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press conference

WORDS by  Tessa Swantek  TALENTMichael J  Woodard  PR °1824  

Michael J. Woodard’s answer is ‘Yes’ and everything about his energy exudes this self-assured reply. The question, you ask? It’s ‘Do you want to be an artist?’ or more accurately, ‘Do you want to be an artist outside of the glamour? Outside of fame? Even when nerves (or as Michael calls them - “the enemy”) creep up your throat and tie your voice in knots? Even if only a few people hear what your soul tells them?

Michael’s first few times on stage in front of an audience were at his Philly school’s Christmas pageants serenading the audience with R&B Tevin Campbell songs. By thirteen, he had sung at a rally for President Barack Obama and at the U.S. Open in New York. After moving to Los Angeles, he landed on American Idol, which he calls “an experience that you can’t really buy.” He says, “It’s a simulation of the industry without being in it yet.” He continues, “The most important thing I learned from American Idol is ‘Yes’. At the end you’re presented with the question of if you really want to do this.” 

“Yes” seems to be almost easy for Michael. He explains, “When you love music, you’ll go to the grave to make your dream come true.” It’s his devout intentionality that makes “Yes” feel easy. He doesn’t seem like the type who wavers easily. And if he does, he finds his way back, always. It’s an intentionality he shares with Katy Perry, who had her heart set on him throughout his entire American Idol journey. Now, he’s signed to her label, Unsub Records. He says, “Me and Katy have a lot of similarities. She grew up in Christianity so she related with me early on. When I present a record, most of the time she’s like, ‘Yeah! That's the one!’” He relates his decision to sign with her label to choosing an apartment; “I just felt at home. It’s like when you’re apartment shopping and you walk into one and you’re like, this is it.  

This is it. There’s so much assuredness in that statement. It’s when your gut just knows, when trust isn’t even a question. When there isn’t a question at all. It’s as simple as ‘Yes'. Michael believes deeply in staying true to yourself, and while he knows it’s a cliché statement, he thinks doing so is much more difficult in practice, especially in the entertainment industry. He shares, “The industry can make you stray so far from yourself to accomplish something. I want to stay true to my morals and values.” He continues, “Make sure you’re grounded in something whether it’s God or your family.” 
The effort he put into grounding himself and staying true to himself early on seems to be one of the main reasons he is able to trust his gut and set clear intentions today. He says, “When you do music when you’re young, you’re able to skip the part later on of figuring yourself out.” A lot of his personal identity is grounded in the church as he says, “[Church] taught me to harmonize and put emotion into what I’m doing.” Soulful emotion runs deeply through his debut EP, MJW1, as he earnestly says, “You can hear my heart and soul in these records so to know it resonates gives me all the joy in the world. I want people to know that when you’re listening to a song from me, you are listening to my heart!” 

"When you're listening to a song from me, you are listening to my heart!" 

Trouble by Michael J Woodard

In the same way that his heart is certain and deliberate, so is his music. He calls creating this collection of music “effortless,” later explaining, “All the records that I make are very intentional. When I made ‘Hems,' I knew that day it would open the project.” Beautifully and fully trusting his storytelling, even in words unspoken, he says, “I could almost have hummed that record and I feel like it could have resonated.” One of the characteristics that brings MJW1 all together is its ability in each song to capture a unique feeling through sound alone within the first few seconds of each track.
The second track, “Trouble” is the first single Michael chose for the EP rollout. "Trouble" along with “24 hours” has a distinctly early 200s R&B sound, one that Michael is profusely inspired by. The accompanying music video shows his hands being tied at the beginning, alluding to the idea that a relationship has full control over him. In his “Face” music video, he’s surrounded by an intricate orange rope, tying his face, another expression of a lack of control. It’s interesting that a lot of his visuals play with the idea of things that you carry or are controlled by. In “Ruined,” baggage follows him throughout the video. In his EP, he brings with him all that he carries and all that carries him. The entire EP is rooted even in uncertainty, much like Michael himself. 

"I could have almost hummed that record and I feel like it could have resonated." 

Michael is also very deliberate about his music videos, considering them an extension of his art. He shares, “I never would have thought that making music videos would be something I’d live for! There are a lot of aspects but I remember [when creating] my first music video, ‘why you texting’ me?’ I fell in love with it! It’s really important that you give an added cherry on top to every record you put out.” His overall philosophy and motivation, though, is the singular thought, this has to be heard. And he really does have to be heard. 

Face by Michael J Woodard

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