How many teenagers can say Madonna loves their music? Eighteen-year-old Michelle Branch could list that amazing feat to her credit. Branch, a native of Sedona, Arizona, was signed to Maverick Records, a company owned by Madonna. Before one of Madonna?s concerts at New York?s Madison Square Garden, Branch was able to meet the legend.
?I wasn?t nervous before hand, but when I got in there, I was really nervous,? says Branch, speaking to andPOP from her downtown Toronto hotel on a recent promotional trip. ?I was like, ?what am I going to say to her? What do you say to Madonna?? We ended up just small talking. She just told me that she loved my record. She said, ?good luck, because it?s never going to be the same.? So I was like, ?oh my God, Madonna?s telling me that she likes my music!? It was a really cool experience.?
Michelle Branch has enjoyed the abstruseness of music her whole life. She?s been singing since she was too young to even remember. At fourteen, Michelle Branch picked up the guitar for the very first time.
?I think it?s so cool that you can pick up the guitar and create something that didn?t exist five minutes ago,? she expresses. ?You can write something that no one?s ever heard before. You have music at your fingertips.?
Throughout her life, Branch has been intrigued by musicals, and she would jump at the opportunity to be involved in one.
?I would love to be in musical theater and be on Broadway. If someone were to offer me a position to do something like that, I wouldn?t pass it down. I?m a huge fan of musicals and I really want to do that.?
Home schooling, she says, is a big reason why she is at the point she is at now.
?I?ve only been home schooled for the last two years of high school, and that was effected by my music. I wanted to be home schooled so I would have more time on my music. I had the time to get my school out of the way and get on the road and travel and meet people instead of being stuck in the classroom.?
Although she loves the travelling, it is difficult to be away from her family, as it would be for any teenager away from home for as long as Branch has been.
?There are days when I wake up and I?m just like, ?I do not want to get up and do this, this morning,?? Branch recalls. ?I?m lucky because I have a job I love. I really miss being away from home, being in my own bed, seeing my animals and siblings, having my mom?s cookies. I have a couple cats. I got a kitten about a year ago and now I?m going on the road so I won?t see him for a while. I feel bad.?
Her music, which can be heard on her debut album, ?The Spirit Room,? can be described as pop-rock. Being a teenage girl means critics will immediately compare her to other pop singers, but she is not like other artists in that genre. Michelle Branch not only sings, but of course also plays the guitar, which should make her distinguishable from other artists.
?People are going to look at me,? she explains, ?and say, ?oh she sings and dances and does the pop thing.? I really hope they?ll get a chance to hear the record, because I think once they hear the record, it says it all and they?ll think a little differently after that.?
?Everywhere? is the first single off the album, and was written by Branch. ?It?s a love song,? she describes. ?When you?re first liking somebody, every little thing reminds you of the person that you like. It?s like they?re everywhere. It?s a song about having faith in somebody, just meaning the world to you. It could also be interpreted whatever way anyone wants. I left it open. I didn?t want it to be too specific because it alienates some people [who cannot relate].?
?I always travel with a notebook, or paper, or a little recorder, so I won?t forget any ideas,? she says, explaining the process of writing music. ?Songs are really different every time. Sometimes I come up with these lyrics, and I?ll be like, ?I really want some music for this.? Or I?ll come up with some cool chords and I?ll say, ?I want to put some lyrics to this.? Or they?ll both happen at once. It?s really different every time.?
She sings, she writes, she plays the guitar. What else could she possible want to do on her next album?
?I think I want to have more hands on in the production of it. This is my first record and I worked with the producer, John Shanks. Now that I?ve done the record, I have a little more guts to say, ?I want to change this.? Now that I?ve been through it once, I?ll be able to get into it a little more.?
Branch is currently on a European promotional tour and will embark on a solo tour across the US in February.
Many emails she receives are from teenagers asking advice for how they can get into the music business. She tells them, ?Don?t let anybody get in your way. It sounds cheesy but you know in your heart what you want to do and if you think you can really do it, you probably can.?