MIchelle Xen

Meet Michelle Xen

Michelle Xen is a vocalist, producer and visual artist. She is a maker of video and sound installations, collector of words, chaser of songs and seamstress of strange shapes, sequins and other experiments with colour.

We caught up with Michelle Xen from Michelle Xen & The Neon Wild (previously part of the Lady Electronic collective) ahead of her performance in the Queen Street Mall (Sunday 27 October) to find out about her first memories of playing in The City and why she just can’t get enough of Burnett Lane!

What are your first memories of playing in The City? 
One of my favourite memories of playing in the Brisbane CBD was my first gig as a solo artist. It was part of the Under the Radar program for Brisbane Festival, and I performed with my band in the Metro Arts laneway. I love the street party vibe of a pop up gig or festival, because it’s so often a special occasion and it takes people into spaces in Brisbane they may never have been before.

How did you hear about The City Sounds?
I have seen a number of performances in the Queen St Mall, but I really heard about The City Sounds music program from my bass player, and then increasingly noticed a number of musicians in Brisbane playing and talking about The City Sounds program through social media. The Facebook page is ace!

What do you think about The City Sounds program? 
The program offers a really incredible opportunity to us as performers to connect with people you haven’t met or who don’t know about you. The line-up of The City Sounds is really broad and of great calibre. Busking is a big part of city street culture and The City Sounds program really builds on that interaction on a professional level and scale. I think it’s a great program and also speaks about how Brisbane defines itself as a music destination.

Who has inspired your journey as a musician? 
My main loves are Bjork, Bowie, Grace Jones, Goldfrapp and Roisin Murphy. I love big performers, brave performances and musicians who take risks and invest in the visual translation of their sound. I do think my favourite band is the Necks though. I’ve seen them eight times! 

How do you think people respond to your music/music in general in Brisbane? 
In general I think people get behind local music in Brisbane in a really serious way. The ebb and flow in terms of the number of venues available to musicians seems to be consistent throughout The City and Valley. People in Brisbane have really stepped up and supported our group from the beginning, far more than I had anticipated and it has been an amazing experience launching the band here.

What’s your advice for aspiring musicians?
Listen, listen, listen, make, make, make, listen, make, listen, make and continue. The rest of the stuff – the visual, identity, story, marketing – all comes from that. Being a musician and an artist is a beautiful thing, but making a living from it is essentially gambling massive amounts of hard work and dedication. And you continue!

What do you love about Brisbane?
I do say all the time: Brisbane is so good to me... The opportunities and things I have created here are really extraordinary because of the people I have met. I have worked with incredible people. Brisbane also has an epic epic springtime. It is my idea of perfect weather, and it’s here!

What do you love about the Brisbane CBD?
Burnett Lane, any laneway doing something different. Meeting friends at Brew. Walking quickly and getting things done as most things you need are within walking distance! The City Botanic Gardens are often neglected by me but completely beautiful.

Michelle's City Picks:
Coffee: Brew, Burnett Lane
Eat: Scout, Petrie Terrace
Drink: Super Whatnot, Burnett Lane
Shop: Elizabeth Arcade, Elizabeth St