Photos and music video by Zoe Akiko
The first time she performed on stage was for a first grade talent show. Standing on the stage wearing matching white t-shirts and jean skirts, with their hair in pig-tails, Michelle Treacy and six other girls sang Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated”.
One of the girls performing told the rest of them they weren’t allowed to dance, but instead had to just stand straight and sing.
Even then, Treacy wouldn’t let anyone stop her from performing her way and she couldn’t help but dance, even if it meant getting told off for not following the others.
“I was just so excited to be on the stage and I felt so good and free, that I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.”
Since that performance she does everything she can to be on stage. She performed locally any chance she could before leaving Ottawa to go to Toronto where there is a more prevalent pop music scene.
Treacy started in the music industry at 16 years old as a singer-songwriter. Since then she sang on stage with Lady Gaga in 2014. Two years later in 2016, her single “Armageddon” placed on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 Chart. She then appeared on and won season two of CTV’s The Launch in 2019.
It wasn’t a smooth journey for her. Treacy didn’t always know who she was and described her past self as an angsty teenager with a lot of issues to deal with which was reflected in her music.
“I feel like I was a ticking time-bomb before because I was so upset with the world and myself and everything, and I just couldn’t figure it out. My music was kind of all over the place and angry really,” she says.
Treacy admitted herself to the hospital to get the help she needed for mental health. While there a nurse told her, “Go out, restart your life, and be selfish, get what you want.”
That is what Treacy is doing now. Although music challenged her, over time it began to help her.
“Music made me fall apart and feel so bad about myself. I felt so bad about my writing,” she says. “I just went through a phase where I was like, ‘I am garbage, this is garbage, oh my God.’ But then music became my reason to stay and my reason to keep going.”
When she got out of the hospital she decided she would do whatever she wanted, after taking some time to figure out what kind of artist she wanted to be.
Treacy’s new music changed to reflect her journey to self-love. It doesn’t fit into a single box, there’s no judgement and no limitations.
Her latest release, “Time Off From a Letdown,” represents the feeling of letting everyone down. The reality is, however, that you only let yourself down by putting others first. It is about refocusing on yourself as she spent the last few years doing.
“The new music is about feeling okay, or feeling bad and just being okay with it. It’s basically me saying, ‘I’m done letting myself down because I put everybody first, and now it’s time to put me first and kind of stay home and focus on me,’ and that’s what I hope the listeners do.”
She writes what she feels and isn’t focusing on limiting her music to one genre.
“Time Off From A Letdown” has more of a rock vibe and she is also working on a Christmas song and other EPs that aren’t restricted by genre.
The new music is different and random after Treacy felt like she was held in a box for so long that now she doesn’t care to be limited anymore.
“I’m gonna try a bunch of things and people can like it or hate it and I don’t really care because I’m just making art. This isn’t a paint by number anymore, this is a paint whatever you feel. It’s art in every form.”