Kicking off our #MusicSeries section of talks, we thought it was fitting to introduce you to Michelle Rose. As our transition talk between #CollegeConvos and #MusicSeries we thought a little advice from a current Berklee School of Music student, might inspire the artist inside of you. Michelle Rose is certainly taking off in the music scene; You might compare her to the likes of Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainer with her catchy tunes and perfectly picturesque music videos, but Michelle Rose is a classically trained singer. Here, we talked to her about what it's like to be a songwriter, the key to the perfect setting in which to write a song, and how she balances the world of classical and pop music.
How do you get inspired for your songwriting?
In the past, it was difficult for me to write about everyday life, and I could only write songs after I had been through something that was really emotional/sad. But now, I can write more freely about general topics, and not just hardships. Lately, I find myself being inspired constantly throughout each day, and sometimes it can be hard to shut my mind off at night because I like to think deeply about everything I experience. If I really want to have a formal writing session and spill my heart out onto a page, I turn off all my lights, burn candles, and listen to emotional music that is similar to the mood I’m feeling at the moment. I’m not sure why/how I came up with this method, but it really pushes me to fully feel each emotion and to dive into what I want to say.
Dream stage to perform?
The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul! When I was fourteen, Susan G. Komen Minnesota selected me to give a keynote speech at WeDay at the X, in front of 19,000 people. I thought I would be nervous; but when I got on the stage, I felt completely calm, like that was where I was always meant to be. Being on that stage made me realize that I want to be able to perform in front of crowds like that for the rest of my life.
Favorite experience performing so far?
For the past several years, I’ve had the honor of being selected to sing the National Anthem at the start of each Susan G. Komen Minnesota Race for the Cure Walk, in front of 40,000 people. I feel most comfortable in front of big crowds, so this is always my favorite performance every year.
Do you play any instruments? How did you learn?
I play a little bit of piano, and I’m trying to learn to play guitar this summer! My professor from my previous music college has been giving me lessons!
What do you study at Berklee?
Vocal Performance; I intend to be a professional singer/songwriter.
What was it like moving so far away from home to study at Berklee?
It was a little difficult because I have a great relationship with my family and always missed them, but it was also nice to take another step towards being on my own. It taught me to be even more independent and to call my family often!
Walk us through the process of choosing your audition song for Berklee...
I sang an aria called “O Mio Babbino Caro”, from Gianni Schicchi, by Puccini. This is the aria that I always sing for talent competitions, so it was an easy decision for me. I wanted to sing something that would highlight the classical training I’ve had, and something that I had worked really hard on.
I also sang “The One For Me”, by Rahsaan Patterson. I chose this song because Pop/R&B is my favorite genre to sing, and this was one of the first R&B songs I had ever worked on. Both songs have emotional/romantic messages, and those are my favorite kinds of songs.
If you had a friend visiting you in Minnesota, walk us through a fun day in the life of Michelle Rose and her friend…
I love showing people around Minnesota! I personally think that Minnesota is very underrated and that everyone should visit it sometime in their lives. I would, of course, start by taking my friend to the Mall of America; It’s the largest mall in the US, fifth largest mall in the world, and has something for everyone. I would also take my friend to one of our many lakes for some boating; We are known to have 10,000 lakes, but we actually have 15,000!
I would take them to my hometown of Stillwater, because it’s one of our oldest towns, and was actually founded before Minnesota became a state. We have many historic Victorian buildings, so there’s a lot of charm here. I’d take them to Paisley Park; Prince’s home and recording studio! Prince is our hometown hero here in Minnesota. Lastly, I would take them to the James J. Hill House in St. Paul, which is a haunted Victorian mansion! I love all things paranormal and all-things Victorian, so it’s the perfect place to explore!
What is one cause you believe in?
Susan G. Komen/breast cancer awareness. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, and 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer someday. When I was eight years old, one of my best friends’ moms died from breast cancer. Going to her funeral and seeing the impact that breast cancer had on her family deeply affected me, and I’ve been volunteering with Susan G. Komen to help fight breast cancer ever since. I’ve volunteered over 2,500 hours, and many of those hours have been for Komen. I’m a brand ambassador for them and put on talent show fundraisers to raise money for them. I love that I can combine my love of music with volunteering to help other people.
If you were on a desert island, what are five things you’d bring with you?
My dog, Biscuit, apples (I’m obsessed), my phone so I can call for help, my pillow because I have horrible insomnia, and my headphones so I can still listen to music, if my phone does work.
We love your Energy music video, what was the process of recording that and filming the video?
I had the time of my life working on Energy! I really love funkier R&B songs, so it perfectly fits what I like to listen to. My producer, who composed and produced the song, is Dr. Fink, from Prince & The Revolution. I was a fan of The Revolution and saw them perform at First Avenue shortly before I met Dr. Fink, so it is a huge honor for me to know him and to work with him. Chris Moon, who discovered and developed Prince, wrote the lyrics for Energy. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be working with people who I admire and aspire to be like! I still can’t believe that all of this has happened, but I’m so thankful to be experiencing all of this. As a musician/singer, some of my wildest dreams are already coming true, and it feels so rewarding. I came up with the concepts for each scene and planned each costume and hair/makeup look, picked out the props, and selected the actor in the video. Also, I had my choreographer provide backup dancers and work on the dance with us. I have been acting longer than I have been singing, and I’ve always loved filming movies. Music videos are the perfect outlet for me, because I’m able to combine acting with singing, and codirect everything so I can tell the story I’m trying to portray. It allows me to be my creative self and express who I am.
Find Michelle Rose on instagram @__michelle_rose__. Check out another Berklee College of Music student's talk here.