Los Angeles based solo artist Michael Blum is as authentic and real as they come. Best known for his incredible jazz guitar skills, Blum started releasing as a solo pop artist earlier this year. Since then Blum has had the opportunity to provide himself as a gifted songwriter and vocalist. On his latest single “Save Me,” Blum recounts his personal battles with anxiety. Following the release, we recently had the chance to catch up with Michael to discuss “Save Me,” his songwriting process, and future plans.
Can you please tell me more about the incident that inspired you to write “Save Me”?
The weekend before I wrote “Save Me,” I had driven up from my sublet in LA to Northern California, where I was living at the time, to visit my girlfriend. At the time, I was going through a lot of transitions, and a lot of aspects of my life were changing quite rapidly. Around then, I was first considering moving to LA fulltime, and I was just starting a brand new artist project that felt like a big departure from what I had been doing previously. So when I got back to Northern California, I felt a sort of culture shock, almost as if I was visiting a former version of myself. I got completely in my own head, and I started worrying that the “new me” wasn’t real and that my recent choices had been misguided. All of a sudden I was deluged with all this anxiety, and I felt totally debilitated. I couldn’t speak or even move. So I slept it off, and I processed that experience for a few days before getting into the studio with Rollo and Dan Whittemore, and we wrote this song.
What helps alleviate your anxiety most?
Creating, definitely. When I’m in the midst of producing or writing a song, I can really tune out a lot of my inner monologue. That and showering my cat with boundless affection.
What advice do you have for other young people suffering from anxiety?
Oh man, I don’t know. I guess don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings because chances are, other people have experienced something similar and will relate to you. I used to think that there were people out there that are just always happy and fulfilled—but in reality that’s just not what being human is. It’s a lot of ebbs and flows, and that’s totally natural.
Which artists of the moment do you most respect and why?
So many for so many different reasons. I’d say Tom Misch because, at heart, I’m a guitar nerd and I love how he uses the instrument, and how he produces in general. Recently I’ve also been listening to Moonchild on repeat, and also anything produced by Nate Mercereau.
What is your songwriting process like?
A lot of the time, ideas will just pop into my head randomly, and I’ll make a voice memo of it. Which is why I’m often singing to myself in public places, like the grocery store or walking down the street. Then, I’ll come back to the voice memo later, and play it back into my computer and make a beat out of it. Usually, I’ll sing a few melodic ideas and maybe a couple of words, and that will set the tone for what kind of lyrics I’m going to write.
What has the transition away from jazz into pop music been like? And what sparked the change?
When I first started this new artist project, I felt so scared to release any music that was different than what I had released in the past. But now that I’m in the swing of things, I feel great. I think what sparked the change is that I had been feeling stagnant, and so I started making music that pushed the limits of my comfort zone. This past year, I feel like I’ve grown so much as a musician and as a person.
Any plans to tour in the near future? Anything exciting that you’re planning for 2020 and beyond?
I’m planning on releasing my EP in early 2020, which I’m really excited about. There will also be a few singles coming out soon that I’ve produced and co-written with other artists, which I’m also stoked about. As far as touring, right now, I’ve got my plate full writing and producing, but maybe once the EP is out, I can start thinking about a tour!