Recently, we had the great fortune of catching up with Michelle Stodart, following the release of her debut solo album Wide-Eyed Crossing. We talked to her about the new record, handling life as a solo artist and as a member of The Magic Numbers, and her choice to go country…
Firstly, how does it feel to have your own solo album out there?
It feels pretty terrifying if I’m completely honest… I’m really excited that it’s out there now for everyone to hear and enjoy. I’ve been dreaming about this for a long time. So I’m back and forth between ecstatic and completely terrified.
How would you describe your sound for those who aren’t familiar with it?
There are country influences in there with pedal steel, banjo & some fiddle. But some songs are very sparse and intimate – they’re meant to make you feel as if you’re in the room whilst listening. For me : I’d say it’s something that holds onto you so tightly that you can’t escape it, at times barely breath, Very personal, fragile and warm.
You are still the bass player for The Magic Numbers, but was it always your plan to go solo?
I wouldn’t say it was a plan as such… I’ve always written songs and dreamt about recording an album of them. But I held onto the recordings for a long while before I decided it was time for a bit of closure and set them free.
How did you find the transition from a successful, platinum-selling band to a solo project? Is it more nerve-racking being on stage alone?
It was really un-nerving going it alone. I didn’t know what people’s expectation or reservations would be. But I think I’ve caught the bug for it now… I’d definitely like to release more albums after this.
And it’s been good for me – I’ve been really hands on with everything, releasing this album on my label ‘Keepsake records’ I’m learning lots. It’s a very different world out there at the moment in music.
How do you find the balance between your band and solo careers?
Really fun… At the moment I’m in two amazing bands! I get to rock out on the bass (which I love playing) in The Magic Numbers & play the acoustic and sing my songs in the other – whilst having entirely different experiences in both. Plus the guys in the band have all been really supportive towards my endeavours.
Your previous work isn’t hugely country or folk based, what made you want to go in this direction?
I grew up on Country music, and this has always, played a huge part in my song writing from a very early age. Playing the guitar is very different to the bass. My style of guitar playing is very much based around finger picking. So the songs just naturally lent themselves in that direction… which I’m pleased with the outcome.
Do you come from a musical background?
My mum used to be a singer in Trinidad (where we were born). We’d always have music in the house, from my uncle playing all his old vinyl to my granny singing songs on the piano, music played a background to our lives growing up.
Who are your biggest influences?
I always find myself listening to a lot of singer songwriters: Joni Mitchell, Ryan Adams, Emmy Lou Harris, Neil Young, Nick Drake Gillian Welch, Shelby Lynne, Bjork etc… and then bands like Radiohead, Bright Eyes, Fleetwood Mac… These are usually somewhere in my playlist.
If you could share a stage with anyone, who would it be?
There’s so many, pretty much everyone on the list above… But I’d really love to write a song or share the stage with Ryan Adams.
What can audiences expect from your live shows?
A night of honesty, intensity and plenty of red wine.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
Still making music of course! Both in the band & solo… we plan to release the fourth Magic Numbers record early next year and I’ve written so many new songs that I want to record my next one very soon.
Do you have any advice for up and coming bands?
Keep at it, even on those days when every bone in your body is questioning “why?” There’s an amazing sense of achievement in doing something that you love. Find a good band, take your time and have lots & lots of fun on your journey. Just keep writing songs, we can only do what we do, and hopefully enough people will hear it.
Wide-Eyed Crossing is out now, and Michele Stodart is on tour in the UK & Ireland, playing:
15/11 The Black Rooms, Manchester
16/11 The Cockpit 3, Leeds
17/11 Independent, Sunderland
19/11 The Electric Circus, Edinburgh
20/11 McHugh’s, Belfast
21/11 Academy 2, Dublin
23/11 Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
24/11 Monto Water Rats, London
28/11 The Hope, Brighton
29/11 The Jericho, Oxford
30/11 The Bodega Social Club, Nottingham
02/12 The Thunderbolt, Bristol