Michael Malarkey on Travel & Songwriting

There are places that simply inspire. New Orleans is one of them – fuelling the creativity of jazz greats from Frank Sinatra to Louis Armstrong. What makes this city such a muse for music?

There are places that simply inspire. New Orleans is one of them – fuelling the creativity of jazz greats from Frank Sinatra to Louis Armstrong. What makes this city such a muse for music?

Michael Malarkey’s New Orleans weekend is more than a short break. Michael’s trip was a music pilgrimage designed to inspire and fuel the next phase of his development as an artist. Singer-songwriter Michael is a big believer in the link between travel and song writing, describing it as a “form of poetic journalism”. The places, people and experiences he encounters become the substance of his work: “It writes itself as much as I’m writing it… It’s the lens I see the world through.”

His mission succeeded. Having stoked the flames of creativity by diving into a wealth of live music, Michael settled in his room at The Roosevelt New Orleans to polish new track Dog Dream, built on a bed of slack rhythm and curious melodies. Playful lyrics drive the tempo and paint vivid and twisted imagery.

Of course, Michael isn’t the first musician to drink deep from the fount of inspiration that is the Big Easy, nor will he be the last. This city inspires everyone who passes through. You might not be leaving with a #1 hit scrawled on your cocktail napkin – but you’ll definitely, as Michael notes: “be taking some new experiences back home.”

One of the most well known artists to fall under the spell of New Orleans was Louis Armstrong. He famously said: “If you have to ask what Jazz is, you’ll never know.” There’s no substitute for getting out there and experiencing it live – and this is the main reason NOLA is such a music mecca. d.b.a bar, which Michael can be spotted visiting in the film, offers an eclectic nightly line-up of live music for just a small cover charge, and you certainly won’t have to ask what jazz is after hearing it here.

The Sazerac Bar, in The Roosevelt New Orleans, where Michael samples the signature, self-named drink, is a slice of music history in itself, having played host to music legends including Frank Sinatra. Soaking up that atmosphere will leave you itching to pick up your own guitar… or at least dive in to Michael’s New Orleans weekend playlist on Spotify.

The Musicians Village is a moving and inspiring monument to the resilience of New Orleans’s musical spirit – created by Habitat for Humanity International as a new neighbourhood to house local musicians who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina.

If your stay inspires you to actually pick up an instrument and play, then Webb’s Bywater Music Store is the place to find new and pre-owned instruments and equipment of all kinds. And if that seems a little out of reach, it’s still well worth a visit. One of the Big Easy’s most Instagrammed shops, you could do a lot worse than joining its crowd of admirers and simply soaking up the ambience.

Dog Dream is available for download now on Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Google Play.