She first appeared on our radar in the late summer with the introductory record Will I Ever, a self-written and produced song about that very question. focusing on the theme of love and relationship but with sweetly presented lyrics and neat country-pop production. Now The American singer and songwriter stopped by to share her sound and greatly made her debut album, Dear Diary. Talking more about the behind scenes of the new body of work, songs and writing. The upcoming artist, Pittsburgh's Demi Michelle tells all, first with her latest Christmas song, Snow on Christmas day.
1. Hi Demi, thanks for featuring with us. Your Christmas record is really good. Could you talk us through it?
Demi: I’m so glad you enjoy “Snow on Christmas Day.” I had such a blast writing and recording it. Last Christmas, I got inspired to write the song when I woke up to snow on the ground and covering the trees. Having a white Christmas in Pittsburgh makes the holiday season extra magical. I wrote
this song to capture how much I love to spend Christmas in my hometown. Last year, I released my first original Christmas song, “All I Want This Christmas,” which is a piano ballad. I wanted to make “Snow on Christmas Day” different, and since I’m going more country with my sound, I decided to
make it a super fun country-pop song.
Recording the song was truly a blast. Huge thank you to my producer, Bob McCutcheon, guitarist, Luke Wood, and drummer, Sophia Elliott, for helping me bring this song to life. One of my favourite memories from recording the song was tracking the sleigh bells. I’m a classically trained musician, and I’m pretty consistent with playing in time, piano being my main instrument, but I’m in no way a percussionist. Playing the bells was much harder than you’d think, and there were so many laughs. I always love sleigh bells on Christmas songs, so it was a very special experience getting to play them
on my own song. I’m super proud of “Snow on Christmas Day,” and I hope my listeners enjoy
it. It shimmers with holiday cheer, and now that Thanksgiving is behind us in
the States, festive magic is in the air.
2. This past season you released your debut album, ‘Dear Diary.’ How was it working on this project, do you draw from any of your influences?
Demi: Wow, I don’t really have the right words for how it felt to create Dear Diary. I worked on this project for two years, and every step of the journey was magical. Dear Diary is the album I had to write for myself to process my thoughts, feelings, and insecurities. Through writing the songs on the album, I was able to heal. I also had a journey of self-discovery. This album is extremely vulnerable, and that’s why I called it Dear Diary. I think of each song as a musical diary entry. This album is my story, and I’m so beyond happy it’s out.
I definitely drew on my musical influences to write the album. I think that as a songwriter, I’m always being inspired by the songwriters and artists that I look up to. I have my own style, but the artists I love have shaped me and allowed me to blend my various musical influences, both sonically and lyrically, to create an album that is authentically me. Dear Diary is a pop-focused album, and I feel like Julia Michaels and Taylor Swift definitely inspired the sound of some of the tracks. Some of the songs are very percussive and have unique and fun production, so it was a great experience drawing from my inspirations then exploring different sounds and instrumentation with my producer to find what fit. Also, one of the songs, “Find Love,” definitely has a flavour of country music in it. I’m very
inspired by Kelsea Ballerini, and her music inspired me to put a little bit of a country flavour into the song, especially with the electric guitar in the second verse.
I think it’s so important for songwriters to be aware of the artists who inspire their own work. Our favourite artists are inspired by other artists, too. If we’re aware of who influences our music, we’re able to acknowledge that and find ways to create an authentic style that makes us stand out. I’m influenced by both pop and country artists, and all of my music is based on my personal experiences and emotions. So much goes into being a songwriter, and I’m grateful for all of the artists I love for being inspiring and allowing me to develop my own style. I’m very proud of Dear Diary, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
3. From the album, our favourite track is ‘Will I Ever.’ do you have any favourite songs you worked on and why?
Demi: I’m so glad “Will I Ever” is your favourite song because it’s mine, too. That song is so special to me. “Will I Ever” is a song that I’ve tried to write many times before I actually wrote it. The message of wondering if I’ll ever know how it feels to fall in love is something that is super vulnerable and emotional. When I tried to write a song with this concept before, I kept stopping because it was too emotionally difficult for me. Finally, “Will I Ever” came to me. Writing this song was so therapeutic for me, and for a while, I kept it to myself. It is such a personal song that I was afraid to show it to others. I finally gained the courage to play it during a songwriter round on
Zoom and the feedback were so incredible. Everyone loved it and encouraged me to record it, which I did in March of this year.
Then, my producer loved it so much that he suggested that I release it as Dear Diary’s lead single, which I did on May 21. “Will I Ever” is such a special song to me that I decided to include an acoustic version as a bonus track on the album. I wrote this song with my guitar, and though I love the pop version, the acoustic version truly captures the raw vulnerability of the song. I wanted listeners to hear the song the way I wrote it and how it was always meant to be heard. This song is so magical acoustic, and I’m so glad I decided to share this version of the song. Other than “Will I Ever,”
I’d have to say that some of my other favourites are “Perfectly Imperfect,” “Obvious,” and “Find Love.” “Perfectly Imperfect” and “Obvious” are such fun pop songs. I had so much fun working with my producer on those two. Even though I’m going more country with my sound, these two songs capture the pop music I love the most. Also, “Find Love” is special to me because it has a hopeful message of falling in love one day. That song means a lot to me, and I think it is a great representation of my sonic shift. “Find Love” is acoustic-pop with a flavour of country, and it shows
my growth as a songwriter and my new musical direction.
A lot of my upcoming music is more country, so this song is a nice indication of beginning this shift. I love all of the songs on Dear Diary for different reasons. Still, these are my consistent favourites on the album.
4. It’s lovely to come across talent from Pittsburgh, what was it like growing up in music there, did you have any key artists or groups that you listened to?
Demi: I love my hometown. We have a nice music scene that I’m still trying to break into as an artist. I have some incredible memories from spending fun days downtown and listening to live music when I was growing up. The city has a lot of events, especially during the holidays, so it’s always a great
time. When I was growing up, I mostly listened to mainstream pop artists, and Pittsburgh gets most of the mainstream artists on their tours, so I was able to see many of my pop idols live over the years.
Some of my favourite artists I saw live are Julia Michaels, Taylor Swift, Sabrina Carpenter, Ariana
Grande, and Katy Perry. I’m really looking forward to going to more concerts here. Since falling in love with country music, I’ve been wanting to see my favourite country artists live. Fun fact, I actually got to go to the CMA Awards in Nashville, and that was the best first experience of live country music. I can’t wait to see my favourite artists play in Pittsburgh one day.
5. You’re a skilled artist and musician, how much does your music mean to you and what do you hope to say through your album?
Demi: Music means everything to me. I turn to music for comfort all the time, and as a songwriter, music allows me to express myself in such a raw and beautiful way. There are so many things that I don’t have the courage to talk about in a typical conversation, but music gives me a way to do that
creatively. Songwriting is truly a gift, and I’m forever blessed that I get to create music to share with the world. Music has helped me so much over the years, and it’s my hope that my music can be there to help others through things they may be going through. I will always stay true to myself
as a songwriter and speak my truth through my music. I honestly can’t imagine a world without music because it’s so precious to me.
I hope that my album, Dear Diary, can allow my listeners to have their own journeys of self-discovery and help them heal from anything they may be struggling with within their lives. Writing the album was so therapeutic for me, and the message I’d love for it to send is that it’s okay to talk about very
personal and vulnerable things. Also, there’s no reason to be ashamed of feeling a certain way. It’s difficult to open up and talk about things, but we all face challenges in our lives. We all have insecurities and doubts.
This album is my own sonic diary that I poured my heart into. I hope others can find comfort in knowing that they’re not alone in what they're facing or dealing with because I’m right there with them. My goal as a songwriter is, to be honest, and create a space that is free of judgement or shame. Dear Diary is the first project that captures this, and I’m looking forward to writing and releasing more music that means as much to me as I hope it means to my listeners who connect with the songs.
6. You dropped your album and festive jam just in time haha, what can your supporters and listeners look forward to in 2022 ?
Demi: I have so much planned for 2022 already, and I’m going back to the studio at the end of December to work on even more new music. As you can hear in “Snow on Christmas Day,” I’m making a sonic shift into country music. I feel like I found a home in the genre, so you can expect lots of country music coming next year. I still love to hold on to my pop roots, so you will definitely hear a blend of pop and country in my upcoming music, some songs are more than others, but both genres inspire my songwriting. You will be getting three new singles from me in the first three months of
First, in January, I’m releasing my own version of “Homecoming Queen” by Kelsea Ballerini. Kelsea is my favourite country artist, and this is the song that made me fall in love with country music. I wanted to record my own version because of how special the song is to me.
In February, I’m releasing a very special single, “Across the Pond.” The UK has truly welcomed me into the music scene with open arms. I never dreamed I’d receive the level of supporting everyone across the pond shows me. I wrote this song as a thank you to my UK family. You have no idea
how excited I am to finally release it early next year. I wrote a song called “Four Leaf Clover” that I’m hoping to release on St. Patrick’s Day in March. This song is more of an acoustic-pop song, so I’m looking forward to adding more of a pop flavour into my new releases.
That is just my plan for the first three months. I will also have a summer single, and I’m definitely going to release Christmas music next year as well. I would love to release a country EP in the fall, but I’m all about the timing is right. If it’s not in the fall of 2022, definitely early 2023.