For those who have never heard of Sanjay Michael, who is he and what is his music about?
I’m a rock ‘n’ roll Australian guitarist/singer/songwriter based in Singapore who has loved classic rock all his life and wishes there was more of it!
I grew up in Malaysia. Although there was (and still is) a rich heritage of music and performances from different cultures, Western music always appealed to me first. I used to play my air guitar a lot as a kid, so I naturally started to gravitate towards rock and real instruments. I learned classical piano and guitar but they didn’t do anything for me. My father, who was a big movie buff, introduced me to electric blues from BB King, and then stuff from John Fogerty and the Eagles. I remember we would have the radio on a lot in the house growing up.
During the pandemic I tried writing my own songs. I was surprised at what I came up with and I decided I would put it all down in the studio. Any artist knows that once the song is in your head you just can’t let it stay inside there forever, and you have this urge to bring it out into the world.
My style is about a strong rhythm, bendy licks that cut through, and big choruses that connect me with anyone who’s ever felt the power of a full-on electric A-chord. My songs are upbeat, catchy and entertaining – just what you need on a Saturday night!
What has been the most rewarding/ most enjoyable highlight of your career so far?
I guess all the times I played at Crazy Elephant in Singapore, which was easily one of the best live-blues bars in SE Asia… The crowd had different faces every night but it was a boozy, jostling affair and they expected a lot, so if you could get a smile out of them you were doing well!
(The bar has since closed down after the pandemic, unfortunately like others I knew here and in Australia)
What have been some major challenges in your music career so far?
I guess just getting exposure of my songs to all the rock lovers out there… I’m not very big on social media even though it’s been a necessary evil for some time now.
Also, putting and holding a band together has been tough the last few years. In Singapore, because most of the music community know each other, a lot of people drift in and out of bands (especially drummers!). And with the pandemic some just got out of music or even moved overseas.
But I’ve got the band I’m going to go the distance with – a good, funny, loyal bunch of guys who are also incredibly talented!
What are you grateful for right now in this moment?
My family, my bandmates and my 3 Les Pauls.
Physical copies or streaming sites?
Definitely streaming will be primary. I will have physical copies available within Singapore or SE Asia at my shows – and this ties into my vision to create a classic ‘monster album,’ where every song is entertaining so you’re not going to be getting any filler when you buy the physical album. I’m also in the process of organising merch so there’ll be overseas shipping too… Designing T-shirts is going to be fun!
What is your most played song of 2023 so far?
Shot In The Dark by AC/DC… An unexpected surprise that proves great music is always just around the corner.
A playlist you can’t get enough of?
Again, I like the monster rock albums with very little filler – Hysteria (Def Leppard) and Powerage (AC/DC) would be the frontrunners. Also live concert recordings from BB King… But an enduring personal favourite is Glittering Prize, which is a Simple Minds quasi-compilation. The tempos and themes change, but it’s a fantastic collection where every song has its place and you really can listen to everything through without skipping a track.
If you’re talking about a streaming playlist, then believe it or not, I usually go with the one YouTube automatically creates for me! My favourite songs (usually ’80s and ’90s) along with a few new surprises, constantly updated.
A dream collaboration?
Just one EP with Greta van Fleet… With their Led Zeppelin-style pentatonics and my power chords, I think we could get some feet tapping!
& Lastly, what can fans expect from Sanjay Michael This year?
More emphasis on stage and studio.
My first album, Rocking Into Midnight, will be released on July 7 and I’m looking forward to live performances to showcase the songs. That’s my first priority and it’s a good time as the Singapore live music scene is starting to gather steam again.
I’m planning to record an EP later this year, tentatively to be released early next year. This will be a good bridge to the next full album I’ve got planned, with the music already set and the lyrics getting finalized.