Pop R&B singer-songwriter Michael J Woodard presents his artistic vision of what he calls “the journey and the battle of love” on his debut EP, MJW1, which was released today by Unsub Records. The indie label was founded by Katy Perry, who has championed Woodard since his days as a finalist on “American Idol.” The six tracks on MJW1 show those who might know him from his past time in the spotlight how his voice and sound has evolved. Download / stream MJW1 HERE.
“This is the first thing people will hear from me in terms of a body of work,”” says Michael J Woodard. “This is what I’m giving to people so they can see where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and who I am. That’s what drove me to call it MJW1—really, it’s an introduction to me as an artist.”
The 26-year-old flips the idea of pop inside out in thrilling ways, even as he’s grappling with complex emotions. MJW1 opens with the tension-filled “Hems,” co-written with production trio Suburban Plaza (Joji, Jackson Wang), which sounds like it’s about to fall apart as Woodard rues a relationship where “we fell in love / Now we’re just stuck in a mess.” Stunning vocal harmonies add to the sense of agitation.
“It was just me, singing everything that was on my mind when it comes to all the different harmonies and layers,” he recalls. “It was literally just me exploding.”
The glittery “24 Hours” is Woodard’s love letter to the breezily danceable pop of the early 2010s, a time crucial to his development as a songwriter. He co-wrote the track with Charles “Chizzy” Stephens (Chris Brown, DJ Snake), who also produced. The buoyant “Anti You,” produced by KillahGraham (Thutmose, 30 Seconds to Mars), finds Woodard ready to move on and open his heart to love once again.
Woodard’s other collaborators included writer/producers Social House (Ariana Grande) on "Ruined," a melodic earworm about the emotional fallout that follows a breakup, producer/artist Phinisey on the surrealistic “Face” and L.A.-based writer/producer duo GOLDSPACE on the exuberant “Trouble.” View the official videos for these three tracks, which debuted in the lead-up to the EP’s release, HERE.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Woodard realized that music was his future at age five. “My mom heard me singing when she was giving me a bath,” he recalls, “and she was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. Michael can sing.’” He joined his church choir, where he began cultivating his keen sense for harmonic theory; soon he and his mother were spending their weekends road-tripping to New York City for auditions.
That perseverance paid off: By the time he was 13, he’d sung at a rally for President Barack Obama in Philadelphia and at the U.S. Open in New York, while winning talent competitions at Harlem’s storied Apollo Theater. The teenage Woodard plunged deeper into music, honing his voice and producing at his home studio. After high school, he headed to Hollywood to study at Musicians Institute.
MJW1 marks a milestone in his journey, bringing his raw talent and innate knowledge of music’s workings to the fore.
MJW1 – Track Listing
3. Anti You
6. 24 Hours