Nancy Micciulla Interview
By: Casey Zakin
While I just wrote a ‘You Should Hear‘ post on Nancy Micciulla, I honestly can’t get enough of her. Rather than combining both that article and this interview, I’m going to strongly suggest you head over to that link to read up on her and her album, The One to Shine, and then come back here. Or vise versa. But make sure to give her a listen, you’ll be glad you did.
To give you a taste of that album, here’s a live version of ‘Come Back to Me’:
The words that follow are my questions and Miss Micciulla’s carefully crafted answers:
What is on repeat on your playlist right now?
Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
Ingrid Michaelson – Human Again
Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know (I can’t help it!)
Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires
Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What
And I sing in a wedding/party band, so there’s a lot of Pop and Top 40 for me to learn.
What is your earliest musical memory?
I remember falling asleep in my yellow bean bag chair while I listened to my father practice piano in the basement.
What kind of music/which artists did you listen to as a child?
Honestly, I listened to a bit of everything. I’d put on Mom’s vinyls and listen to Pat Benetar, The Rolling Stones. My first tape was a Christmas present from my uncle – The Doobie Brothers greatest hits. The next year he gave me a Top 10 hits from the 60s tape, where I found the Beach Boys, Johnny Rivers, Motown. I wore that one out. I’m aware this makes me sound a little older, but I’ll balance that out with the fact that I also listened to Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Belinda Carlisle, Paula Abdul, and a few hair bands. I got into the Indigo Girls, Jewel, Sheryl Crow, and Patty Griffin when I was in high school. Paul Simon and Tom Petty have always been at the top of the list, too.
Did you think you would be making records when you were younger?
Ha! No way. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a radiologist. Then I was a theater major in college – maybe I thought about being on a Broadway soundtrack someday, but I was all about the live performance. Even when I started writing my own music, it didn’t occur to me to record it until I was convinced by a good friend who had recording equipment. I didn’t like it at all. But now, I love it – it’s one of my favorite things about being a musician.
Who have you been particularly influenced or inspired by in your own music making?
I have to answer this one the same way I answered the question about the music I listened to as a child – a little bit of everything (except maybe hair bands – though they do write a mean ballad). It’s hard to narrow it down to any specific “who.” I’m inspired by other local/indie artists who pursue their passions – performing, making records, writing. Aside from my own personal passion – those other artists help to keep me going.
What style of voice training did you start with?
I only took about six months of formal training, and it was mostly opera. I built up quite a repertoire in Italian! Even though I don’t sing in that style now, I’m glad it’s where I started. The techniques I learned for breath, enunciation, pronunciation, volume – they’re all necessary for ANY style of singing. There are some days that I have three gigs in a row – 9-10 hours of singing – and even that little bit of training keeps me from injuring my voice.
Where do you get inspiration for your lyrics?
Life, love, and the pursuit of happiness? I’m not in the habit of quoting historical documents (or misquoting, as is the case here, but who’s counting?), but that just sums it up so easily.
What instruments do you play, and/or want to pick up?
I started on piano when I was about 6, then moved on to guitar when I was 18. I had an embarrassing stint as a trumpet player in high school, too. I was terrible! I’d like to pick up piano again – I’ve lost my touch – and violin. I’ve always wanted to play the violin. . .
Where do you see yourself musically in ten years? / Do you have any plans for where to go from this album?
This is my least favorite job interview question. In ten years, I see myself fully supporting myself with music – no day job for steady income or insurance, no “sorry I can’t go on tour right now. I don’t have vacation until October.” This includes playing covers, too – I see no problem with supporting my own music by singing someone else’s here and there. I do a lot of that right now. I live at the beach – the cover band business is pretty lucrative these days.
Finally: favourite breakfast food? Also, Orange juice or milk?
If I’m on the go, I love Granny Smith apples. At home, I whip up some buttermilk pancakes (from scratch). And definitely orange juice.
So there you have it folks. She’s as charming in person as she is on the record and I’m lucky to have gotten the chance to talk to her. Give her a listen over on her website. Tell her WIUX sent you.