Local Artist Spotlight: Alchemy
Alchemy, a rock band from Atlanta, Ga., formed in 2012. What separates them from other rock music is Sami Michelsen's voice. Her vocals are sultry, strong, and at times delicate. The band performs together effortlessly and is currently receiving recognition on the air from mainstream radio stations. I sat down with the two siblings and founders of Alchemy, Sami and Sean Michelsen.
What was your parent's role in each of your musical development?
Sean: Both of our parents supported us being involved in music at a very young age. Mom was especially cool when she let us cut holes in the walls to run wires from our "live room" to my "control room" (which were really just our bedrooms that were side by side).
Sami: Mom got us involved in (school) band, we were playing brass instruments while also being enrolled in piano lessons. She always said, "You can do whatever you want but you always have to be involved in some kind of music." I always secretly wanted to be in the choir, but it was a cool experience participating in a large group of musicians as a kid. Dad was always pushing me to sing in public and to his friends, so he had a big part in supporting the performance side of music, as well as the creation of it.
Tell me about your first live performance.
Sean: My first live performance was in a driveway and our parents were in the crowd. It was very kind of them to let us make so much noise.
Sami: My first time performing with my band was also in a driveway, totally terrified and so stoked to be (performing) live in front of other actual human beings! We played three cover tunes and got outta there but it was a good start. My first experience on an actual stage was in the talent show at our middle school. My eight-grade year we were the "house band" and got to play several times. I was also terrified in this situation. To be honest, I still get nervous before big performances, but I had never felt a rush like that before. I got really into it. Sean joined a band when he was 12-years-old and I pushed him into one with me a year later when I turned 15.
What is it about Georgia that makes it a great birthplace for music?
Sami: Atlanta has certainly helped shape me into the person I am today, both creatively and personally. As well as how we handle business. The city does a lot to shape you as an artist, in more ways than one. It's rad to be surrounded by so many inspiring people also, and to hear that you're being inspiring as well is always so fulfilling.
How do you use music to impact the world or yourselves?
Sean: I make music because I enjoy it, so every day that I'm writing or performing I'm feeling good. With respect to writing, it's very important to me to write intentionally and control the music versus just letting any and everything come out and represent me. I love refining my work and specifically choosing our parts, tones, and sounds, but doing so with caution and with care. Instead of what we all did as kids, just stabbing at sounds in the dark.
Sami: Like Sean said it's very important for us to filter our music, to view it through a particular shade of rose-colored glasses. We constantly battle with ourselves about our work. Is this it? Is this the take? This isn't the one. What else do we have? It's like the story of St. George and The Dragon. The premise there is that with composing, sometimes you slay the dragon, and sometimes the dragon slays you. Knowing when you have to scrap a piece is a big part of our writing process. We want to play the best music we can every time we hit the stage. Lots of magic happens in the studio, and that's one side of the coin, but there is a wild energy on the side that is the live performance. That is where so much of the impact happens for me, and we want to make that magic happen as often as possible.
If your songs were going to be played on a local radio station, which station would you choose?
Sami: We get spins on 99X and Radio105.7, both of which are totally rad and both are pretty surreal. Mama would be proud if we made it onto Star 94, but pops would love it if we hit V103. I'm down to represent both.
What is each of your favorite songs to perform?
Sean: I've been writing a lot on the piano lately and I'm really into those new songs we're developing.
Sami: We haven't started performing my favorite songs live yet, but I'm hooked on our new stuff. I'm very excited about finally being able to rage on those tunes. I will say that I also really enjoyed performing "Running in the Dark" and "Bad Woman, "also "Resistor." And of course "Heartbeat" is a wicked ballad so I feel a lot of things when I sing that song.
Do you have any advice for the world right now?
Sean: My friend always says, "Your mind only has enough space to occupy fear or love, choose love."
Sami: Love is always the answer so stay true to the self and to the "true true" if you dig my meaning. My fellow Cloud Atlas fans know, "This world spins from the same forces that twist our hearts." Stay honest with yourself and follow your heart.
Can you tell us about upcoming shows or releases planned for 2017?
Sean: We don't have an exact date for our next release, but we have gone into pre-production for our new record. We are really excited with the ways it's coming together.
Sami: Writing the new record is our top priority, and with that comes new content from the visual side of our work like music videos. Lots of work has been going into writing those concepts and scripts. 2017 is a year for breaking old cycles and exploring outside of our comfort zones. It's already been a year of extreme focus and content creation, so we are just excited to be working on so much music and art. We are very grateful.