MuzicNotez: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you old friend, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
It has been a while, you have been through a lot since we last talked. This interview will be a little different. You’re not pushing anything new really. This is more to get the real life scoop from a musician that’s going through a lot. So first off… how are you doing?
- Michael Egleton: First I’d like to thank God for bringing me through these last 5 and a half years. To my wife… Toka… What can I say? She could have left but she stayed in the storm with me battling the turbulent elements of what I was going through and experiencing. When I was staying up days and nights at a time grieving the best I could, a soft voice would ask, “Are you ok Mike?” “ Can I get you anything?” Maybe you should try and sleep a little…” It’s a terrible thing to have to experience troubles all alone. Thank you girl. I’ve experienced many valleys and many mountain peaks. Many many dark days…. Some I didn’t know If I’d make it through. Sometimes it was minute by minute, other times it was second by second and then there were the day by day, week by weeks that turned into months and years as I began to see the light. You know I learned to be very careful who I call “friend”. I had one individual who I honor and respect come to my house and tell me, “Mike I don’t care what you’re going through. We’re going to stand back to back and fight this thing until the end.” That blew my mind. I knew we were close but when I needed someone, this is what he said to me and he has been keeping his word ever since. Then there is Mr. Nick Galien. Nick has been my friend, a main stay through all of this. The ups and the downs…. The ins and outs of this tempestuous journey of my life and music career these past few years. We’ve known each other for a while now and I am the better for you being in my life. This is to those who may have taken the time to read this interview, Nick Galien is not just an editor of a great magazine. He cares about the people behind the music as much or more than the music itself. I personally thank you Nick for the time you just checked in to say hey, hope all is well or how’s the music going Mike? Yeah he does this! Somehow it kept me connected if even by a thread…. It was so, so timely. A person in the situation I was in is reaching and grasping for anything or any words that can give hope in the darkness. Thank you my friend. Why did I take the time to say thank you to these two people now? Many times in articles, books and movies, credits are given at the end. I wanted to spread the flowers before writing one word about me. I will do more thank yous at the end of the interview. I wanted to do these two before.
Now about Me. lol How am I doing? At this time, Life finds Michael Egleton doing well. I had to “re-group” as they say. I had to make up my mind that I wanted to live. That I was no good to anyone in the state I was in. It took a lot of time, encouragement, therapy, rest, and getting back into the mode of healthy thinking and living. To those who are out there, especially black people, Therapy, Psychiatrists, Psychologists are NOT bad words!!! Everyone needs to talk to someone sometimes. I’ve also spent a lot of time just reflecting. Just thinking back on how did I get here? What happened? When did it happen? Why didn’t I see it coming? Much goes through one’s mind when it starts to clear. The fog begins to lift. To be honest, I didn’t really do much music wise. Getting myself and my mind healthy was a priority. As things began to get better I began to get joy out of helping other young artists around town in their endeavors to do this thing called music. However, I could help. Answering questions. Giving advice, studio time and how not to waste it, and other things that may arise. Telling those who would listen, just what to expect when getting into entertainment. The good and the bad. Some listened, most didn’t. They came back though. In my down time chasings the grandkids and keeping busy takes up a lot of my day now. I had a great opportunity volunteering my time in my community. I’ll tell you this, I have a new outlook on life. My priorities have been redirected to things I consider more important at this time in my life. I’ve gotten in a bit of a hurry to redeem my time for the good. Not waste too much of it. It’s funny how when you are on one side of 50 time isn’t really a priority. You feel there’s plenty of it but when you’re on the other side time becomes fleeting! lol As for my health, I’ve gone through some medical issues. My fourth major back surgery that I’m recovering from now as I write and some other health issues but nothing that I can’t overcome. Other than that I have no complaints and life is much better.
MuzicNotez: You have suffered a lot of loss over the years, which is something that everybody deals with at some point. Dealing with all of this, as a musician, how has music, be that listening or playing, helped pull you through?
- Michael Egleton: You know Nick, if it were not for the music I don’t know how things may have turned out and that’s just the honest truth. Another thing I’m learning to do is to just be honest and real with and to myself. I don’t know….. There is a song I recorded on the That’s Alright the Remix project that I needed this time. Many others would write to me telling me how this song got them through rough times and circumstances. I never thought I would have to fall back on it myself! The song is, Hold On To A Song. Wow! The words took on a new meaning for me. I wasn’t the writer this time. I was the listener. I’m listening to it as I write. I want to share every emotion and feeling I felt when this song was ministering to me. SOme of the lyrics took on a new understanding for me. “Sometimes Life gets a little rough….. Sometimes I can’t see my way….” “ Sometimes I get tired of trying…” “ Sometimes I get really tired of crying…” This song really described how I felt at that time of my struggles. Even though I’m sure people were there to help. I didn’t feel like it or even have the strength to reach out to them. There was also a song by the gifted Gospel artist, Ms. Yalonda Adams, “I Open Up My Heart.” Even today listening to that particular song brings tears to my eyes because of the darkness I was experiencing when I first heard it. I remember one night after crying for hours I just looked up to the Heavens with my hands lifted , heart open and just said help…. I felt like I had nowhere else to turn. I was broken…. Then there was the song by my friend and award winning Gospel singer, Brother Douglas Miller, “Anchored In The Lord” and “Thank You Lord For All You Done For Me.” Who I had also talked to during this time. We came from the same place, church organization and had family ties through music. He was the musician when my aunt’s singing group would go on tour. We also lived close to each other so he would visit the church often when he wasn’t on tour. It was down the street. He told me what was going on in his life when he pinned Anchored In The Lord and oh my God….. Hopefully someone will tell his story for him in a book and then it can be told. He passed last year. I’m so glad I had a foundation Christianity to fall back on. You need something to believe in when these times hit. It was God for me. That was my higher power. When I wrote “Hold On To A Song”, it was to help people who had experienced hard emotional times, whatever they were to be. Divorce, death, sickness, whatever it may have been not knowing it would come full circle to me. WOW! Holding on to a song….. I was thinking back to an interview I had done with you where I talked about music going where words couldn’t go. how it surpassed language barriers but one thing I didn’t talk about enough is how it can surpass hurt, depression, pain… a pain in your heart that just leaves a big, empty hole. There were times I would be sitting at the patio door in the dark looking out over the yard thinking about my siblings that had died, or my Dad or even other family members that had passed…. just going through, then a song would come to my mind and then touch my heart and begin to just minister to me…. That’s the only way to describe it. It wasn’t always gospel. Sometimes it was a blues from way back or a Soul joint from a group from back in the day where you could feel what the performer was singing about. You see it’s like this, and other artists have spoken on this also, some music is written for entertainment value. How much money it can make and/or how fast it can go up the charts. This music serves its purpose. I’m not putting anyone or any music down. It’s just the way it is. Then there is other music that is written that can and will move the foundations of your soul. The best example I know to give is the songs that were being sung in the cotton fields while the slaves were working. Some were singing about freedom, others were singing about pain and suffering. This later turned into “The Blues” or “Rhythm & Blues”. Make ya foot move… Ya leg shake… Ya hands clap and body contort…. Then some of them escaped the fields to sing in the juke joints and clubs from which other genres of music were born. “Soul” music… Why do you think it’s called “Soul” music? It moves your soul. It touched you way down…. It makes you feel…Some of your best Gospel music came from suffering. Why do these songs reach out and possess your inner being? Because the people singing them were living them. Sis Rosetta Thorpe’s strong, melodic voice would capture your spirit as she belted out the music with emotion and made the hair stand up on your back as she wailed on that guitar. Many in the field were making the lyrics as they went, worked and thought about their situations. Instead of talking to themselves, which they also probably did, the words came out to tune as to what they were feeling and wanted to say. It was this type of music that got me through the darkest days of my life. Music that made me feel….. Listen, everyone has experienced loss in their life until you feel like you can’t make it and everyone’s loss is exclusive to them and how it may make them feel. When I speak on this, I’m not discounting anyone’s experience. This is an account of Michael Egleton. To lose the whole side of your immediate family, piecemealed in such a short time, in such a cruel way, it just blew me away. Yes, I was mad at God and anyone else. I didn’t understand. I was deep in my feelings. “ Why me?” See, I’m the oldest of my father’s kids. They were all younger than me. That can mess with you when it comes to guilt. Why are they gone and I’m still here? You know… A little insight into my situation for those who don’t know. I lost my stepmother, who I love, in a terrible auto accident with my fathers truck in a parking lot and he, my father, witnessed the whole thing and couldn’t do anything. I then lost 2 brothers to sudden illnesses, my baby sister to murder less than 48 hours after one of the brothers passed, her son, my nephew, a month later from a broken heart. He just died….. and recently her last child was taken away, two aunts who were my favorites, and then my father, and an uncle all in less than 3 and a half years. There was a stretch where I was preparing for a funeral every month. My brother and sister’s deaths happened so fast we had the services together. So when I see the wars abroad and hear where people have lost 3,4,5 or more family members, I almost began to cry for them myself. So as you can see, I was dealing with a head full, On an emotional rollercoaster to nowhere. It would have been easy for me to turn to other things to ease my pain but for the Grace of God I didn’t. I was so far in it, I didn’t know where or what to turn to. So I turned to music. Listening and playing anything on my keyboard for hours… Over time I began to see a small light at the end of the tunnel. I started writing a little then the music just turned off. For a while I had lost interest in music. Remember I’m being as honest as I can. It took some time and much encouragement from family and friends before my interest began to come back. I wrote a few songs and I have them put away until it’s time….. lol If that time ever comes again.
MuzicNotez: On top of all the losses, you’ve had 4 major back surgeries now! We hope that you’re going to be feeling better now. But how hard is it to even think of playing music when it’s hard to do anything when your body let’s ya down that way?
- Michael Egleton: That is a great question my friend! lol Yes, it was at this time I had one surgery and a few months ago, back in July I had another one. It’s funny because in therapy they call me the bionic man! lol I got all this metal in my back from neck to the top of my butt. lol I’m actually not supposed to be talking above a whisper with all the metal in my neck. You can hear the miracle of my voice in my music. I have much to be grateful for. That was part of the reason I would sit at my keyboard during concerts. I would get up and walk a little so I wouldn’t get stiff but for the most part I would move around on my stool. With this last surgery I’m feeling better. From time to time I have to use my cane but for the most part we’re getting there. You never know what an artist may go through to get up on that stage. Looks can be very deceiving. I was listening to one artist recently online and she’s a major artist, letting the person asking the questions have it because of what was thought about her, her artistry and what she had to go through being an artist and getting to where she is as one of the top female rap artists in the game. Remember earlier what I said about the music and feeling it. That’s why I love to read the life stories of some of the artists and entertainers. How some lived and slept in their cars they wanted it so bad. Some became homeless before they made it in this industry. This is some of the knowledge I try to pass on to the younger artists who cross my path and ask me questions about the industry. It just doesn’t happen like a fairy tale. Easy come… Easy go! You must sacrifice in order to know what your craft is all about. For it to reach out and touch someone. For someone to feel you. No, not everyone will go that far down but everyone will reach their bottom of real life experience to come back up and share it emotionally in their craft. You’ll hear it in their performance. I don’t even want to call it a “performance”. In sharing their emotional story through song. The dedication you put into honing your craft until it’s sharp as a knife and excellence shows. I have my own stories. I may write them in a second book one day. Oooops! Another scoop Nick! lol Oh you can tell when it’s real. Back to my health, there are some issues I’ll have to live with but I’ll make it work. It wasn’t just my back situation that was a problem. I was also dealing with severe hypertension and heart issues of which are being controlled so that my quality of life doesn’t suffer. I think this is the first time I’ve let all this out in public! lol Nick you always had the scoop when it came to me. lol Yes, I had a lot going on. Some gigs I had to carry some of my own equipment in the beginning. By the time I hit the stage I was full of tylenol. lol Never nothing stronger. I wanted to always be at my best and be in a mindset to give my best to my audience. They deserve that. So as it stands now, I have to make a few changes in my lifestyle but as long as these fingers can move I’ll be playing music!
MuzicNotez: It’s no surprise after all you have been through, that it’s affected your mental health as well. So much of music is emotion, have you been using any of this pain inside to write any new music? Or has there been any particular music you’ve listened to that has helped? Music is often a great medicine.
- Michael Egleton: I am so glad you asked this question. Mental health. Yes it did affect my mental health. Depression. I later learned through help that the dark place I was in was called depression. Stress was a major contributor also. I can’t say this enough, The Psychologist or Psychiatrist is not your enemy!!! Your personal physician is not your enemy!!! You need to talk to someone to get all that stuff out or it will come out in other ways that may not be so kind! It took me 5 years to learn that I had not grieved from all the death I had experienced. I was living and running on empty emotionally. All it could have taken was the right trigger to send me to a place that I would have probably never returned from. Please, please take advantage of the GOOD help that is available out there. There is good and bad in everything. It took something to happen to me before I decided to get some help. I really don’t want to talk about that right now but it could have been something very different in the end. It was at this time I eventually knew something was wrong with me. So I was encouraged by my family doctor to seek help and he referred me to a great Psychiatrist. No, I’m not ashamed either. Yes, I had to get my head shrunk!
As for writing music, I have sat down quite a few times with pen and paper and wrote a few things but never seemed to finish them. There were also days when nothing came. There were no melodies in my head like there used to be. It was like the connection for the charger was broken. As for my interest in music, It’s not where it was o r should be for now but I play every week and this is keeping me going for now. My drummer Dereck Galespies is at my house every other day and seems like asking me, “have you been down in your studio?’ “Have you written anything?” “I need you to lay a track on my song.” I am so lucky to have a friend like him. He won’t give up on me. I have a song that’s been sitting with Wes for maybe 3 years that’s complete. It just needs the young lady to sing the voice track. She sounds like Shyrel Crow. This was what I imagined when I wrote this song. It’s a song of a failed relationship but the lover is confident to love again another day. The song is in that genre of music. It’s called “Again”. Who knows, you may hear it soon…..lol It is a beautiful song. Many have heard the track and those who have heard have said it just may be my best track ever and that it’s a hit. We’ll see what we do with it… Interest has been picking up lately on my music again. I guess a few radio stations have been playing “Behind These Walls” featuring Robert Esterle on sax. That is some kind of song. I love singing it and I love what Bob and my background singers did on it. Oh by the way I still work with my background singers on many Sundays. They’re from the church and I’ve been playing for them for years. That’s why the mesh is so good with us. Music was and is yet my medicine.
MuzicNotez: Your music career was kicking strong, then life kicked you around a bit, forcing you to leave two contract deals on the table even. Do you still have any interest in getting back to making music in the future?
- Michael Egleton: You know Nick, to be honest I have just recently thought about it. Nothing really serious but if I could even do it again. Would I have the same drive I had? Would the music even be something people would listen to or even enjoy? The deals on the table weren’t mega deals or anything like that but just the fact that someone wanted to invest in me and my craft was impressive to me. it really validated my music. It said to me, Mike you can compete. You have a message to deliver to a listener out there. My music story is important to someone. We’ll see what the future holds. If nothing else this time has taught me to be more careful in considering my future and to be grateful for my time in this space.
MuzicNotez: If you do start making music again, and life let’s you do things your way. How would you envision a comeback to music looking like for you?
- Michael Egleton: This is a question I’ll be answering for myself for the first time. It would be slow and even more thoughtful. I would really consider the listener even more. Yes, I’ve gone through some things these last few years but how can I turn this into a story of victory. How can I place these lyrics in a way that the listener instantly connects and relates to what I’m saying? I would do a few things differently. Personnel would stay closely the same. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great musicians and artists. One person I had the opportunity to work with is now touting her new project in Jazz for a Grammy. I hope she wins too. Maria Jacobs. We’ve known each other a while. She was one of my background singers when I was first starting. She had experience from LA and shared her craft with me. One thing I tell everyone I’ve worked with and have gone on to bigger and better things is that I am their biggest fan. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Knowing what I know now, it would be much much better. I’ve learned so much about the industry, good and bad. I would put this that I have learned to work. It wouldn’t be so much about travel as it would be about production. It would yet be music from my heart.
MuzicNotez: As the old saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What have you learned from everything? Any advice for others going through hard times right now?
- Michael Egleton: What I would say to those experiencing a rough time in their life right now is to seek whoever you may call your higher power. For me it was God. When it’s quiet and no one else is around, that’s who you talk to. You may not get an audible answer but if you just pay attention, you’ll see your answer. If you listen, you’ll hear your answer. You’ll feel your comfort. You’ll begin to see your way. Every down has an up. Every valley has a mountain. You can’t appreciate the mountain if you don’t experience the valley. People say the phrase “hang in” so much until it has become a cliche. The effectiveness of the phrase has gone. I will say if you persevere you will have an outcome. Sometimes all you can do is stand. The lyrics to the song says, “… what do you do when you’ve done all you can? It seems like it’s never enough, and what do you say when your friends turn away and you’re all alone. What do you give when you’ve given you all and it seems like you can’t make it through? You just stand, when there’s nothing left to do you just stand and let God see you through. After you’ve done all you can, you just stand.” These are the lyrics to a song from one of my favorite Gospel artists, Donnie McClurken that also helped in pulling through. Many nights and days this was true for me. All I could do was stand. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even think. All I could do was just stand still. Don’t do anything. It may be the wrong thing. I’m telling you sometimes you just have to stand still and watch the miracle happen for you. We don’t have all the answers. Things are not going to always be answered right away but patience is a virtue and if you are patient your change will come. I know this first hand.
MuzicNotez: You’ve released a book as well, “Slow and Steady Sets the Bass: The Life and Music of Michael Egleton”. It sounds like you might have some chapters to add to this now. Any thoughts of another book?
- Michael Egleton: Stay tuned! lol
MuzicNotez: Anything else you wish to say about yourself or your music? Any message for your fans?
- Michael Egleton: I’d like to thank Blue Artist and Mr Pierre Walters. This is also a one of a kind individual. Thank you Pierre for allowing me to bend your ear, bout off, lol concerning what was going on in my life. There were many long talks where we shared and found how much we really had in common. Many of you may also know my book, Slow and Steady Sets the Bass, The Life and Music of Michael Egleton that was published through Blue-Artists and also the one who helped me in writing this book, Dr. Constance Quigly. She worked so hard to help me get this right! Music Producer, Mr. Arthur Stawski, Warsaw, UK. Music Engineer, Sonic Science Labs, Warsaw, UK. I met Art a few years back. Right before my world crashed. I had approached him through his site about producing music. We became fast friends. I learned so much from this man about the science of music. Wave structures and how they should work together and appear on a graph. Oh, just so much I learned. It changed my approach to making music. Looking closer at how an instrument should set in the scope of a song….. Just so much knowledge…. Most of all Art and I became personal friends. Even though I never met him personally because remember he was in Warsaw. We just clicked. He began to trust me and I him. It was at the start of the war near Poland in Ukraine. Even with all this going on we kept in touch with each other. Making sure each family was alright and safe. I am grateful for his friendship. Ms Kim Guiles, who just works magic when handling artists! She was a fountain of experience in all areas of music that I tapped into. Dr. William “Touchdown Billy Taylor” Taylor of BT Entertainment. He’s a great individual in his own right and has known me my whole life since birth and is also someone I idolize. A great example of how to be a man. It was his book, “Get Back Up” His life story of how he had to overcome major adversities and loss. Only to rise out of it all and land back on top. His book helped me through some of my hardest times. He’s also the former star running back for the Michigan Wolverines # 42, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and last but not least my family.
My Producers, Mr Wes McCraw, Creekside Audio, Norton, Ohio, Mr Samuel Haygood, N-DA-Groove Productions, Atlanta, GA, Mr. KT Beats (Kevin Taylor) also in Atlanta, GA. Pastor Charles Moorer, an up and coming Gospel artist who is now working with such artists as, Nils Jipner, a multi Grammy winner himself and Jonny Brit. I’m so so proud of him and his music journey. My Pastor, Administrator Stephen T. Lott Sr. Sr Pastor of Tower of Prayer C.O.G.I.C. where I’m currently playing the hammond organ! Been there for over 40 years or more. Before that it was my Mom. I am not apologetic or ashamed about my church background. Church has kept me from being totally consumed by life. It is my grounding factor. Last but not the least, my dude, who sat nights and days listening to me, coming over checking on me, encouraged me, Mr Dereck Galespie.
I could go on but these individuals I wanted to mention. To others I may have not mentioned, charge the debt to my head and not my heart. You are there in my mind and played your role in my existence and successes.