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Michael Stipe offers update on his debut solo album: “I have a deadline now”

Michael Stipe has revealed that he is still working on his debut album, despite a number of delays in his creative process over the past 12 months. 

In a new interview with New York Times, the former R.E.M. frontman reassured fans that his previously announced solo album is still in the works, but that personal circumstances including family emergencies, house moves and a bout of Covid have slowed the process. 

He also described the effect of his “terrible” writer’s block, but added that after meeting with his mother, he now feels pressure to deliver. “I have a deadline now,” he said. “I could keep working on this record for a decade and let my insecurities get the better of me.” 

R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, shot by Jenn Five for NME in 2019

“We can say for the piece that I finished the songs,” he told the newspaper. “And by God, I will finish them before the piece comes out. How about that? Let’s leave the piece closing with: I finished the songs.” 

Last December, Stipe confirmed that he was working on his debut album, saying at the time that “it should come together next year”. 

“I’m working on a solo album, my first. I’m collaborating with a bunch of different musicians and each of those songs, if I get my way, which I think I will because I’m paying for it, will be very different,” he said. 

“I have no management. I have no label. For the first time in my adult life, I don’t have a contract with anyone except myself. So I get to do whatever I want. Anyway, there will be a visual representation for each of the songs, and it should come together next year. I’m hoping to build slowly.” 

Also revealed in the new interview is the detail that Stipe shared studio space with Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff and Matty Healy during his recording process. The musicians were all working at Electric Lady in New York at the same time, with Stipe working on a song titled ‘I’m the Charge’. 

Since the demise of R.E.M., Stipe has released a number of solo singles, including ‘Your Capricious Soul’ in 2019 and ‘Drive to the Ocean’ in 2020. He also co-produced the 2018 album ‘Sir’ by electroclash duo Fischerspooner. 

In July, Stipe re-shared his cover of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘The Last Day of Our Acquaintance’ following the singer’s death. He had recorded his version of the song in 1996. 

Stipe was one of dozens of high-profile figures from the entertainment world to sign an open letter urging President Joe Biden to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. The letter sought “an end to the bombing of Gaza and the safe release of hostages,” and was also signed by Dua Lipa and Cate Blanchett. 

Stipe also officiated the wedding between his goddaughter Frances Bean Cobain and Riley Hawk in San Diego in October.

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