With tracks from Billy Porter and Charlie Lane cropping up on the dance charts recently, we seem to be entering a new world of killer male dance vocals. Michael Fairman is known to many as the authority on all things soaps, but recently Fairman has dove into his true passion of music, His single “Other Side” is a down tempo and percussion heavy treat, and he has plenty of post-quarantine plans for videos and more music. I sat down with Michael to chat about making the career change to music, his biggest musical influences, and why staying current with music is crucial to hearing your own music be heard.
Michael Cook: Music is a new journey for you; tell me about the path to being a pop star.
Michael Fairman: My original career goal and what I started out being was a singer/songwriter to get a record deal, that is what I wanted to do my whole life. That is really what my talent was. In my twenties and thirties, I was running around New York City trying to get a deal, I had a band, things like that. In my early thirties, I got burned out and ended up doing what you see me do in journalism, soaps and producing. I really felt disconnected to the part of me that was buried. In the past few years, George Michael had passed away and I thought he was one of the most beautiful singer/songwriters who had ever lived. My mother had passed away and things had happened and made me think “what am I doing and why am I not doing my art”? I started doing YouTube videos of me performing cover tunes and music videos. This single is my third original release in a year and a half, and I have started writing, producing, and going back into the studio and it has just been amazing.
MC: What is it like truly embracing your passion after such a storied and successful career?
MF: Doing it now is two fold; obviously it is challenging because it is later in my life and the pop market is saturated with young performers. That being said, when you are listening to it, my music is very “now” and I work with a lot of great young musicians and producers. I feel very young inside and my voice is very young. Coming back to it now, I feel freedom doing it; I hope I can be an artist that breaks out even this late in life. I hope that I can be that artist who is a pop artist and age really does not matter; I hope to be that person.
MC: Artist-wise now, who are you finding yourself drawn to?
MF: I love Dua Lipa. I will tell you that regarding my song “Cant Let You Go” which was the single before “Other Side”; when I heard her do “Electricity” I thought it was the most amazingly produced track. When I did “Cant Let You Go”, I was really inspired by that, and it also had a dance remix by Christian Powell, who had done mixes for Pink and Christina Aguilera. I just think she is an amazing vocalist and I think there is just an amazing throwback style in there. I think she’s great.
MC: What is it about George Michael that you feel you have such a connection with?
MF: When he was hitting it big, I was singing in a lot of the R&B clubs in New York City, I had such a love of that “blue eyed soul” style. I was compared a lot to George, which was such a compliment when I was singing and George was already a hit in England, and then in the States. His songs, if you really listen to those songs and you really hear the words, they are just heartbreaking. They are beautifully written songs, from the melody, to the lyrics, to what he says, he was very connected to how he would write. I thought his voice was beautiful and he was a fantastic vocalist. He has inspired me; when he passed I was at a party and someone said that he had died, and I was so sick, it hit me so bad that I had to leave. The first video I put out on my YouTube channel was a George Michael medley, four songs in a medley. No one in that soap opera world knew I could sing, so I put it out just to see what would happen.
MC: Do you think that being the “soap opera guy” has opened doors to you in music or has it been a hinderance to you do you think?
MF: I’ve been finding it frustrating to be honest. I think people view you one way. When you say “here’s something else I do”, they want something from you that they are used to getting. I found a bit of resistance from the soap opera fans to go along with that. I think for me, I want to open up my audience. Soap opera fans are all ages, but they do skew older. I love all of the fans, but I don’t know how many are on Spotify. I think what it is forcing me to do is cultivate a new audience as a singer.
MC: It can be challenging for people to change their career direction, and people like Lisa Lampanelli and NAME have done it, but it can be very challenging. Have you found that to be your experience?
MF: So many people diversify; you can go from acting to directing, and diversifying. I think you have to if you are going to be relevant and interesting. If you are going to be having an entertainment career, I don’t think you can just be a “one note Johnny” anymore. I have always been that grunty, hard working guy who is always going to want to deliver something new to the audience. It is a different flip, but it’s the career that I always wanted to have. I had regrets; I would ask myself why I was not singing, but I was not putting music out. Even though it’s later in life, I did not want regrets that I was not going for my dream.
I think we should not be limited by our age either. I think so many people have limitations put on them because of their age. That is one of the themes of the song, age is just a number. It’s not what I feel, it’s not in my head or in my heart. It’s not my talent. When people hear the music, they realize it is what they hear on the radio. That is the twist I want people to see about me. When I listed to music, I listen to Lizzo, Harry Styles, Zhane, Shawn Mendes, and I think H.E.R. is so talented. Many older people aren’t as connected to new music. I want to be connected to what is going on. I feel so young in my mind and I continue to follow everything. That is how you are not perceived as old; you continue to know what is going on.
MC: Is it fair to say that paying attention to the new music is paramount to make sure your own sound is current?
MF: I hope part of what I am saying to people is that we are young, it doesn’t matter that we have more wrinkles. It doesn’t define us. Harry Styles was a great influence of mine, I loved his his new album “NAME” so much. I remember thinking that “Lights Out” and Watermelon Sugar” were such great tracks, I just loved them so much. When we were sitting down to compose this track, I was very influenced when I work in the studio on what is current and what is going on. I listen to elements of new music and try to bring that into it.
MC: It’s important to share art of yours that people would not really expect from you, that is when some of the most revolutionary art comes from you correct?
MF: Absolutely I mean, the song “Sing About Me” that I put out a year ago was about social media and how we all trash each other. That you take someone in the public eye and you don’t know a thing about them, but you sit there and shit on them behind a keyboard. We build up in our head what someone is, but we don’t really know. I try to say something in all the songs that I write that are a commentary on things that are happening.
MC: Can we expect a video element to go along with the song?
MF: I love shooting music videos. As a producer, I love putting all of the elements together and shooting them. We were set to shoot the video literally two days before the pandemic hit, so its on hold. I also moderate the “General Hospital” convention and that is most likely cancelled as well.
MC: What would the Michael Fairman now tell the young kid starting in music then?
MF: I would have told him to not give up; keep it going. I know it is difficult and depressing at times and financially it can be draining. I know the ups and downs of getting A&R. It was not a digital age then, we had to get A&R reps down to your showcase. Eight out of ten times the rep did not show up. It was disappointing and financially draining. The good thing about artists now is that you can self publish and there are so many platforms, we are in such a digital age. The music can be distributed and heard. I would say to my younger self to stay with it-don’t give up. Yes you took a detour, but I had to do this. You have the talent, you just need the right people.
Michael Fairman’s “Other Side” is being distributed independently and is available on Apple Music, Spotify and all major music digital platforms. Follow Michael Fairman on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.