Aryn Michelle is a do-it-yourself indie pop songstress who has always refused to wait around for her next big break; she makes it happen. As a teenager Aryn taught herself piano and guitar, and soon after began writing her own music. While attending Southwestern University, Aryn began releasing homemade demos of her original music and began performing around Austin, TX. With a hunger to become a better songwriter and performer, she attended Berklee College of Music in Boston for a few years and also began to learn how to engineer and produce her own demos and crowd-fund her recording projects.
Aryn released her debut album, Lockless Heart, in 2009 as she was finishing her work at Berklee. While at Berklee she was honored with the Scott Benson Award for songwriting, and awarded the grand prize in the 2009 Berklee Substance Abuse Prevention Campaign for her song “Crave.” Since leaving Berklee, Aryn was selected as a regional finalist for the 2009 & 2011 Mountain Stage NewSong Festival, was invited to be one of eight artists to represent the TUNE campaign, was named the TexasCSA’s 2010 Songwriter of the Year, was the 2010 KLTY’s Chick-fil-a Celebrate Freedom jingle writing contest grand prize winner. She was a top ten finalist in the 2011 Folgers’ National Jingle Writing Contest and the grand prize winner of the 2011 Chevy Sonic Sounds Singer/Songwriter Contest. In 2012 she was named a winner of Song Revelation’s “Star Now” competition.
In March 2010 Aryn Michelle completed raising $50,000 through the crowd-funding website SellaBand.com to fund her next album. The album, The Last One Standing, was produced by Riley Friesen of Coda Record House and released October 4th, 2011. Aryn and her band are currently touring and promoting the album.
Aryn Michelle - Vocals, keyboard
Cole Campbell - Bass
Blake Atwood - Drums
Jennifer Junge - back vocals, synth pad
Last One Standing (Oct 2011)
*receiving airplay on over 100 college stations nationwide
Lockless Heart (2009)
End of the Renaissance
Strike It Up
Last One Standing
Two of a Kind
Two of a Kind
Junior's Cave Online Mag Interview
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Junior’s Cave Golden Isles Online Magazine’s presents a special treat with our introduction of Aryn ...Junior’s Cave Golden Isles Online Magazine’s presents a special treat with our introduction of Aryn Michelle to the online readers of this Webzine. The artist has one of the most angelic voices that we have heard in a very long time. We love that Aryn’s voice mixes with a brilliant combination of alternative and pop. Check out what all the talented Singer/Songwriter had to say about her music and her quest to entertain the masses in this new spotlight. Enjoy!
Isaac: It’s an amazing time to be a DIY artist/performer/band/musician. What do you enjoy the most about being an indie performer?
Aryn: The best thing about being an indie performer is the ability to craft your own specific dream and then go for it. You don't have to wait for someone to discover you before you can book a tour or make an album. It's a TON of work to do it yourself, but it’s possible and that's a beautiful thing!
Isaac: If you had an opportunity to sign with a major label, would you sign now knowing you may have to give up some of what you have built up over the years about you in the process?
Aryn: That totally depends on the label and the people and the terms. I think if they asked me to take my hands off of the things that I'm not so passionate about (like booking and promoting) then I would be all for it. If they asked me to take my hands off of the writing or recording process, I'd probably say no deal.
Isaac: I remembered Simon Cowell from American Idol talking about the “it” Factor that makes a musician/band stand out. What do you think is your “it” factor that makes you stand out from others in the music business?
Aryn: My "it" factor is that I'm an unconventional singer/songwriter. I'm not "folksy" and I don't play the guitar as my primary instrument, but I am a pop/rocker who cares about the delicious details of music and lyrics. It's been challenging for me to find a genre that I can call home because my lyrics tend to be too detailed for mainstream pop, and my music is too electric and electronic to be considered "folk" or "singer/songwriter." I think this struggle makes my music unique. And for now I'm sticking with "alternative pop" as my genre of choice!
Isaac: Why should music fans listen to your music? Describe what they are going to get when they listen to your music?
Aryn: From my music, fans will get songs that reflect on aspects of life that not many pop artists are tackling right now. There are songs on the album that deal with fighting to be who you are, standing up for what you believe in, celebrating friendship, struggling with temptation and not settling for an average, mundane life. My music also appeals to eclectic tastes because the arrangements stretch in some places to show my love for electronic music, for jazz, and for unpredictable musical moments.
Isaac: Briefly describe your humble beginnings that led you to where you are at musically now.
Aryn: I was raised singing in church and come from a very musical family. I began writing songs at age 15 and after writing about 100 mediocre songs I started to really get a handle on the craft and recognize I had a passion. I studied classical voice at Southwestern University and then songwriting and music synthesis at Berklee College of Music. I released 5 or 6 homemade demos on my own, and then released my first pro indie record in 2009. On October 4th, 2011, I released my second indie album, "Last One Standing," which was made possible through crowd-funding. Crowd-funding is the process of fundraising an album, or any project, solely through fan support. I raised $50,000 to record this album via the website SellaBand.com.
Isaac: You have some strong iconic influences. Of these influences, which artist/band do you relate to the most and why?
Aryn: I guess I relate to the artists that tend to "do their own thing." I've never been one to pressure myself musically or lyrically to fit into whatever genre is most popular at the moment, or whatever I know will sell. I relate to the artists who seem to be honest about who they are and what they feel, for better or for worse. I think this is why I really like Ben Folds.
Isaac: Do you feel that Indie music gets the respect it deserves? Why or why not?
Aryn: This is a difficult question to answer because I'm not really even sure what "indie" means anymore. There are so many people making music now without the representation of a major label. However, there are lots of "indie" artists that have record labels and agents and managers and giant tours...so, what's "indie" really mean? Also, I know there are some great unsigned acts out there, but I also know in this culture that we live in, everyone wants to be a famous rockstar...so there's some bad to come with the good of "indie."
Another difficulty I have with this question is the notion that any music "deserves" respect. I once had a teacher who really ingrained in me the idea that a performing artist has nothing if they do not have an audience. In this philosophy, the listener is always right. And so, if you know of music that you feel deserves your respect, then it does!
Isaac: If you could change one thing about the music business, what would it be and why?
Aryn: I wish big record labels and promotion companies (the people with tons of money who can get mainstream radio to play a song 6 times an hour) would stop pandering to a "lowest common denominator" type of audience. I think people would respond to better quality music if it was made available to them. Right now I feel like the majority of mainstream pop music is churned out to make a profit, not to make an artistic impact.
Isaac: Do you think in the near future that DIY artists/bands will be the norm and big record companies will be very limited?
Aryn: I do think DIY artistry will continue to thrive and grow, especially with the advancements in technology, social media and rise of the use of crowd-funding. However, I also believe that people will always figure out a way to make money off of music. I think something will always hover above mainstream music pulling the strings. In the past, it has been record labels, but maybe in the future it will be concert promoters.
Isaac: What type of feedback have you been receiving about your music from fans and music critics?
Aryn: People have been giving me very positive feedback about the new album. People tell me they can hear a cross between Imogene Heap and Amy Lee (from Evanescence) and I dig that! Everyone seems to have a different song that's their favorite. That's one of the things that I'm most proud of about this project; there are no "filler" songs. I feel like every song fought its way onto this album and can stand on its own legs. It's really a joy to not have to worry about burying a mediocre song somewhere in the album sequence.
Isaac: If you knew that you would never gain fame and fortune with what you are doing now, would you continue to make music? Explain.
Aryn: Absolutely. Fame and fortune have never been my goal. If those things happen, I would welcome the opportunity to share my music with lots of people, but the point has always been to make good art, to grow as a person and artist, and to share something meaningful and beautiful with anyone who will listen and enjoy. I've done shows for five people, and they loved it, so it's totally worth it.
Isaac: How do you handle negative feedback or negative energy about your music?
Aryn: I haven't experienced a great deal of negativity thus far in my career, but in the instances I've encountered people who don't really care for my music, I always try to remember that everyone is entitled to their honest opinion because the listener is always right when it comes to what they love. I don't really care for U2 (please don't throw rocks at me!) but millions of people love them. My preference for other styles of music doesn't diminish their quality. And so, in the same way, if someone doesn't prefer my music that's okay. Their opinion is valid for them and it doesn't make me any less valuable at the same time.
Isaac: What role do your family and friends play in the equation of your pursuant of a music career?
Aryn: A HUGE one! I couldn't have gotten ANYWHERE that I've gotten today without the endless support of family and friends. My parents and their close friends, from the time I was very young starting out, have paid for studio time, driven me to talent contests, supported my decision to major in music in college, tried to connect me to anyone they knew who could be helpful, were the first ones to support my crowd-funding campaigns, and the list goes on and on. Tonight, my dad helped me break down my gear from a show! My family and friends come to my concerts, talked me up on Facebook, and more than that they continue to give me their love, support, prayers, kindness and encouragement that are so crucial for me in order to keep going!
Isaac: What is the best site/s that you can be found on the Internet?
Aryn: I'd love for people to visit my website arynmichelle.com and sign up for my mailing list! I can also be found at facebook.com/arynmichelleband, twitter.com/aryn_michelle and I have a YouTube channel: youtube.com/arynmichellemusic
Isaac: The floor is yours; final words…..
Aryn: Maybe this is a little cheesy, but here's a little message from one of the songs off the new album...
"Do you remember the moment when you gave up on the passion? Said, "I gotta postpone it, gotta grow up, and be rational." Lately you have discovered there's a reason they call it a deadline. 'Cause you're dying with every passing minute of company time. Do you sacrifice all of your dreams to a paycheck and a pension? If you're feeling the tension that settling brings, listen close: Strike it up, feel the call. Turn it out, risk it all. Find your love, magical. Do it now, strike it up!"
Creative Spotlights Interview
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1.What inspired your passion for music and who has been there supporting you from the beginning? My...1.What inspired your passion for music and who has been there supporting you from the beginning?
My passion for music comes from my spiritual desire to create things and be a creative person. Making something new helps me feel connected to God and helps me express who I am and the things that I have learned to others. My parents specifically and many close friends have supported my passion for music from when I was very young.
2. How do you feel about people downloading music rather then buying physical copies?
People should consume music in whatever way works best for them. However, I do feel that an album is an art form to be experienced as a whole. So in light of that, I feel like often people miss out when they download singles (which I think is a temptation for downloading that you don’t get when you buy physical copies of albums.)
3.How do you feel about the music industry today?
I think it’s a great time and a challenging time to be an independent. It’s a great time because advancements in technology have allowed people with limited funds to record music, market music, distribute music, and do so many things that were unimaginable for an indie a decade ago. However, because of this same easy access, the music market is pretty flooded, which can make it difficult to stand out in a crowd of wannabe music stars. I think independent musicians do best in this environment if they set specific goals and spend some quality time reflecting on what “success” means for them personally, because it doesn’t have to be the same for everyone.
4.Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Where I am right now, but five years better! What I mean is that I’m currently recording an album, planning a tour and basically doing the performing singer/songwriter thing. In five years, I’d like to be recording another better album, planning a bigger tour and basically doing even better at the performing singer/songwriter thing! My big picture goal as an artist is to continue to move forward; to produce something next that is better than what I just completed.
5. Do you think singer/songwriters are the best interpreters of their own work or do you believe some cover versions can be better then the original?
I think the “best interpretation” is often decided by the individual listener. I really enjoy Billy Corgan’s version of “Landslide” and some people really hate it. I just heard Twisted Sister’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard, but I’m sure there’s someone out there that really loves it. I believe music is subjective, what’s better is determined by the person who is listening to it at the time.
6.Who have you always dreamt of working with and why? How would you go about accomplishing this?
I have always wanted to share the stage with Ben Folds. He is a songwriting role model of mine because I just love what he does with music and lyrics to express original ideas. I’m hoping one day that I can gain enough of a following to open a show for him; that would be awesome.
7.As you are starting out your career in the music industry what steps do you plan on taking to reach your goal?
My immediate goals at this time are completing the album that I am currently working on, and then promoting it to the best of my ability. I’m still working on the best way to promote the project, but it will probably be a combination of touring, seeking indie radio airplay and hoping to get some sort of publishing arrangement.
8.Have you found that as you are starting out your career in the music industry there are aspects that have taken you completely by surprise. If so, what are they?
Being “successful” can sometimes be arduous work, and other times great opportunities can fall into your lap. I’d say be thankful for the rare times when it comes easy and then work hard every other day. Most people don’t realize that you have to be multi-faceted to get things done. I started out as a singer, but now I am also a pianist, a semi-pro arranger, demo producer and I do all my own promotion and booking. Often times you have to be a jack of all musical trades.
9. What is the greatest thing about working in the music industry? And what would you change if you had the opportunity?
The greatest thing is getting to create and be around creative people. I wish I could change mainstream radio. I would love for indie musicians to have more access to the mainstream radio audience.
10.If you could have asked anyone for advice when you were starting out. Who would you have liked to ask?
What would you have liked to ask?
How do you write such good songs?
What would be your answer now?
You have to write a lot of songs before you start writing really good ones.
11.From your experience in the entertainment industry what advice could you offer people looking to get where you are today?
Learn how to play an instrument well. Learn how to use recording software. Set up a decent website. Don’t give up easy.
12. What courses/classes would you recommend someone take if they want to be a professional in the music industry?
I greatly benefited form taking the time to complete two different degrees in music. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Southwestern University and a certificate in Songwriting from the Berklee College of Music. Never underestimate good, formal training. Take any classes that you can!
13.How many years were you fighting to get to where you are today and what was that time in your life like?
I think the fight never ends if its truly something you’re passionate about and its something creative. There’s always somewhere new to go, and a new goal to achieve. I think its anti-productive to think that there’s a point of “arrival.”
14.From your experience so far, what have you found to be most challenging? And how are you dealing with it?
Booking shows and keeping together a touring band has been the most difficult piece for me. To be honest, I’m still really trying to figure out the best way to go about these things for my style of music and where I want it to go.
15.Share with us your proudest moment in your career so far?
Probably that moment would be when I completed raising $50,000 to fund the album I’m currently working on through the crowd-funding website SellaBand.com. It took me almost two years to raise the funds from support through hundreds of people around the world. It was exciting to see so many people come together to help me because they believe in my music and what I’m doing with it.
The Music Enthusiast (Concert Review)
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I don’t care what people’s opinions of it are, but the Curtain Club puts together the best shows of ...I don’t care what people’s opinions of it are, but the Curtain Club puts together the best shows of D-FW artists. And tonight was probably the best line-up of talent I’ve seen grace this stage in awhile.
Starting off the night was singer/songwriter Aryn Michelle and her band, who were celebrating the release of her new album. They got going shortly after nine, as Aryn began playing the keys for the first song, “Nomad”. Soon enough the curtain opened on her and her band, made up of Kenny Howes on guitar, Cole Campbell on bass, drummer, Blake Atwood, and Jennifer Junge, who played a tambourine on most of the songs. They did a couple more songs, one of which I believe was “Strike It Up”, before doing a song from her past record, “Heart On A String”. “End of the Renaissance” came next ( a song which she has a music video for. It can be seen HERE.) They performed the title track from this new record next, “Last One Standing”, which I believe was the song she said “…invoked some head banging…” for anyone who wanted to do so. Blake counted them into another tune from the record, “Desperate Times”, before they did another from the older album, “Shake Me”. “This next song goes out to anyone like me, with a Type A personality, who has to control every little thing.” said Aryn, as they went into “Vulnerable”, and then ended their 36 minute long set with “Paper Tiger”.
I was quite impressed by their show, and personally, they were my second favorite act of the night. Their music is great, and she has a fantastic voice with a very wide range to it. You should definitely hit up iTunes and at the very least buy her new record, and go catch them at one of their upcoming shows. October 16th in Bedford at the 1st Baptist Church. The 22nd at The Aardvark in Fort Worth. An November 5th at Southwestern University in Georgetown.
Changing the World One Song at a Time
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http://www.berklee.edu/news/1057/changing-the-world-one-song-at-a-time "Give Peace a Chance." "We...http://www.berklee.edu/news/1057/changing-the-world-one-song-at-a-time
"Give Peace a Chance." "We Are the World." "Do They Know It's Christmas?" There's no question a song can make people care about societal problems. Berklee students tried to hit the same notes in a smaller way in the Counseling and Advising Center's second substance abuse prevention songwriting contest.
Aryn Michelle Calhoun '09 took top honors this spring with her song "Crave." Neil Cleary placed second, and Bob Bradshaw third. Songwriting faculty chose the winners from over 40 entries.
The competition is "a good way for students to get involved and start thinking about substance abuse and how it's affected their lives," said Barbara Martin of Berklee's Counseling and Advising Center. Funding came from a federal grant for substance abuse prevention*.
Martin noted, though, that the reality of drug abuse on campus "is actually a lot better than people's perceptions," she said. A 2008 survey found that "Berklee is well below the national average." In the spring, the center launched a social norms marketing campaign to let students know the facts.
Michelle embraced both the creative and philosophical challenges of the contest. "I really enjoy writing to a theme," she said, and valued "using my craft to do something important." In 2008, she wrote the song "Childhood Left Behind" for the International Initiative to End Child Labor. She's now turning it into a music video.
The contest judges wanted an uplifting message. Michelle went through a few ideas, aiming for the right tone: "It's hard not to either be too cheesy or too preachy." She finally hit on a scene of a recovering addict sharing his story. The warm pop-country strings and bittersweet, soaring vocals convey hope even as the narrator struggles:
"The next time's the last time,"
I'd say it over and over again
(Appropriately enough, he turns his life around in the song's bridge.)
Although Michelle's hands have been full reestablishing herself in her native Texas, "I would really like to find maybe some organizations that would be interested in using it in a campaign," she said. She has a great demo to show them: As part of the prize, Michelle recorded the song professionally at Q Division Studios.
Martin hopes to keep raising awareness of substance abuse by making the songwriting competition an annual event. Next year, she said, "We're hoping to really market this" to get even more students involved.
* This program is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, awarded through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
Aryn Michelle hits target
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Artist number two has raised her full budget after SellaBand was taken over by new owners. That make...Artist number two has raised her full budget after SellaBand was taken over by new owners. That makes this the 45th completed project on SellaBand. The hard working singer Aryn Michelle raised her full $50.000 on March 5th 2010. Aryn signed up at SellaBand in 2008 and has been more than active promoting her project in- and outside of SellaBand. Her great determination has been rewarded and she will now enter the studio with the producer of her choice.
Congratulations Aryn, well deserved!
Touring songs from LAST ONE STANDING:
End of the Renaissance
Last One Standing
Strike It Up
White and Black
Adam and Eve's Daughter
6th Avenue Heartache (Wallflowers)
One Headlight (Wallflowers)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.