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Sunday, February 01, 2009 

GoGirls Interview with Michelle Schmitt

by Annette Warner

GoGirls: What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?

What drives my music and songwriting is my heart. I have been singing and writing songs since I was 12 years old in Detroit. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I started singing in choirs, at school, in little garage bands and in my house. My 1st garage band hit was a cover of “Proud Mary”. It was exhilarating and I felt so good letting go and singing. I also sang in church like a lot of girl singers in Detroit. That’s where it got into my heart….the songs, the feelings, the true expressions and passions that I felt for life.

GoGirls: Describe your style and name three musicians you have been inspired by admire and tell us why. 

In this day of music, with the business the way it is, who knows what my genre is! My music is very introspective and I think my lyrics say what a lot of women feel about life, love, sorrow & joy. I am a singer because of my love & admiration for Joni Mitchell’s songs. I appreciate intelligent lyrics and think that my songs reflect that. But I cannot just pick 3 musicians that have inspired me. Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Annie Lennox, Carole King, Eva Cassidy, Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow, Sade, Stevie Nicks & Kate Wolf

GoGirls: What's your ideal venue atmosphere?

My studio in San Francisco is my favorite place to play music. Also small, intimate venues like The Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, Ca and bigger venues like The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco because of the history in that place.

GoGirls: Describe your music career's evolvement and about the music scene in your hometown?

My music career has come a long way from that 1st little garage band in Detroit. After raising my sons (now 21 & 22) I started writing again. I was picked up by a music management company in the Bay Area and spent the next 3 years trying to work with the men in that company who had no clue what to do with a woman in her 40’s who wasn’t singing jazz. It was very frustrating and I tried to stay open and teachable. I fought for my songs and the integrity of my music. I opened Lilysong Records in Marin County, California and put out a record there. It was a very good experience where I, again, learned to have my voice and protect my songs and the essence of who I was as a musician and songwriter. After parting ways with my producer, who did not seem to trust me enough to give me the space for the magic to happen, I opened Harrison Street Records in San Francisco and have been happy ever since. I have 2 finished projects “HOME” and “ANOTHER WINTER” both available on iTunes. The trick is to stay true to yourself. The rest will follow. As for San Francisco, it is an amazing place for indie artists. We have a strong community of talented musicians and supporters. I am so grateful for it all.

GoGirls: Tell us about the inspiration for your latest release; what inspired the name and how has your music evolved.

My latest record is called “Another Winter”. The inspiration was a rough couple of years in my life and the songs reflect my feelings….saying goodbye to old friends, old behaviors and old relational issues. As for the name “Another Winter” it comes from the lead track which is about how sometimes in relationship’s a little hope is enough to hold onto. My music has gotten more concise and honest. I used to hide behind my lyrics…pretty words where I could hide. I don’t do that anymore. I say what I mean and do not edit myself.

GoGirls: What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project - and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?

Yes, absolutely. Stay true to your heart. DO not compromise your musical intentions and DO NOT worry about what or if anything will “happen” with the record. Just make it and stay in your heart. As far as time in the studio, there are so many indie studios where people are still making music for the sake of music. Find one and go there. They will support your dreams. I have had some of the sweetest and most honest relationships of my life with musicians.

GoGirls: What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?

Trusting the wrong people. There are a lot of amazing people out there and a lot of untrusting people too. I had 2 bad producer experiences…my 1st one, where I was taken advantage of because I didn’t know what I was doing., He charged me for things like mastering which he never did and did not really believe in my music. The other guy was very narcissistic and was so focused on himself that he could not make room for me in the process of creating MY music. Both good lessons…I have also had some wonderful relationships with producers…check out how you feel about people and trust your gut. If something seems too good to be true, it is.

GoGirls: Describe your toughest moment in your quest for a pro music career so far and tell us how you overcame it.

Getting caught up in the “what will happen with the music” idea and trying to figure things out. The second I get into my head and out of my heart, I am in trouble. Also allowing music “exec’s” to choose where I fit in. Just follow your heart and stay teachable and open…and get a day job so that you don’t have to compromise the music in any way.

GoGirls: What kind of advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged to not give up?

Get on Myspace music and talk to other artists for encouragement. Everyone has down days. Just to know that others are going through it is helpful. Stay in the center of your songs and music. All will be well.

GoGirls: Tell us something you want the independent music world to know about you.

That I am out here and that I have songs for people to hear. I also have a free song download about addiction. It was written as a response to the strong feelings I have had watching so many people that I have cared for lose their souls to addiction. Check it out and please pass it around.

GoGirls: What can your fans expect at a show and after a show?

Truthful heartfelt music and an AMAZING band. Check out my band page on www.michelleschmitt.com to see who I play with.

GoGirls: On gogirls music…

A great support to me as I navigate through this internet marketing. I want my songs to get out there and I also don’t want to be all in my head about how to get them there. Tish & Madalyn have been blessings from heaven for me. I trust them and really appreciate their wisdom. Thanks girls!!!!

More about Michelle at:

In addition to being the Founder, and Editor of CoffeeHouseTour.com, Annette Warner is a freelance sales Copywriter and Web Resource Developer with her own business; Awesome Webs. She also enjoys duties as a part time event planner and booking and music entertainment manager for several local festivals. She holds the position of Editor with the oldest and largest online community for Women in Music, http://www.gogirlsmusic.com/ and is the SC and NC Chapter Coordinator for the organization. She organizes and promotes the Wilmington, NC based and successful AWEsome 'Live Performance' Songwriting Competition now in it's 11th year. She is the owner of A. Warner Entertainment, a Live Entertainment Publicity Planning Agency. In short..."Some serious A'netteworking since 1995." Annette resides in Wilmington, NC with her tiny Chihuahuas, Kirby and Sofe. You can reach Annette at Awarner at coffeehousetour dot com.

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    Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 15 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

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