Michaela French brings her soothing, melodic acoustic Americana to the Limelight Hotel this Saturday, Oct. 9.
“People sit down and listen,” French said about performing in Ketchum. “They know their local musicians. It makes you feel welcome as a performer.”
French has made the two-hour trip from Mountain Home many times.
“There’s an interest in keeping the arts alive,” French said. “There’s financial support. There’s a tourist industry that makes these things possible.”
Growing up in Switzerland, French formed her taste around her parents’ record collection. Then, once she got her hands on Simon & Garfunkel and Beatles albums, she fell in love with 70s rock. European cadences find their way into her music, giving her a unique sound.
Once an animated filmmaker, French is a visual learner.
“I think in pictures,” she said.
For her, songwriting just means describing what she sees in her head.
“The words themselves have a melody,” French said. “I kind of work with what’s already there.”
From there, she supplements chords to those melodies.
While working as a busker on the streets, French learned about self-fulfillment through music.
“I’ve learned I’m not doing this for anyone but me,” French said. “It brings me joy when other humans find this intriguing, but I want to fill the space with a sound that is pleasing to me or my co-musicians.”
French says when it comes to music, teamwork is key.
“Creatures need expression,” French said. “It’s another level when you can ... share yourself and let others take it to another level.”
When she performs in Ketchum, local musicians Josh Kelly and Lyle Evans often join her.
“Although it may be my name, once we hit the stage, it’s all of us creating in the moment,” French said. “To me that's collaboration at its best.”
Trust is essential while jamming live.
“They’re there to catch you, and you catch them,” French said. “It’s kind of like a dance.”
Currently, she is recording an album of songs she’s written over the past seven or eight years.
“It’ll be a nice token for those who still have CD players in their cars, probably middle-aged people who want a full album instead of doing a digital download,” French said.
Howard Walker is producing. They have been filming their studio sessions and posting them on YouTube.
“When you hear music, you often forget the process of the producer who’s putting it all together,” French said. “It’s a fine art to make you want to listen to what you’ve heard again. I treasure that tremendously.”
Those who can’t see French this weekend, she will be back at the Limelight Hotel on Saturday, Oct. 30.