The Musician Spotlight Series shines a light on up-and-coming bands and solo acts creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their music, their collaborators, and why they do what they do.


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Michaela Slinger

“Up-and-coming Vancouver-based indie pop artist Michaela Slinger grew up outside of Vancouver, and her innate musical gift was evident as soon as she could talk. Her first public performance was at age three, singing the national anthem at a sold-out NBA game at Rogers Arena. Fast forward to more recent years, and Michaela was eight months into a desk job when she knew that she had to give her lifelong musical calling a shot. She took one sick day to record “Flux” with Nygel Asselin (Half Moon Run)—her first time ever recording her own song at a studio—and started attending music conferences and networking events in 2018. With almost no knowledge of how the music industry operated, she released “Flux” in 2019, and was shortly thereafter selected as a fully funded participant in Canada’s Music Incubator in Toronto. It was there that she had her first meeting with 604 Records, and she officially signed her record contract a month before the pandemic hit. Michaela has performed across Vancouver (The Vogue, The Imperial, The Biltmore), Toronto (Handlebar) and the US (Breaking Sound LA, SoFar Sounds). Michaela supports her emerging artist project by running her own non-profit communications consultancy, working with clients across social and environmental initiatives to deliver meaningful impact across British Columbia.”


When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician?

I sort of always knew that I wanted to be a musician and performer, and as a kid, I had no doubt that I’d do something in this realm—Broadway, pop singer, you name it. But then in high school I started to bargain with myself and decided to try to keep music as a hobby and pursue a more conventional (and stable) career. I lasted 8 months in a full-time job out of university before I realized that five-year-old me was right, and I officially started working on my artist project in 2018. It was a long time coming.


Are you trained? How did you develop your skills?

Music feels innate to me—it just makes sense, and always has. I was fortunate to have had opportunities to hone this natural inclination growing up through vocal and piano lessons, as well as extensive musical theatre and dance training. With songwriting and performing originals, there’s less “training” to do and more just getting out there. I’ve played a lot of open mics, a lot of very small shows, a lot of campfires and living rooms with friends, as well as gigs with a full band. To me, every show is a learning opportunity.


Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

They range! I do find that artists I listened to during adolescence have stuck with me, like John Mayer. His songcraft is incredible, and I’ve seen him live three times now—I love the way he does multiple sets with different arrangements within a single show. Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac and that overall Laurel Canyon sound have influenced this next project. Maggie Rogers and HAIM and Harry Styles and Holly Humberstone are some of my favourite current artists. I also love the poetry of Arlo Parks and the infectious instincts of Griff—I feel like the UK has a great thing going. And artists like SZA and Emily King and James Blake and Bon Iver and Leif Vollebekk and Madison Cunningham are creators I admire because they’re so themselves in their art. I’m going to cut myself off now.


What’s your favourite tune in your repertoire and why?

“Just This Once”! It’s the first single off my sophomore project, and also the first song I wrote with Ryan Stewart last summer, who’s producing the project. There were still COVID restrictions and it had been so long since I’d be in a physical room with another writer, and I think the song captures that catharsis of finally creating something with another person again. Honestly, from the very first demo, I felt like it was undeniable—some songs take a while to reveal themselves, but “Just This Once” was immediate. Sonically, it soars and drives and makes me want to speed in a car or boat into a wide-open horizon, which captures a desire for freedom I couldn’t indulge during the pandemic. But the lyrics tell that story of frustration—specifically, wanting someone I love to be straight up, rather than trying to tiptoe around underlying issues. At that point in COVID, I think everyone was kind-of exploding and re-evaluating their life, and I totally had that hunger for complete honesty. I thought, “If we actually don’t know how tomorrow will look, you might as well get everything out of the shadows and into the light.”


What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?

Well, I’m biased, but I like to think my shows are a place for joy and laughter and tears and reflection and longing to all coexist together. My set is a blend of full-band, high energy songs, stripped back acoustic solos, and lots of storytelling. I often end up sharing, like, an obscure and slightly incriminating story from childhood—I really love making people laugh—and then, in the next bit, I’ll offer my perspective on having a loved one die and how it recalibrated my life. No matter what, I’m having the time of my life up there, and I love sharing in that experience with the audience.


Where can we find your music?

My first single “Flux” and my debut LP Panorama are available anywhere you stream music, and I also have several beautiful music videos shot by my talented friends available on YouTube. 

Facebook: /michaelaslingermusic

Instagram: @michaelaslinger

Twitter: @michaelaslinger

Tik Tok: @michaelaslinger