Chrisette Michele is no stranger to the music industry! While gaining much success, Chrisette decided she needed a little time to herself, to reflect and experience more of what the world had to offer. Buckle up and experience this journey below with the famed artist…
SFPL: How have you grown as an artist from when you were first introduced to the world as an artist?
Chrisette: I’ve changed in many ways. Everyone changes over a seven year period so I guess the way anyone would normally change I’ve changed. I’ve also become a lot bolder and a lot braver than when I first got introduced to the music industry. I used to be intimidated by all the men and all the guys in business suits, but now I’m not afraid of them.
SFPL: The mixtape title is called Audrey Hepburn: Audiovisual Presentation. Could you explain why you decided to go with that name?
Chrisette: I took off some time to go hang out in London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, and of course New York, which were all the places that Audrey Hepburn frequented or lived at some point. I got inspired by what I saw. I went to places where she may have dined or shot a movie. What was really funny was that everywhere that I went I saw myself, I saw hip hop, and I saw R&B. I met DJ’s and rappers, and so the project became a fusion of what is classic and what is right now. That’s how I came up with the concept of Audrey Hepburn: Audiovisual Presentation.
SFPL: Out of all the historical divas and people who represent class why Audrey Hepburn?
Chrisette: There are a lot of people like you said who represent class and unfortunately we can only say one person’s name at a time. Audrey Hepburn did so much for so many communities. She was an ambassador for UNICEF and she did a movie called “The Nun’s Story, if you have the chance to look at it. It was her going back to where we’re from and giving back. What was really interesting was that when I visited her house in Brussels I saw a Congolese Community, a lot of people from the Congo and I actually met the President’s son from Angola part of Africa. I found out so much about the slave trade and the history of slavery by researching what I thought would be Audrey Hepburn, I ended up researching my own history. Originally, I wasn’t going to use Audrey Hepburn, I was going to use Dorothy Dandridge instead. The more I looked for Audrey Hepburn, the more I found my own history.
SFPL: What was the biggest similarity between you and Audrey Hepburn that you came across?
Chrisette: Her desire to be a philanthropist and her desire to feed the hungry; of course her class being a lady. Things that you sometimes forget to do like standing up straight and smiling and putting your best face forward. Those are simple things that Audrey contributed to society, so she’s both simple and complex in that way.
SFPL: How does this mixtape reintroduce fans to a new Chrisette and your growth as an artist?
Chrisette: I think that the people who have been attentive from the beginning know how much I love hip-hop. I’ve been in songs with Nas, Jay-Z, The Game, Ghostface, Wale, and Rick Ross and just a plethora of beautiful people. This reestablishes the love that I have for that sound by doing songs with Wale, 2Chainz, and with Wretch 32 one of London’s great rappers. It also shows my classic side and it shows how much I love live instrumentation and I have Jazz artists featured on the mixtape as well. Hopefully it shows a collection of who Chrisette Michele really is.
SFPL: It is safe to say that you have a Jazz background. Will jazz be incorporated in the mixtape as well as hip-hop or are you straying away from that a little?
Chrisette: It’s hard to stray away from who you really are when you’re really who you are. I got Robert Glasper, Kenneth Whalum, as well as a gentleman by the name of Guitar Slayer who all three have top 10 songs on Jazz Billboard Charts and they are featuring on the mixtape. I definitely have jazz fused on the mixtape and it was really cool to fuse it with hip-hop.
SFPL: We heard you went to vegan lifestyle. Could you explain why you chose to adapt to that?
Chrisette: I had been feeling really heavy, physically of course, but more so spiritually and emotionally. I spent a lot of time being angry and I wrote songs like “Blame It On Me” and I did records like “Epiphany” where I was telling a guy like you know I’ve had enough. Well I finally did have enough and I decided that I needed to cleanse. I started by juice feasting and I shed weight emotionally and spiritually as well as physically. The more I began to shed the less I felt like I needed to take it literally with food. I stopped eating meat, and then I stopped eating fish, and then eating cheese and I just began to feel lighter in every way and I just stuck with it.
SFPL: Do you feel that was a hard transition for you?
Chrisette: No. A lot of times creatively when I’m ready to do something, I wanted to express myself in a certain way and I want new inspiration for people who are listening, you do whatever it takes. Being an artist is a life decision, you commit to it. It’s like being married and I am married to being an artist so whatever it took for me to be inspired I was willing to do. Now, I’m going to be posing for a PETA spread.
SFPL: Can you elaborate and explain the “Rich Hipster” movement?
Chrisette: I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and if you’re familiar with that type of vibe within a community, it’s a lot of young entrepreneurs, artists that may be graphic designers or website designer or engineers, but a very creative eclectic people. I find myself identifying with them very strongly. They’re rich, not necessarily with how much money they may have in the bank, but they’re very rich in
art. You see a lot of bands playing in Williamsburg, a lot of really cool graffiti artwork that stores actually asks graffiti artists to put up. It is a very artful community and I think that I am a contributor to that and I coined the phrase “Rich Hipster” to help identify with that movement and that type of person because
it’s people like them all over the country.
SFPL: Why did you choose the song with Wale to release on the mixtape first opposed to other songs?
Chrisette: The first song that I released off the mixtape was a song called “Charades” it featured 2Chainz. It can be really tough having a body of work that you love and choosing what to do first, second, and third. I just decided to go with what my heart felt and I felt like 2Chainz. It wasn’t a record label or marketing decision, it was more like “What do I feel like doing right now”decision. 2Chainz was down and I was down so I was like Let’s Do It. It kind of became an instant monster.
SFPL: You’re no stranger to working with a variety of artists and producers, with this being a mixtape do you feel some type of liberation not having to go through industry protocol and having full range to do you?
Chrisette: Yea it is. When I go to the club and 2Chainz comes on my Louboutins come off and I stand on the table and I’m holding my bottle in the air. It’s actually a rule that that’s what you have to do when you hit the club. It’s hard to tell that to Def Jam. They don’t believe me. They don’t believe that I’m screaming at the top of my lungs at the Nets game. They don’t know that I’m throwing my diamond up at the Jay-Z concert so sometimes I have to introduce myself to the people that I work with by saying this is who I really am. 2Chainz was the perfect person for me to do my first son with for that reason. It was my way of saying I love 2Chainz as much as 2Chainz loves me and we’re going to do something together and have a little bit of fun. If people don’t like it at least I was telling the truth.
SFPL: Did you want to speak on your new album called “Better”. Do you have a release date and how are you feeling about that project?
Chrisette: I’m so excited about that project. The reason why most of the photography for the Audrey Hepburn project is in black and white is because when “Better” comes out I’m planning on showing all of my true colors and I mean every last one of them down to being naked on the PETA ad campaign. This is going to be the first time where you see my styling myself, picking out every single song, every single single, every single graphic, every single thing you see written on the album, as well as artwork. I
am incredibly passionate about “Better”. I had to the photography for this mixtape in black and white because I didn’t want to give too much away and I can’t wait for you guys to hear what I have in store. The first single off “Better” I’m going to be singing during a live stream for the mixtape, which is on December 8th, and the single will be on the radio on Christmas. The album release is the spring of 2013.
Chrisette: I am very passionate about my music and every time I sing a song I go back to the place I was when I wrote it. When performing you might see me cry, you may see me have to take my shoes off and get down on my knees because I can’t even catch my breath. I’m that passionate about every song that I sing. When I say that this album “Better” is showing a more positive side, I really had to go through fasting, cleansing and praying to get to the place of being better. When I perform and when I sing its from the heart, so when you say Thank You it means the world to me because I’m only telling the truth.
Interview conducted by: LaParis Hawkins