Singer, rapper, equality advocate. In a nutshell, that describes Michael Blume, but behind the very vocal exterior, Blume is a truly passionate individual who just wants to live his life and for his message to be heard. The multi-talented artist covers as many topics in his music as genres he draws influence from. Before his show at Firefly, AXS sat down with Blume to discuss his music and the crazy world we live in.
AXS: Can you tell us how you got your start in music?
Michael Blume: I always loved music. I always did music stuff. I sang in a choir when I was in first, second and third grade. I did the play when I was in middle school and all throughout high school. It was just always that thing that I did after school, you know? I played the trumpet, took piano lessons, sang. I started arranging music, started having a band in college. It’s just kind of been my whole life, there’s been a pull toward it.
The end of college, I took a year off from school to tour with an a capella group, called the Whiffenpoofs of Yale. It’s kind of a prestigious a capella group, we walked around in tuxedos, that kind of vibe. During that year off, traveling with the group, I was like wow this is awesome. Traveling and singing is really cool. I had been writing songs, and I kind of re-decided to move to New York and pursue the music. To jump into it, meet up with producers and start records, and just do the thing. So I’ve been in New York for three years now, working on it.
AXS: Has it been challenging to deal with inequalities through your music like you’ve done?
MB: Say more. What do you mean challenging to deal with? You mean how I’ve been received as a gay man?
AXS: I mean, have you received any negative criticism for how you’ve voiced yourself through your music?
MB: Yes, yes I have, a little bit. I think there’s some people… My music is explicitly gay, in a lot of ways. And I think some people aren’t really down with that. Too bad, I say. Don’t play my music. I have a line, not to quote myself, but I have a line in the song “High Frequency,” and it goes “to all the lovers, I say thank you, to all the haters, thank you too. I need your hating to keep me running. You keep me young, and I need your truth,” you know?
So, I need to know that the haters are hating, because that reminds me of the work I have to do. There are people who aren’t down with me talking about my experience as a gay man or me being an ally to communities of color. Those are the people that I need to talk to, those are the people that I need to reach. So in a way, it kind of inspires me. I’m ready for that, and I welcome the conversation to continue.
AXS: Has any of that changed for you with today’s current political climate?
MB: Well, yes. You know, Donald Trump is president, and I don’t know your political orientation, but I am pretty appalled by him and his agenda and his whole cabinet’s agenda. His whole everything. And so, I think, absolutely. Nina Simone said as an artist it’s our duty to reflect the times, and the times are Donald Trump, you know what I mean? That’s the reality of the world we live in. The reality of the world is that we live in a country where we have a crazy president, who’s used fear and discrimination to get to power. We have a judicial system that unfairly and unjustly targets black men, murders black men and women. LGBTQ rights are not what they should be. There’s a lot of sh*t that is not like it should be. So I feel like I have to talk about that stuff. But, it’s doesn’t necessarily have to be so academic and so high minded. As a pop musician, I’m interested in finding ways to convey those complex messages in simple, palatable, digestible bits. So that’s what I’m working on.
AXS: And that’s more important now, than ever, then.
M.B.: Yeah, definitely.
AXS: Touring, festivals, that’s been kind of new to you this year, right?
M.B.: Yeah, it’s the first season that I’ve really done the festivals. I did LA Pride last year, which was awesome. And this year, I’m doing Governor’s Ball, Firefly, and then Lollapalooza, and then we’re doing a festival called Music Fest, which is not far from here. I’m working on an album, so we’re going to put out the first single this summer. And yeah, it’s exciting couple of months.
AXS: Busy man. So what has your 2017 been like in a nutshell?
M.B.: It’s been crazy. I’m finishing the album, so I’ve been in the studio a lot. On tour in February, around the Midwest, with a great band from Canada called Busty and the Bass. More studio, I was in LA doing some recording out there. And now that it’s festival season, we’re doing some festivals, other shows around NYC. It’s kind of just all wheels to the max, or whatever the expression is. We’re getting the live show always better and better, working in the studio to make the records as great as they can be, and then I’m working with a creative and visual team to make social media and fashion, outfits, all of that side of it as well, so it all comes together as a cohesive world.
AXS: What else is next this year then?
M.B.: The album, more tours hopefully this fall, releasing some more music, depending on kind of how the world reacts to the first stuff.
AXS: My last question is, do you have a message you want to send to your fans that need more support and encouragement in this time, as we talked about before?
M.B.: Absolutely. I think my core message is there’s no time to give f*cks. You have to just do what you want to do, and you have to respect that everyone else is gonna do what they want to do. And we can all get along, you know what I mean? I think if we all have some real decent basic human dignity, it really shouldn’t be that much drama. It’s all good. If you want to live in a world where you’re super Christian, where you’re not down with gay people, ok. But don’t tell me what to do, and frankly I’m not going to tell you what to do. We probably won’t be friends, but we can be neighbors. I can respect your humanity, and I think you can respect mine.
AXS: No more hate, right?
M.B.: No hate! No need. There’s no time. When I say there’s no time to give f*cks, what I mean is there’s no time to hate. We all live such short lives. Let’s figure out how to be happy together, and just use love to unite.