Interview: Michelle Shelf

Today we’re joined by Michelle Shelf. Michelle is a wonderful musician and an aspiring writer. For music, she plays in a variety of genres and mashes them up quite a bit. She obviously has quite a talent for it as well. For writing, Michelle has a number of ideas that she intends to put to the page eventually, including an LGBTQ+ fantasy and a book about four ace friends. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an “acespiring” musician and author that clearly loves puns (badum tss). Primarily, I am a singer/songwriter and I love to dabble in novel-writing. Music wise, I try to write indie-pop-acoustic rock type music, and I love to tell my stories through my music. Writing wise, I’m a giant procrastinator who comes up with novel ideas but can never finish them (think of me like Professor Finbarr Calamitous from Jimmy Neutron). My main novel idea that I hope to finish and have published someday, is a fantasy-type LGBT novel. My other idea is another LGBT novel focused on four a-spec friends.

What inspires you?

A few other artists inspire me, but I honestly think most of my inspiration comes from my friends who are incredibly talented, and from wanting to better myself. I’ve always envisioned myself on a stage performing music, and pretending to give my Grammy Award winning speech in front of the mirror may just be what inspires me that day.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

As mentioned above, I have always seen myself performing. I’ve never wanted to do anything else, I’ve never dreamed of anything else. Music has just always been a passion of mine, ever since my mom signed me up for a music camp and my dad got me my first guitar.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I’m not sure if this is a unique feature, but I try to tell my stories through my music so when you listen to it, it sounds like an audio novel.

With my novels, I am that annoying writer your high school English teacher warned you about. Everything I write has a reason. I want to make sure that there is something new you realize every time you reread it. Foreshadowing is wonderful. I also make sure everything I write is LGBT, since there is so little of it out there.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep at it. It will get tough at times, that’s a given, but if it’s truly what you love and what makes you happy, don’t let any hate or discouragement get you down. Whether you make it to the big stage (like the Grammys or whatever it is in your artistic field) or not, if it makes you happy, and you enjoy creating, then you’ve made it. You’ve won.

Also, don’t tell yourself “I’ll remember this idea in the morning”. You won’t. Keep a pencil and pad next to your bed. Or notes in your phone. Don’t be lazy like me. Don’t convince yourself at 3 am that you’ll remember that incredible idea when you wake up in the morning. Because you won’t.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Ha. That’s a fun question. I am all over the place. For the sake of a quick answer, I just say I’m asexual. An umbrella term. But I may be grey or demi. I haven’t quite figured that out for myself. As for my sexuality and my romantic orientation, I’m a big question mark, with the only certainty being that I am “a-spec”.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I, personally, haven’t encountered prejudice or ignorance, but in the music field, having so many hit songs be about love and sex, I won’t be surprised if I ever do. Same with novels, so many books are based on romance, and what’s romance without sex, right? (I wish I could eye roll in text).  Books especially have this high desire to always have a romance, and always have a het-cis romance, and if they’re for older Y/A audiences and up, they always have some type of sexual desire or scene or something. It gets annoying that everything has to be centered around sex and romance. It doesn’t.  One of my novel ideas actually focuses on four a-spec friends, but again, I have yet to write it, because I am Professor Finbarr Calamitous and can never finish anything.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That you need sex in a relationship. All of my past relationships, as soon as I kept saying no, we magically started drifting apart. You don’t need sex to have love. I love fried ravioli, but I would never have sex with it.

Also, the annoying “You don’t know if you’ve never had it” comment. (insert that text eye roll again).

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I’m there with you, but know that it is your decision. You  know what you like and what you don’t. You know what you want to do and what you don’t. And it may change overtime, and that’s okay, it does not invalidate what you were or who you are. You may even just umbrella term like I do, or not use a label at all. That is okay, you don’t need one. You are lovely and you are real and you are valid. Always believe that.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Music wise, I am on YouTube and Soundcloud. Please ignore my 13 year old self thinking that was a cool YouTube handle. I’ve tried every which way to change it.

Writing wise, follow me on Twitter at eyeliveonmusic and come watch me stress about my novel ideas and never write them. (Hopefully NaNoWriMo changes that this year).

Thank you, Michelle, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Silivrenelya

Today we’re joined by Silivrenelya. Silivrenelya is a wonderful singer and songwriter who sings with a pop/rock band. She’s been performing with her band since 2012 and they’re currently working on their debut album. We’ll likely be seeing quite a lot more of Silivrenelya in the future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hi! I am a singer-songwriter in a pop/rock band. We’ve been playing together since 2012. We are currently recording our debut album, as signed artists, since 2015. Our main influences are The Killers, The Beatles, Paramore, Arctic Monkeys, Queen, The Kooks, and The Struts.

What inspires you?

Beautiful and powerful stories inspire me. Everything that can make me feel something strong inspires me. Soulful and talented people inspire me. Soothing landscapes and music made with passion inspire me.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I think I have always liked singing and telling stories. Growing up, I went through crucial moments in my life that strengthened my desire to do this as a job. I remember feeling so good and like I belonged when I first sang in front of people, and when they expressed their enjoyment, I felt great. I managed to make people feel something, and that was it. I loved this feeling and I wish to keep it for as long as I’m able to provide it.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Not particularly! I really like to write stories that have a double reading or “double entendre” in them though. I personally love it when a song has different meanings, like levels of understanding, and the deeper you search the deeper the meaning is, and thus the song becomes even more relevant.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say, if you’re really passionate about your art, about what you’re doing, then burn your bridges that would take you backwards and go forwards, always straight ahead. Have a goal, no matter how tiny or huge it is or seems. One step at a time. Never regret what you’ve done, only learn from your mistakes, there is no such thing as failure, it’s only new data to analyse and try to avoid or improve for the next time. Try to be indulgent towards yourself. It is always the hardest part, but it can actually save you from so many dark times. And sleep!

I am still a young artist myself though, so it is just what I gathered along the way. I still have a lot to learn.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify myself as asexual (and panromantic).

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I realised only recently that I belonged to the Ace spectrum, so I am not out to everyone, but my closest friends know. At first they were just really confused because I used to be very active in relationships – but they didn’t realise I was doing this to try to figure out what the hell I truly felt about all this. After then they all didn’t know what was asexuality, so I tried to explain to them, using some quotes from different aces’ testimonies, and also with the 4 sides of attraction: that proved to be the most efficient and clear explanation so far for ignorant people.

I always try to remain calm and open when explaining it, because in my country (France), it is still not very well known and clarified, and all I wish is for asexuality to be better understood and handled.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The common misconception about asexuality that I’ve encountered is that of the sexual trauma or sexual hate. While it may be true for some, it is not for all. And people often think that you are ace because of some awful past experience, or because you haven’t found where you really belong. But… That’s not how it works. At all. They often don’t understand why you wouldn’t have any sexual attraction or intercourse. Sex is such an inherent part of society – it forced itself so hard in it – that for us to say that we are not receptive to this side of the system is often seen as a form of – rebellion? Weirdness? Marginality even. People simply don’t understand (yet) why we are like this. But they will eventually, I have hope!

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Just like “It’s okay to be gay”, it’s totally okay to be ace! And it’s okay to be afraid of who you are at first. I mean, it’s frightening when you don’t know what you are, why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. And even if you’re not 100% sure about what you are, guess what? It’s ALSO okay. And, please, don’t worry about whether people will still like/love you if you’re ace. They will. The right people will always love you, no matter who you are.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

For now there is nothing public that I can give away, but as soon as there is, I will let you know!

Thank you, Silivrenelya, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.