want it to be. One of my songs, “Be Ok”, is incredibly sad when you listen to the lyrics, but everyone says that is the happiest song in the world. They say it is about being ok, but I tell them it is about needing to be ok, it is about being so broken down and sad. But people will see what they want to see, they transform it, and that is the great thing about music and the great thing about art. It is great, but maybe also egotistical, you take it and see it how you want to see it and you let it affect you how you want it to effect it. While I do feel that I am “baring my soul”, I never feel nervous.

At the very beginning, when I decided to be a singer/songwriter, I was scared as I knew I was going to be singing about my emotions and if people don’t like it, then they really don’t like me. But at this moment, I don’t feel anything that other people don’t feel, I am just saying it. If half the people hate it, then fine, half the people will love it. I don’t care about that anymore, I just say what I want to say now.

Would you ever be tempted to return to your Musical Theatre  roots?

It would have to be a certain kind of musical theatre, because a lot of it is so funny to me now. It is so strange to just break out in song. But certain musicals are pretty rad. I went to see “Peter and the Starcatcher” in New York, it just got a load of Tony Awards, it’s sort of a musical. It is just so interesting and amazingly well done, that I would love to be part of something like that.

I would also like to explore elements of writing. I wrote a pilot with a friend of mine and we are in talks about getting a full pilot produced. The acting thing is definitely there, but the musical thing, I am not sure as it just feels so disconnected. I think it is because I come from a singer/songwriter world where I am singing about my heart, so to go and pretend and sing someone else’s words might seem a little odd to me. Then to break out into a dance would be even odder.

You must have written a wealth of material over the years, how do you decide what warrants release?

I have a team of people around me who help. My producer, David Kahn, he was one of my team mates, my manager, my A&R guy at my label, my friends, my band mates. I just try to surround myself with people that I trust. There are some songs I did not want on the record that made it, and some I did want on the record that didn’t.  But I am in the middle of it, so it is really hard for me to separate myself from them, so I do need other people to step in and help. We came up with the perfect amount and looking back now, six months later, I am really happy with the songs that made it and those that didn’t.

“Human Again” is out now.

Interview and Photographs by Jeremy Williams.

NEWS: Ghost The Musical opens in Manchester prior to West End run

Prior to a West End run opening summer 2011, Ghost The Musical will have a strictly limited 7 week season at the Opera House, Manchester, running from 28 March – 14 May 2011.  Public booking for the Manchester season will open on 10 September 2010. 

Matthew Warchus’ production of the Academy award winning film Ghost has music and lyrics by Grammy® award winning Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard. Oscar® winning Bruce Joel Rubin will adapt his original screen play for the stage and write lyrics. Set and costumes designs are by Rob Howell, musical supervision and arrangements by Christopher Nightingale, illusions are by Paul Kieve, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Simon Baker.

Casting and further details for the West End run will be announced shortly.

A timeless fantasy about the power of love, Sam is trapped as a ghost between this world and the next trying to communicate with his girlfriend Molly through a phoney psychic in the hope of saving her from his murderer. Ghost, based on the Oscar winning Paramount pictures film, will feature new music and lyrics as well as the classic Unchained Melody.

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film of 1990, Ghost won numerous awards worldwide and is one of the biggest grossing films in the UK.  It starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg and was directed by Jerry Zucker.   Bruce Joel Rubin’s script won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Whoopi Goldberg won the Oscar® for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.  The film’s iconic love scene at a potter’s wheel was famously performed to The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody.

Dave Stewart has built a repertoire of remarkable songs that have been performed by some of the most influential musicians of our time.  In 1999 Stewart, along with his Eurythmics partner Annie Lennox, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Brit Awards having sold over 75 million albums with hits like Here Comes The Rain Again, Who’s That Girl, Would I Lie To You, Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves (with Aretha Franklin) and Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).  Stewart was recently presented with the Legend in Songwriting award from the City of Hope, and has collaborated, both as a songwriter and producer, with several of today’s biggest stars in music.  Stewart recently released Dave Stewart Songbook, Vol. 1, that includes his hits with Tom Petty (Don’t Come Around Here No More), No Doubt (Underneath It All), Mick Jagger (Old Habits Die Hard) which won a Golden Globe for Best Song in the film Alfie and Celine Dion (Taking Chances).  In his new capacity as Nokia’s Change Agent, Stewart is charged with leading the Artists Advisory Committee which ensures the artist’s point of view is represented in the “new world.”  In conjunction with his company, Weapons of Mass Entertainment, Stewart is poised to rethink, reshape and reinvent music, film, television, books, theatre, new media and eventually the entire creative process.

Six-time Grammy® award winner Glen Ballard is one of popular music’s most accomplished producers/songwriters and arrangers.  He has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, and has worked with a diverse array of the finest singers and artists in the business, from Aretha Franklin to Van Halen and Aerosmith to Michael Jackson.  One of Ballard’s biggest successes involved chart-topping, multi platinum album Jagged Little Pill (33 million worldwide, four Grammys –including Album of the Year) which Ballard co-wrote and produced for Alanis Morissette, and was named Best Album of the Decade (1990s) by Billboard magazine.  Ballard has most recently had success writing hit songs for film, including the Grammy® winning and Oscar® nominated Believe for Polar Express, Ordinary Miracle for Charlotte’s Web, and A Hero Comes Home for Beowulf.

Bruce Joel Rubin won an Academy Award for his original screenplay, Ghost.  He has written numerous other screenplays including Jacob’s Ladder, Deep Impact, Stuart Little 2, The Last Mimzy and, most recently, The Time Traveller’s Wife.  He also wrote and directed My Life.  Rubin graduated New York University in 1965 where he majored in motion picture production and direction.  He was an assistant film editor at NBC news in the mid-sixties and hitch-hiked around the world in 1966-67.  He was also Curator of Film at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York where he helped establish a program called The New American Filmmakers Series.  In addition to his film career, Rubin has been a student and teacher of meditation for the past forty years.

International Theatre Director Matthew Warchus’ many theatre credits include La Bête which is currently running at the Comedy Theatre prior to a Broadway transfer, Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests for the Old Vic – which he also directed on Broadway, God of Carnage  in the West End and on Broadway, Boeing-Boeing in the West End, on tour in the UK and on Broadway, where it won a Tony for Best Revival, Endgame at the Albery Theatre, the multi award-winning Art in London, on Broadway and in Los Angeles, True West for the Donmar Warehouse, The Unexpected Man and Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Buried Child, Life x 3 and Volpone for the National Theatre.  In addition he has directed the following musicals – Tell Me on a Sunday, Our House  – which won the Olivier Award for Best Musical – and The Lord of the Rings in the West End and Follies on Broadway.  His opera productions include Cosi Fan Tutte, Falstaff for English National Opera and Troilus and Cressida for Opera North.

Stage and screen illusionist Paul Kieve’s many theatre credits include The Lord of the Rings and The Witches of Eastwick both at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Our House at the Cambridge Theatre, Theatre of Blood for the National Theatre, Scrooge at the London Palladium, The Invisible Man at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and in the West End and Improbable Theatre Company’s Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith.  On film his work includes Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  As well as extensive opera and dance credits, Kieve is a consultant to Derren Brown and David Copperfield and a member of the Magic Circle.

Dates                                        28 March – 14 May 2011
Address                                      Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester M3 3HP
Performance schedule                 
Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm, Thursday & Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
first Thursday matinee on 21 April at 2.30pm
extra matinees Tuesdays 19 & 26 April at 2.30pm
Access performance                     captioned performance Saturday 7 May at 2.30pm
Box Office                                  0844 847 2295
Ticket prices                            £17.50 – £43.50, plus concessions  

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