Rain City Collective

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10-4 with Claire Michelle

Rain City Collective is excited to debut 10-4, our new feature that profiles Pacific Northwest artists, musicians, and people or organizations doing cool things. The idea is that we'll ask 10 questions and run 4 photos. But we're not big fans of rules. Sometimes the questions will have multiple parts. Other times we might get really crazy and make it 4 questions and 10 photos. 

We're also stoked that Claire Michelle agreed to help us launch it. I (Scott) asked Claire Michelle to be the first featured artist because she was the first singer-songwriter I saw play live in Seattle after moving here in the summer of 2016. I was walking by Fremont's High Dive, and that awesome neon sign caught my eye. I peeked in, saw Claire setting up on stage and a good crowd, so on a whim I ducked in for the show. It was great.

A few weeks later I caught another of Claire's shows. I think it might have been in Columbia City. I met Tobias the Owl's Elijah Dhavvan at that show, and he told me about Sarah St. Albin's upcoming show at the Sunset Tavern. That show turned out to be the catalyst behind Rain City Collective. Tony was there shooting photos, too, and we started talking about cameras. A little less than a year later Tony and I started this little project.

And with that, let's jump into the first issue of 10-4.

10-4 with Claire Michelle

Seattle singer-songwriter Claire Michelle, September 2017.

Seattle singer-songwriter Claire Michelle, September 2017.

1. Your show at Columbia City’s Bourbon Bar last week for Crash the Glass was great. Cool little venue. I think you mentioned you were battling a cold. But the show must go on. What are some of your favorite places to take the stage in Seattle? Have you got any shows coming up soon at venues you haven’t played before?

Thanks! Now that I think about it, I think it was all that smoke from the giant wildfires out east! As much as I like the bigger venues, I really love playing Calamus Auditorium. The venue is intimate, the audience is always attentive, the staff is professional and friendly, and I’ve always gotten paid there too! Really though any space that’s intimate is a great space for me, I feel closer to my performance and always give a great show. Right now I’m looking forward to playing the High Dive on October 27th, it's gonna be a great Halloween show!

2. We were sorry to hear that your Kickstarter didn’t go as hoped. I know that had to be really disappointing, but I imagine you gained some great experience and lessons learned. Safe to say that most of us will never be involved with making an album, but we’re interested in how musicians do what they do. Can you walk us through the project?

Hah! Oh no, that Kickstarter did not meet the goal. Some of the factors were out of my control, but I also made a few mistakes as well. As with most projects, preparation is the key. I’d do some things differently in the weeks and months leading up to the launch. I’d also change the focus based on what I’m seeing in the music industry and fan preferences.

I did a lot of research after the Kickstarter to refine my approach and capture some lessons learned. I learned through other successful artists that many of them have more singles than they do albums, and then I realized something. In the age of streaming, playlists, and internet radio, releasing singles is a great way to reach fans. Albums are great, but waiting until you have that full album or until you’re able to put a full album out is not the only way to go about it today. And in some cases it may be the wrong way to go.

My project is called Flood. It has a lot of meanings but simply put it’s a project meant to showcase who I am and what I’ve been working towards these last three years. When I started the Kickstarter I was aiming to release an album. Now I’m aiming to release a flood of singles.

I currently have an IndieGoGo for my latest single, please help me record it!

The Flood Singles

3. We’ve followed you a long time here in Seattle. Musician, singer-songwriter, model, entrepreneur. What are you focusing on for the next 6 months? Are you focusing on writing or playing? Or are you always doing both?

Well, under it all music is my passion. Everything else I do only helps my music reach more people. You ask what I’m focusing on the next 6 months, well the truth of it is, everything. I just partnered with Apollo’s Vision, a video production team and we’re focusing on YouTube. My modeling is going steady and in fact, I just got selected to walk in Seattle Fashion Week! You’ll be seeing some new photos in the coming months!

The music though, that’s where it’s interesting. I’m booking, a lot. We’re considering touring next year but to do so we need to have a sizeable amount of songs out. I’m always writing, always playing, but there’s a difference between writing for an album, and writing for yourself; I’m writing for myself this next year. I’m also picking up some piano again! Just a little hint on what’s to come.

4. We know a lot of musicians in Seattle, but we’re not on stage with them or hanging out at practice sessions. When you and other musicians get together, who are some of the local bands you talk about? Who is really hitting their stride right now?

You know, this is a surprisingly difficult question to answer since I know so many bands and so many of them are killing it! The one that immediately jumps in my head though is the Black Tones. I know they just picked up some management and they’re gearing up for an exciting new year!

5. I’m glad that the days are getting cooler, but I’ll admit, I seriously underestimated that past winter. I have resolved to head into this winter a little smarter. You’re from Michigan and have tweeted about your preference for cooler climate, but it can get gloomy here. What’s your strategy for Seattle winters?

Well, I try hard in the winter to make it as pleasant as possible. I get out of the house and surround myself with all sorts of like-minded-coffee-people. I do my best to look my best so I can feel good about my appearance. I pick up projects so my mind stays active and just try to be artistic. So far, that’s kept my head a little higher.

This year though I picked up a little UV light. The people who have them love them, the people who don’t are skeptical. I’ll report my findings when it gets darker and the light has a little more use.

6. We know it’s cliché, but it’s cliché because it’s a fun question - what are a few of your favorite things to do in Seattle? Where’s the best place for coffee or tea? Who’s got the best breakfast?

 Best breakfast or most breakfast? Ha! I’m partial to Beth’s Cafe over in Greenlake. It’s a little greasy spoon with endless hashbrowns! From time to time, my friends and I grab a bite there on the weekends. For coffee, I recommend Storyville above Pike Place for some chit-chat and Kaladi Brothers for some sit down work. For fun things, well… I enjoy urban hiking with music in my ears; Seattle has many little nooks and exploring them is always enjoyable. But if we’re being cliché here, I can’t recommend Pike Place enough! The people watching is incredibly enjoyable. 

Seattle singer-songwriter Claire Michelle, Kaladi Brothers Coffee, September 2017.

Seattle singer-songwriter Claire Michelle, Kaladi Brothers Coffee, September 2017.

7. Have you got any fall or winter trips planned?

I do actually! I’m heading down to San Francisco to take a work-cation and shoot a documentary on Gender Reassignment Surgery. I’ll be down there for two weeks, playing some open mics, exploring the city, being a caretaker for my friend, and of course working.

In March I’m headed to New York! Same idea, a work-cation. I try to make the most of every place I visit, even if it’s meant to be a vacation.

8. What are you reading now? Would you recommend it? If not, what’s the best book you’ve read recently?
I don’t read much fiction, but I just went camping last week and read The Last Girl. It’s a dystopian thriller and a page turner! Now that I’m back though, I’m back to reading non-fiction. Let’s see... Personal Branding for Dummies, Twitter is not a Strategy, and Working for Yourself - Law & Taxes for Independent Contractors, Freelancers, and Consultants. That last one is riveting.

9. Since we’re going to do a photoshoot for this, let’s discuss your modeling. What are some of the recent projects you’ve worked on? You recently walked in a shoot at Neumos, right? How does being in front of a camera compare to being on stage?

Neumos was a blast! I was actually walking catwalk for AMDEF (Art, Music, Dance, Entertainment and Fashion), definitely a stressor, but a fun one. As a model you’re representing someone else’s design, when I’m performing, I’m not representing anyone but myself. The easiest way to put it is, when I’m modeling I’m not entertaining, I’m there to do a job and ensure the designer has the best images to represent their design. When I’m performing, I’m entertaining, and I want the crowd to have the best experience they possibly can. One is for the creator, one is for the audience.

10. Tell me about the upcoming music? What does it mean to you and where are you taking it?

Definitely! My first EP, Out of the Shadows, spoke a lot on the changes I was going through at the time. I was coming out of a relationship, my dad passed away during that time, and my life was flipped upside down moving to Seattle. So now, with all that behind me, the new era, Flood is less about navigating life and more focusing on who I am. It's about who I’ve grown to be, and what I’m aiming to achieve. I think the chorus of enepec sums it up nicely.

"Well I could take my own life now, on two roads
Or fall down on my knees and pray to gods, I don’t see
Or waste away in white cells on grey days
Or fall short on my dreams and live oh so happy"

The new music is darker, heavier, and has an honesty to it that I’m excited to share with everyone. It’s all been written, and we're excited to be hitting the studio this winter with our engineer and producer Simon Nicol! Lots of great stuff in the works!

Seattle singer-songwriter Claire Michelle, Capitol Hill, September 2017.

Seattle singer-songwriter Claire Michelle, Capitol Hill, September 2017.

Claire Michelle and Jerett Samples at Columbia City's Bourbon Bar for Crash the Glass.

Claire Michelle and Jerett Samples at Columbia City's Bourbon Bar for Crash the Glass.