When synth pop trio BLSHS slowed down in 2015, singer Michelle Miears sat down at her Roland 3500 and began writing the songs that would appear on her debut solo EP as MIEARS. Her efforts on the EP paid off; Who Will Save You? is an electronic wonderland that reverberates with Miears’ beautiful voice. Now in the process of recording her second EP, she plans to take her music on tour to the East Coast and West Coast in 2018. It’s endearing that an ambitious solo artist with so much talent was once, as she calls her younger self, a “closet singer.”
Miears slowly emerged from her closet to become one of Houston’s most promising pop songwriters, getting her start as the back-up singer in her brother’s band in 2011. As she told me over the phone on her way to visit family near Dallas, “I was basically my brother’s hype-man.” Her first time on stage was with her brother’s band, and her inconspicuous role as a back-up singer suited Miears, who, shy and a little unsure of her abilities, accepted this baptism into the world of performance with trepidation. Recalling her first show, she says, “I pushed through my fear and loved it.” Miears was hooked.
To Miears’ disappointment, her brother’s band eventually moved on to write material that, they thought, wouldn’t benefit from a back-up singer. But it was almost inevitable that she would stick with music. It’s in her blood. Not only is her brother a musician, her grandparents and great aunt toured together in a country band called The Branded Four, and, as a girl, she was drawn to the piano and taught herself to play.
Beyond the influence of her family, Miears found inspiration from the singer of one of her favorite bands, Haley Williams of Paramore. Seeing Williams and her band perform on four occasions, Miears remembers walking away each time thinking, “I want to do that.” It was only a matter of time before she would.
In 2013, she formed BLSHS with Rick Carruth and Chris Gore. They released an EP, Abstract Desires, and it wasn’t long before the group garnered attention and scooped up awards from local press. BLSHS was not only a success, it was an invaluable learning experience for Miears.
Her writing process is one of the things she learned during her time with BLSHS, and it has stayed the same for her solo project: She thinks up a vocal melody, records it on her phone, transfers the recording to logic, and pieces together the chord progression and the rest of the song from there. Miears turns to personal experience to write the lyrics, which dredge up heartbreak from past relationships. When I asked if her EP has a theme, she replied that it focuses on codependence, on betting your happiness on one person and the bond that you two have forged together in romance.
Those relationships are behind her, but Miears, in her songs, relives the sorrow that shrouded her when they ended. When I asked if she has a favorite song on Who Will Save You?, she said that the final track “Cycle” will make her tear up on stage sometimes. And no wonder. “Cycle” perfectly captures that weepy period after a bad breakup when everything reminds you of your former significant other. Listening to this slow lament, you hurt with Miears.
But that’s one of the jobs of musicians (and all artists): to make us feel and thereby keep us human. I don’t doubt that Miears will deliver more heartfelt music on her forthcoming EP and keep us from turning into machines.