It was through TikTok that 19-year-old Michal Leah felt that her kind of pop-soul music was ready for the world.
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While some may see getting their start on social media as a bad thing, Michal Leah embraces it head-on. Music was always present in her life. But like many Gen Z, it was with the help of social media, particularly TikTok, that this 19-year-old saw the potential in starting a music career. It was a smart move, to say the least. While it may still be early days for Michal (pronounced Me-hall), she has shown great potential with her pop-meets-soul tunes and a moving voice that hints at a cadence from a seasoned pro.
You may have heard one of her tracks on social media, particularly the viral The Way I Love You, a breezy number that captures the wonder of being in love. It was closely associated with a TikTok trend of flexing that special someone, and, as such, propelled it to hundreds of millions of listens on social media, including at least 1.75 million streams from the Philippines alone. It was a breakthrough moment for the young musician. And it also laid the groundwork for her debut EP, aptly titled part one, which dropped last February 3.
The five-track EP sees Michal dig deep into her emotions on a project all about the growing pains of love, loss, growing up, and heartbreak. Her voice takes center stage and is aided by a sparse yet effective assortment of pianos, violins, and other acoustics. With co-signs by Meghan Trainor and Lauren Spencer Smith, it seems that the sky’s the limit for this rising star. NYLON Manila got the chance to speak with Michal where she let us in on her music, going viral, and more.
How did you get into making music?
Music has been a huge part of my life since I was little. It was when I started posting covers on TikTok that a music career felt possible. It was such an amazing feeling and I knew I had to start writing my own music.
How would you describe your style of music?
I like to describe my music as singer-songwriter/pop/soul, a wild mix.
Could you share how The Way I Love You came about? What was the inspiration behind the track?
The Way I Love You was one of those songs that was just waiting to be written. I had been feeling those emotions for a while, and when I finally had the chance to turn my thoughts into words, it came so naturally. The inspiration behind this track is my incredible boyfriend.
What was your reaction when you learned that the song was blowing up on TikTok?
I was so shocked, but so insanely grateful!
Do you have a favorite take or video that uses your song?
There are so many videos that I am obsessed with that use my song, so I don’t think I could ever pick a favorite. It has been such a pleasure being able to watch people be in love. I love love.
How does it feel to have your debut EP, part one, out to the world?
It was nerve-racking releasing something so personal and real to me, but it also felt so amazing to be able to share my stories with others.
The EP’s tracks see you dig deep into your emotions and feelings of love and loss. What is hard to channel that kind of energy as you were making the album?
The studio is one of the only places where I can truly process my emotions, so luckily, it came naturally to me.
At just 19, you’ve already experienced success thanks to the virality of The Way I Love You. With that being said, does that put pressure on you to repeat that success?
Sometimes I find myself putting pressure on meeting a certain standard, but I like to remember why I make music and how lucky I am to have people around me that support me no matter what.
How do you make sure you don’t end up as “the girl who has a viral TikTok song”?
I feel really lucky that I get to be an artist that has had many viral moments on TikTok while still making music that I’m really proud of and would release regardless of how many people saw it.
What’s next for you? What are your goals for 2023?
I’m really focused on finding my sound and direction as an artist right now. It’s a really fun and exciting process.
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