One of the best singer-songwriters of his generation, Germany’s representative for last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Michael Schulte, started his musical career by uploading covers and some of his original songs on YouTube. In the past years, however, he has managed to climb high, bringing unexpected success to the country, winning Germany’s prestigious Bambi award and the heart of many people worldwide.
In some places, people refer to the 29-years-old pure talent as the “German Ed Sheeran” – and we absolutely nod to this. The reason for it might be that in 2012, he advanced to the final of The Voice Germany, where he sang “The A Team” with the British singer, becoming third in the contest, and also that the style of their songs are very similar, because they both fill in their songs with their soul, their hearts and cake slices of their lives. Michael was only 13 when he lost his dad, and it left such a big scar that it still has a massive impact on his music. To this day, the pain of loss is a theme in several of his songs, with the first one, “For My Father”, being released on YouTube when he was only 18. His father inspired his Eurovision song, “You Let Me Walk Alone”, and what he also wrote for the contest, “The Love You Left Behind”.
In 2018, we can state that he had no time to relax, being overwhelmed by reaching numerous milestones in his life besides his career. He became a husband and a father, too, so his newest little muse, Luis, inspired one of his latest songs, “Never Let You Down”.
As for his Eurovision journey, winning the German national selection show Unser Lied für Lissabon (Our Song for Lisbon), he got the chance to fly the country’s flag to Portugal, where he got a total of 340 points, putting him in the fourth place after some disappointing results in recent years.
What impact this had on Michael and what it meant to him will be unfolded in our interview below.
The theme of this year’s ESC is “Dare to Dream”. We certainly know that dreams do come true if you work hard for them, but have you always dreamed of standing on the big stage, performing your beautiful song in front of thousands of people?
Well, I was always into music, and I was singing a lot as a child, but I was not as self-confident as you have to be to get up on the stage, so I didn’t really envision myself performing live. That just kinda came over the years, starting on YouTube, when I saw that there are actually people who like my songs. Then, I began to think that maybe that is what I wanted to do for a living.
Can you tell why you were unconfident?
The Eurovision stage is one of the biggest in the entire world, so to go up there, I think you have to be very confident and sure about your music because if you do a mistake then everyone sees it and everyone hears it. However, it was a great experience for me, and also, a start into a new level, cause now I have the opportunity to play more and bigger concerts, my songs are played on the radio and I’m able to be on television.
So, was it a dream come true for you?
Yeah! I’ve been a Eurovision fan since I was a child. I always watched it with my family when I was little, and I was always thinking about how it would be to sing for Germany, imagining myself standing on that stage. But I never thought I can actually make it, cause the chances are so tiny… but I did it!
And you did a good job! Congratulations!
Thank you! That’s the best thing about it. Not only I could sing for my country, but I could also get a few points, and got a good fourth place.
… which is a great success in the history of Germany at the ESC. Do you think that your country’s going in the right direction?
Yes, I think, but we need to wait and see what this year will bring. It’s always a good idea to focus on the artist, and then the artist decides. It was very important to me, as I wanted to write a song myself, and I wanted to decide how I’ll show myself. As for S!sters, they didn’t write the song on their own, which is a different way than last year, but can also bring success. We will see, and then we will need to analyze if it was good or if we have to change something for the next year instead.
Have you heard any of the songs for this year? Obviously, other than “Sister”.
I have heard a lot of songs, actually, and I already know that the Netherlands is kinda like a favourite now. I like it, too, but until now, I guess their song doesn’t quite get me, unlike Italy, France and Switzerland. In the end, everyone has the chance to win it, so we’ll see.
And I bet you have an all-time favourite Eurovision song.
Yeah, I do. It’s “Fly on the Wings of Love” by Olsen Brothers – the Danish winner of the year 2000. That was a long time ago, but I absolutely loved their song, and I was singing it as a child. As the Olsen Brothers are from Denmark, and I can speak Danish, so it was almost like a win for us in Germany.
You didn’t win, but we were so touched by your song. Earlier, you have also stated in an interview that “You Let Me Walk Alone” is the song of your life. Do you still think that?
I also thought this before I was writing the song, knowing that I would be at Eurovision. I knew that whatever song is gonna come out could be the song of my life because that’s such a big stage, such a big opportunity. Then, “You Let Me Walk Alone” just came, becoming a door opener for me, for my career. It is and will always be the song of my life because it’s a very personal story, it’s a very emotional song, and also, because of all the beautiful things that I could experience after the contest.
What if you had to choose a movie title to your life?
For my life? Oh, that’s hard, choosing a movie title for my entire life… I think I should just call it “Michael Schulte” because that’s who I am, and that describes my life. Other than that, I don’t know what I would call my life, but that’s simple.
What really describes you, is that you are strong, brave and confident. As you mentioned, these qualities are essential to stand on the big stage of Eurovision, and you stood there with a tribute to your father. Please, tell us how music could help you back then!
Music has always played a big part in my life, as it helped in different difficult situations. I mean, it was already a part of me as a child, but it became something bigger after my father passed away. The songs I have always been listening to are songs that bring up emotions. Also, writing them is a possibility to get rid of some feelings – it’s a self-therapy, a good way to deal with something that is pretty sad and hard. Moreover, I am able to not only help myself, but also help others with it when they have the same problems and same life situations. When they listen to your song, it helps them.
What is the best life lesson you learned from your dad?
It was a beautiful childhood with my father and my siblings. I still remember being at the water, fishing together, playing football together, playing the guitar together. There are too many wonderful memories, but something I really learned from him is to just be cool and quiet sometimes and don’t stress myself, as he was a very calm, very chilled person, who didn’t let himself get stressed by anything.
He would be really proud of you, looking at 2018. You have achieved so many things. Now you’re a father, too, you became a husband, won “Unser Lied” and also a Bambi. Can you tell us what you are proudest of?
I hope he is proud! I am actually pretty proud of my life at the moment. I got a beautiful wife, a lovely son, a great family and great friends. Also, I’m successful with my music. Everything that happened last year was amazing and crazy, but the most beautiful thing was the birth of my son – it was just like a miracle. Holding your own child in your arms is the best feeling.
And what is it that you have learned and will definitely teach to Luis about life?
I think I would tell him “You have to fight for your goals, and you should never do things that you don’t like. Be confident and enjoy life. Have good friends, and maybe make music, because that’s a good thing”.
Do you think he will follow in his daddy’s footsteps?
I think so, yeah! I sometimes tend to sit down on the piano with him, and his small hands are touching the piano. My wife also plays it and sings, so I can imagine Luis having musical talent. You can never know, but I don’t want to send him to any lessons. If he wants to make music then it should just be his decision, and I don’t think I need to push him into it.
Well, at least, he will have a great mentor if he wants to – his dad. A mentor that you were in “Dein Song”. How was this experience for you?
That was a nice show because there were many young talents who I could help, especially Hannah. She’s got a great voice, and she wrote a good song. She didn’t win, but I’m sure she really showed that she has a bright future in music. I’m very curious where her ways are gonna go, and as it’s always good to help newcomers, young musicians, I would definitely do that again!
It’s an interesting fact that you both do not sing in German. From you, we’ve only heard “Ohne dich”, “Gefühllos” and a cover song “Dieser Weg”. What is the reason for it?
I have only listened to English music for my entire life, and I also like me singing in English much better than in German. I did try it out though to see how it feels, but it didn’t feel right, I wasn’t really into it. Many people wanted me to change my music a few years ago, knowing that there are numerous successful German artists who sing in their mother language. I didn’t want to. I always said I’m gonna stay with my English music, and after a few years now, finally, I’ve got my success.
And we hope we’ll hear more from you! Herzlichen Dank für deine Zeit, Michael!