review by Michael McCarthy
Today I’m delighted to premiere Manhattan-based dream pop singer/songwriter Michael Rider’s new protest anthem, “Capital.” From its punchy main beat to its layers and layers of instrumentation and subtle vocal samples, which glide along under Rider’s lead vocals like a surfboard under his feet, its production is complex enough to make Butch Vig’s jaw drop. To that end, it sometimes calls to mind heavily-layered tracks like “I Think I’m Paranoid” and “When I Grow Up” from Garbage’s masterpiece Version 2.0. At other times, it reminds me of Björk’s “Hunter” — and Homogenic album in general — with the way some of the percussion flutters about rapidly, as if racing against the more sonorous beats. In any case, you could listen to this song ten times — like I have (so far) — and still not hear everything; I keep noticing different sounds each time I hear it. And considering how infectious it is, you won’t mind listening to it on repeat at all. If you’re looking to compare it to something more current, you could say it’s like OneRepublic (the catchiness and vocal style) meets Death Cab for Cutie (the pensive lyrics) meets Thom Yorke (the electronic production).
Rather than summarizing the classically trained vocalist and pianist’s bio, we thought we’d ask him a few questions.
Your new single, “Capital,” is being called a protest anthem. What in particular are you protesting against?
There is many ideas of protest on Capital. The cover notates the pyramid of capitalism. For any that do not know, Capitalism is an economic system that ultimately exposes and nearly stands on enslavement of society’s lower classes. We all live in this way of life everyday as the world sees a huge wealth gap between the rich and the poor and how that has darkened the world. That being said, as a musician or artist that makes pop music, it is also a nod to how pop music is a game and pawn of the system.
Was there something that happened to you, or that you witnessed, or saw on the news, that triggered you to write this song?
I think the idea of having to make art in this landscape of consumerism, private property, wealth gaps, it has tainted the way we make art. People are so money obsessed because there is a lack of money. I live in New York city and it is all that one can think about.
Is there a certain group of people who you’re trying to help by releasing this song? For example, are you advocating for immigrants, women’s reproductive rights, etc, etc.
This song is for everyone. For someone in need, this song is to empower you. For someone well to do, I hope you find yourself asking questions. For someone who doesn’t know where they are, or who they are, I hope this song empowers you and asks you questions.
I love the production on “Capital,” which has more layers than I can count. How many tracks was it when you finished it?
I am not too sure, but after making my last album “Double Edged” with just myself and one producer, I wanted to expand my sound and work with all kinds of artists. I recruited a team of very skilled producers and musicians in their own right. Mike Tierney is the main engineer on this track, he also played a little bit of bass. My bassist and dear friend Richard L. Entrup plays the majority of the bass and some keyboards on the track. I played the piano and keyboards. David Mason who is a Top 40 scientist, built the primary percussion for the track, the vocal samples, the beats. And lastly but not least my dear friend, Derek Piotr, who I have known for a long time built the organ sounds, as well as samples, beats, and all the very interesting vocabulary of noises.
Some of the sounds in the track remind me of the song “Hunter” by Bjork. Was that a source of inspiration, by any chance?
To be honest, I need to listen to Bjork more. She is incredible. She probably made her way on this track without me even realizing!
If it wasn’t inspired by that song, are you a Bjork fan in general and would you cite her as an influence?
I definitely am a Bjork fan. Volta is my favorite Bjork record. Derek Piotr, who worked on this track, is a big Bjork fan. They have met and I know Derek cites her as a huge influence.
What artists and/or songs would you say inspired you when you were making “Capital”?
During the recording, I was actually listening to a lot of Britney Spear’s “Glory,” Katy Perry’s “Witness,” and Ariana Grande “Dangerous Woman,” “Sweetener,” and “Thank U Next!” Specifically, I have to pay homage to “If I’m Dancing” by Britney Spears. I kept finding myself referring to this track in the studio.
What program(s) did you use to make the beats and track the song? Did you use any live instruments?
Those are all secrets of my producers! So you would have to ask them. Derek Piotr’s samples all come from live instruments. Richard L. Entrup’s bass is also live. Other than that, everything is synth.
Will there be a video for “Capital” in the coming weeks?
There is a very meditative lyric video for Capital that was made by my homie Micheal Parisella which you can find on the YouTube.
I understand you’ve been performing live quite a bit. Could you tell us what your shows are like and some of the places you’ve performed?
I’d like to say the shows are introspective and a dark, dreamy dance party all at the same time. Right now, I either play acoustic on piano or I sing and dance to tracks. When I am lucky, Richard L. Entrup will accompany me on his bass.
What’s next for Michael Rider?
More singles, tour, and my third album!!!
Michael has an extended stream/buy link here: https://songwhip.com/song/michael-rider/capital?fbclid=IwAR1O9acyJpGlmaDmPEdP9jTfeSme_URxJwvK2sVHdmhjhTNi8dQJVziBLCQ
This is like a seven layer cake. Almost too much going on for its own good. Almost. I’ll have a second piece thank you.