What inspires artists to write a marvelous track or even an album? American Americana/Pop Rock artist Micah Walk answered that question recently in an interview with ai love music. In that interview, he talked about his inspirations, his musical history, and the meaning behind his newest album entitled Among the Stars. Continue reading about what major events and themes inspired Micah Walk. Also, what you can expect from the newest album. While you read, please listen to Micah Walk’s Among the Stars and tell me what you think!
First of all, please introduce yourself!
Hi! My name is Micah Walk. I’m a singer/songwriter from Central Illinois. Interests include movies, television, outer space, pescatarian- and vegetarian-friendly dishes, politics, and religion.
How did you get into music? What has that journey been like since then?
I’ve been interested in music since I can remember. As a young child, I loved listening to music in the car with my parents. I assumed everyone liked music as much as I did. Looking back, though, I realize that I may have been more interested than others.
I asked for a guitar for my birthday when I turned 13 – I think – and got a red Squier Strat. That was probably a turning point. I never put it down. I tried to learn every Pearl Jam song I could, while thoroughly annoying my parents, I’m sure. (After a while I got to the point where I was good enough that they enjoyed it a little).
Late in high school, I developed more of an interest in acoustic guitar. I remember starting to lean toward the acoustic tracks from bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains (as a kid, I just didn’t understand that it was an acoustic guitar that I was hearing). If I’m being honest a transition to Dave Matthews Band fandom also inspired interest in acoustic guitar. Then early in college that acoustic bridge connected to all things rootsy and Americana when I was introduced to artists like Ryan Adams. Since then my musical focus has mainly been dedicated to the craft of songwriting.
What artists or genres influence you?
Well, the earliest memories of hearing music that floored me… That was The Beatles, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, and The Who. I think those influences probably remain, especially The Beatles. I was a child of the 90s, though, and Seattle grunge had a big influence on me.
I loved Pearl Jam, but Alice in Chains was/are also way up on my list. Soundgarden and S.T.P., too. I still listen to all of those bands from time to time. Since then there have been a number of artists who have influenced my writing – Ryan Adams, Damien Rice, and Jeff Buckley to name a few. Nowadays it’s still mainly singer/songwriters: Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Patty Griffin, John Moreland, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, and Father John Misty to name a few.
Sadler Vaden produced my new record. We realized early on that we had a mutual love for 90s Alternative, and a lot of his solo work reflects that. So he’s obviously been a huge influence, too.
You have worked with amazing and talented musicians and producers over the years. What have been your favorite moments? Also, what you have learned from them?
I’ve learned to trust their judgment! If they have an idea that I’m not sure about right off the bat, I don’t argue. There have been times when I’ve been tempted to hang on to an idea that I thought was important, but when I let them do their thing, it always ends up better. It’s almost like they know what they’re doing! There were a few songs on this album that totally changed vibes and even a few that Sadler requested writing changes on – changes that required extended sections and more lyrics. Even if they felt like uncomfortable challenges at first, they were all ideas that made the songs better.
One of my favorite memories from recording this new album is when we recorded the song “Among the Stars” (the title track). We were discussing what Kai (Welch) would do on keys as he was going back and forth on options. I vaguely suggested, “think outer space.” I think his soaring synth part really came through and it’s one of my favorite parts of the whole project. I had such high hopes for that song and these guys just made it happen.
Let’s talk about your latest release Among the Stars. Is there a singular theme that ties the tracks together or is there many?
Yes: Humanism. It’s certainly a little more obvious in songs where it’s the main theme, like “Grace,” “High on the High Road,” and “Among the Stars.” “Stay with Me” is a love song. “In the Dark” is about mental health. “Pennies on the Dollar” touches on income inequality and “Last of Your Kind” on racism. Whatever the song, though, the idea of favoring Humanism over religious dogma is in there. It may just be a little more discernible in some tunes.
What inspired you to write the album?
It’s just now coming out, but we recorded the album in 2020. A few of the songs were already written, but I wrote a lot of them that year. I think we all remember what that year was like. With events being canceled and stay-at-home orders in place, I – like so many artists – simply had a lot of time to create.
Like I mentioned, “Stay with Me” is a love song. My wife worked in a hospital and in the early stages of the pandemic, which was especially nerve-wracking. “In the Dark” is about how you may not even realize you’re struggling with mental health issues until you see how it’s impacting those you love. Overall, though, the inspiration behind this album is leaving behind once strong-held beliefs and the impact that can have on relationships.
What was production like?
It was fantastic! I got to work with not only Sadler Vaden, who pulled double duty as producer and lead guitar player, but also Kai Welch (Kacey Musgraves) on keys, Fred Eltringham (Sheryl Crow) on drums, Tony Lucido (ACM Bass Player of the Year, 2021) on bass and Paul Ebersold as our engineer. They were all absolute pros.
Sadler had heard the tunes since he and I had talked out some basic details ahead of time, but the other guys hadn’t heard them until it was time to record them. I’d play whatever tune we were recording for them a couple of times on my acoustic guitar, they’d take notes, we’d talk and run through it once or twice, then we were rolling. And they played it like we had been playing in a band for years. We tracked the whole album in 5 days.
What do you want listeners to listen for in “Among the Stars”?
As a writer, you always hope people pay attention to the words. I’m very careful with lyrics and to me, they’re the most important part of the songs.
Any future plans?
Keep on keepin’ on, at least. I probably won’t ever stop writing songs, and I’ll hope to keep releasing them if I can.
Do you have any final words for the readers?
Keep supporting the independent artists you love! They need it now more than ever.