Michael Stipe Recalls When He Realized His Voice Is Very Unique


R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe spoke in a recent interview with The New Yorker and recalled the time he realized he has a distinctive voice.

In the conversation, Michael revealed that he realized he could touch people’s hearts easily and sing any song he wanted to due to his unique voice back in 2005. The frontman confessed that he hadn’t realized his potential until ‘almost at the end of ‘R.E.M..’

Previously, he was aware that he is a good vocalist but thought that his voice sounded like others and didn’t notice that people could recognize him and R.E.M. from his voice. This also means that Michael never sang with the confidence of knowing that you’re truly talented until the band’s 14th album, ‘Accelerate,’ released back in 2008.

In addition to that, Michael also mentioned that his voice has the warmth that most of the singers lack and said that he can sing with almost any microphone as he doesn’t need enhancers to make his voice sound real and touching,

The interviewer asked Stipe the following during the interview:

“Tell me more about being able to sing anything and make people cry.”

To which Michael Stipe replied in the talk:

“O.K., this sounds so stupid. But it was 2005 – it was the twenty-first century, I think it was after 2005 and before 2008. It was somewhere in there that I realized that my voice was very distinctive. I didn’t know that it was.

I didn’t realize that my voice sounded different from everyone else’s voice. That people would hear me singing and would know instantly that it’s R.E.M. I just never thought about my voice that way.

And it was just sort of, Holy shit, that’s cool. That was almost at the end of R.E.M. But it was early days when I realized that I could get away with murder. I could sing anything.”

The the interviewer asked:

“Do you know what it is about your voice that is so powerful? Or about yourself?”

And Michael Stipe responded:

“No, no. On the voice, I just read what people have written. Like a foghorn. It’s got warmth – I know it’s got warmth. I don’t need to use the mikes that most singers have to use because my voice comes with warmth.

Usually, have to use all these effects to make sound real again. But my voice is already warm, so I can sing into almost any mike, and it doesn’t have to be altered that much. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Microphones are very limited in what they’re able to do.”

Later in the conversation, Michael talked about one of their iconic songs, ‘Wendell Gee,’ and revealed that it was all about a dream. ‘Wendell Gee’ was released in 1985 as a final single from R.E.M.’s third studio album, named ‘Fables of the Reconstruction.’ Back in 2017, the remastered version of the song was released on YouTube.

You can have a listen to the remastered version of ‘Wendell Gee’ below.