Michael Love Michael Releases Emotive New Single 'Blue Eyed Devil'

Michael Love Michael Releases Emotive New Single 'Blue Eyed Devil'

Michael Love Michael Releases Emotive New Single 'Blue Eyed Devil'

The creative chats with V on her most recent single and must-see, futuristic music video

The creative chats with V on her most recent single and must-see, futuristic music video

Text: Matthew Velasco

"If you don't see yourself, how can you get a real sense of what's possible?" asks musician, artist, and writer Michael Love Michael. "It can feel like an uphill battle. I always say I wish I had people like me when I was a child."

Since releasing her debut album XO, Michael has been set on carving her own path. The multi-hyphenate's genre-mixing sound broaches topics like self-love, racism, and everything in between all the while channeling her identity as a Black trans woman into enticing visuals and experimental production. Now, just in time for Pride Month, Michael is again stepping into her own with the release of her latest single 'Blue Eyed Devil.'

Charting relationships gone wrong, the track features flowing production and punchy lyrics like 'Tell me what possessed you to think/You could psychoanalyze me like that," sung in both English and French (As of late, Michael has been spending most of her time in Paris.)

For the track's accompanying video, Michael looked to ballet and movement as reference, in specific Norman McLaren's sensual short film Pas de deux. Against an all white backdrop, Michael dons nude underpinnings while the camera follows her dynamic, dance-like movements. And in keeping with the track's moniker, devilish graphics and filtered overlays are seen throughout.

Below, V chatted with Michael on channeling her identity into art, the meaning behind "Blue Eyed Devil," upcoming sophomore album, and more.

V Magazine: How does your identity as a Black trans woman inform your creative practice? Why are trans and queer representation important in the realms of music and in other sectors as well?

Michael Love Michael: I've always said that my very existence—in most contexts—is political. It's not my own doing. My body is made a battleground for debate and hot topics, as are how and who I love. And my Blackness is further complicated by my lived experience being trans. That alone gives me plenty of material to work from creatively, but then again, I am truly a sensitive, genuine human being who absorbs my surroundings.

When I write songs, I am usually writing from that place of observation—whether it's dissecting my own life or noticing what's going on in the world around me. I often try to write from two "selves"—my higher self and who I want to be in the future, and my present self which is right here on the ground trying to get through life and make sense of things that don't always make sense. It's important to have a variety of perspectives represented in music and art.

V: As it is the beginning of Pride Month, what message do you hope the LGBTQ+ community takes from your music? Are there any LGBTQ+ artists, trailblazers, or figures that you look up to?

MLM: I am always true to myself and following my own muse artistically. I think this helps people connect to my music. I try to live a full, authentic, abundant, and healthy life. If you listen closely to my music, you can feel the fullness of that and my emotion. I know what it means to hurt deeply and to persevere. I know what it means to claim yourself in a room where no one else is. So many of my heroes did this despite being booed or even rejected by fellow queer people.

I always name Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson because they are celebrated now. But when they were founders of what we now understand as the Queer Liberation Movement—that people profit and gain social capital from—these women were often jeered at and booed when giving speeches. Some of my favorite people are Black people who leave the United States in search of artistic community, peace of mind, and respite from the brunt of constant, at-every-level discrimination. They happen to be prominent figures in the LGBTQ community and were writers, poets, thought leaders, activists: James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Nina Simone, and Langston Hughes, to name a few.

V: You produced your latest single Blue Eyed Devil with Reuben Butchart, which features various French influences throughout. What was the inspiration behind the song, both sonically and thematically? What was your creative process like?

MLM: I wrote Blue Eyed Devil last Winter following a series of disappointing experiences with white people I'd become close to. I thought these were people I could trust, that I could confide my deepest secrets in. I was wrong. When I've been mistreated or hurt by someone, I have this way of blaming myself. It takes me a long time, reflection, and talking to people close to me to learn if I play a part when my relationships dissolve.

V: The track's futuristic and French influences are also seen in the accompanying video, as well as references to ballet and performance. Can you describe your process and initial ideas behind the video? How are your references translated through this medium?

MLM: The director Michael Cho and I had been wanting to collaborate for quite some time. He's directed some really beautiful, fashion-forward films and I always thought he could bring that level of taste and aesthetic to something I'd wanted to make. We had an initial brainstorming meeting after I sent him the song and he really loved it. When we were brainstorming we realized that we were visually on the same page and had lots of similar ideas in common for how Blue Eyed Devil could come to life. Michael had the idea to base the concept loosely on Pas des deux, a short by the late director Norman McLaren who was gay. Norman's film examined his lifelong love of ballet as a dance between two people on a dark screen  as an almost strobe-like effect of optical illusion.

Michael really pushed me to go full out. We'd have to stop after every take to reapply makeup and redo my hair because the sweat would be dripping down my body. I threw myself all over the set, contorting myself into numerous shapes, adopting a fighter stance, an inverted child's pose, and more. This passion and energy comes through in my performance. I wanted to be free, and sexy, and I wanted to fight whatever monsters had possessed me.

V: Blue Eyed Devil is the latest track off of your upcoming sophomore album. What can we expect from the new album? Any new sounds, themes, or messages?

MLM: The new album is a departure from my first album, which had a sound that was charged by rage, the political landscape of 2020, and bittersweet memories of past love. But now, you're going to hear me singing like you've never heard me before. Reuben and I hunkered down last winter and made 15 songs or more. I recorded other songs with other producers as well, there are some fun surprises people may not expect from me.

My stylistic and topical diversity remains, but this time, I'm focused more on things like family, spirituality, rising above the bullshit, and going deeper into my roots, and why I am who I am. The sound is largely in the pop and R&B side of things, which I didn't expect, but it's all the music I loved, that I grew up with. I'm playing guitar on several of the tracks, which I picked up in January. The album is a beautiful, delicate, but a fierce body of work. It's done and I'm planning the next stages for its release. The best is always yet to come, but here is pretty fucking good.

Credits:
Director and Editor: Michael Cho, Producers: Michael Cho x Michael Love Michael, Director of Photography: Andrés Cardona, Set Photographer: Michael Thomas Kalinowski, Hair & Makeup: Savant Laurent, Production Assistants: Seth McMillian x Genghis Saikhanov, VFX Motion Graphics: Michael Cho, Titles: Travis McClung

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