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EXCLUSIVE: MICHAEL LONGORIA On His New Album Like They Do In The Movies
You may remember our interview with Michael Longoria last year during the holidays talking about his album Merry Christmas Darling. Well, now Michael is back to talk to with RyeTheNewsGuy.com about his third album Like They Do In The Movies, a romantic album featuring iconic songs from movies and the debut of an original song written by Longoria (arranged by James Dobinson). Longoria talks about the inspiration behind the album, his favorite song, what we can expect at his shows and much more.
The album will be released digitally and in stores on October 11th and is produced by Grammy nominee and 12-time Emmy Award winner Michael Croiter. Longoria will be celebrating the release of Like They Do In The Movies with concerts in New York- October 10th at The Green Room 42 and in San Francisco- October 16 at Feinstein’s At The Nikko.
What made you decide to do this album Like They Do In the Movies and where did the idea come from to take on classic movie hits? Take me a little bit into that process. Well, you know, I wanted to have an album that kind of reminded me of the nostalgic feeling of being a child or that hopeful "anything is possible" that the movies brought to us. And I just felt like as I was researching different songs from different genres and different areas, I kept gravitating back towards the songs that were from the movies. But it actually really started when I was doing my Christmas album Merry Christmas Darling one of the songs that I really wanted to put on the album was a song called, “It Must've Been Love, But It's Over Now" which is a song by Roxette and was in the movie Pretty Woman. And I thought it was so interesting because it was a breakup song about Christmas. The trivia behind it was that that when they wanted to put it in Pretty Woman, they changed it from a Christmas song to just a generic breakup song. So anyway, I fell in love with the song and it didn't make it on my Christmas album. So, after I released my Christmas album, I just kept thinking about this song, I kept feeling and would want to keep singing it anywhere I was. And this took me to wonder where can this song lead to, what scale can we take it to since it’s not on the Christmas album? So that kind of led me to literally listen to every movie song like from the 70s, 80s, 90's and on and made me say "I'm going to have these songs."
What is your favorite song on the album to sing? I know that is probably a hard question to answer, but is there one you specifically like? My favorite song to sing is "Nothing's Going To Stop Us Now.” It was made famous in the movie Mannequin-- I'm not sure if you realized this or not, but that was Kim Catrell from Sex in the City playing that mannequin, it was one of her very first opportunities, so it's fabulous. But what I always love to put out there was the optimistic viewpoint of romance for songs. You know, and even though a lot of times our relationships don't work and a lot of those songs are about breakups within the most beautiful, magical relationship you could have ever had, “I Will Always Love You,” for example, from The Bodyguard, is a classic that Dolly Parton actually wrote. That's such a heartbreaking breakup song, but it's also very devotional saying "I love you more than anything in the world" song. So, I liked the juxtaposition of those two feelings within the same song because that's kind of what love is, it's is very complicated like that.
I really liked your take on "I Will Always Love You." It gave me a little bit of the Whitney Houston feel but also had that older sort of Dolly Parton feel to it as well.
Thank you so much. I left a few emotional moments on there that were pretty real and raw even though they weren't necessarily perfect.
What will be different about your show here in New York and then the one in San Francisco? Do you have any special guests joining you? Will you be going anywhere else on tour? I am going to have two backup singers who are good friends and one of them is my brother, Danny Longoria. This is going to be the first time my brother and I ever sing together, so that’s going to be nice to have my family on stage with me and supporting me. Some of his backup is going to sound practically like a duet with me, it’s a big job!
Definitely a big job. How do you approach these hit songs when you first look at them and decide on them? What is your process for reimagining them? Well, I first started singing at a Mariachi fair in California growing up, they’re all in Spanish, but I didn't speak Spanish. So, I learned how to interpret and feel a song and hear a song for the first time via the emotional heartbeat of it. A lot of times I wouldn't know what the song was saying, but I would know what it meant. Like I would literally be able to interpret it as a child because of the melodies and the singer who was onstage really gave you the appropriate feeling for what the song was about without knowing. With the album, I would listen to hundreds of songs from different genres, whether a Christmas or Broadway or Movies album. With each one I'd listen to the storylines — what is the story saying and does it touch me? Like literally if there was a hand that could audially grab my heart through my ears that's what I was hoping and waiting for and all of these all literally touched my heart somehow.
As artists I know it’s hard to always think ahead and you want to stay in the moment, but do you think you will do a fourth album and if so, what might that theme be? Will you be staying in the cabaret scene or getting back into theater? Well I'm already working on my fourth album and it's all original songs. So, I’ve been kind of like flirting with the idea of releasing my original music on these albums. On the Christmas album I wrote the song "Marry Me This Christmas" and on this one I wrote a song called “Kiss Me Like They Do in the Movies.” There were just little flirtations of well can I do this? I started writing when I was in Hairspray on Broadway because I had all this free time. I started to learn how to write and teach myself how to play guitar. I literally used every hour that I had when I was having to be in the sitting room doing nothing. I was writing songs, but I hadn't really released them. So, the record label and Michael Croiter, who produced my album, they both said why don't you just finish writing more songs? This fourth album was going to be half original half cover anyway. But after doing half the originals, I realized I do have something to say here and I do want to say more. So, I wrote the second half of the album and then we recorded it. Now I'm in the process of recording the vocals for that fourth album. It's going to come out later, but that's going to be the next artistic endeavor. And then there's, who knows, after that hopefully I'll continue to write.
What is your advice for future performers, songwriters, or cabaret stars? Is there something specific they should know about writing or putting their work out there? I mean, I'm still looking for advice pretty much too! But, I basically feel like what I've been learning is that you create these shows all alone. I’m literally by myself in my bedroom dreaming up these stories and seeing these songs and then I'm going to go out there and do what I do in private for a bunch of strangers. It's scary. But the best advice is within the balance, make sure that you're putting forth your true self, your truest self. Not a little facade version of yourself. And that's, that's the hardest thing for me to do because I want to look my best, I want to sound like that, I want people to think that I'm cool. But sometimes you won't be there, or sometimes you'll mess up or things won't go perfect, but as long as you’re being yourself everyone is going to be there with you and for you.