What got you interested in music?
Michael Persall: Both my parents are really into music. My dad had a collection of CDs - like thousands of them - and he would have me organize them alphabetically when I was a little kid and I remember I used to hate doing it actually, but it got me familiar with a lot of different artists and he'd have music playing all the time around the house. I tried to play piano when I was a kid and that got me just starting to write my own stuff.
Do you remember the first song you wrote?
I think it was actually a hip hop song. I was really into hip hop growing up and it was terrible, it was a terrible song, but it kind of turned from a poem into me writing a rap song, so I think that's actually the first song I wrote.
Which artists are you influenced by?
Elvis is my all-time favorite artist just because he's, I think, the best showman of all time and he was able to reach a lot of different audiences. I also am really influenced by Otis Redding, just the way he conveyed emotions in his voice when he sang.
Is there anything you're hooked on right now?
I'm really into Wet, I've been listening to them a lot the past couple of weeks. I think they're great; I really like the front girl's voice.
How would you describe your sound?
I think my own sound is a mix between pop and soul. A lot of people like to point out that there's a retro influence to it, especially on this EP, and I have a pretty soulful voice so that association is going to be present regardless, but I think the way I write songs, structurally, they're pretty consistent with the pop genre.
Could you sum up your EP, 400, in one sentence?
It is an exploration into what it's like for me becoming a man and dealing with various relationships.
You just finished 400 shows in one year, what makes for a great live show?
I mean, any time the audience is really engaged it feels like it's a good show but, at the end of the day, that comes back on the artist or the band, where it's your job to make sure the audience is engaged and really loud. I think some of the best shows that I've had have been some of the more intimate ones where maybe they're smaller shows, but the people are there just to listen to the music and they're paying attention to the words you're saying, because I do a lot of songwriter nights and so I like that too, just because I am a writer and I like to write and I put effort into the words I say; it's nice because, a lot of times, when it's a loud show or a big venue, that's kind of secondary for an audience. Other times, people just wanna dance and have fun and party and those ones are also really fun. You kind of have to be able to do both, I think.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you are working on new songs?
Most of it comes from different experiences I've had in my life. Any time I ever feel something, any type of emotion, strongly, I'll try to sit down and put it into words or come up with a chord progression that fits that emotion. It's not all autobiographical, but definitely comes from experiences I've had, friends have had, things I've heard about.
What was the inspiration behind this latest single, "The Move"?
I write a lot of love songs and ballads and I wanted to write something that was more upbeat and fun - so I wanted to write a hook that was easy to sing along to and dance to - and I guess the overall theme of the song is just about how, with people you know, you're held to certain expectations in relationships and sometimes, when you meet somebody for the first time, those expectations aren't there and there's a connection, you don't really have to worry about being judged based off of preconceived ideas of who you are; sometimes, those situations kind of feel more comfortable than the people that you actually know really well.
What do you hope people are able to take away from your music?
I just hope they can relate to it, even if there's any one line that somebody can hear and say, 'oh, I've felt that, I get that,' because, for me, that's the kind of music I like. I like being able to listen to something and relate to it because it makes me feel like other people are out there feeling the same thing, so that's kind of what I try to do.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
I'm going to be putting out the first single of my next project, probably, in mid to late January, and I have a residency at Pianos in February every Wednesday at 10 PM.