Big Apple debut for Midcoast musician
New York — As a local student, Michael Weferling made a big splash swimming and performing, regularly posting winning numbers as a member of the YMCA’s Sailfish and high school swim teams; competing as a District III tenor; and, in 2007, starring in the Camden Hills Regional High School musical. Now, he is in a much bigger pond, but still making waves.
Weferling, who graduated from Boston’s Northeastern University in May with a bachelor of science degree in music industry, has just released his debut EP on iTunes. He will be performing the four songs of his "3-D EP" as well as favorite covers Friday, Oct. 18, in Baltimore, for a friend’s shoe line launch; and Sunday, Oct. 20, at New York City’s Pianos music venue.
“The first week is pretty hectic,” he said seven days before his EP’s Oct. 15 launch, adding he is more excited than nervous about Sunday’s 45-minute set, which he will perform solo.
“I’m excited to see the support in this crowd … I know I’ll give them a good show,” he said.
Weferling knows more about the underpinnings of the music business than many aspiring pop stars; he describes his degree’s field as akin to a business degree for creative endeavors. In co-producing his EP, he has learned hands-on how that aspect of the music industry works. He also is aware of the role presentation makes and has put a lot of his energy into the look of "3-D EP" and its marketing materials. But when he performs at Pianos, a venue frequented by bookers, agents and A&R types, he knows it really comes down to one thing.
“I’ll be singing lead over the show tracks from the EP, where I did my own harmonizing, and doing covers with electric guitar and voice — it’s just me! It really brings it back down to does the performer have a voice, can he sing?” he said.
Weferling’s focus on being a solo artist informed his choices during college. He sang in a few groups, but mostly did independent projects. And he left the swimming behind, finding other ways to stay in shape.
“Swimming kind of requires giving up other passions, and I decided music was the one for me to pursue. But just like in sports, I do my best on my own, where I just show up and do my thing,” he said.
Which is not to say Weferling avoids artistic collaboration. "3-D EP" is co-produced by Harold Shawn, a Northeastern classmate Weferling first met in the Music Recording 2 class taught by Jim Anderson.
“I saw he was very serious about what he wanted to pursue and thought, I want to work with him on a song,” Weferling said.
That song turned out to be “One Day,” one of the songs on the EP, co-written by the two former students. Weferling said he typically comes up with the lyrics and melody and Shawn creates arrangements. Sometimes a song is built around the melody and other times, the beat. Weferling said this process of finding the “bones” and creating around them was eye opening.
“Now I realize how the magic happens,” he said.
Shawn’s studio is in his mother’s house in Claremont, Calif., and Weferling spent the month of May in Los Angeles, laying down tracks. It was quite a change from New England.
“It was very hot! We worked at night, because the desert was cool then,” Weferling said.
After returning to Maine to attend his younger brother Patrick’s graduation from Camden Hills, Weferling began his new life in Manhattan’s East Village. He had spent time in Manhattan during college, thanks to Northeastern’s internship cooperative program, interning with both Rolling Stone and VEVO. His Rolling Stone internship began in advertising and sales and led to a photography focus, thanks to an opportune meeting with the magazine’s creative director. At VEVO, a digital platform that offers music videos and merchandise from major labels, Weferling worked in content and programming.
All these experiences have fed into Weferling’s preparation of his EP and its launch. He was very hands-on at every level, and it is no surprise that he has his own artist Facebook page and YouTube channel (he can be spotted elsewhere on YouTube jumping up on stage and performing with Katy Perry), as well as tracks on SoundCloud and iTunes.
“I wanted to make this really mine aesthetically, as well as sonically,” he said.
Pianos is a multi-genre that has seen many a successful musical artist’s premiere, including Lady Gaga, who used to live in the neighborhood. Weferling thinks it is an auspicious place for his first official “3-D EP” gig.
“People start their careers there, it’s where a lot of people perform for the first time,” he said.
Weferling’s set is scheduled for 10 p.m. in the Lower East Side club’s Showroom. For more information about Pianos, visit pianosnyc.com.
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
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Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for almost 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.