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BWW Feature: At Home With Micah Young

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BWW Feature: At Home With Micah Young

People often don't get to know the musicians. The musical directors, the conductors, the people who support the singers at the mic often are merely a name and a mysterious persona to audience members who sit at their tables and drink their drinks while quietly wondering the story behind the animated or intense or supercute person making the music. What better time to get to know these magicians of music than when all the entertainers of New York have taken their acts to the internet?

Micah Young has been producing two shows for his Facebook audiences for nearly the entire period of distancing in New York; and even though the city of Manhattan is approaching a stage where all four phases of reopening have happened, this Broadway veteran continues to perform his happy hour and his sing-a-long hour every week because the artists of NYC are the people left without jobs, without creative outlets, without income. With the growing popularity of his online programs, as his fandom grows from strangers who are getting to know of his talent and charm, Micah Young has made a rather interesting discovery: he and Kermit and his Hawaiian shirts might just have a career out front... in the spotlight... where he belongs.

This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced here in its entirety.

Name: Micah Young
First Cabaret Show (Title, Year, Club): Hmmm... I'd have to check! I remember playing for a benefit with Brian d'Arcy James and the Keen Theatre Co at Caroline's Comedy Club in Times Square. I was a freshman in college, just moved to the city, and had no idea what or where Caroline's Comedy Club was. I was surprised when I got there and realized where it was I was playing!
Most Recent Cabaret Show: I was playing my original songs out at Jim Caruso's Cast Party at Birdland frequently; I bounce back and forth between music directing for performers, and finding the time (and energy) to attend open mics, songwriter forums, etc. to try out my own material.
Website or Social Media Handles: micahyoungmusic.com, Patreon.com/micahyoungmusic, micahyoungmusic on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Micah Young, how the heck are you? Tell me about the last three months of your life.

Hey Stephen! Thanks for connecting and taking the time to interview me! It's hard to have perspective these days, right? I find myself working harder and hustling for work as an independent, self-employed musician. What's been interesting is how the restrictions of the pandemic has forced me (and so many of us) to get creative about being creative. How do we do what we do from the limitations of our homes? I struggle with time management and keeping myself to any sort of schedule these days. All my gigs were canceled, and it's hard to know when we will return to our daily lives. I've tried to follow my bliss, if I have the drive to practice, I practice. If I have the drive to read or write, I follow that energy. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and write, and other times, I lean in to making midnight pancakes, because why not?

When the shelter in place order started, you and Amanda Hosking jumped in almost immediately with your two online streaming shows - what inspired such rapid action on your parts, and how are you guys finding this new viewing platform?

Thanks :) It all started out of necessity; there was that "Oh Sh*t" factor (can I say that here? :) of "what the heck am I going to do now?" At first, I took a breath, not having anything to do, or anywhere to be. But I was overcome with the need to do something. The necessity was needing to create a space for music and try to generate some source of income. I began sing-alongs as a way to interact with an audience online, and also create work.

The viewing platform is great; I've grown as a self-promoter as well as getting better with using the technology and live streaming. And I'm genuinely touched by people showing up every week. I've also been learning more music than I have in the past; I take requests and sing the songs people want to sing along to. I'm better now at interacting on social media, using my home studio and sound equipment; in that way, it's been great.

The shows take place on your Facebook page so Amanda's name isn't right out front, so let's give her a little love. Tell the world who Amanda Hosking is to you, and what makes her the kind of person you want in your life.

That's a great point! Amanda has been my dearest friend and fiercest advocate. Amanda and I grew up doing theatre together, and she went to Columbia College in Chicago for theatre. She is now the Director of Admissions at the College of Performing Arts at the New School. Amanda helps create a theme, making promo videos and curating a playlist with the lyrics which we share at the top of the sing-along. What's worked so well is while I'm playing piano she keeps tabs on everyone's comments on the live feed so we can interact with our viewers. Amanda is very mindful that having an online presence right now is more important than ever for musicians like myself. While she is fully employed, she continues to support me through our sing-alongs as a co-host and organizer.

When you were creating these two shows, what was the goal, and what was the aesthetic you wanted to create for your viewers, and do you think you've achieved it?

On one level it's been a cathartic experience.

For the Kids' Sing-Along, I wanted to offer something online that I wasn't seeing: a time for all the kids who are stuck at home to release some energy and feel connected. I have two small nieces and I started the sing-along for kids because I realized parents and kids alike are going stir-crazy. The goal is to create a time to talk with kids, sing Disney songs, and be silly. In effect, trying to educate and distract children as we all navigate this bizarre time. I think it's going well so far; parents all over the country have sent me videos of their children singing along with me and they tell me it means a lot to see their children get excited and feel involved.

BWW Feature: At Home With Micah Young

With the Sunday Sing-Alongs with Amanda, the goal was to create a space for a weekly check-in; our themes each week are usually connected to the events around us, so we can sing our feelings and also talk about what is going on in the world. It's tricky, but it has proven that music can help us express and release our emotions. So many of our colleagues are offering online concerts, live feeds, etc. I wanted to have our Sunday Sing-Alongs be a little different, casual, fun and definitely unscripted; I think it's successful so far.

With both sing-alongs, we take song requests and it's always fun to get peoples' responses toward the songs they love.

BWW Feature: At Home With Micah Young

You have both been really strict about the quarantine - in one episode, you said you have pretty much seen nobody but each other this whole time. How do you keep the sanity balance at times like these?

Have I mentioned the midnight pancakes? Some days it's really hard. I think being an independent artist requires a lot of self-discipline and motivation. I immerse myself in my work; whether it's practicing music, or working on my social media platforms, I fill up a lot of time with that. I think work is a wonderful distraction. I also keep my therapist on speed dial which has been a lifesaver (ok, he's not really on speed dial, but I do check in to make sure I'm not going insane:)

As a composer, pianist, and conductor I often spend a great deal of time alone. I live alone and so it's very easy to lose any sense of structure. I think having conversations like this are keeping my feet on the ground. Many. of my friends and colleagues are having similar questions and dealing with the uncertainty of the future. At least we're all in this existential tailspin together, right?

What's an average day in quarantine look like at your place?

Lately, my sleep patterns have been all over the place, so when I can sleep I do. Depending on the week, I might be teaching a voice or composition lesson; usually, there's a couple hours of practicing, or recording music. I still find work making demos for clients, recording accompaniment tracks for actors to sing to. There's a lot of facetiming with a friend or family member, and checking in on social media. I don't particularly love the amount of time I spend on Instagram or Facebook, but truly the online platforms have become a necessity now more than ever. And of course, cooking, eating and relaxing.

You've had a prolific career on and off-Broadway, along with your work as a teacher and a composer. What does your time away from musical theater look like? What do you do to shut off the work mindset and decompress?

The time away looks like an extended moment to pause and reflect. I started very young playing Broadway shows, conducting, and also music directing regionally. I was jumping from show to show, always running to the next gig. There's a pulse to NYC that keeps us hungry and always running to the next gig. "Never say 'no' to the gig, because it might be your last," or something to that effect. So we do all of that while trying to have a life. Now that all the work has stopped, it's forced me to ask myself: what truly makes me happy? What would I do if I could do anything?

I moved to NYC to study at Manhattan School of Music, and then to work on Broadway. I wanted to be where the best creative talent was and is. Now that everything is done remotely, I keep asking myself: does the location matter (anymore)? And when theatre comes back, will it be as centric to NYC as it was? Perhaps that sounds hyperbolic, but I see artists having to permanently relocate out of the city because they can't afford to stay, and why should we pay New York rent when we can't do the one thing we came here to do?

To shut off the work mindset I try to gain perspective on what is going on in the world. It's very easy to make this all about me: why is this happening to me? The reality is, it has nothing to do with me; everyone in the world is dealing with some sort of struggle, big and small. I have to remind myself of what I have: my apartment, my music, my health, etc. And decompressing sometimes is watching something silly online, or reading. I highly recommend journaling; get the thoughts out on paper. We do so much writing online, we don't write by hand anymore. I also have tried writing letters to people, especially in thanks for their support for the sing-alongs.

We're at a time in our lives when the volume in the world has been turned way up. It's summertime, we recently had Gay Pride, a lot of people are flooding the streets in dangerous numbers and ways. What would be your advice on celebrating summer and occasions like Pride in this time when celebration has become such a complicated act?

I don't appreciate how wearing a mask has been politicized. Wear a seatbelt, wear a helmet: these are not political statements. it is infuriating to see crowds of people gathering without masks; whether it's Fire Island or Hells Kitchen in NYC, or any park or beach around the country, we could all help to stop the spread of the virus and get back to a (somewhat) normal life sooner.

I understand people's desire to argue the case for needing to celebrate and congregate. I do not believe it needs to be complicated when we have the facts: if we social distance and wear masks, we can slow the spread. Celebrate over Zoom. Celebrate online. Make some gay pancakes and post them on Instagram.

Micah, tell me about the shirts.

BWW Feature: At Home With Micah YoungI love that you asked about the shirts. When I started the kids' sing-along, I received some feedback that my shirt wasn't 'loud' enough. That I needed more color for the kids to see. So I started receiving shirts in the mail, and then hats, and then more shirts. All of them came to me courtesy of my mother; I have to believe this is her way of helping the cause. And they've been a hit, especially the cowboy kitten riding a shark spewing a rainbow in outer space. If you haven't seen it you gotta check it out!

What are the best movie franchise and TV series to binge-watch while in quarantine?

I got through The Office for the umpteenth time. I highly recommend it. I've actually been doing dinner and movie dates with my sister and her husband; we pick a movie and then make dinner over FaceTime. You cannot go wrong with The Jurassic Park franchise; I've also tried to watch new movies online, but I will say there is something nostalgic and comforting to rewatching old favorites. And Schitts Creek! That show is one of the best I've seen and I'm thrilled it's received an incredible following!

My new time for the Kids' Sing-Along is Saturday mornings, 10 AM EDT, and the Sunday Sing-Alongs are Sundays, 6 PM EDT. Facebook Live Search for Micah Young on my musician page.

Micah, I am so happy we got to have this exchange, I have truly enjoyed it.


Thanks again, Stephen. I am grateful to you and really glad that despite the times we are living in, this has brought us into each other's lives, like so many artists right now - I'm feeling closer and more connected through our shared experiences.

Mutual, I'm sure!

Photos courtesy of Micah Young

BWW Feature: At Home With Micah Young

BWW Feature: At Home With Micah Young


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From This Author Stephen Mosher