Nearly two decades in the making. That’s how long it’s been since Michael Southerton, aka Southerton, released new solo music. Today he releases his new single, “Tiny Neighborhood“.
After spending a decade playing in and around the Philly music scene, his band Song Dogs played their final show at Johnny Brendas in 2017. Since then Michael experienced several major life moments – got married, moved towns, had a child, and recently welcomed a second. Among all these changes and the pandemic, some old unfinished songs found their voice, and new tunes followed.
Originally written has a slow, sad song reflecting on loneliness and people lost in the pandemic, “Tiny Neighborhood” took a turn when he realized how together we all are in this. Instead of writing a dirge, the song became a celebration of connection.
Michael has spent a great deal of time devoting his life to the Philly music scene. As his friends, followers – and he himself – have grown, so too have our experiences and passions. I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael for his new single. I hope you’ll listen to his new song below, as well as check out our interview.
Congratulations on the release of your new single “Tiny Neighborhood”! How does it feel to have this song out now?
Thank you so much! It definitely feels like the right time. This song was really born out of the struggles that so many of us have gone through during the pandemic: feeling isolated and lost, our communities shrinking. I was hoping “Tiny Neighborhood” would be a celebration of our shared experiences and the connections that keep us going. And even now, as we start to see people who we maybe haven’t seen in a long time, visit places we haven’t been to in ages, I think it’s important to reach out the people who are still living that struggle, who aren’t ready or able get back into the world, and who maybe need a phone call now more than ever. I hope this song can be a reminder of that.
Can you take us a bit into what your songwriting process is like?
Most of the songs for this upcoming record are songs that I demoed a couple years ago in the hopes that when the pandemic ended, I’d call up some friends, block out some studio time, and try and give the songs some life in that collaborative space. Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet, and after sitting with the demos for about a year, I decided that I would have to try to finish them in my own little attic studio. That led to a lot of experimentation and building the recordings piecemeal, little by little, recognizing and accepting my limitations and finding joy in a much more arduous process.
You’ve already had a busy year, as you’ve just celebrated the birth of your second child! How do you manage to juggle it all?
Yes we did! You know, it really helps to have a supportive partner who believes in you and wants to help you find time to work even when the world is spinning a mile a minute. My wife Alair has been that person for me, and I feel very fortunate. In addition to that, it really comes down to embracing the time that I have. Naptime is a great time to run up to the attic and do some mixing or record a bassline. And I’ve definitely written some piano parts with my 2 year old son sitting on my lap banging on the keys himself! Time is a beautiful thing. The more that passes the more you realize how much of it there is to find.
Any live performances planned soon that we can catch you at?
Nothing in the immediate future, but I’m going to be doing some acoustic Instagram live sessions people can tune in to. Folks can follow @southertonsongs to catch those performances.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you and your music?
More is coming! You can find Southerton on Tidal and Spotify; I’ll be releasing some singles there leading up to the album. And while you’re there you can check out my “Songs Around Town” playlist, which features some of my favorite Philly area musicians.