Ingrid Michaelson employs Sara Bareilles, Tegan and Sara, Lucius, AJR and John Paul White on her new EP ‘Alter Egos,’ and together, the artists reimagine five songs of Ingrid’s. The result is pure magic, and here, she gives us a look at how it all came together.
Full disclosure: I’ve been a fan of Ingrid Michaelson for roughly a third of my life, so I did not nearly jump, but leapt at the opportunity to interview her. Below, we discuss her concept EP Alter Egos, recently optioned Hulu show, and various other projects that she is…not supposed to discuss. For the sake of clarity, our conversation has been condensed, though not by much.
How did Alter Egos come about?
I wasn’t ready to release new music but I still wanted to release something. On my own, I’ve always done covers of other artists and made their songs my own, so I thought it’d be a fun experiment to do that with my own music. We took songs from my last record and reimagined them, and what I thought might push it over the age is if we got great people to be featured on the tracks. I had a song in mind for each artist that I reached out to, and they all said yes. It was pretty easy, actually!
What was the timeline?
It happened over four months when each artist had time, and I think what came out was a very eclectic piece of artwork that’s an extension of my last record. This also buys me a little bit of time, because everyone’s like, “When’s your next record coming out?!”
Guilty. How about the title?
“Alter ego” is the idea of how these songs can be one way and another way, but at the core, it’s the same song so it’s just a different side of the song.
I want to talk about two of the collaborations in particular. First, you reunited with Sara Bareilles!
We wrote “Winter Song” together nine years ago, and all of my fans are like, “When are you going to sing with Sara again?”
At the Holiday Hop show in December when you did “Winter Song,” I did hold my breath for her to come out.
Every Holiday Hop I ask her! Every time, she can’t. She goes to California for the holidays where her family is. I’m like, “I’ll have the Holiday Hop in November!” I’m hoping to get her one of these days.
I can’t think of a better team.
She’s so sweet. She was really the anchor for this, and one of the first people to say yes, so it built up around her. I knew that she would sound so beautiful on that song. We carry a similar message and have a lot of the same fans, so I thought that song would be embraced if done by the two of us.
It has been. I discovered today that there’s a Twitter account specifically dedicated to updates on Ingrid-and-Sara.
Okay. That’s funny.
Second, it was cool to hear Tegan from Tegan and Sara take on your sound.
I know! Our voices are so different, and I didn’t know how they were going to work together. They don’t go together, but in a weird way, that’s how they go together. I really love that song and what she did with it. I’m such a fan of theirs, and it made me so much cooler in my mind’s eye that they said yes.
View this post on Instagram
Tegan of @teganandsara and I casually posing in our #useyourhearttee shirts. We have added a unisex tee with sizes XS-4XL. All proceeds after manufacturing go to @trevorproject ❤️💜❤💙💚💛 Use Your Heart! Link in bio or at @useyourhearttee
A post shared by Ingrid Michaelson (@ingridmichaelson) on
Who do you want to collaborate with next?
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. I love his brain and I love that music so much. It’s so interesting and different and I think I’d benefit from being around that kind of creator.
How about your other projects?
I’m working on an animated film and a musical, and I have a pilot for Hulu. It’s such early days, and we’re working on the pilot script now. I also have a holiday record that I’m working on for next year — I’m guaranteeing that I have some sort of music every year! And I’m in a movie [Humor Me] with Jemaine Clement. I can’t say much, but it should be somewhere soon for your viewing pleasure.
Awesome. What’s your role in that?
I play a musician who’s a recovering alcoholic and drug addict living with her mother in her assistant living home, and Jemaine’s character is down on his luck and goes to live with his father, and we befriend each other.
Let’s go back to the Hulu pilot. How did that come together?
I’ve been wanting to do this for about 5 years now. I met with Liz Tigelaar and she totally understands my brain. I had a cloudy vision of what I wanted, and she got me and understood and helped me clarify things.
There were multiple parties interested in your show. Why go with Hulu?
We picked Hulu because of the artistic freedom and the connection Liz has with them. I’m hoping it works out with that network because they’re so brave and making such good choices, and they’re really focusing on female-driven projects, which I think is important. Fingers crossed, everyone. Fingers crossed.
Right there with you. What topics do you want to tackle with the show?
I want to discuss the concept of who I am, so a woman in her thirties who doesn’t have children, with no spouse, and a musician at the height of her career trying to figure out where to go from there. It’ll be funny and dramatic and I want it to be real.
Will there be music in it at all?
Yes, for sure, but in a very organic space. There’s not going to be breaking out into song — although I love that — but I want it to be real. Music will be huge, but because it’s happening, like a sound check.
Sounds good. On a more random note, what’s the weirdest or most unique venue you’ve ever played?
A Kroger’s supermarket. [Laughs] Wait, wait. Panera. Very depressing, but I have done it. But I did that one twice.
So you had a residency at Panera?
Well, it was two different years. A radio station had some sort of sponsorship so I had to go there and play. Mortifying. But you do what you gotta do!
True. And where’s the craziest place you’ve heard one of your songs playing?
This is not strange, but I was in Anthropologie…
That checks out.
…So that pretty much makes sense, but I heard the song and I was like, “What’s this? It sounds familiar.” And it took me a good 20 seconds to realize it was my song. It was old and I hadn’t heard it in so long. My boyfriend was with me, and he was like, “It’s your song, dummy.”
My selfish question is, when do I get to see you live again next?
Holiday Hop! You live in New York. Holiday Hop is guaranteed. Actually, there’s something you could possibly see me in, but I can’t tell you what it is!
Is this the part where you say you’re cameo’ing in Waitress next week?
God, I wish! Not that, but you are sniffing in the general right direction.
Stream Alter Egos: