Full Circle: An Interview with Michaela May

The stories behind musical backgrounds usually start with a musical home. Dad played guitar, mom played classic rock albums on the record player. The child picked up their first instrument at a young age or was singing before they could even talk. With Michaela May, the idea of a career in music was never even considered.

Michaela’s love for music really hit during university and after she received her degree, she went on to pursue a career in it. That love of music brought her to London, where a showcase left her face-to-face with Simon Ellis. As the musical director and songwriter for acts such as Britney Spears, S Club 7 and the Spice Girls, gaining the attention of Simon Ellis was no simple feat. Michaela was then signed to an indie label where her song “Never Gonna Give In” gained attention in other countries. However, as the pair were songwriting together, the record label went into liquidation. “It was a huge disappointment for me… you sort of think that you’re on this path and knowing what I know now, it was all just smoke and mirrors,” Michaela said. “The indie label was nothing; it was just a capacity to hold it. I got really disappointed and I took a step back and thought maybe my ace card was my songwriting.”

Songwriting always felt like the easiest aspect for her. She never believed that her voice was as unique as other women in her genre but she did believe that songwriting was where she belonged after this bump in the road. “My confidence was really deterred as far as an artists’ perspective,” she said. “I thought maybe my path was writing for other people, and I became very ok with it.”

 Moving from across the pond to Los Angeles, Michaela began songwriting with others and pitching the finished product to artists. Through this she was really able to improve her craft as well as learn and work with other incredibly talented individuals. It was almost less stressful of an environment because she wasn’t putting herself out there personally. However, there came a moment where everything was finally put into perspective for her. After pitching her songs for Selena Gomez’s latest record, the ultimate “no” from Selena’s camp really proved to the people that Michaela was working with that these songs belonged to her – and that she should be the one singing them.

The much-needed wakeup call sent her back to Toronto, where it all began. It was her own fear of failure holding her back from stepping back into the performing world and once she got that affirmation that she needed to be the voice behind these songs, everything fell into place.

A six-song EP chock full of Michaela’s influences is set to be released this year with an empowering message. Each song is incredibly personal but also holds a deeper meaning of strength.  There’s a real range of emotion and different types of sounds on each track; whether the song has an electro or Euro vibe, the record is meant to be a mix of her experiences and a sense of empowerment. “Once you really decide on your path and decide to go after your passion, you become super focused. I think there needs to be strength to that,” she said. “I wanted a common thread of catchy pop songs but I also wanted some variety and the tempos and I think people will be pleasantly surprised with the variation that’s on there.”

By pushing the boundaries and experimenting in different aspects of the music industry, Michaela May really found herself through years of trial and error. From Toronto to London to LA and back again, any setbacks were merely stepping stones now. “No matter how you’re deterred, you always find a way to your passion – wherever that is. It’s really funny how it’s come full circle.”