With 4 consecutive number one singles on the iTunes country charts in South Africa, it’s safe to say that See Your Shadow Songwriting and its fearless leader, Michael Coleman, are on somewhat of an international roll. Following the recent release of their “feelgood” single “It Starts with Hello” and the kickoff of their “Summer of Diversity and Inclusion” Coleman and crew are ramping up for a busy second half of 2021. Michael took time out to answer our questions in this exclusive interview!
Congratulations on the release of your latest single, “It Starts With Hello.” What inspired you to write and record that particular song?
As with most of my work that I write, the ideas generally come from me out of nowhere. I was working on some diversity initiatives for a local business and the idea came to me that every interaction we have with someone starts when we greet them. It sets the tone for everything that follows, and I thought a song with that theme would be a great backdrop for a diversity and inclusion campaign. Unfortunately, that organization wasn’t as committed to diversity and inclusion as they claimed, so I held on to the piece and then when we relaunched See Your Shadow with our new sound, I wanted to make sure that this piece was included in our new body of work. At first, I wasn’t going to release it, but then I thought that it would be a perfect addition to our empowerment theme for our 2020 releases.
Besides being a very talented songwriter and producer, you are also an entrepreneur of sorts. How do you balance all of your skills?
Well thanks, I appreciate that compliment. I do have my hands in a lot of things and sometimes it can be difficult. I always say that I work hard, and I play hard and truly when you love what you do it really isn’t working. All the things that I have my hands in are things that I feel passionate about or things that excite me. My two biggest passions are show business and people and by doing projects or ventures that combine both of those elements, I find that I am able to balance and have my skills intertwined with everything I do.
Were you involved with music as a teenager? Did you play in any bands back then? How did you get started?
I started playing in the orchestra when I was 9 and did that for a few years before I transitioned to my junior high school band, by volunteering to have the lead in a Christmas concert playing the glockenspiel. I stayed in the marching band for a while and then when I switched schools my new school didn’t have a band, so I gave it up. It was around that time that I really started studying the Billboard charts and watching a lot of MTV really getting exposure in all sorts of music and dabbled in creating my own mixes of popular songs and I think from a producer standpoint that is where I honed my skills of being able to hear the possibilities of putting different types of things together and thinking outside of the box. I was always a natural poet, but really didn’t recognize and harvest that talent until I won a poetry contest when I was 13.
How would you describe your brand of music to someone who has never heard of See Your Shadow?
See Your Shadow’s music is probably best described as contemporary country that explores the human experience. I write about themes that you don’t ordinarily hear in music and our production style can be described as complicated simplicity, especially with the latest piece, “It Starts With Hello” the lyrics are simple and yet the music is complicated, contrast that with our break out record, “I Will Tell Jesus You Said Hello” where the lyrics are complicated and the music is simple.
How would you describe a SYS fan?
What a great question. I think a See Your Shadow fans spans all age ranges and are diverse. I think SYS fans are true lovers of music that sparks emotion. The music that we create is designed to evoke emotion and make you think and feel, and I believe that our fans are people who connect with music on an organic level.
What gives you the most joy when you are on stage?
See Your Shadow is primarily a studio-based entity, and we rarely do live shows, so when we do take the stage, it is a real treat for our fans and those that make up the See Your Shadow Network of Stars. I think what brings me the most joy when we do a live performance is the fact that the members of the See Your Shadow Network of Stars can showcase their talent. When you are a studio entity most think that it is all studio magic that creates the sound, and it brings me joy when we can prove that there is more talent than studio tricks behind our sound.
Tell us about your best performance you’ve ever had? How about the worst?
This is a good question and our best performance and worst performance happened at the same show. We were tasked with closing the inaugural season of Summer Concerts at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. The show I put together was what I called the See Your Shadow Revue and we showcased all the various types of songs in the See Your Shadow Catalog. One of the highlights was the debut of our MRDD anthem “Yes We Can” and the day of the show, the singer I wrote the song for was a now show, on the fly, I had to revamp then entire finale of the show, as that piece was our latest record and our finale. We pulled it off and the finale actually turned out better than originally planned.
What is the highlight of your music career, so far?
I think so far having four number 1s in a row on the iTunes Country Chart in South Africa. I was so surprised when that happened the first time, with our breakout hit, “I Will Tell Jesus You Said Hello” then when we hit it three more times in a row, I could not believe it. So thankful to our international fans.
What does Michael Coleman like to do when he’s not making music?
When I am not creating, I love to travel. I had a lot of travel on the books before the pandemic hit and I want to get back to that. I also love spending time watching classic movies and television, playing darts and sharing simple special moments with new people.
What is up next for you in 2021?
My 2021 is going to be ambitious. One of the things I want to work on is the screenplay based on our Christmas record, “Christmas on Cellblock 9”, also I started a foundation based on a documentary project I was doing, and I am going to be ramping that up in 2021 and there may be some more music as well.
Thanks Michael! We appreciate the time.