Originally from France and currently based in New York City, Fritz Michel is a sensational, international star and storyteller. Michel has previously worked in film, television, and the stage, but is currently taking the music industry by storm. He recently released the highly anticipated single and music video for “Look Out (Botticelli Girl),” which can be viewed HERE. 360 Magazine spoke with Michel about his creative song writing process, the true meaning behind “Look Out (Botticelli Girl)”’s lyrics, and his upcoming debut EP release.
What has the reaction to the release of “Look Out (Botticelli Girl)” been like?
One really great thing to come out of the release of “Look Out (Botticelli Girl)” has been the opportunity to reconnect with artists that I have not had the chance to work with. I just shot a music video for the song in Oregon with a longtime filmmaking colleague. We used analog special effects, like puppets and slide projections, to create a visual story. I feel fortunate that my music is helping me tap into a whole new creative language. The streaming platforms allow you much more global reach as an artist. I’ve made personal connections with listeners and music writers all over the world over the past year, and that’s been amazing.
You’ve described “Look Out (Botticelli Girl)” as a meditation and contemplation of amazing works of art and human history. Have any artists or pieces of art, besides Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus,’ inspired your music?
I look for musical inspiration everywhere. I borrowed the image of Ulysses lashed to the mast in Homer’s “The Odyssey” in my song “Stardust”. I use some snaky guitar steel there to speak of my homeward journey across the sprawl of Los Angeles from Hollywood to the PCH and beyond, while pining for my New York roots.
What was the song writing process for “Look out (Botticelli Girl)” like?
“Look Out (Botticelli Girl)” came to me very fast after a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art one afternoon last fall, right after the museum had reopened. I find that the galleries calm me emotionally and transport me creatively. I thought about that tension between permanence and impermanence that I experience [while] looking at a great painting and standing in awe of the flow of history. I also thought about capturing little human moments in music [in] the [same] way a painting does. You see that in the verses. I also thought “Botticelli Girl” had a catchy ring to it and would make a good lyric!
How has the pandemic affected your music creation process?
I really started exploring songwriting out of necessity when the pandemic exploded and put the brakes on performing live with my bands. My world changed on a dime, and that prompted a lot of introspection along with observation. I spent a great deal of time alone in my NYC apartment with my guitar. Fortunately, I discovered the space to learn the basics of music production and found the motivation to reach farther with the process. That’s the been a silver lining to the disruption and tragedy of the last year.
In three words, how would you describe the sound of “Look Out (Botticelli Girl)?”
Atmospheric, reflective, acoustic.
You are multi-talented artist, having shared your skills through music, film, TV, and the stage. Looking ahead, which of these creative avenues are you looking to focus on the most?
I’m very fortunate to have worked in music, film, TV, and stage. Music is a lot like putting on a play in my experience. You have to find or write a script and bring your own colors, sounds, and perspectives to the story. Rehearsal is required and technical elements need to come together. Then, you hope that somewhere there’s an audience that’s interested in what you have to say. Looking ahead, I plan to focus my creative process wherever I find willing collaborators and a game audience that’s open to the story. I’m making videos to go with my other releases (“Darker Now,” “Stardust,” and “King of Corona”).
I’m also thinking about writing a musical set in a family [of] architects with a longtime theater colleague, Oren Safdie. We collaborated closely on the premieres his trilogy of plays about architecture. One of my first acting gigs was performing in Oren’s spoof of “Fiddler on the Roof,” set in modern-day Montreal at La Mama, ETC on East 4th Street. So, in that way, I think I’ll be exploring all those avenues in the year ahead.
What is something about you or the release of “Look Out (Botticelli Girl)” that fans may not guess or suspect?
I doubt many people who listen to my music would guess that I was born and spent my childhood in France. We’ve also talked about Botticelli a lot in this interview, but much of “Look Out” comes from personal reflection on my own history. Termini’s is an old Italian pastry shop we used to frequent in South Philadelphia. I lived in Tribeca during 9/11 when the towers fell. When I refer to cherubs, I was really thinking of my own daughters there, less than the ones in “Birth of Venus”! Someone might pick up on those details on a closer listen to the song.
Do you have any more releases to come in 2021 that you can tell us about?
I’m finishing up a couple so I can put out my first EP this fall. I want to get back to performing, too. So much of what I know about music, I learned playing bass in a jazz quartet– so I hope we get that going again. For me, music is a good way to tap into our need for bliss, storytelling, and myth in life. I think it’s all about that conversation and listening to one another.