Misao McGregor is a singer/songwriter and playwright based in Los Angeles, CA. She has been classically trained as a singer and pianist from an early age and is currently producing her own music which has roots in indie, pop, and soul. An openly gay, mixed-race Japanese American non-binary femme, Misao incorporates her personal experiences of marginalization into her lyrics and playwriting and ultimately seeks to provide spaces for marginalized peoples in music, art, and mainstream media.
Here’s what Misao had to say when we got a chance to ask some questions.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
“Both of my parents are classical musicians and met working in an orchestra, so I was surrounded by classical music growing up. But my earliest musical influence who wasn’t rooted in the classical world was Sting. There are actually home videos of me taking my first steps as an infant with his album “Brand New Day” playing in the background. As I got older, I started listening to a bunch of different artists including Switchfoot, Rascal Flatts, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Sara Bareilles, so my influences went all over the map! My key influences within the last couple of years have definitely been anything Jack Antonoff, Tegan and Sara, and King Princess.”
What made you want to become a singer/songwriter?
“To be honest, I don’t really know my life without music. So it never felt like a conscious decision to become a singer/songwriter. If anything, music is something that will always be in my life regardless of whether I am recognized for it or not. But choosing to identify myself publicly a singer/songwriter was a big step for me.”
You are releasing your debut album ‘Kid in the Corner’ on the 17th December, can you tell us about the album?
“This album is incredibly personal and takes an autobiographical look into my previous 24 years of life. I’ve always been a fan of concept albums, something we don’t get too often now in the era of singles, so “Kid in the Corner” is best listened to from beginning to end (if you can spare 40 minutes of your time!). Each song attempts to shed another layer away from all that I can be to get to the core of who I am. And that journey is riddled with a lot of shame, abuse, empowerment, and joy. This album is the most candid I can get about my life’s experiences thus far and it’s definitely not always pretty. But I can only hope that documenting my journey can speak to others in a meaningful way.”
Can you describe your music in three words?
“Honest, story-driven, soulful.”
What makes your music stand out?
“I guess the fact that I made it. No one else could tell my life’s story in the way that I can. And by being honest about my struggles with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and trauma in this album, I really don’t shy away from telling people the hidden parts of myself. I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m just trying to express what it feels like to me to be human.”
If someone were about to play your music for the first time, what should they expect to hear?
“They should expect to hear a human in progress! But on a musical level, they can expect to hear a DIY, piano and voice, indie vibe with pop, soul, synth, and maybe some classical influences.”
If you had to be remembered for one thing apart from your music, what would you like it to be?
“Oh gosh… I suppose being a person that made others feel seen. If I can make anyone feel like they matter, then that’s a nice legacy I’d like to leave behind.”
What are your plans for the rest of 2020 and 2021?
“To keep breathing, existing, and nurturing myself. And always making more music :)”
Do you have any gigs coming up?
“No gigs for me! But maybe I’ll try to set up a livestream playing the whole album through acoustically – who knows!”
By Siân Parker