SELINSGROVE -Guitarist and singer-songwriter Michiko "Michi" Egger, orginally from Selinsgrove, will celebrate the release of her fourth album, "Castles in the Air," from 6 to 8 p.m. July 27 at BJ's Steak and Rib House, 17 N. Market St. The release party will feature a full performance of Egger's new album, as well as Egger performing with Bret Alexander, of the Badlees and Gentleman East, and also producer of "Castles in the Air."
At the age of 5, Egger jumped into the world of music and has been playing since then. Egger has had the opportunity to perform and work with many notable musicians, including Grammy Award winning drummer, Steve Mitchell and his band who perform at the Bullfrog Brewery's Sunday Brunch jazz workshop.
Recently, Egger has moved to the city to even more further her career, but still has roots in her hometown. With a mix of jazz, blues, rock, country and folk, Egger has set out to make her mark on the music world by mastering her craft.
Guitarist first, singer second, Egger recently caught up with the Sun-Gazette to chat about inspirations for her music, competition in the music industry and just how personal she can get in her lyrics.
WIEGAND: How long have you been singing? When was the first time you realized you wanted to sing?
MICHI: I don't consider myself a singer. I'm a guitarist first. I began studying music when I was five, starting out with drums, then piano and guitar. As a songwriter, singing is just something I've had to do. There was never a time when I thought to myself, "This is what I want to do." As far back as I can remember, it's just what I've always done. There was nothing else, just music.
BW:?As a young female in the music industry, you obviously have a lot of competition. What do you do to stand out as an artist?
MICHI:?While there are a lot of young female performers in the music industry, I don't see them as competition. That's because the majority of them aren't good musicians. At the risk of offending a lot of them, there are too many young women who, basically, hold guitars but don't really know how to play the instrument. Aside from that, for me, music is not about competing. It's not a sport. It's a form of art. A means of expression. And I feel like there's plenty of room for a variety of artists, regardless of gender.
BW:?Do you write your own music?
MICHI:?Absolutely. I've been writing songs since I was nine. I've written, probably, around 150 songs by now. They just come to me out of nowhere, some of them at the most inconvenient of times. Sometimes, it's an entire song and, other times, it's bits and pieces that I'll save for later, then put together like a puzzle. I never actually sit down with the intent of writing a song-it doesn't happen for me that way. It's never planned, hence, the inconvenience.
BW:?A lot of your songs sound personal, was there any ever hesitation to sing about things like heartache, first loves and friendships drifting apart?
MICHI:?I write about how I feel, which usually ends up being about relationships. I think people can relate to that. As long as my songs come from a place that's true, I have no hesitation wearing my heart on my sleeve. Of course, I've been in a situation where I was asked-on air about a particular song and the person it was written for was in the same room, which could make things a bit awkward. But, no. I have no problem singing about personal things as long as I'm not asked to elaborate!
BW:?Your critics have compared you to Stevie Nicks and John Mayer. How does that feel?
MICHI:?It makes me feel very flattered and humbled. John Mayer is my biggest influence - he is an incredible guitarist and songwriter. I'm always striving to be the "female John Mayer."
BW:?Are they your inspirations? Anyone else you've always looked up to as a musician?
MICHI:?As a guitarist, I was inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Guthrie Govan, John Scofield, and Eric Clapton. As a songwriter, John Mayer, Ray Lamontagne, and Tom Petty. And, on a more personal level, I look up to Tim Breon. Not only because he is so much taller than me but, because he has taught me everything there is to know about the guitar!
BW:?What's your favorite song to perform?
MICHI:?That varies, depending on what type of performance it is. I play shows as a solo act, trio, or full band. At the moment, I enjoy playing, "Endlessly" when it's just me and my acoustic guitar. I also like playing, "Too Close" with the band. For my CD release show at BJ's, I'll have a six piece band, which will be really cool.
BW:?What was the process of making "Castles in the Air?"
MICHI:?This is my fourth studio album and it took the longest to record. Mostly because I now reside in Jersey City and it was recorded at Bret Alexander's studio, Saturation Acres, near Wilkes Barre. The album is a collection of songs that were written during a two year period. The title is an idiom for plans that were never realized and refers to a close personal relationship. Most of the musicians on the album are people I've worked with for a number of years. Tim Breon, who was also my guitar teacher and my dad, Todd Egger, on drums. Bret Alexander, Nyke Van Wyk, and Colin Beatty play on a couple of tracks as well.
BW:?What can audiences expect at your album release?
MICHI:?An awesome band and great food! To start things off, Bret Alexander and I will be performing a set of his songs, then we'll be joined by the rest of the band, Tim Breon (guitar), Colin Beatty (bass), Steve Adams (keys), and Todd Egger (drums). We'll be playing the entire new album from beginning to end, followed by some other tunes from my last album.
For more information, visit www.musicbymichi. com.