PM: Hi Michelle, we’re thrilled to have you here. Can you let our readers know a little bit more about your eclectic style and influences when you grew up?
MQ: I grew up in a family that enjoyed listening to music but we weren’t particularly musical. I had a few toy guitars when I was very little and even then there was a spark of connection! So at thirteen I saved up my money to buy my first guitar and embark on the role of an enthusiastic self-taught guitarist. I learned primarily by listening to guitar legends of rock and pop, being influenced by The Beatles, and other bands and solo artists, like Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Mike Oldfield, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Pat Metheny and Leo Kottke. But I also aspired toward a more expansive understanding of music for myself.
PM: WOW! There’s nothing like aiming for legendary status is there? That’s a serious list of influences, so where did that take you?
MQ: After a few semesters at our state university studying psychology, I recognized my need for creative expression, so I changed my course of study and started out, at twenty, as a burgeoning classical guitar student in pursuit of the discipline and ultimate creativity that a formal music education promised. I graduated, with honors, with Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. Exposure to classical music and jazz at college, as well as discovering a love of music from many different parts of the world, brought a new level of influence to my music. Studying the music of Bach, Mozart, Brahms and the great tradition of Western Classical music, together with indigenous music traditions from across the globe, and several contemporary composers whose music is often heard in film scores, such as Ennio Morricone, Michael Nyman, Philip Glass, Johann Johannsson, Omar Khairat, and A.R. Rahman, inspired and enhanced my musical worldview. So that is where essentially the eclectic roots of my music background were planted.
PM: I see where your incredible music resonates from. Everyone knows what a massive influence Bach has had on modern music from ‘A bridge over troubled water’ by Simon & Garfunkel to ‘Whiter shade of pale’ by Procul Harum.
MQ: That’s exactly it…
PM: So, there you are, with a Masters in Music -what happened next?
MQ: There was a period of time where my life was not outwardly involved with music, but after I had my daughter it began to trickle back in, initially as a language of love I wished to teach her and eventually as she grew up, I discovered this new desire to compose the music I was hearing and feeling from within. Meanwhile, in the time since my music school days until now, the whole landscape of recording studios became a thing that really could exist, affordably, in a room in your home. So, I started composing, recording and producing my original music from home as I raised my daughter. Releasing my first album in 2012 as an indie artist, 2020 brings both my daughter’s graduation from high school and my upcoming solo guitar album on the myndstream label. And so our new chapters are beginning. I love to create and I feel lucky to now have the time and space to explore sounds, to shape it in to something that people can experience and enjoy.
PM: We’re extremely happy you do! But there must be a yang to the ying.
MQ: To mention something that I have learned to hate, it’s how the music business sometimes is guided by people with a love of business, not a love of music or musicians. The ideal balance of course is when music and musicians are served fairly by businesses that utilize music.
PM: Well, we’re not like that, we’re more the kind of people that love music – and the more the better. We don’t understand why the money people are even involved, they always seem soulless and disingenuous to us. Of course, that’s why we run these free “Featured Artist” promotions, to give a voice to amazing talent such as yourself, without wondering what the ‘catch is’. Less about us, and more about you. How do you derived such original and unique music?
MQ: As an artist who loves shaping multi-layered instrumental works that span genres, my most recent project brought me a much different perspective. Instead of getting absorbed in manipulating and processing synth soundscapes and then adding layers of acoustic instruments as much of my music does, I stripped away everything except the six strings of my guitar. From there I approached it much more like a self-contained orchestra and composed this music that is intimate, introspective, full of spaciousness and beauty in the simplest terms. Similar to my earlier guitar albums, I explore tunings and various capos, but with a deeper commitment. This solo guitar album has been my primary focus for 9 months, and although the pandemic we now face has created some obstacles for us, we hope to see it released in the fall of 2020 with myndstream.
PM: That’s one to look out for. Stay in touch and we’ll give you big shout outs when the release date is available for download. And beyond your new release?
MQ: As for the future, I’d love to perform this new repertoire for audiences globally, as soon as it is safe to do so. Until then I’ll continue to play live streams on Facebook and post my Virtually Yours™ with Michelle Qureshi Guitar Series on my You Tube Channel. And of course I’ll always be writing and playing new music, I simply can’t not do that!
PM: Michelle, it’s been an absolute pleasure. We wish you the very best and we’ll stay in touch to dodge the money monsters and get real talent like yours out to real audiences.
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