When I was first introduced to the musical musings of Michael Duchesne, I was sitting in the audience at the Grand Finals of the Sydney Soul Search competition for SoulFest. Duchesne was the last finalist of the night and almost immediately, after he sang that first note, I knew that he was going to win. It was such a strong feeling. Even though all the other acts were just as talented, his aura on stage was different – he was engaging, charming, and when he sang, you could tell it was 100% from his soul.
The singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from Sydney did indeed win the competition and he was fortunate enough to open up the SoulFest stage in his home city in front of a massive crowd and before an incredible line-up of artists would take that same position he was standing on stage.
This is just one of the incredible opportunities Michael Duchesne has achieved within his musical journey and we felt incredibly lucky to be able to interview him before the launch of his EP, “Take Me”, this week to talk about all things music.
1. Introduce yourself.
I am Michael Duchesne, a Soul singer and songwriter from Sydney.
2. How did you first get your start in music and who/what has inspired you to keep going up until today?
Family inevitably inched me towards music – my father and my sister are both singers. I started gigging at 16 playing guitar in bars for my sister, and eventually I landed my own gig. What keeps me inspired firstly is people; I love the way people connect to music in their own totally different ways and the way just one single song can mean so much to someone.
Secondly, my own music and belief in myself keeps me in check. The fact that I’ve been blessed with the ability to even just to sing or play an instrument is enough steam for me, and I love striving to live up to the responsibility of sharing good vibrations.
3. “Take Me” is the title behind your new EP. What’s the story/message behind it?
‘Take Me’ is the title track of the EP. The song is pretty much an open ended love letter. There’s tonnes of references to nature and the seasons.. I guess she was from Byron Bay and her name literally means ‘Mother Earth’ Haha.
4. There aren’t many tracks featured on the new EP. Why did you choose to narrow it down to only four and what was the final song selection process like?
I’ve gone with a 4-track EP mainly just to have a rockin’ sample of my work out there. I’ve pretty much gathered the 4 most different sounding tracks in my catalogue and forced them together onto a CD.
5. Will the songs that were left behind be featured on an album or an upcoming project?
Well, I’ve been thinking A LOT lately about going all the way with a studio album. I’ve got the songs for the album pretty much worked out already; one of two of the tunes from the EP may even be revisited. But nevertheless 2015 will commence work on my debut album.. No names just yet.
6. What would you like your fans to take away from the EP?
If people enjoy the music and the way the songs are written, then I’ll be a happy man. This project was truly a way for me to showcase myself as a songwriter.
7. You recently opened the main stage in Sydney for SoulFest. What was that experience like and did you get to hang out/converse/jam/get advice from the other artists on the bill?
SoulFest was a blast. Being on that bill was a real nice affirmation for me, and to say that I opened the stage for all those artists, some of those [artists] are my heroes, or at least played a crucial part in my musical development.
I was that lucky guy who had to bail after my set for other engagements. But hey, my bass player Eric got to hang with Pino Palladino and my keys player Glenn got to hang with his hero Musiq Soulchild backstage, so I was pretty chuffed for them.. I’ll just have to watch the videos of Common ’till next year haha.
8. What is the difference between the music you create and the music you listen to?
90% of the music I listen to comes from the 60’s through to the 80’s. From Stevie Wonder to Donny Hathaway, Frank Sinatra, Michael Franks and Michael Jackson. The other 10% comes from hip-hop and folks like India.Arie, John Mayer and Donnie.
The music I create sounds like everything in-between; I’d like to say it sounds like Michael Duchesne.
9. Pay it forward: What’s the best advice you’ve received that you would happily share with others?
The best advice I’ve received came from Seal, not quite word for word but it went a little something like this:
You don’t need to worry if people will like you or not, F#$K them! They can’t stand on stage & do what you do. When you hit that stage just have a good time and enjoy yourself, that will be more than most people who try.
I guess he was just saying to have FUN. Easier said than done, but once you do let go and stop thinking, it’s pure bliss.
10. Your EP launch is set to happen in Sydney on December 4. Are there any plans in the future for the rest of Australia to witness your live performances?
We’ll be launching my EP @ 505 on Dec 4. I do wish to tour next year, somehow I’d really love to capture Sydney first, then take the show to Melbourne, Brisbane and beyond.
Michael Duchesne is set to launch his debut EP, “Take Me” with a special performance on December 4th at the intimate jazz venue, 505 (280 Cleveland St, Surry Hills) from 6pm. Tickets available here.
Make sure you head down to this event Sydneysiders!! You’ll regret it if you don’t go. I’m envious of everyone living in Sydney because of this particular event! Dammit!
For those of you who won’t be in Sydney on Thursday, have a listen to Michael’s new EP right here.
*Photography provided by Behind The Front and The Kitten Jam.