The NYC artist makes songs (and memes) that speak to your higher self
You might be familiar with Bunny Michael even if you’ve never heard their music before. For the past two years they’ve been posting ‘higher self’ memes on Instagram – images of Bunny next to their double, paired with a spiritually uplifting caption representing their inner dialogue. (For example: “Me: You hurt me.” “Higher Self: What you said triggered pain in me.”) This double, the higher self, is a wiser and more enlightened version of Michael – and by extension, the person looking at the meme. The memes and mantras are funny, but they’re also a sincere offering of guidance, aimed to address and maybe even resolve inner conflict. They’re also an extension of Michael’s ongoing artistic practise, which started in New York City in the 2000s.
Bunny Michael grew up in Dallas, Texas and moved to New York City for college during the Bush years. There they formed Bunny Rabbit, a radical rap project exploring post-9/11 anxieties, and found contemporaries in the city’s ‘anti-folk’ movement, often performing alongside artists like Cocorosie. But Bunny Rabbit’s attitude towards DIY was more brash and beat-based, an approach that was continued into Bunny Michael’s solo work after their previous project came to an end. It’s something you can hear in this year’s Afterlyfe EP, a Valentine’s Day release that explores a psychedelic journey through coarse rhythms and politically-minded bars.
Michael is currently working on a new record and a video series for Broadly – more immediately, however, they’ll be touring Europe with Fever Ray from next week (March 19). Get to know the visual artist, musician, meme-maker, and rapper below.
How’d you get into making music? When did you start rapping?
Bunny Michael: I’ve always had penchant for performance and I used to do a Selena Quintanilla impersonation for my parents when I was little growing up in Texas. But it wasn’t until 2005, when I had graduated with a degree in acting in New York, that I realised I wanted to make music. I was hanging out with some musician friends and started freestyling about a bunny rabbit running around Brooklyn reaping havoc in a nightie while bombs were dropping all around her. The next day my friend told me they wanted to produce a rap record with me, which led to my first incarnation under the name Bunny Rabbit.
Since then I’ve been writing raps and performing in various collaborations. Now solo under Bunny Michael, I feel like I’ve found my place creatively. A big influence of that was Michael Beharie and Bruno Coviello – they both helped me produce my latest EP, Afterlyfe, and have always encouraged me to keep going.
Tell us about your spirituality.
Bunny Michael: My spiritual life is my highest priority. My art, my music, my writing are all expressions of the spiritual journey – a witness to self. For me, true happiness is finding that light within yourself and shining it on the world. I think we all have a unique role to play to help heal ourselves and our planet by telling our stories and empowering each other. For me I find strength in the Beyond, in God – which for me is another word for Love. I use it as my guide in all my decisions. Does this choice serve Love or fear? Who is in charge of my thoughts now? How can I realign with my highest purpose? That's why I write the Higher Self memes every day on my Instagram. I want to be in service to people, and every day I try to use my creative gifts to uplift myself and those around me.
What was the first CD you ever bought?
Bunny Michael: Bone Thugs N Harmony, East 1999 Eternal. I was in the seventh grade and me and my friends would roll horrible joints with like the worst dirt weed you could get in Texas and use papers from the small bibles they used to hand out to us outside of school (it was really hard to get real rolling papers underage) and, like, pretend we were as high as Bone Thugs, rapping to ‘Bud Smokers Only’ by the creek behind the school.
Do you have a hero – musical or otherwise?
Bunny Michael: I have a lot of heroes, some in this dimension and some beyond. Hanuman, Pachamama, Ram Dass, Angela Davis, Terence McKenna, Nina Simone, Björk, Fever Ray, Kendrick Lamar, Princess Nokia, my parents, my grandmother… I have a lot of guardian angels too.
What lyric are you most proud of?
Bunny Michael: “I am the sea. I am the salt. Drink of me to free your thought. Chain my puss, police my cock – no matter, I fly tree tops.”
When people ask what kind of music you make, what do you tell them?
Bunny Michael: First I look at them for like 30 seconds and try to figure out if I really have to answer this question because I kind of really loathe it. And then I say something like ‘surrealist lyricist dance music to the apocalyptical dimensional shift to love consciousness.’ And then they kind of just stare and smile.
What movie do you think your music would be the best soundtrack for?
Bunny Michael: The remake of Blade Runner with an all-female cast, or the live action Little Mermaid where she meets Moana and they just chill.
If you were putting together a supergroup, who else would you pick to be in it?
Bunny Michael: SZA, Emma Gonzalez, Kali (the Hindu goddess), Archangel Michael.
What’s the biggest conspiracy theory you believe in?
Bunny Michael: There are aliens living on this planet and they have been influencing our lives and crop circles are healing us with sacred geometry. I used to obsess over videos on Pleiadians and Reptilians and I would listen to people ‘channel’ information from other dimensions. I had to stop because it was becoming unhealthy. Like, I started to feel anxious and afraid and I was like, ‘What’s the point then?’ Some things, I realised, I just don’t have to have the answers to.
Do you think you could be a politician?
Bunny Michael: Yes, I would totally run for office if the path presented itself. In many ways artists are politicians already. If you have a platform I believe it’s your responsibility to empower people with it.
What should we expect from your Fever Ray shows?
Bunny Michael: Sweat, ripped up pastel dresses, the beating of a stuffed animal on a stick, me calling my Higher Self on a rotary phone, lots of love and gratitude. Oh, and dancing. Lots of dancing.
What else are you working on?
Bunny Michael: I’m so excited to announce I will be hosting a new show on Vice! It’s called Broadly Hotline. It’s an advice show and I will be answering all kinds of questions and giving loving guidance. Each episode will feature a celebrity guest who will help answer questions too. Even though its an advice show it’s not like I’m over here saying I know something you don’t know. It’s more like I’m offering a new way of looking at the situation through the perspective of Love. It’s like a shift in consciousness. I’m super excited for it I know people are gonna love it. I’m also working on a new record!