Interview: Michael Bernard Fitzgerald
AS PREVIOUSLY SEEN ON ANCHOR SHOP-November 6, 2014
Your new album, YES explores genres as diverse as pop and rock all the way to Motown. Do you ever find it difficult to blend genres when writing? Also what draws you to those particular sounds and was it a conscious decision to include them?
Michael Bernard Fitzgerald: I don’t find it particularly difficult to genre hop. We don’t particularly set out to have a record have a specific sound. I like different vocals sound, or horns, or drums; I love all of those instruments. So, I like to have it all make its way in there somehow.
I know that most artists typically try and brush off reviews, but being that YES also happens to be your debut album and your first step into the spotlight in a way, I imagine it can be kind of intimidating. Do you ever feel anxious about releasing new music into the world? How do you best respond to criticism (both good and bad)?
MBF: I’ve had my music put out before, which kind of helped to set the stage for when I could start to tour the country, so in that regard, I’ve dealt with reviews on and off. But I guess the best way to survive a review is to not let the good ones get to you because then you’ll just subject yourself to just that. I’m looking forward to making new music again, so I’ll get to go through that whole process again. The thing is, I put my heart out there with my music so I don’t get so nervous with it anymore. It’s actually a process I look forward to.
I understand that you travelled to Australia after high school to do some soul searching. Did traveling abroad impact your sound in any way? Were there any particular inspirations you drew?
MBF: I’m actually not really sure what “soul searching” even means [laughs]! I went there and it was fun. I was basically living on a boat and it was my first time writing with an acoustic guitar. I was 18 and on my own, so it was a great time to experience a lot of things, and luckily the guitar was one of them. So when I got back to Canada, I just jumped right back into the music making process again.
You’ve toured with some pretty incredible acts including K-OS, Third Eye Blind, and Lights. While on the road, did you ever ask or get any key pieces of advice from them that you still take with you?
MBF: Actually, out of all of those names you listed, Lights is one that really sticks in my mind. She is one of the nicest individuals I’ve worked with and is as low key and kind as it gets. So in doing a bunch of dates with her, there was a lot of learning along the way. Whether it was from the way she treats her crew, to how things get accomplished each night. And in having someone who I could see have great fun, and witness her humble fan base, she was certainly the kind of person you’d want to be in the world of entertainment. This business is very ‘monkey see monkey do’, so you want to learn off people in a good way. I mean, I didn’t sit down and have a Q&A session with her every night, but there were times I got to hang on her bus and be around the team. There’s a lot you can pick up on everyday from travelling with people like that.
You’re on tour currently. What is your live show like? When performing the new record, are there particular elements of your live show that you do differently than in the studio?
MBF: Our live shows are BORING [laughs]! No, I’m kidding. It’s funny you bring this up cause I was just playing on CTV and I was dressed in all black, and I faced the back wall and did kind of this booty-centric kind of dance and it was enchanting but entrancing, and they didn’t know what to make of it. Seriously though, it’s just a low-key night. This time around I have this wonderful band that has two drummers and a bass player so there’s a lot of room to dance to that.
In terms of live versus the record, we do some things from the record, for sure, but when you play the same songs so many times you like to hear them differently, so I like to add different instruments and stuff like that. Live shows are always evolving, and it’s the best time to experiment with stuff like that.