JustJared.com Interview – Michelle Chamuel
JustJared.com: How do you feel making it this far?
Michelle Chamuel: It’s been a whirlwind. I feel crazy, but very excited to be here, doing all this, learning all of these things and still representing Team Usher. It’s very important that he has someone to coach because he kills at that and I love singing. I’m really glad being here doing that.
JJ: What’s Usher like as a coach?
MC: Yeah, he’s very hands on, but in a way that’s not overbearing. It’s very much like, “OK, we’re gonna assess the crap out of this and pick the best possible way to step forward.” So he’s sitting there going through all the variables… and I don’t have to go through all that with him, so it doesn’t overwhelm me. He’ll come up with the best couple of things and be like, “How ‘bout this?” And I’ll… counter with something else. And he’ll be like, “OK, cool. I hear that.” So he does all this computing in his own genius head and then, it’s like a compromise in what we end up doing.
JJ: Hearing what we just heard today in the studio, it sounds like that is your sound but last week you did country with Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble”
MC: I think there is more similar between that Taylor Swift song and ‘Clarity’ than many other songs. I wouldn’t necessarily call that country, but I understand that she represents country. i love country music, but that wasnt what the record was about. That song was an electro-pop, there is dubstep. I think that was in line with a little more rock. To me, a good song is a good song.
JJ: Having Taylor there and seeing her helped put the riffs into that song. What are you looking forward for this week to find the same inspiration?
MC: The Taylor Swift song was harder for me to sing, so it was kinda harder to find what I was going to do with it and it was a much bigger hit. It was more confusing, how do I live in this, how do I make this right? This week, “Clarity” is not as well known and doing what i do feels more different. The viewing audience of the show doesn’t necessarily have immediate reference when you say Foxes or Zedd, they aren’t like oh cool, tall, blond hair, blue eyes and that dated that guy. There is little to be flushed out, so I have a little more room to be me.
JJ: Was there a moment with Usher, when you felt like a coach and friend instead of a huge celebrity?
MC: Immediately, after meeting him, once I felt I knew what he was doing, I felt comfortable but then I was like “Oh my gosh, it’s Usher.” It would be these waves back and forth and it still happens. He’ll sing in line, and I’m like oh my gosh. He’ll come on the radio and I can hear the tone of the voice. He’ll give me a constructive idea for me to work on and he’ll have a laugh after it. He’ll make a joke, like “Smooth it out,” because he’s very kind. Hearing his songs, that tone, it’s so crazy. At the end of the day, what’s important in this journey is people are people, no matter what you are doing, as I go from someone who had zero followers on the twitter account and I don’t know how many thousands of people are tuning into the show to see the show. People are listening and looking, I’m the same person. Like Usher when he was a kid at his mom’s house being raised versus Usher now, he’s the same person. People put so much stock in stars, I get it, you just can’t understand it until you’re doing it, I’m guessing. It’s a balance.
JJ: While you were recording, you knew what you wanted to go back and work on in the song. How did you know to do that?
MC: The studio is my home, I went to school for performing arts technology. The reason I did that was because i wanted to be able to craft my sense and i love singing, figured that out in middle school. I went to a town writing camp, wrote some songs I felt great about, they are really horrible. At the time, I got excited and we went in there to produce stuff and what bill was doing. It came out at the other end, I’m like “What is this, what is happening, why does it sound like I’m in a closet?” and they are like, “Oh, that is production.” I’m so glad I studied all this other stuff, I’m going to change my effort. As a kid, I was listening to Max Martin tunes, who is co-writer on “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and picking all the parts and putting them into a sequence. It’s interesting here, I usually record my own stuff and take my takes and do my own production. It’s an interesting process to let someone else (Bill), who’s incredible, it’s a good learning experience to have someone else doing that.
JJ: Where do you get all your confidence from?
MC: I’ve been in a band for five years; it was a democratic band at one point with seven people. So there was a time where I did not speak up, and I did not know what I wanted… but I’ve always been someone who has really visceral reactions, so I’d be in rehearsal and I’d start to feel myself like shaking and I didn’t know what was happening. All of a sudden I’d snap or it’d just be really not good communication on my part. It was just confusing. Over time, working with my band mates, i really started understanding more about myself and how to communicate. It’s a by product of that. I’ll know, my body is very loud and I don’t mean that in a gross way. It just happens to talk very loud.
JJ: Do you shake, sweat or communicate like that?
MC: Now, no, hopefully not communicating like that. Now, it’s just like cool, I have an idea. It got to that point where someone [would] be like, “Do it this way.”… [I would] be like, “Cool. Yeah.” But later on [I would wonder], “Why do I not wanna sing this song anymore? Why is the joy gone?.” So now, I’m trying to take more responsibility for my own happiness, and if someone says, “Hey! We think you should wear these boots with heels on them,” and I’m like, “Well… I would not like to do that.”
JJ: Has Usher been receptive to the way you are, it seems like real good partnership?
MC: He’s definitely the coach, in his coaching style, he has the insight with what works best for me because he’s taken that time to like, evaluate the situation and figure out who I am more as opposed to “Here is my coaching style, deal with it.” He took it in and realizes that I’m someone that works better that way. It’s a testament to him, as well, to be able to partner up or, let me have that space. You know?
JJ: Who picked which song?
MC: This week, I’ve been trying to get “Clarity” for a while. Timing is really important. With everything that we’re seeing, it’s a discussion and a dialogue, so we all agree on it.