SongVault Artist Profile
New York, United States
Indie Pop / Singer/Songwriter
Not many young women these days can attest to being lifelong
Bette Midler groupies, but that's exactly what Michelle Hotaling was when she fled her small town in upstate NY at the age of 17 to study in the Big Apple. While in college, she hit the road with a friend to follow Midler's Divine Miss Millenium Tour to get an education not found in the classroom.
"I'm either just anachronistic or a reincarnated gay bloke that didn't survive the 70's and wanted to come back as soon as possible," Michelle often chides when asked about her musical roots (which are laden with icons like Carly Simon, Laura Nyro, and Joni Mitchell). Initially wanting to emulate Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand, she wrote a memoir about her Midler Mania (BETTE OR BUST published by a division of Random House) and found herself working at Streisand's company, Barwood Films, at the age of 18. She sang in cabarets around Manhattan, embracing the masterpieces of Harold Arlen and Gershwin, all the while completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communications at the age of 19 much to the surprise of her college dean. "My parents would only let me move to Manhattan if I went to college. I was worried it would waste too much time because I already knew what I wanted to do with my life... so I finished as fast as I could."
Nothing ever came easy for Michelle, but she always had faith in her drive."I love it when people tell me "no." In fact, I dare them to because it stirs something inside me... this level of defiance that has allowed me to accomplish things I would have never even considered before." Aspirations in the film world kept her away from whole-heartedly pursuing music when she relocated to Los Angeles after college. Michelle immersed herself in film production, setting out to make BETTE OR BUST into a movie. But performing became inevitable, as she seemlessly received acting and modeling roles and found herself battling to just land a regular job. "I must have interviewed for over thirty positions at studios and production offices. I was a published author, a total overachiever, and had two years of experience working in the industry behind me. But the doors wouldn't open and I was constantly told I was too ambitious. That's something no one would ever tell you in New York. But in LA? Forget it!”
The angst and listlessness Michelle felt in Tinseltown brought her to the Pacific Coast Highway, where she'd park her car and write volumes in her journal. It was also the time that a new muse, Stevie Nicks, entered her musical repertoire and inspired new musical endeavours. "I love Stevie because like her, I was never musically trained. My parents could not afford piano lessons or vocal lessons, so I'd escape to the school auditorium or spend hours in church, pecking away at the keys and teaching myself. The fact that Stevie could write such captivating, intense songs based on her own instincts and limited training made me believe that maybe I could do it." Michelle began to put her journal entries to music and understand an instant gratification that the filmmaking process didn't provide.
Driving over Laurel Canyon Blvd. nearly a year after she relocated to California, "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac came on the radio. Michelle looked up to her visor and saw the slip of paper on which she scribbled "Follow Instincts" when she had first arrived in Los Angeles. In an instant she did a u-turn on the top of the hill, drove back to her apartment, and began packing. She knew that if she really wanted to thrive in music, she had to get back to New York.
Back in Manhattan, the creativity thrived and Michelle worked with a handful of producers that ultimately did not work out. With the kindness of Fate, Michelle was eventually led to Scott Slater. Oddly enough, their first email correspondance took place just as Scott was listening to "Dreams." Michelle took it as an omen and Scott became the first person to hear her catalog of music. "Having the creative license to just write out all the turbulent moments of my life in songs took away the intimidation of singing other people's songs because I was writing about my pain and my life. The songwriting process came so naturally, that I couldn't resist it. Scott was the perfect person to produce these songs. He foresaw the production of the songs as soon as I began to play them for him. He was just so in tune with the grand scheme of the music." They set out to do a few songs together when Michelle decided she wanted to do an entire album inspired by the first song they had completed, "Chained by Dreams." Each song managed to incorporate the strong melodies and 70's feel that Michelle absorbed from her influences, but with a modern touch. With a journey of omens and obstacles, with triumphs and low moments, Michelle and Scott are thrilled (and relieved!) to present their first release, CHAINED BY DREAMS.