Michael Oakley is back with a new single featuring synthwave royalty Dana Jean Phoenix, and today Vehlinggo premieres it. “Now I’m Alive” is a beautiful romance number that recalls the type of single that used to grace pop radio and film soundtracks on the regular: ballads.
The single comes out tomorrow via NewRetroWave.
Interview with Michael Oakley and Dana Jean Phoenix
To dive deeper into “Now I’m Alive,” here’s a Q&A with the artists themselves.
Vehlinggo: How did the collaboration come about? How does it feel to do a song together and why?
Michael Oakley: It’s been a dream of mine for a while now to do a romantic ballad type track that has the same feel as songs like Starship[‘s] “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” George Michael, and Whitney Houston. Out of all the female singers I could have asked, it was always and only Dana that I wanted to sing with. She’s such a wonderful singer/musician and when I listened to her music it struck me that out of all the styles she has done so far, luckily for me she hadn’t done a big ballad duet track. So I thought that might appeal to her and also I knew she had the exact diva power vocals to take the song to the next level.
Dana Jean Phoenix: Michael and I played a concert together at House of Targ in Ottawa last year and knew our styles would fit really well for a collab. He sent this really well-crafted, classic, retro love song. I wrote my lyrics and the chorus and his parts came together to make this powerhouse song.
What’s the song’s message?
MO: I like to think that Dana channeled the story of my own relationship, where for a while I was separated from my wife in another country and had to find a way back to her permanently. For me it’s about the struggle to be with someone you love more than anything, against all the odds and the people that are holding you back. That’s my take on it.
DJP: The power that life holds when face to face. It speaks to our basic need for warmth, love, and connection, even if the initial interaction is digital. I was also inspired by a year of touring and performing through Europe and the U.S. with so many of the awesome artists, bloggers, and promoters I’ve worked with – and how strong that connection is even though we started our relationships online.
What are you particularly proud of about this song?
MO: 100 percent singing with Dana. That’s definitely one of my musical bucket list things ticked off. When I was initially working on the music and thought of it as a duet, I wrote it in such a way that it would let Dana take the lead on it and my vocal would really just compliment. Very few singers in the [synthwave] scene have the voice, range, and technical ability that Dana has, so I wanted to give her complete freedom and the starring role to do what she wanted vocally. It’s also probably the most authentically sounding ’80s style track I have personally produced. My stylistic choices musically, in terms of production, sound design, and the way I layered the drums were very true and authentic to the way power ballads used to be in the 1980s.
DJP: It always rocks to do some legit harmonizing with another powerhouse vocalist like Michael! Chris Huggett’s guitar solo really takes it to a whole other level. Chris and Michael are truly great musicians and songwriters, so it’s rad to work with them.
You can buy the song tomorrow via NewRetroWave.
For more information on DJP, check out her Vehlinggo Podcast interview. Michael Oakley’s music has likewise joined the roster of tracks played on the podcast.