Michelle Williams Interview
|Next Project:||Unexpected (Aug)|
|Twitter:||Michelle Williams on Twitter|
|Website:||Michelle Williams's Website|
Since 2002, Destiny’s Child alum Michelle Williams has released two gospel albums; both received mixed reviews and neither produced notable sales. Moving on to a new stage in her musical career and personal life, however, Williams is preparing to release a new contemporary R&B project this August, appropriately entitled “Unexpected.”
A native of Rockford, Illinois, Williams started recording her new project in 2006, but after consulting with industry friends and family members she decided to scrap most of the material. Now, led by the current single, “We Break The Dawn,” the forthcoming album will include a hefty amount of up-tempo records. Collaborators on this new body of work include Rico Love, Jim Jonsin and Stargate.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth‘s DJ “Z,” Michelle steps inside the booth to clear up several misconceptions about the direction of her new music. In addition, she discusses the most unexpected moment in her life, the ability to have fun at a club without consuming alcohol, and the chances that Destiny’s Child will someday release a new album.
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Michelle Williams Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a fellow Illinois State University Redbird who will be releasing a most Unexpected album this August. Please welcome one third of the best-selling female group of all time. Michelle Williams, how are you?
Michelle Williams: I’m great, Z, how are you doin?
DJ Booth: I’m wonderful. Thank you for joining me inside the DJ Booth.
Michelle Williams: Thank you for having me.
DJ Booth: Anytime. We last spoke last summer, in Chicago; you were at Carl Thomas’s Green Street Dolphin show. About a year later, what is the most exciting thing that has happened in your life?
Michelle Williams: I think the birth of this album. I think that’s why I titled it Unexpected: because I just didn’t know. It’s like a baby I wasn’t tryin’ to have. [laughter]
DJ Booth: Michelle, does the album title Unexpected, you feel, come more from the perspective of the listeners, who maybe wouldn’t expect a project like this from you, or from your perspective, never imagining you would go in this direction for an album?
Michelle Williams: I would say both. And the latter part of what you said, because I started working on this album two years ago, in 2006, and it was an R&B album, but it was nothing spectacular, nothing that was like, “Oh my God, she is bringin’ it!” I let my mother listen to that album, the first [version], and she was like, “You know, it’s okay,” and I was like, “Mom!” But she said, “You don’t have anything on here that people can dance to,” so before you know it, the whole album, I just went crazy doin’ up-tempos. But I’m happy to have Mom, because mothers tell you the truth.
DJ Booth: Exactly. That’s why, before you get married, you gotta-
Michelle Williams: You gotta be like, “Mom, is he the one?” And she’ll tell you.
DJ Booth: Exactly. Michelle, in your bio, you’re quoted as saying, “I think there have been some minor misconceptions of me,” so let’s clear up these misconceptions right here and now. What don’t people realize about Michelle Williams?
Michelle Williams: They think because I made two gospel albums, that I have a makeshift altar at home. They think I’m quiet; they don’t know that I’m the funny, outgoing girl that I am. Of course you have that power issue: you know, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” But I’ve been here ten years. I’ve stayed in the group when people didn’t think I could even stay that long.
DJ Booth: I think you’ve done more than enough to prove you belong in this industry-
Michelle Williams: Thank you, Z!
DJ Booth: -so whatever everybody says, forget ‘em
Michelle Williams: I’m takin’ you home to my momma!
DJ Booth: [laughter] Sounds good to me. Michelle, other than the title of this album, what would you say has been the most unexpected moment of your life.
Michelle Williams: I guess I can talk about it now: you never expect for a close family member to be walkin’ and talkin’ one day and the next they can’t do either. Three years ago my father had a stroke. And my father, he was the type of person that, he would come on tour with me, everybody was like, “Wow, Michelle; your dad is so cool!” One day he ended up [having a stroke], and it really affected him, and it was like, wow... Never take your parents for granted; never think anybody in your life is gonna be here – we just never know, the next day, what could happen to a person. But that really, really affected me. I canceled major gigs that I had to do, and it just made me stay close to my family. But now he’s good, he’s back to his old self. That was a total unexpected time.
DJ Booth: Well, it sounds like the entire incident made you and your family much stronger.
Michelle Williams: Absolutely, absolutely.
DJ Booth: Michelle, let’s talk about the lead single off this album, We Break the Dawn. It encourages the crowd to dictate when the club should close, not when the manager or the DJ wanna stop. So are you personally the stay out all night, dancing at the club type of girl?
Michelle Williams: When it’s gettin’ good to me, yes, ‘cause I don’t wanna leave. Say you [go to the club], you’ve got to get there by midnight, right, that’s when it’s really crackin’. Before you know it, they turn on the lights signaling it’s time for you to go. Don’t you hate that? Or imagine comin’ in at midnight, it’s pitch black outside, and then when you go outside, the sun is shinin’. You’re like, “Uh-uh, come on! I don’t wanna go home when the sun is up! Sun, go back down!” I can wake up with it up. I’ve gonne to bed many times when the sun has already risen.
DJ Booth: Michelle, there’s a musical connotation of late that partying has to take place with the indulging of liquor. I know that you have very strong religious beliefs – are those the reason the song does not contain that alcoholic influence, if you will?
Michelle Williams: Because you don’t need it! I’m not against a casual drink, if you’re of age, but if you’re just puttin’ ‘em down and going crazy and abusing it, that’s not cool. I have partied and haven’t had a drink. There were times when I was doing theatre I couldn’t drink at all because it’s drying to my vocal cords, but I still went out. I learned how to watch everybody else get drunk! [laughter]
DJ Booth: I’ve been sayin’ for a long time, you don’t need to drink to go out and have a good time.
Michelle Williams: You do not. You don’t. People think, “If I get drunk, I’ll have a better time.”
DJ Booth: I think those are the people who don’t have much of a personality.
Michelle Williams: Exactly.
DJ Booth: Michelle, making this transition from your previous two gospel albums to a contemporary R&B, pop project, musically, what did you hold on to, and what did you decide to leave behind?
Michelle Williams: I held on to making sure my music is sayin’ something. Even though it’s definitely a dance album, even those up-tempos are sayin’ something.
DJ Booth: You worked intensely with songwriter and fellow Midwest native Rico Love on this project. Rico’s a favorite of mine; he’s penned records for Usher, Marques Houston and Donnell Jones, just to name a few. What was it like working with him in the studio?
Michelle Williams: Well, he doesn’t write anything down. He’ll get a first verse, he’ll go in the booth and record it. Then he’ll come back out and he’ll think about it, he’ll think about the second verse, he’ll go in and do it. [He’s] crazy, absolutely bananas. He’s so freakin’ talented. If I had what he had, I don’t know if I’d be singin’; I think I’d be just writin’ those songs for people. He’s very, very, very talented. Very talented.
DJ Booth: How did you and Rico actually hook up?
Michelle Williams: Well, my A&R played me a song that he did, and I was like, “Oh my goodness – I wanna try this!” I ended up trying the song, and while I was in the booth recording I was like, “This feels so good, it’s effortless.” That’s the way recording should be. I felt like I found my lane. That’s how we hooked up; that was in October or November of ‘07. We linked up again in, like, December or January, and we finished the album. They were teasin’ me when we did the first one – they were like, “We’re gonna end up doin’ your whole album.” We’re like, “Yeah, right, whatever.” And so they ended up doin’ pretty much the whole entire album.
DJ Booth: Michelle, at this point in your musical career you’ve already achieved so much. Where do you see the rest of your career in this industry going?
Michelle Williams: It’s so far that I really can’t see it. I feel like it could go anywhere. It can go anywhere I want it to go.
DJ Booth: Which is where?
Michelle Williams: Which is to the sky, man! The sky is the limit – the universe! I just wanna be able to have longevity, meaning I wanna keep performing. I’m so excited to see people like Cher and Tina Turner coming to the stage. I’m happy that someone like Donna Summer, who I believe, her first album in seventeen years or something is comin’ out – that’s great.
DJ Booth: So you’re saying in twenty-five years I can see you rock a stage in Rockford, Illinois.
Michelle Williams: In twenty-five years – you better believe it.
DJ Booth: Michelle, it’s obvious that Kelly, Beyonce, and yourself are all at different points in your recording careers and lives, but what are the chances that before it’s all said and done – and this goes back to my last question and your last answer, that the world is privy to another Destiny’s Child album?
Michelle Williams: Ah… I don’t know; we will figure that out. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it; we’ll try to get to the bridge first. We don’t know yet, that’s not the best thing to talk about, but I do think that it’s something that I think the three of us collectively [would have to sit down and discuss]. I’m sure the world would be happy. We’d all be happy to do that, but right now I think we’re so focused on what it is that we’ve got to do individually.
DJ Booth: Well, the most important project right now is, of course, the Unexpected project, which is droppin’ August 12th. Michelle, give everybody a website or a MySpace page so they can find out more about you and the project.
DJ Booth: Well, whoever came up with that last website’s speakin’ the truth on behalf of many people.
Michelle Williams: Thank you!
DJ Booth: You’re very welcome. Thank you for takin’ the time.
Michelle Williams: I appreciate you, man. I’ll see you soon. Thank you so much.