Last time we spoke with Michelle, it seemed like she had it all—a record deal, a hot 100 single, and a new producer—this time, she's got even more up her sleeve! Most of you remember Michelle Treacy as one of the first Gaga fans to get a record deal, having sung on stage with Gaga several times during the ArtRave. She's since had radio play throughout the United States and Canada, and has toured with IHeartRadio, Sony, and other festivals across the country.
Michelle has gone indie now on a new project, featuring a powerful pop song that epitomizes a razor sharp message of the #MeToo movement: No means no. That simple concept led her to write a song that resonated with her fans, and even got her a shout out from fellow rebel and activist Rose McGowan.
Since then, Michelle has been steadily plugging away at her new EP, and we got a chance to catch up with her right before her new single hits radio soon.
"No Means No" is a very timely song, considering all the stuff going on with Cosby being declared guilty, the Weinstien pandora's box, Tom Brokaw, etc... We could go on and on. How did it feel being recognized by Rose McGowan for your music?
It was really cool. I love Rose so much. In the movie Jawbreaker, which is one of my favorite movies ever, she's such a badass. I think everything she's talking about now, she's been talking about forever. She's a total fighter, I believe in everything she fights for! She put out a really inspiring book.
So you have something in common with her now, fighting in the battle of the #MeToo movement.
It's not the greatest thing to have in common with someone. I'd rather have a favorite color in common with her, than have to fight for something like that! With "No Means No," I don't want it to just be a song. I want to make a movement out of it, I'm trying to create a safe space, an organization within colleges and universities, for kids who are on their own for the first time. I'm reaching out to girls' organizations across the globe, to be a part of their organizations, and make a difference. It's not just a song to me; I want it to make a difference.
Your new producer, Rune Westburg, has produced fellow Gaga contemporary Adam Lambert, Alphabeat, Daughtry, and Colbie Callait, to name just a few. What was the songwriting experience like, writing "No Means No" with him?
I walked into the studio with Rune, and we really didn't have a specific agenda of what we wanted to write about, it was one of those songs that wrote itself. It happened so fast. The phrase "no means no" is so easy, so simple. We learn it as a child, but it's funny how as we get older we forget the meaning of the word "No."
We just think when someone says "No," they aren't really talking to us. Or they're joking. Or, "Hey, they can't be serious." Like the word, the song is simple. But there is another side of that. I wrote this for all the people, including myself, who have felt unheard, because once the word "No" is said, it shouldn't need to be said again. We are now all on notice: No means no.
I mean, you learn that as a kid. All kids learn it.
And it gets repeated to you as a kid, over and over and over again, which teaches you to challenge the authority that told you "no." Maybe some aspects of society need to learn that no is not always meant to be challenged, in situations between adults and especially women, it needs to be listened to.
It's really shocking, with all these cases coming out, how much we take "No" for granted. Its a word that is so, in our eyes, overly used, that it's lost its meaning. The moment somebody says "No," no matter what it is, we need to just stop and listen. You know the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" they teach you when you're young?
For fire safety?
That's right. When there's fire, as soon as you hear that, you f----ing do it. You don't even think about it. And with "No," it should be the same.
Like a public service announcement?
Exactly. The meaning of the word needs to be more important. If people would just take a minute and relearn the meaning, we could all do so much better. So many of my fans have reached out and said, "This song is me." "It reminds me of this relationship I was in that I got out of." "I'm gonna leave this and I'm gonna be who I am, and that's it. No is no."
And I've gotten replies saying, "I was sexually assaulted, and this song makes me feel like a survivor." Or "This is my survivor song." and, "Your song gave me my power back." It's been really cool to hear the response. And then to have Rose McGowan talk about it and share it, it made me realize: if this song completely flops, I won anyway, through the response it has gotten. Because that's exactly what i wanted to do—I wanted to make these survivors feel like survivors, and give them their power back. Getting a message from Rose made me feel like I did the right thing. Even if she was the only one to hear this in the world, and it helped her, or if a million people heard it, it doesn't matter, if it resonated with them.
I got a fan letter once that read, "You became my reason to stay." That line has stuck with me. Ever since then I've been writing music that would help people.
I've done it—I've written songs that have had no meaning. But the ones that help people mean the most to me. Every time I'd write a song and play it for my mom, she'd say, "Thank you for saying all the words I could never say."
And then was when it hit me: this is what I wanna do. I want to be the ballsy one who doesn't really give a sh*t what people think. I wanna say what I wanna say. Fight for what's right.
Admirable spunk! Just like a chip off the ol' Gags.
It's a pretty timely message. People are gonna take it how they wanna take it. It's been a fun anthem for me. I've been through some really awful stuff. I feel like a badass coming out with this song. I feel like a warrior.
I love the backing vocals. And how they complement the chorus. What inspired the hook?
We were playing the piano, and I was shouting, "No, no! No no!" And from there, we were like, "no means no." And we took it from there. "No means no means no". How f----ing cool is that? Then it just poured out. It's really just a song that says, everyone has forgotten the meaning of "No." Here it is. Plain and simple. Took us an hour to write. I sang the vocals in two takes. Backgrounds are all me and Rune doing vocal stacks. In 3 hours we made the whole thing.
I'm indie now. Independent. Being on an indie label is liberating. I'm doing this all myself now, with great friends, and the best manager; that I've been working with since I was 16.
I wanna be who I am. I wanna wear what I want and say what I want, and fight for what I want, and that's exactly what I'm doing now. Releasing music that I believe in, that says something. And there's more than just No Means No coming up.
I heard you have been working on something with one of Gaga's first producers, RedOne.
Yes, he's heard about me, and he's definitely a fan. I can't say too much right now what it is or will be.
What the concept of your new EP?
Badassery! [Laughs] This is a do-over for me. This year I got to start from scratch with my music, re-evaluate myself, my thoughts. What do I want to say. This EP is my new beginning and I can’t wait for you to hear it.
When will your EP be dropping?
The EP is gonna be out really soon, it's five or six songs long. Already working on the cover art and the second single. The next song is a ballad -- so cool, so true. You guys are gonna love it. There's gonna be an Abba song on there too.
You are really turning into a success story, as one of the first Gaga fans to really break into the industry and start living the dream. How do you do it?
The dreams are technically within your reach, but they're really not: you really have to work for them. Like, you really gotta work for it. If you want it bad enough, you'll die trying. You'll do anything. I've been told no so many times. And a friend told me, "Even if everyone says 'no, you have no idea what you are doing', you just keep going. I'm so shocked. You just get up and go do that 15 hour photoshoot. You just know something will happen someday and you keep going. It's amazing." I don't know how to stop. I have to keep going.
You're walking the walk! Not just talk—you're action.
You know that saying, "Fake it 'till you make it"? People think that's the ego part of it, but the real part is: "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I keep going."
I want to show people who haven't found their purpose yet, or who have lost their passion or way, that I feel ****ed up sometimes, and I wanna stop, but there's a big fat bug inside of me that will not allow me to stop because I live it and breathe it. I do it, I keep going, and I'm positive. Even when I don't want to be and when everything falls apart—something better's gonna fall together.
The universe only gives us what we can handle. Work harder and get better! If no one else believes in you, you have to believe in yourself 100% harder.
Our dreams are gonna happen. Why not ? Look at all the people who have, all the sucessful people. They did it! Why couldn't I? That's what you have to say.
That is, indeed. Thank you so much, Michelle.
Thank you. I'm so grateful for all my fans on Gaga Daily, I love you guys!
And we love you, too!
Michelle Treacy's "No Means No" is available on iTunes now.
by Katharine Styles-Burroughs