Ingrid Michaelson says coming to Boise is a bit like a homecoming. New York born-and-bred, Michaelson told Boise Weekly she finds an "appreciation and comfort" when she takes the stage in the City of Trees. She will be back for some of that comfort on Monday, June 15, when she returns to the Knitting Factory in Boise.
Michaelson's debut album, Slow the Rain (Cabin 24 Records, 2005), was a modest success. She was accustomed to performing for what she said were "audiences of about 20" in small New York-area nightclubs, when a television producer discovered Michaelson's music and began using it in episodes of ABC's hit drama, Grey's Anatomy.
"And then one night there was a line at the club going out the door and down the street," Michaelson said. "I was wondering who they were waiting to see. It was me."
Since then, her songs have been prominently featured in Old Navy commercials; her single, "Girls Chase Boys," was the summer 2014 break-out radio hit; a music video of the same name counts more than 2 million hits on YouTube; and she recently released her sixth studio album, Lights Out (Cabin 24, 2014).
BW got a few rare minutes with Michaelson, who was in her Brooklyn apartment getting ready to hit the road for her 30-day, 21-city "Summer Night Out Tour."
Do you like touring?
I've been able to find a good balance of spending time at home, being rejuvenated and then going back out on tour. In the early days, when I was touring incessantly, it was pretty difficult for me, but now I really enjoy it. Yes, it's tiring, and it's hard to be away from home and the people you love, but in touring, I have found this feeling that I really don't get any other way. It's pretty amazing.
Do you compose when you're on tour, or do you require a specific place or energy to focus on your writing?
Part of me is always writing; ideas always seem to come up. But in terms of really focused writing, I need to set aside a time for that. I used to write a lot on the road—I would go to the back of the bus or a bathroom just to be alone—but now I'm finding that it's better for me to set up a writing session. I'm getting more disciplined in that way. Really focused writing needs its own time and space.
Do you put your own tours together or is that someone else's job?
I have a pretty big hand in it. This particular tour is going to be bigger in scope.
Well, for instance, this is the first time we'll be traveling with our lighting rig. It has be rebuilt every day and my team is pretty awesome in finding different setups for each location. And the band is great about putting together a number of optional music sets. But at the end of the day, I have total control over what does or doesn't happen and how things look.
You recently appeared on NBC's Today Show for the second time. That's a pretty big gig in terms of exposure.
It's very, very, very early. You're so tired and it's live, so you have this manic energy, and it's such a big show. It's pretty exciting, and it goes by so quickly. And when it's over, you go home and eat a bagel.
Speaking of network television, particularly NBC, did you catch your name being dropped recently on Late Night with Seth Meyers?
Oh, you mean when Mariska was talking about me.
That would be Mariska Hargitay [star of Law and Order: SVU]. What's that all about?
Mariska came to one of my shows a few years ago in New York. I invited Mariska and Taylor Swift and a few other close friends to a very small show I performed last year. So, Mariska and Taylor met each other at my concert and that led to Taylor's huge new video, "Bad Blood," which features Mariska. Have you seen that video? It's intense.
I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about the Grey's Anatomy experience. I'm assuming that was a tentpole moment in your career.
Totally. They were real champions of my music, so my songs popped up in a few spots in the series and then on a season finale. It was one of those moments. Let me put it this way: There [is] before Grey's Anatomy and after Grey's Anatomy. I could see the difference in how many people were coming to my shows and in my record sales. That was a huge transition for me.
That's a hyper level of success. Were you prepared for that?
You're never really prepared. You think you are, but everything ebbs and flows. There was a huge buzz that happened immediately, and then it came down a bit, and then it was back up again. It was a surreal experience.
Can you speak to the importance of your music being used in television commercials? Your songs are prominently featured in a number of TV ads.
Honestly, it's a way to make a living. It's a pretty heavy competition out there on the road. There are so many musicians touring and people really aren't buying records. It's difficult to make money. All of a sudden, it became acceptable—and even necessary—to license your music. It's a way to make a living and keep doing what you love to do.
Talk to me a bit about performing for Idaho audiences.
I've been to the Knitting Factory a number of times. Whenever I've done a show there... well, it's hard to put into words. Do you know what it's like? It's familial. I really feels like I'm playing for family. They're a little more laid back but with tons of love. I hear, "Oh, you're back. We love that you're back." I'm pretty excited about coming back.