Houston Music

Artist of the Week: Neo-Soul Death Match Participant Michele Thibeaux

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to [email protected].

Sadly, we have never had the opportunity to watch a battle to the death. Oh sure, we've seen it happen on TV during sophisticated movies plenty of times (The Running Man, Best of the Best II, The Condemned) but never actually in person. It's always bothered us too. Like, seriously, there are more than five million people in this town. How have we not even heard about the possibility of something like this happening, let alone accidentally stumbled across a match while at that flea market on 59 or something?

Somehow, all of this relates to Michele Thibeaux, one of Houston's finer neo-soul performers. She's earthy and organic and completely natural in her delivery. You might've seen her in and around town with Hueston Independent Spit District, the nation of hip-hoppers that is apparently set on never, ever following up their 2007 smash The District (for real, guys, it's time to release another full-length, or at least an EP). We tagged her for an interview recently and she complied.

After the jump, read about her allegiance to H.I.S.D., Quentin Tarantino's non-overratedness and - that's right - her battle to the death with fellow neo-soul artist (and former Artist of the Week) Caretta Bell.

[jump] Rocks Off: A little background filler first. Tell me a bit about how Michele Thibeaux the person came to be Michele Thibeaux the musician.

Michele Thibeaux: It all started in a little place called Oakland, California, discovering everything from Zydeco to Jazz from my parents, then sneaking into my brother's room playing his records - yes, vinyl; from The Sugar Hill Gang to Parliment to Michael Franks. Then discovering on my own Journey and Van Halen. By the way, I used to use my hairbrush as a microphone with my AM radio singing Olivia Newton-John. I always knew I wanted to be in music.

RO: You get down with the hip-hop conglomerate Hueston Independent School District, right? How does one get involved with them? We mean, there are a ton of them, but we assume the prerequisite is more than "just to be alive."

MT: According to Savvi [the de facto leader of the bunch], he came to hear me sing with DJ Melodic, DJ Sun and Chicken George at Cafe Brasil a few times. From there we discussed putting a project out under Peaceuvmine. It was such a great opportunity, very progressive. I knew by signing with them I would have the freedom I needed, and still need.

RO: We know it's hardly timely, but we saw Inglorious Basterds so we want to talk about it with someone: Brad Pitt is that dude, right? We'd hold his hand if he asked us too. And don't you think Quentin Tarantino is overrated? We're saying, watching it now, Pulp Fiction feels like it's trying way too hard.

MT: First of all, yes! Brad Pitt IS the man. And second, Quentin Tarantino is incredible. From creating a cult classic like Pulp Fiction to Inglorious Bastards? C'mon!!!

RO: Is there any way at all that we can arrange a neo-soul songstress battle between you and fellow Houstonian Caretta Bell? Not necessarily a death match per se, but definitely some sort of gladiator battle. We think it'd be a positive PR firestorm.

MT: Never ever! Caretta Bell and I are extremely cool. Sorry.

RO: Dammit. Okay, is it absolutely necessary to have really big hair when you do the type of music you do? That seems pertinent to the cause somehow.

MT: Oddly enough, I was just asked that question the other day: what kind of music "do I do?" I just call it "Soul Music." By the way, did you know some "neo-soul singers" shave their heads?

RO: What? Absurd. Lastly, on a more serious note, when do we finally get to hear a full length Michele Thibeaux album? We think you've kept everyone waiting just about long enough.

MT: I agree but alas, Hey DJ! Experience Michele Thibeaux will be available Nov.15th.

You can hit Michele up on MySpace or email her personally at [email protected].

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Shea Serrano