For pop music fans, the chance to sing with their idol is a dream that seems too big to come true. For Sony’s hottest new recording artist, that dream became a reality along with many others.
In this Populove exclusive, Michelle Treacy reveals the inspiration behind her new single, her path to success, and how a night with Lady Gaga validated years of living off a dream.
Michelle Treacy was only 17 years old when her idol, Lady Gaga, invited her to perform onstage at 2014’s ArtRave: The ARTPOP Ball tour in Montréal. Treacy had already begun work on her first album — expected to drop next year — and was ultimately in shock when given the opportunity to perform one of her songs at Lady Gaga’s sold-out show.
Treacy met Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, a few times before with other fans. Each time, she asked the Grammy winner, “Will you make my dream come true and let me sing on stage with you?” Gaga always replied “yes.” But no official plans had been made before the show in Montréal. To Treacy’s surprise, the star recognized her in the audience as soon as she walked on stage.
“I get goosebumps when I watch (the video from that night). It’s still so crazy. I’m beating myself up that I didn’t sing all of ‘Gold Boy,’ but in that moment, I forgot even my name, so I panicked,” Treacy said.
Panicked and in shock, Treacy still found the courage to wow the crowd with a heartfelt duet of one of Lady Gaga’s greatest hits: “Born This Way.”
“In that moment, I thought ‘Okay, this is for sure what I want to be doing, looking into the crowd and seeing everyone smiling and cheering.’ There was one man who I’ll never forget. He was smiling and crying, and I was crying, everyone was crying,” she said. “It’s just a different world when you’re in front of people like that.”
Fast forward to today, October 2016. Michelle Treacy is signed with Sony Music Canada, and her debut single “Armageddon” is still in the top 20 songs played on Canadian radio since its premiere 12 weeks ago. “Armageddon” is a dark, powerful track with lyrics that seek revenge for a relationship gone wrong.
“My family went through our own ‘Armageddon,'” Treacy explains. “My parents got divorced. It was messy, and I watched my mom lose herself in it all and then come out of it fighting and finally knowing exactly who she is… It was very inspirational to me.”
“Armageddon” topped a long list of songs Treacy wrote in the last four years for her album, but choosing the song for her first single was a piece of cake.
“As a team, we all felt the same way about ‘Armageddon.’ It’s different. It’s not really what you’re hearing on the radio right now, and I wanted to come in just being honest,” she said. “You don’t really know if it’s going to work or not, you just have to be like ‘Okay, this is a song I feel really good about. This is a song that I think really introduces me as an artist.’”
While having her song played on stations across the country is another dream come true, Treacy’s head spun when she saw who she was charting with.
“The other day I looked at the chart, and I was right next to my idol,” Treacy exclaimed. “I was right next to Gaga, and I thought ‘OH MY GOD, somebody pinch me! This is really crazy!’ I didn’t think that would happen, ever.”
The single release was followed by a lyric video, which was then followed by an official music video last month. Watch both clips below and leave your thoughts for Michelle in the comments.
“My music is very sad or dark, and we wanted to make my videos a place where we could almost create a new world, where none of the sadness can touch me and nothing can touch us, this place where we all belong and everything is great,” Treacy told Populove.
I had no home, and I was just living off my dream.
Sadness and feeling out of place are too common for all of us, and Treacy is no exception. Her ascension from a young girl with big dreams to a 20-year-old chart-topper more closely resembles a rollercoaster at Kings Island than a cruise down Yonge Street.
“Last year around this time, I was couch surfing. I had no home, and I was just living off my dream. That’s when I wrote Armageddon. I had nothing,” Treacy revealed.
“I write all of my songs about experiences I’ve been through, much like Amy Winehouse. Seeing my mom cry to lyrics I’ve written is just so crazy but so exciting. She says, like, ‘You’re saying all the words I wish I could say and all the words that I could never say.’ It’s really rewarding in that way.”
Homelessness is one of many obstacles Treacy and her family have faced, including bullying, divorce, and even alcoholism. The latter has left such an impact on her family that Michelle wrote a song about it.
“‘I Blame Me’ is about my dad,” she told us. “It’s basically about the demons that people face with alcohol. You want them to get help. Obviously you love them, and you can see in their eyes that they love you as well, but they don’t know how to say it. It’s a really beautiful song.”
A note from Michelle Treacy:
The Armageddon video’s out! Go watch it a million times. Tell your dogs, tell your cats, tell your enemies, tell your grandpa and grandma. Tell everyone. Watch it backwards, watch it forwards.
When asked for a cause that is most important to her, one she would like to use her voice to fight for, Treacy couldn’t pick just one.
“It’s a difficult question,” Treacy said. “Bullying is a huge thing. I’ve been bullied all my life. I want to help those with anxiety. I want to help those who overthink and close themselves off and then can’t go for their dreams because they think they’re too different or not good enough. I want them to just realize they’re perfect in every way they are… There’s so many things. I would do anything. I would do anything, honestly. It’s such a hard question.”
Treacy credits her family for helping her become a better artist and person throughout the years, and she used aspects of the “Armageddon” music video to highlight some of her experiences as a little sister and young adult.
“The box (in both the lyric video and music video) kind of symbolizes ‘This is where I came from, but it didn’t destroy me and I didn’t let it make me who I am.’ My brother is in the music video because he asked for a sister (laughs). He named me. He raised me. He’s in this big boat (that) symbolizes our Mazda 3 that he drives me around the world in to pursue my dreams. There’s teddy bears in the boat because I was pretty much a loser in high school, and I had no friends. I still don’t have many. For me, my fantasy and my dream is what I held on to and used to get through it.”
Michelle Treacy is proof that any dream, with a lot of hard work and relentless dedication, can become a reality. Anyone who tells her otherwise will only be proved wrong.
“People say ‘What’s your life like now? It must be crazy,’ but not really. This is what I expected, and this is how I grew up because I was so obsessed with dreaming and showing people that they were wrong when they told me I wouldn’t be able to do it. I loved proving people wrong, and I still love proving people wrong.”
“Armageddon” is available worldwide on iTunes, Google, and Spotify. To show your support, please call your local radio stations and ask to hear “Armageddon.” Like Michelle Treacy and POPULOVE.net on Facebook for more news and updates on the release of her debut album.