Michael Angelakos is an American musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as the frontman of the indietronica band Passion Pit.
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My short bio: I play in Passion Pit. I do a lot of weird/cool stuff.
What inspired Sleepyhead? It's the best song ever.
Honestly, the samples usually tell the story. Was really into Mary O'hara, listening to lots of Irish folk music. But I had been making a lot Passion Pit material. I hadn't sampled anything that heavily before. But I realized I had a song that was kind of doing what that song was doing already (melodically).
In the end, I finished it in less than 2 hours... And the sound in the beginning was an accident -- had some plugin turned on accidentally that reversed the whole song and this one drum loop.
It's always the stuff that isn't perfect.
Is Passion Pit a band or a solo project?
it's a solo project. live it is a band.
Hey man. I read Kindred, a novel. At one point in the book, a character asks the young protagonist "Where will you go?" She replies, "I don't know, but I can't stay here."
I noticed that the same sentiment is echoed in "Dancing On The Graves." Is this intentional or just a weird coincidence?
WHOA! Just saw that book somewhere. Um, total coincidence, actually, but that's... man, that's the best.
What would it take for you to come to Chicago and play a show that a seventeen year old long time fan could afford?
I'll even bring you tacos.
PS - Gossamer got me through a very tough time in life, I owe you a ton. Thank you so much.
you rule. i wish somehow that could work, haha. come to a show soon, my friend. you don't owe me anything -- we're all supposed to be doing things for each other -- you just did something wonderful for me!
Hey Michael! I just wanted to say thanks for all the rough times you've helped me through and everything your music has given me. It's really something I can never give back. If you had any advice for an aspiring artist, what would it be?
Do not question your validity. You are an artist whether a system tells you are or aren't. Do not look to others to validate you -- just share, share, share.
Can I use your music in my YouTube videos? I'm traveling around the US solo and making daily videos and would love to include your songs.
yeah, awesome. and thank you
Hey M!!! I really appreciate that you are connecting with your fans a lot recently. You are an inspiration to me, not just because of your music but what you have gone through in life generally. I look up to you so much for being an open book.
So, anyway my question would have to be: how did you know that it was time to come out? Right now, I'm still confused which probably explains why I'm often too depressed.
It is... very hard. I am bisexual, and to confront my homosexuality was just... a matter of time. There is not right time, which means there's always the right time, so follow your gut but understand that you need to make yourself feel happy. You need to control your narrative for you. Don't let other people hijack it. I know how hard it is, I know it's painful, and it doesn't make sense really -- but at the end of the day, you will be coming out the rest of your life. This stuff is really dumb, we should be able to be whatever we want. But you're probably a really creative person -- make it work for you. I
m rooting for you.
1: What is your favorite eurorack module?
2: Who is your favorite former bandmate, and why is it me?
i love any of the addac or makenoise stuff.
Hi Michael! First of all, shout out to you for introducing me to one of my favorite electronic DJs/artists, Madeon! Pay No Mind is one of my favorite songs ever. How did you meet Madeon? How was it like working with him? Also, have you seen him perform on his own tour or during the Shelter tour?
he reached out to me. he's so damn good. he's super nice. he's very smart. he's super driven. he's probably just going to keep on crushing it. he's a good friend, i'm proud of him.
Hey! Thanks for everything- your music and all you've done for mental health awareness. I'm looking forward to hearing more about The Wishart Group. Any updates you can share at this point?
I am terribly anxious to update but the wait will be worth it. Actually, i think we'll be able to announce stuff pretty soon...it's a loaded thing, it's a big effort. And it's not easy because it is new.
Cheers bud, I just ordered a 4ms DLD, I'll let you know how I get on with it
dude. look at that. i just was flying through answers.
YOU SEE? TRUTH.
love you of course you are my favorite. on the record.
i tried to get you to join the band AGES before you did.
How would you feel if Trump's secretly a big fan of your works? LOLLL
oh, god... well, maybe i could make him feel something, but i highly doubt it. let's be real. so, really, nothing.
Is there a certain reason why "American Blood" and "Almost There" didn't make it onto the American release of Gossamer?
well, when you release music, your supposed to incentivize services by giving them bonus material. so, whatever you have left over...
personally i hate that. all of a sudden those songs aren't special, they're "additional." this is... dangerous to me.
I've seen you 6 times now and you have fucking killed it every time. Manners is hands down my favorite collection of music of all time and I think you are an unbelievably talented lyricist. Thank you so much for doing what you do.
Is there a particular reason that you never play Seaweed Song? Some of the older songs never seem to get any love anymore, as I don't think I've ever heard you play Cuddle Fuddle and I would LOVE to hear more from Chunk of Change in a live setting. Do you not enjoy playing your older music anymore? Is it not as meaningful as what you have written more recently?
Lastly, I must have read the Pitchfork piece on you about a dozen times. It was incredibly powerful and really made me appreciate your music even more. Was it difficult to initially open up about that? I think that was the first interview where you started discussing the context of how your music and I loved the honesty. It was really inspiring.
it's a really hard song to play live but that's not a good excuse. also it's kind of slow... hard to really get the audience into. so maybe that. we'll work on the older material, trust me. THANK YOU
Is a hotdog a sandwich?
Basically. We're really into classifying stuff, aren't we?
I don't really have a question other than to say thank you for one of the best nights of my life. I got tickets for my birthday to see Passion Pit and Matt & Kim at MSG back during that snowstorm in 2013. It was an amazing show and my friends and I spent the night walking around the empty city in the middle of the snowstorm, seeing places like Times Square completely barren. How close were you guys to cancelling that show?
So close. That was insane. sold 12k+ tickets, 10,500 people still showed up. They shut down the damn city! That moment was absolutely staggering.
I love your music so, so much. Kindred was my most played album last year. I realized I was in love/gay while my friend and I were listening to Constant Conversations, and whenever I play that song, or Where The Sky Hangs (his favourite), I can't help but smile. We're about 6000 miles apart and I don't feel that way but listening to your music reminds me of him, and makes me think of love.
Do you think you'll be playing in Korea in the future?
How does Dancing On The Graves make you feel?
Will TSOL see a tour release?
Are you single? If not, wanna go on a date in Seoul?
(PS, /r/popheads LOVES you. You're basically the only non-top 40 artist that gets played)
Hopefully Korea, yes! DOTG makes me feel, well, it's a really important song, i think it was when i stopped feeling like I NEED TO PUT DANCE BEATS IN EVERY SONG TO IDENTIFY AS PASSION PIT. It's just pop music, really. It's all melody, that's my focal point.
Omg I love ur songs take a walk and sleepy head. <3
Do u like Britney Spears? Would you ever collaborate with her? And what is ur favorite Britney song?
Thanks so much for doing this AMA
i actually tried writing a song for her. and failed. because i cannot really write sexy music. or something. i think the tone of this answer should explain everything
Will we ever get a full song out of this snippet? https://soundcloud.com/mangelakos/but-will-he-love-me-like-calvin-loves-alice-1
i think that's... wait that's actually an early demo of i'll be alright. believe it or not.
Hey dude. What would be on your version of the best burrito ever?
I go carnitas. And I go pretty simple.
Advice to aspiring producers?
Make a ton of music, that's your business card. Share fearlessly. Flip other songs. Don't just go with what's working now, you're supposed to be developing what's next.
How did you come up with the name Passion Pit?
was in a fashion class, studying the 50's, was the name used, in slang, referring to drive-in movie theaters. i passed a note to my friend, and was like, "band name?" and she wrote back "no."
Michael, i owe you one. I discovered your music back in 2009 or 2010 and it changed my life. Not only that, but you have inspired me as an advocate of mental health awareness, and an example of someone who fights similar struggles. I have depression and anxiety, so not quite as severe, but it has certainly been one of the greatest challenges in my life.
That being said, what is the best advice you can give to someone with mental illness? How have you been able to rise above the demons that haunt you?
first i don't think you should call them demons. i don't like a lot of the language we're using in this discussion. i think that serves as a reminder that there's something "wrong." maybe we need to stop thinking about it being something wrong and it just being a setback that can be harnessed correctly, that it's something everyone deals with just more of it, that maybe we're just talking about it the wrong way. i always think about how it's not really what someone's saying, it's how they say it, and i think this, and many other issues today, stem from communication breakdowns. this is a very binary, human issue, to deny it is insanity, but that means that there's just something wrong with how we're talking about it. it started off the wrong way, so we have to find a way to make sense of it now, or rethink our approach altogether. but it's going to get better very soon, we're going to start to see that procedure-based therapies that are in fact holistic are so much better than medicines -- and anyone, even someone who is just sad, can access them someday. that's going to be on of the main shifts.
best of luck!
What is to kingdom come about?
That's a loaded one. I'll try to get back to this. I also don't know who to really... talk through songs, they're really emotional time capsules. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't. I've got you though, I'll try to get back to you. xo
Huge fan of your music! I listened to it a ton in high school and rediscovered it college. It's really meaningful to me as someone who's slowly working through lifelong anxiety and depression. Can't wait for the new album!
How does it feel doing the falsetto? And how do you decide to incorporate it into a song?
it's actually not REALLY my falsetto, it's kind of called supervoice? like if i sang in falsetto all of the time, which is breathier, i'd lose my voice everyday. but actually i strengthened my voice at a time when it would've continued to change and deepen, as i was singing really really high for years at a time. and something happened. and now i have...a higher voice than i did in high school. nature is weird.
Followup question: how did you come out with your closest friends? Did you just say it blatantly or you have a feeling they knew anyway so why not let the cat out of the bag?
it was a very hard, weird process... i don't know how to even recall it, i think it's still kind of fresh, actually.i mean, just never assume anyone knows. i think some people thought it, others didn't. none of it matters. you have to control your version of it all.
How do you keep going when you have no motivation?
I have no idea. It's very, very, hard. It is for everyone. There is nothing that isn't renewable energy, basically. What you see as a hindrance can actually be a tool for advancement. Start considering your perception of things as the main culprit.
Are there still plans to repress old records like gossamer and manners?
Thanks for the sweet jams, Noah
Yes! This is a grueling process, i promise you that vinyl is very important to me and I think the price points on this stuff is just criminal. I am working really hard with some people to do this right.
What is your favorite dessert?
i'm the guy that says he doesn't like dessert and demolishes dessert if its put in front of him. therefore i refuse to answer this question, just to remain in character
Just a thought - Swimming in the Flood, It's Not My Fault I'm Happy, Where We Belong, Sleepyhead, in that order.
Do you have any combinations or songs that you listen to in any certain order?
nah, and i don't really listen to them like, all of the time. i do for context but... i'd rather just make new stuff.
It says you're weird so what's your weirdest quality?
"it" being me? i mean, i'm a a little strange. that's okay. i tried my whole life to not be strange. that made me look stranger. we're all strange. just some of us are, you know, louder.
Hey Micheal, this is a bit of a presumptive question, but do you ever feel constrained by Passion Pit's deeply personal focus as a project, and if so, how do you distance yourself from your work in its creation? I say this as an artsy-fartsy writer liberal arts type trying to jumpstart her career - I've seen a lot of my academic and creative work become celebrated in the circles that I run in, but so far that work has been coming from a deeply personal place, basically exploring and re-exploring my experiences as a bipolar trans girl, and I'm worried that "soul-bearing" will become a part of how I'm seen to the point where that's all I can be (or be seen) as an artist.
P.S. I'm a huge fan of your work - TSOL has brought me a lot of joy in these last couple weeks.
oh of course. yeah, i mean, it's a defining thing. it's very defining as much as it is, you know, whatever i want it to be. but it isn't, because a lot of it is defined by what people expect. i let people down, i exceed expectations, etc -- this is the language most people use when listening to new material. so a lot of it is this weird thing trying to understand what people want and also doing what you want, and then combined with being so personal, you know, it gets mentally draining, but there's more of a reason to do then "just do it" or "make money." i've been doing this all of my life, honestly. the recording at the beginning of better things was me when i was 5. this is very important but it's also very fun to me -- you have to be okay living in a paradox.
Hello! Do you find that curating knowledge and inspiration from practices outside of your own is important to your creative process? If so, what other art forms and/or trades do you like to observe and use to inform your work? How do you feel about the fact that you've become one of those sources for other creators?
it is absolutely everything.
that is theory.
and theory is important.
You responded to my retweet about you not getting paid for a concert you held in Manila a while back. I just lazily typed "awkward" and you responded "¯_(ツ)_/¯ tell me about it." I just had to let you know, that had me feeling pretty cool.
Besides not getting paid to play in Manila (which is terrible and inexcusable), what did you like about the Philippines? Did you get to travel around at all? The magic lies outside the city for sure! Hope you got paid man, your music is the common ground between mine and my girlfriend's taste in music, so thanks for being the glue that keeps us together on road trips!
everyone was very nice. the crowd was amazing. sometimes stuff happens. my point was, the people who haven't paid me could have just been kind about it. but then, all of this happened, and this was ABSOLUTELY INSANE TO WATCH. but people lie, and most people immediately assume an artist lies, but what's really frightening is when an artist is spot-on and telling the truth. it scares the hell out of people. as to why, that is the main point of all of that. i'm probably not going to get paid. but in a way, i don't even have to. money is a stupid energy. i am just a guy. underestimation is a weapon.
Hey Michael. You're my favorite band. I love your music. My question is: How are you doing? Since Gossamer (one of my favorite albums by the way) you've seemed to be doing much better.
somedays great, somedays not so great. just like anyone else. the harder i work the happier i am.
Hello Michael! Thanks for doing the AMA. I have only recently discovered your music through a friend of mine and i have been enjoying it a lot. I really love your fast paced songs like "I'm Perfect" and was wondering if we would see more of that on TSOL?
Also, come to DALLAS. There are a lot of Passion Pit fans here wanting to meet you.
yeah was thinking i'd push some faster stuff, actually. but it's amazing to see that like, at the end of the day, these songs can be arranged in so many ways, tempo, pace, all of that stuff i just packaging. but yeah, i hear you, i actually thought similarly.
How do you go from a 4 bar loop to a full song ? How do you develop ideas for your songs ?
I have no idea ! it's pretty easy to me, everything just unfolds. I mean everything kind of starts with a little loop, you know? and you just... quit allowing it to be a loop and start unraveling it.
Is TSOL being released to streaming services at some point? I fucking adore pretty much all of it so I'm hoping it isn't just a Youtube experiment
Well, let's just consider that usually, yes, a service like that will have it. But if something isn't an experiment, I get kind of bored. Also, at the end of the day, I have very specific plans for it, and I don't think it's what you're thinking. But i think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
I never really listened to much music until a friend sent me a link to some of your music and I fell in love with it.
Just one question, dogs or cats?
Cats. Dogs are cool. Cats are just...emotionally way more tapped in then ANYONE gives them credit for.
How do you think you've grown from album to your new material?
You are hearing me grow! I think that's pretty wonderful. I don't think it's embarrassing. I don't think I'm perfect. I think the fun thing is to watch people just be themselves and attempt to be fearless. I'm not fearless, but I can make myself vulnerable, because I like when other people do and that's a powerful thing. If everyone stopped hiding and starting being more of themselves, just imagine how amazing things would be?
MCMF was the single most important project of my life. And it's only just begun. It is a long-term project. It has my heart. Completely.
Was carried away based on your life?
all of my songs in some way are, yes. or interactions with people in it.
Hi Michael, long time fan of your music. I listen to it when I write poetry (and dance in my room by myself), so thank you for all that you do. What is your creative process like? You've cultivated quite a distinct style, and I was wondering what your approach is to creating a song from beginning to end, including the lyric writing too.
i'm basically a tornado, and when i kind of am in a controlled environment, sometimes i finish stuff and it works. no one has any idea what the hell i'm talking about or getting at until it's done. and that's why i love the hell out of anyone that helps me, because it's not easy, but it can be really fun. for the most part, there's no set way of starting anything. it just... it's a chaos, and i'd prefer to keep it that way, because in the end it's just... a thing. it renders something. it's funny.
Hey Michael, just have a two for you.
Thanks for all the dope music!
I think I was kidding about the upcoming viral videos. I think i was making fun of a conversation I had. How the hell am i going to make a viral video, really? What does that even mean? Ha.
Oh, I don't know... there's one Im writing now that I think might be the answer to this question.
Hey K has some stuff in it that's pretty on point for me. It's hard to favorite what you do.
Hey, Micheal.. wanna ask what's your favorite song to perform live??
man, we did cuddle fuddle, all live, in nyc... that was really fun. and we never do it. ever. i think that's essentially the model. deprive yourself of joy. hahahaha. ridiculous, we should really play it more.
What's the hardest song that you have to play live? Hard in the sense that it means a lot to you and it makes you feel all kinds of stuff that you may actually tear up while playing that song.
Manila misses you a lot!!!! Come back, alright?
They're actually all pretty hard. I mean, it's way more athletic of a show than I ever want to admit, and I realize it about, I don't know, 3 minutes in. But then it gets fun again.
What keyboard/instruments/effects processors do you use for live shows?
wooof, this is SUCH A LONG ANSWER... i'll do this later. is that cool?
Going off of this, do you tend to prefer slower paced songs or the more upbeat, fast ones (both when making them and when playing live)?
Who do you want to collaborate with next?
i don't know, who do you think?
What is this mystery song and where/when is it from? I've had it on my computer for over 5 years and I'm not sure where I got it. But it was listed under 'Chunk of Change'. I listen to it constantly.
Thanks for being here and your music has changed my life, luv ya bud.
Oh, that was a theme song for my friends who had this comedy troupe called Zebro. That was pre-Ableton!
Hey! Thanks so much for doing this!
Do you have any advice related to the creative process (such as writing songs or doing anything else creative)?
Also: If you go on tour be sure to stop by Dallas, your show in 2015 was amazing!
--- Also wanted to say that your most recent song, To The Otherside, I really, really, loved. It hit me harder than any song has before. Thanks for being such a cool dude and making awesome music!
Make stuff all of the time. Even when you don't feel like it. Don't force it, but practice. Not everything you make is going to be amazing, but that's how you're going to know when something is amazing -- making a lot of stuff. Your brain is incredible, use it.
I'm sure you hear this from a lot of people, but I just want to start by saying how much your music means to me. I've been struggling with anxiety and depression for years now, and your music really spoke to me more than any other artists. What you do is very inspiring, the way you can portray how you--and so many other people--feel through music, and the way you can push on and remain positive, it's just inspiring. People like you keep people like me going, so thank you for that.
Apologies for the long intro, on to my question: How do you take all your feelings/thoughts and use them to create coherent lyrics and music? I've always tried writing songs but I always have so many thoughts and feelings popping into my head at once that it's impossible to create anything meaningful or understandable. Additionally, what is your writing process?You seem to do a great job of creating vibrant instrumentals which contrast somewhat darker lyrics, is that always the intent or does it just seem to happen?
Thank you so much for doing this ama! It really means a lot to me and everyone else, I'm excited to read your responses!
How do you take all your feelings/thoughts and use them to create coherent lyrics and music?
I have no idea, I think it's from working a lot. It takes practice. It takes a long time to make sense of what you're doing. And in the process, you sometimes don't know what you're doing. Actually, most of the time. And that's because you're in it. And that's kind of what it's all about.
My writing process is insane. No one understands it until they're around me for awhile. It's a very weird thing, it evolves, and it's just... it's like your personality -- you accept it, and you take constructive criticism because people who believe in what you're doing they're just trying to help. But in the end you just do whatever you have to do.
The dichotomy you're talking about is literally the point of passion pit. Feelings are complex, they are not happy or sad, etc. They don't sound or look like what they are. It's basically, to me, ideology.
When can we expect to see your new music on Google Play?
that will happen, i'm sure. just enjoy it, you know? and rip the music, whatever. it's not like i'm not going to write and release many more songs! in the meantime, this is a moment, and look what it's doing? this isn't a one-shot -- it's a volley! thanks for supporting me
Would you consider doing a Fleetwood Mac cover? Alternatively (and oppositely), what new song in the last six months has captivated you?
actually one of the first covers we did was "dreams' by fleetwood mac. 2007/8...something like that.
Which DAW do you use?
ABLETON! and we mix in pro tools sometimes. or a lot of times. but these songs brad, my studio partner, just jumps in to make sure what i do in ableton isn't INSANELY noisy, etc. we both agreed TSOL should feel like chunk of change in this sense. just straight from the source, not matter if it's noisy or whatever. imperfect. etc
Michael! Hey huge fan. Love what you've made and what you're making with sea of love.
Which of your albums would you say was the most emotional one to put together?
honestly, they have all been... so intense, so dramatic hahahaha. but this one, actually. this one is the product of years and years of work and pain and... not understanding what was really happening. I'm just trying to say that if you stay at it, you're going to be heard. Just keep working at it. You're never really done if it's still so cathartic, you know?
also, i am making the songs the night before i release them. so if that tells you anything...
Michael! Youre amazing. Boston loves you! My dad just discovered Manners and is completely obsessed. He tells me what he loves about every song on the album.
Do you have a specific album(s) (of any time any genre any band) that you put on repeat and never get sick of?
Nat King Cole's collection The Nat King Cole Story in Stereo has been hitting me hard.
Have you ever considered to try and make a different genre of music?
have you heard merry christmas mr fields? the album i released in december?
Hey, In 2015, the Big Guava Music Festival had a little thing on Instagram where if someone commented why they wanted to go to the fest, they would pick one person's comment to get free tix to the show/fest. At the time (more then/still a bit now) i was going through a rough patch and at the time your music had a pretty profound and helpful impact on me, so i wrote a pretty long thing about this and they gave me the tickets, so thanks for giving me that opportunity to see my favorite show to this day. I don't really have a great question on mind but here's one to fill in the space.
Thanks for making them funky ass tunes!
ha i feel like MY LIFE has been, actually, learning to admire and love sound guys/girls. really, there is the band, then there's the crew. the crew is the band too. really, love your crew. take care of your crew. sometimes i didn't, sometimes i did. there was never a real personal reason if i didn't, but i can tell you right now, a pp show is super hard, and we are nothing without hardworking, super-talented crew members.
I got to see you at Bottlerock in 2015 and recorded nearly the whole show on my phone for my lil sis who couldn't make it. Ever consider coming to Portland so we can experience your music together this time? :^)
portland always fun. yes
What was it like working with Benny Blanco?
Do you have a special someone right now?
nah, but i'm meeting lots of fun people. i'm focusing on work. i think, for anyone, like my friends, anyone in particular that's around me, that's for the best. as rupaul would say, if you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love anybody else?
that was the cranberries, right? that's one of my favorite covers from any band ever. great job!
no we also covered that one!
Huge fan, currently in my last semester of college and have been listening since freshman year of highschool! Music is one of (if not the) most important thing in my life. Who are the bands/artists you listened to that made you realize your passion for music? Thank you for everything you've done and given us
damon albarn from blur is a hero, that's for sure.