From Niagara, ON, Riley Michaels started making music at 8 years old after winning 1st place in a local singing competition. When he received Guitar Hero for Christmas, he jumped deep into the “rabbit hole” of Classic Rock, Blues and other similar genres.
Today, the music Michaels makes is a combination of Pop and Adult Contemporary, with a range of influences. From his new releases, you can hear the smooth guitar playing of John Mayer, the subtlety and groove of Prince, the emotion of James Bay, and even some pop progressions that sound like Harry Styles or the Jonas Brothers. He even mixes in a little country, in the style of Chris Stapleton!
Getting to know Riley
Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
I LOVE to sing in the shower. Loud and proud – and I don’t care who hears it! Often times I just start singing – I don’t really decide what I will sing. It’s just natural for me to sing anything!
What would be the ideal food to have cooked for you on a date night?
Burgers. Burgers are the way to go for me. Ketchup, Mustard, pickles, lettuce, onions and tomatoes are the perfect burger setup for me.
What’s your least favourite personality trait you like about yourself?
I sometimes reveal my thoughts too often… basically, I have no filter sometimes and I say what is on my mind. Part of me feels that it is a good thing that I speak my mind and I am honest, but also, sometimes it makes it hard to communicate with certain people.
What makes you nostalgic?
Old pictures, beautiful places, and euphoric music. I like looking back at old photographs of my family and me, especially when I was younger. Also, sometimes when I am in a beautiful place, like on a camping trip, or scuba diving. I have lots of time to reminisce about past times. Certain music also makes me feel nostalgic. I will get chills when I hear something that sounds pleasing and makes me think of music from the past.
As a kid were you ever frightened of a monster under the bed or in the cupboard?
No. They were afraid of me.
What is your creative process like?
A lot of artists speak about how they have a “method” to writing, and to be honest – I don’t. I sometimes see words, or phrases or think of thoughts in everyday life and keep them in my notes or in my head. Then, the next day I could be playing guitar and come up with this sweet guitar lick, and I can start to connect the two mediums together to create something. Sometimes I can even write a 3 minute song based on a 3 second feeling. It just hits me at different times.
What would you be doing right now if it weren’t for your music career?
If it weren’t for my music career, I would likely be at university studying Law or Political Science. I have always loved both of those subjects, but I love music with all of my heart.
Has your musical journey had a deliberate direction, or did it simply gradually evolve in whatever direction it found?
In my beginnings, I was heavily influenced by the hair metal of Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot, but then eventually I began to shift into the Blues world, and from there, Pop. But I feel like I have been able to stay true to all of my influences in one way or another. I think it is a good thing to be shifting and exploring new horizons as I grow older, too.
What is your current music project about?
I would say my current project is about discovery. Discovering my voice and who I am as an artist. I attribute this to growing up. I am 20, so I am still young and impressionable, but I am at that stage in my life where I am forming who I will be for the rest of my life, and I think that common themes in my songs of love, and appreciation will carry on with me for the rest of my days. My project is about forming my future.
Do you enjoy recording and production?
I do enjoy recording and production. I remember being 9 years old with the USB Microphone from a game that I had on my Nintendo Wii plugged into my computer with Sony ACID Music Studio running. I would put songs onto the software and sing over them.. Nowadays I run my nice microphones into Pro Tools and record full multitrack recordings into my home studio and mix them myself.