Music shapes our identities and changes our lives. It brings back our memories and stirs up our emotions. My Song Stories asks music professionals and indie artists questions about the songs in their libraries. Today, Michelle Garramone, the general manager of Blue Rose Music, shares the artists and songs that have impacted her life and career.
By Kyle Bylin, author of Song Stories
Describe who you are, what you do, and what music you like.
My name is Michelle Garramone. I am the general manager of Blue Rose Music, an artist collective based in San Fransico. I love R&B Soul, Indie Pop, Hip Hop, and Americana. I get down with some Rock & Roll and Psychedelic, too, though I am growing much more fond of experimental dance music. I started out in Punk, if that tells you anything about where my journey began. I try to keep a well balanced musical palette.
What song evokes vivid memories from your teenage years?
Being a teenager was weird. I was so full of energy and passion and everything seemed like it took forever or never really worked out. "Karma Police" by Radiohead sticks out to me from my teenage years as a song that embodied this feeling for me. One of my favorite bands from my high school performed it our annual talent show. They totally nailed it. I watched them from the audience and remember feeling like I never wanted it to end. It was also the first time I was truly enamored with live music, local bands, and high school angst. I bought the song when I got home and put it on repeat after that.
What song in your library has a personal or deeper meaning?
I feel a special bond with “Don’t Touch My Hair” by Solange. The lyrics should not be overlooked by the smooth and subtle quality of the song. In the same way, my place here in the music industry should never be underestimated by the way I look and how old I am. I am in a unique and fragile position as a young female in the music industry. Pitchfork phrases the meaning of the song well and I feel like it describes me too, it is a “ powerful pledge of personal identity.”
What song influenced your taste in music in a significant way?
I can’t really pinpoint a certain song, but Kimbra and St. Vincent were both influential in bridging the gap from mainstream to something more left of center. They are also very fashionable and explore visual art in their performances. Solange is another huge influence for me. I feel so connected to her performance, it is so musical theatre! Women artists influence me in a strong way.
Describe the strongest experience with music you’ve ever had…
I almost fainted watching Hiatus Kiayote perform in Atlanta. I was in total awe of Nai Palm and realized I had forgotten to breathe only when I began to see stars and go into tunnel vision. Her music and performance totally took over my mind and body. It was visceral; I was paralyzed. Their album Tawk Tomahawk came out at a very pivotal time in my life. Their songs made me feel like I could get through it, whatever it was.
How would you describe music's role or importance in your life?
I started in music at a very early age. I was 4 when I began performing musical theatre. I was 8 when I started private voice lessons. I was the only girl in a band in high school. I went to college for musical theatre. I was devouring classical operas and music theatre pieces and was on a one track to Broadway. One day I decided to sit on the other side of the table and learn the music business because I was curious and so in love with music that I had to learn about it all. Little did I know how much fun I would have in the music business. I felt at a certain point that I could do more for music if I continued on this path. Since then, I have been able to help countless artists on their path and achieve a greater appreciation for music and the people who grind to make it. I feel it is my duty to stay on the business side of things and advocate for the artists. I will soon get into visual art and technology and help artists there bridge more gaps.
Kyle Bylin is the author of Song Stories: Music That Shaped Our Identities and Changed Our Lives, a collection of essays about songs that impacted people's lives. Read an excerpt here.