5 Under 5000: Michael Medrano comes out and gets real about new single "Heal"
5 Under 5000 is a series highlighting artists with under 5000 likes on their official Facebook pages. These are artists we believe are worthy of your “likes” and deserve a listen. Follow along weekly to discover some new artists.
Since the release of his latest single "Heal", singer-songwriter Michael Medrano has been making waves with his music in the LGBT community. In this interview, the openly gay artist shares about his influences, the story behind his latest single and accompanying visuals, and gives us a playlist featuring a number of tracks sung by LGBTQ artists and allies alike.
Jump on the bandwagon while you can because we're sure Michael Medrano is going to blow up. Be sure to give check out "Heal" on all streaming platforms and give his page a like!
Tell us a little about who you are and how you got to where you are now.
I was born and raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles. I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness so I was pretty sheltered for a long time. Everything was basically culture shock once I came out and broke away from that by my sophomore year. At that point I was already writing music for piano, but I knew I wanted to use my voice since I’ve been a singer my entire life. So I finally started writing pop songs around 17. I think it was the first time I felt comfortable in my skin — well, as much as you can be at that age.
Who are your top 5 influences, musician or not?
I’m really inspired by women in music. Britney Spears was the first pop icon I was introduced to along with most of my generation, so that’s just a given. If I’d have to pick top 5 it’d be Britney for her showmanship, Gaga for her vocal power and fearlessness, Julia Michaels for her unique songwriting, Lana Del Rey and Tove Lo for their immersive stories and visuals.
How do you draw the inspiration to create music?
I like to write from my real life experiences. If I’m going through something really tough in my life, I usually try to take the pain and turn into something positive. I guess that’s how the term “sad bop” came about when describing my music. I’m writing a couple really great songs right now and I’m striving to be as transparent as possible; I think it’s what connects people to me. I also like to listen to new music from all different genres when I hit a wall. Feeding off of other musicians energy is so important.
What has been your biggest challenge or conflict in your music career?
Probably getting people to actually sit down and listen to my work. When you’re coming up in music you’re surrounded by so many talented people which is wonderful, but it’s so heavily saturated that it’s hard to get anyone to really pay attention to what you have to offer. Once people actually have a chance to listen, they’re hooked and nothing feels better than that. "Heal" feels like the first time people are really taking in what I’m doing and I couldn’t be happier.
You recently released your song "Heal" with Steve Grand. How did this song come about?
"Heal" is definitely the most honest song I’ve written to date. I didn’t really beat around the bush lyrically with this one and I think people really connected to that. I wrote it when I was in a really low place, literally on the bathroom floor crying. Writing this song was therapy for me — I needed to heal and it did just that. After writing the hook in that small space, everything else fell into place so quickly.
What was working with Steve like for this track? Were you considering anyone else?
Steve is an absolute joy and so kind. He fell in love with the track immediately and was so quick to respond. He was my first choice and we didn’t even consider anyone else, to be honest. We exchanged emails back and forth for awhile until we finally met for the single cover shoot in San Diego. I’m so lucky he lended his talent to my music! His voice fit so naturally onto the track and brought it to a new level.
The visuals for the "Heal" music video are unique. What was the inspiration behind the aesthetic choices?
Thank you! I grew up listening to a lot of country and classic rock, so we wanted to make visuals based on that era of music. We’re also really inspired by Mel Roberts’ photography of 1970s Californian/gay culture. It’s been really to show people who I am through these themes!
What has been your biggest challenge as a gay artist?
I think the fear of not ever being as big of an artist as I want to be. There’s still that fear of your music not getting pushed simply because being openly gay may not be as widely marketable as a straight artist. I just want to be able to tell stories that I didn’t get to hear growing up. Knowing you’re not alone in this world is so important. It’s been nice to see other gay artists like Troye Sivan and Hayley Kiyoko really winning in this game. I hope I can be there one day, too.
What can we expect from you next?
I’m in the process of finishing up a new single that I’m really excited about. The sound is so different from anything I’ve done before and we have so much planned for it visually. I’m also shooting a lot of new content and getting ready to do my first round of shows. It’s a really exciting time and I just hope everyone sticks around for the ride!
Do you have a message for any new listeners to your music?
I hope you’re really diving into my music and finding at least one song you really connect with. Thank you for listening! Also stream “Heal” on Spotify and add it to your favorite playlists!
Lastly, tell us a little bit more about the songs or theme you chose for your playlist?
We created a playlist that takes you through the healing process all sung by LGBTQ artists and allies alike. From my single “Heal” and Wrable’s “Bloodstain”, to Tove Lo’s “cycles” and Sufjan’s “Mystery of Love”, this is the perfect lift-yourself-up playlist. You don’t have to go through the heartache alone! Have fun listening!