Out recording artist Michael Lazar celebrates the raw experience of life, even if imperfect, giving hope at least a one percent advantage with his debut album, 51/49.
Consisting of 15 songs written, recorded and produced by Lazar, the album chronicles the artist’s 18-year journey through tragedy and loss to self-discovery and finding love.
After moving to NYC to study musical theatre at NYU, he began writing songs about his experiences starting with his formative college years to countless Broadway auditions and performances to the 2020 pandemic. During that period, he also suffered the tragic loss of his mother as well as losing all of his material possessions in a fire.
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Exploring themes of love, loss, friendship and self-worth, Lazar’s lyrics span the emotional gamut from heartfelt and sincere, to sometimes sad and nostalgic. But ultimately, his music is intended to encourage others to believe in themselves.
Named with the idea of accepting both good times and bad, 51/49 plays like a musical diary with each song leading to the next, sharing memories and new experiences with anyone who can relate to them.
Back in May, Instinct shared a tease of the new album with the single, “Capsule.”
Instinct Magazine: Congratulations on the release of 51/49. In putting the collection together, was there a specific theme you wanted to convey?
Michael Lazar: Yeah, definitely. 51/49 explores the raw experience of life, embracing both its blissful highs and bitter lows. The album dives into universal themes like love, loss, friendship, self-worth, and the passage of time through my lens as an artist living in NYC.
With 51/49, my goal is to find and celebrate the beauty in each moment of life; yes, even the dark ones. Life can be sad – and that’s O.K. I know it’s okay, because I’ve been there. I might be a bit of a dreamer but I’m also a realist; I’ve had to learn through experience that happiness comes from within and only can be achieved when we accept what we cannot change.
Life will never be perfect. But when we fight for happiness despite an often fifty-fifty split, and choose to stay that way against the odds, that extra 1% of hope is what makes all the difference. Accepting it, and even more so embracing it, is the lesson I want everyone to take from 51/49.
IM: Is there a track on the album that is particularly special to you? If so – which one and why?
ML: That’s a really difficult question to answer, especially on an album with 15 tracks that are all incredibly meaningful to me! I guess if I had to select one it would be “Few Breaths Away.”
All of the songs on 51/49 address the key themes I mentioned earlier at one point or another, but “Few Breaths Away” is the only one that encompasses them all. In a lot of ways it’s the most iconic track on the album, because it dives into that bittersweet feeling of getting older and both holding onto the memories of the past and embracing the future.
It’s a song that celebrates accepting a life that’s imperfect, letting go of the things outside our control, finding love and holding onto it, living 100% in the moment and just celebrating the gift of being alive. It’s an anthem for the album’s core message.
IM: How would you describe your sound or style of music?
ML: My sound has taken a really long time to develop, but the roots of it are based in Classical piano and musical theatre. I studied piano every week without fail from the ages of 8-18 under a style of teaching called the Suzuki Method, where you learn to play by ear. During the same time period I had a passion for musicals and performing onstage, which would eventually take me to NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
I think the Classical piano and Broadway foundation, when mixed with my deep love of pop music and the sound I developed as a self-taught music producer all come together to create the Michael Lazar sound. You will hear elements of Broadway for sure and a strong singer-songwriter vibe as well, which pervades everything.
But I think one of the best and most unique parts of my sound is the way I strip down the Broadway, deconstruct the piano a bit and then add in the EDM quality. Converting the songs into an electronic format has made my music a lot more accessible to a wider audience.
IM: Who has had the biggest influence on your music and why?
ML: Britney Spears. To me, she is the ultimate pop star. From the day she first stepped onto the scene in 1998 with Baby One More Time, to the unforgettable music videos and iconic live performances, and to consistently working with the most incredible writers and producers in the industry, it takes a legend to go through all she has and still endure.
Personally, I find her brand of pop music and the sound well-crafted and smartly executed. A lot of the time, when I set out to write and produce a dance track with a good beat, I’ll think of any one of her hits and use it as a compass for achieving that killer sound.
I know she’s a polarizing individual and definitely an enigma, but for me she has always been the pinup of American pop music – like wow, goals.
IM: What do you do outside of music to stay on balance?
ML: I love hanging out with my beautiful boyfriend of 8 years and traveling with him wherever and whenever possible. There’s something unbeatable about exploring different places, eating exotic foods and diving into new cultures with someone you love.
I also enjoy spending time with animals of all kinds and especially like snuggling up with my three smushy-face kitties (check them out on IG @mr_kittyface). Other ways I maintain balance are by exercising, listening to music, being out in nature, taking care of plants, and making art! You can follow all of my creative adventures on IG @artbylazar.
IM: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
ML: “If not now, when?” These are four very basic words that, when put together this way, speak directly to the importance of showing up in life, never sitting back and striking while the iron is hot. My dad always taught me that when opportunity presents itself, it’s up to me to be ready for it and open the door.
IM: Now that you’ve released your debut album – what’s next?
ML: Honestly, I’ve already begun conceptualizing my followup album and I’m really excited! There are a few songs that were left on the cutting room floor during the song selection process of 51/49 and I’m psyched to update them and give them a second chance. I’m definitely going to continue exploring the EDM side of my style and just see where that takes me! I hope and plan to perform my songs live in the near future (stay tuned for more on that) and I’m currently in the process of creating a presence and following in the NFT world. Other than that, I’m going to take myself somewhere fab to relax and celebrate the release of 51/49.
And if you want to hear the entire album, see the Spotify Player below.