Sunday, December 13, 2009

5 Questions with Michael Runion

As far as I know, Michael Runion was born and raised in the suburbs of Ventura County—although he has made L.A. his home for the past 10 years, and it’s fair to say Los Angeles is his true home. There is a certain quality to his songs where I hear these worlds colliding. Un-jaded in the smog, the self-proclaimed King of LA.

An opening slot followed his last release “Our Time Will Come,” on the Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley band summer tour of ’09. The title track off the aforementioned record has a very soft, minimal, country swing feel to it with Runion’s lilting whisper-of-a-voice cooing, “Well, the moon’s playing dead to trick the ocean, and the hills they sleep on their side.” Dylan-esque blues almost … à la “It takes a train …”

Pumping up his new Tour Ep with the garage rock cruncher “Maxine,” Michael is up to his usual: making unique and wonderful music and bringing it to beautiful people.

1. When you're making music with a group do tend to be a leading voice or let things shape themselves?

Depends on the group. I have a band that I've assembled that accompanies me on my solo material, and I tend to be the main voice when we work together. I have a pretty strong idea of what I want to achieve, which I think comes of as intimidating, from time to time. I have another band, JJAMZ, which functions as a proper unit. Democratic and all that. It shapes itself.

2. You've travelled quite a there a place out there, other then LA, where you wouldn't mind hanging your hat and why?

I love Germany. Berlin is pretty amazing, and the couple times I've played there the response has been pretty great. Scandinavia is fun. Japan is pretty fucking rad. There's nowhere I would rather shop. Japan turns you into a consumer, for sure. I don't think there's anywhere else I'd live in the United States besides Los Angeles. New York wears me out, and every time I'm there it's like a vacuum is attached to my wallet. Great to place to visit, but LA is my home.

3. Do you want your music to be a viceral or more atmospheric experience?

Hmm, I'm not very excited about those choices. Somewhere in between. Visceral, I suppose, trumps atmospheric. I want my songs, which are simple and straightforward, to be understood right away. I want you to get a feeling of what I'm trying to accomplish by the end of the first verse. I'm not trying to be mysterious or elusive as an artist.

4. Do you tend to fly solo or are you part of a creative community?

I would consider myself part of a community. The majority of my friends are talented musicians, and we keep things close and collaborative. I like my space, don't get me wrong, but I need groups and gatherings or I'll go crazy. It's gotten to the point where I don't really go to shows of bands I'm not friends with, because I go to so many shows already to support people I know and admire. It's very inspiring to constantly be surrounded by people that are busy pursuing what they want to do.

5. How would you paraphrase the body of your solo work?

My body of work is a lot like my real body. Slim and tender, but trying to get toned.

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