I’ve gotten to listen to a bunch of new artists from the Nashville area, then combined with my recent musical obsessions that merge pop and country (Meant to Be by Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha, Babe by Sugarland and Taylor Swift), I’m on a big country-fusion kick. I know, I know, I’m a city girl, but I’ve got a palette for any kind of music. Recently, I was deflated when a beloved indie-bluegrass band announced they were breaking up, but lo and behold, Michael & the Myriad fell into my lap, and I haven’t stopped playing them on repeat.
Michael & the Myriad started as a solo project but grew into a six piece band. How did everyone come together?
We all fell into our roles pretty naturally as a band, but most of us have been friends for far longer than The Myriad has been active. I grew up in Wisconsin with Matt Byers, who plays rhythm guitar. He moved here in 2012 to pursue a career within his skill set — he’s been producing and writing music since Jr. High, which is when we really became friends. He kindled my creative fire at that age, and we went through high school finding countless ways to have fun writing music. I yearned for that expression before moving down to Nashville in 2014, and ended up living with Matt and Chris O’Brien, who plays bass in the band. Chris does the bulk of our engineering and steers the proverbial ship as we move through the production process. I actually still live with Chris, which is hugely helpful for our work flow, and he’s just been a north star for me since moving here nearly 5 years ago. I met Lindsey O’Halloran within my first year in Nashville through some mutual friends. We would have bonfires and friend-dinners and all sorts of good hangs, which is how I learned she was a fabulous keyboard player and songwriter. Though this was still well before the thought of pursuing a songwriting career and forming a band. I met Cameron Theobald, who plays lead guitar, on a study abroad trip in London. Total strangers until I asked him to shoot some hoops with me before our first excursion. We’ve been close ever since, but making music together was more successful than our basketball careers. Cam introduced me to Nick, who plays drums with us. We became good friends the more we played music and spent time outside of a band-practice space. That’s the special thing about this group. They’re all fabulous players, but really they’re my best friends. It’s Michael & the Myriad, yeah, but it’s entirely about the music, creating a mood, absorbing the energy, or pursuing a feeling. I’m grateful to work with earnest and good people that share a passion for it.
Something that I personally love about folk music is that you can use a lot of instruments beyond the traditional rock/pop menagerie (banjos, mandolins, violins, washboards). What’s been your favorite instrument that you’ve featured on a song?
Yes, we love having the the freedom to break the mold and find ways to be unique! We featured mandolin and a vibraslap for the first time on “Rattlesnakes,” really leaning into that western vista feel. We found that doing some whistles and yodels fit the sound we had in mind for some other tunes on the album, but we’re featuring harmonica, glockenspiel, organ, strings, clanking beer bottles, bells… the whole nine yards throughout the project. More recently, we captured some really cool sounds on a seemingly ancient piano that was quite out of tune. We were able to do some post production work to give it this alien-like shine that sounds so cool and atmospheric. Sure, it’s a modern instrument, but just finding ways to breathe life into these songs has been the most fun part of this project.
And what is an “out there” instrument that you would love to feature? (Bagpipes, gamelans, etc etc)
So, so much! Was thinking an electric sitar would be really cool to feature in like a higher octane tune. Or writing a ballad around a kalimba melody. If I could ever convince myself to buy a theremin, I’d sure love to write some more haunting tunes and write a spooky EP. You’ll surely hear about that when it happens!
Everyone in the Myriad ended up in Nashville, creating music together. How does the Nashville music scene compare to other places?
Nashville has a very particular energy about itself that is incredibly uplifting. Since participating in the music scene here for a couple years, it seems like everybody and their grandmother is pursuing a creative endeavor in some way. Now that could be anything from production, engineering, writing, to performing, but beyond the music spectrum, there are people that want to do photography for you, or start-up production groups that would love to do a budget music video, etc. The community here is so very encouraging. We all want to see each other succeed.
With both folk and alternative sounds, you have a wide pool of inspiration to draw from. Which artists or bands have been your greatest influences?
This is really what pushed me into songwriting. It took until I started listening to Lord Huron’s Strange Trails album that I said to myself, “Yes, yes, YES, that’s how I want to write music.” So, Lord Huron, certainly, also James Taylor, The Lumineers, Fleet Foxes, Manchester Orchestra, Tall Heights, Bears Den, and My Morning Jacket to name a few.
You’re working on your first full-length album, following an EP and some very catchy and successful singles. What can you say about the upcoming project?
Why, thank you! The first EP was a great start, but I’ve sought to really dig deeper into this project to tell a collective story. The album authors the fictional tale of a nameless protagonist with a rather helpless ethos. Each song dictates a particular chapter in their quest for realization, or in context with the album’s title, to Find the Sea. You can hear these ideas in our first couple singles. “Reckless” is the beginning of the story, where our character exists as a heedless outlaw, in search for his own truth as he illustrates a ruthless adventure through the west. “Rattlesnakes” is a later chapter, in which he has this idea to leave this place behind with the woman he saved during “Reckless.” His idea being that there must be more to this life of gallivanting through the desert. Our third single, “Rolling to Nowhere,” is the final track on the album, reflecting on this grandiose journey. The details are within the 12 tracks on the album, and we’re so excited for you to hear it.
I enthusiastically say this about every band or artist I highlight, but you should absolutely give Michael & the Myriad a listen, and certainly follow them on social media to be in touch! Check out their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!