The Shy Ghost: CM Interviews Ingrid Michaelson

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We’ve all taken blows in the relationship world. If only we could channel the heartbreak as productively as Ingrid Michaelson. She uses it to, well, write hit songs.
 
This is the moment we have all been waiting for—the new Ingrid Michaelson album, Human Again, was released on January 24 and has been intriguing fans while increasing the suspense for this characteristically impactful artist.
 
 

Breaking the Mold

 
Her single "Ghost," according to Michaelson, allowed her to experiment with the liberation of her own voice. “I sang a lot more on this record,” she said. “I sang like I do live, only we captured it on record.”
 
The album differs form her other albums, even including its effect on Michaelson. She explained, “I think opening up vocally forced me to open up mentally too. So the record feels a lot bigger in scope, lyrically too.”
 
Inspirations for this folksy pop star include Katie Herzig, Bon Iver, Jesca Hoop and Lady Gaga, who Michaelson says encourages her to broaden her talents, “I love anyone who steps outside of what people expect of them. That is inspiration to me.”
 
This value of eccentricity and outgoingness was echoed in her own college experience. Michaelson received a theater degree from Binghamton University and was a member of the Binghamtonics, a co-ed acapella group. She also participated in an improv comedy group called Pappy Parker Players.
 
 

The Meaning Behind the Music

 

Michaelson’s songs relate to any failed relationship, especially the intensity of those we experience in college. Her favorite song on the album is called “Black and Blue.” “It’s about being smashed up by love,” Michaelson said. Sure enough, the song is the perfect background for the effortless mind wandering of dump-ees and almost-theres.

Even if you’re not the break-up song type, don’t turn off the iPod just yet; take a listen to the next track titled “Ribbons,” which Michaelson admitted, speaks best for her as an individual. “I have been promised many things that never happened. I am happier when the only promises I listen to are my own.”
 
Although the title “Ribbons” might seem delicate, her song “Ghost” paints a different image, literally. The word was painted on her chest for the single’s cover artwork. The song claims, “You know you make me a ghost.” Michaelson explained, “I just felt like writing a song about being a shell of ourselves after being left.”
 
        
The theme of Michaelson’s music is clear: her songwriting is powerfully driven by her experience with relationships. She even confessed, “It’s all I write about! For the most part. I am not an expert in anything but relationships so I feel most qualified to write about that.”
 
After all, as we have all heard in perhaps Michaelson’s most popular single “Be Ok,” she is “a gallery of broken hearts.” Thus, we have to ask the expert: what is Michaelson’s best relationship advice? “Listen and don’t hold back and ‘I’m sorry’ if you are wrong,” she remarked.
 


The Real Ingrid


In fact, Michaelson has rarely had help with her songwriting. “I have only co-written two songs that I have performed,” she said. “Those are ‘Parachute’ with Marshall Altman, and ‘Winter Song’ with Sara Bareilles.”
 
Since their work together, Michaelson and Bareilles have come to be close friends. “I adore her,” Michaelson commented. “We work very well together. I respect her ideas and I think her voice is one of the finest I have heard.”
 
Michaelson’s simplicity and down-to-earth personality shine through her songs. When she is not busy generating and playing her radiant music, Michaelson likes to do normal things like hang out at home and cook. She described her other hobby as a passion, “I love to bake. Almost as much as I love to make music. Almost.”
 
In fact, some may be surprised to know that Michaelson is actually very shy. “I enjoy being home much more than out at a bar or at a concert,” she says. As Twitter, Facebook, and basically every discussion forum flares up with the release of her latest album, keep this originality in mind as she explains to listeners her return to being Human Again.
 

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