Michael Blume on music, inspirations, and hitting the stage at Bonnaroo

Michael Blume
Michael Blume
New Jersey born artist is on track

With heavy influences from artists like Elton John, Daniel Caesar, and Sia, New Jersey born artist Michael Blume is on the fast track for superstardom. I caught up with Blume to talk about his new track “Blunder,” being an out artist, and what keeps him inspired.

Your new music is absolutely amazing! For those that have never heard your sound, how would you describe it? 

Michael Blume: Progressive, thoughtful, R&B influenced, indie soul, American pop music. Someone commented on a YouTube video and said it reminded them of Craig David, so that was cool. Everyone has their own references; people have their own references and connect people to other artists. I am happy to take all of it. For me, there are two types of music; good music, and not good music. If it makes you feel something, it’s good. Whatever genre we call it is just slapped on by the companies to sell the stuff; if it makes you feel something, that’s when you know you are doing something right.

You have just dropped some new music recently, with your latest single “Blunder.”

Michael Blume
Michael Blume

MB: Yes! I am actually still writing now. I have been in the studio working with other artists and other writers, so I haven’t really gotten a chance to focus on the Michael Blume project! I spent most of 2017 recording an entire EP. Plus, I would say, I have been making a lot of music. We are putting out a single at a time. We put out “Blunder” about six weeks ago, along with a video. And the new one I have coming out is called “Are You Mad.” That song is definitely, specifically, related to my experiences as a gay man and a gay artist in the world. It’s kind of like, “are you mad about who I am?” Go be who you are. And let me be who I am.

Your music has a very introspective quality. I suspect it could be rooted in you as an artist. 

MB: Thank you! I definitely dabble in different styles. But the message I am kind of centered on is the idea that every single person on earth is unique. If you are not you, no one else on earth can be you, or better than you. No one else can be me, better than me. The message of the song is just to commit with doing you, and doing what you do, because no one else can do it. Comparing is so futile. What happens at the end? Everyone dies (laughs).

Michael Blume photo by Brian Vue
Michael Blume photo by Brian Vue

Be the fucking person you want to be. Dream it up! Be crazy or don’t be crazy. Be you. If we encourage each other to be ourselves, that is when we will really see each other and start to see the change that your world desperatly needs.

So often we only focus on doing other things for other people and not embracing who we want to be.

Being a queer artist is always a bold choice. We are seeing it more and more. Sam Smith for example, has almost let it define his career. Do you want it to be something that defines you, or is it simply one facet of your career? 

MB: You know, for me it’s both. Sometimes everything I am doing is gay. The next song that I am putting out, the hook is literally “are you mad that I’m gay?” That song is throwing my gayness in the face of listeners.

On the other side, it is my perspective on race as a white person, or an experience I had with a lover that happened to be a man. But I was feeling sad because he didn’t call me back. Everyone can relate to that.

So, to answer your question it’s both. It’s all of the above. It is one of those things that I am never hiding. It makes me, and I am proud to talk about it. I am proud to be doing interviews with gay and queer outlets like Out In Jersey and really putting it out there. It’s all of the above without a doubt.

Who would you love to collaborate with on a musical level? 

MB: Oh wow, there are so many people. From a new R&B space, I am a huge Daniel Caesar fan. I don’t know if you know his work, but I love him. I like a lot of soul in R&B music. Someone like Sufjan Stevens, whose texture and soul I love. I would also love someone who’s a true songwriter like Sia, even the sound of her records and her songwriting ability is incredible. The way she can tell a story in the form of an American pop song is just incredible. I love rap and hip-hop also. I would love to open for someone like Nicki Minaj, and to be on stage with her. Talk about someone who is just “them” and uniquely themselves. Those are a few that come to mind. There are just so many! Her attitude as a black woman in music is not easy. I really admire her for that.

What does summer hold for Michael Blume? 

Michael Blume
Michael Blume

MB: Well, I was just in Las Vegas for Emerge Impact + Music. I will be doing a little bit of a tour with an awesome funk bad called Lawrence. I was at The Foundry Philadelphia on May 20th. I am doing a whole East Coast run and some West Coast dates as well. I am playing Bonnaroo as well, which is super exciting and super surreal for me.

What continuously keeps you inspired with so much noise in the world today? 

MB: First of all, I have been thinking a lot about what really is the end goal for me? My grandpa is 88 years-old and was an amateur painter his whole life. He has taught me to ask, “What is the end goal?” I don’t know the answer to that question really. And I know that I want to be making creative work my whole life. I am learning actively what it is like to be happy doing that every day. Like, I have Bonnaroo now, but I want the next thing, and then the next!

There is always a level up and a next thing. I am skeptical of goals, arrivals, and destinations. I am trying to be big on the journey and making it about that. Every day is not going to be the best day of your life. But I think sustained fulfillment is just something that I am working towards.

To get towards that fulfillment, there is certain music I go back to every time, Aretha Franklin’s record “Amazing Grace” that she recorded in a church in 1972. I discovered it when I was 12 or 13 and my attraction towards gospel, R&B, and soul music, I attribute to that. Whenever I am feeling down, I listen to that record. All of Aretha Franklin and all of Stevie Wonder, that is what I listened to growing up. It is what formed me into someone that loves music. I love it all the time.

And I am inspired by the social movements happening all around, by these teenagers marching out of schools over gun reform. I am not inspired by the Trump bullshit, but I am fueled by it. It makes me feel that the work is necessary.