Michael Darling is an artist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer based in Madison. Compared to a wide range of artists such as Harry Styles, James Taylor, Perfume Genius, and Father John Misty, he blends elements of indie pop, folk rock, and jazz to create lyrically reflective and emotionally charged music that feels both familiar yet pleasantly subversive. WSUM calls him “one of Madison’s hidden gems.”
A child of two musicians, Michael has been immersed in music his whole life. He grew up playing drums and later started singing and songwriting, supplementing his voice with guitar and piano. He has played in jazz ensembles, produced chip tune music for his own video games, and performed at various venues all over Wisconsin—as a solo act, with a backing band, and with Madison-based collective MQBS.
Michael started releasing music in 2020 with his debut single “Drive” and has since put out three singles from his upcoming EP. He has collaborated on a number of music videos with one of his long-time close friends Jake Viaene (Bard Media), and together they’ve quickly found their collective creative footing.
In December of 2021, Michael decided to take a leap of faith and quit his corporate job to pursue music full time. Since then, he’s honed his social media presence, amassing 2000 followers and nearly 200k video views on TikTok. He’s also begun branching out from Madison, booking and playing shows around Wisconsin and beyond.
In July, Michael released “Spark,” the title track of his upcoming debut EP. “Spark” is a song about burnout—through dating, work, or life in general. Drawing inspiration from Father John Misty and Elton John, it’s the ballad of a hopeless romantic yearning for a deep connection in an online world. “Spark” marks Michael’s first time venturing outside of bedroom production and putting his music into the hands of the community, featuring live drums and grand piano recorded at Madison’s own Audio for the Arts with Audrey Martinovich. Tone Madison describes the new song as “effortlessly compelling even as it stretches out for bigger arrangements and a longer run time.”
Now officially a full-time musician, Michael has his highest ambitions yet: With his debut EP “Spark” set to release in fall, hints at possible collaborations with other artists, and his first tour is in the works. He is beyond excited to see all his plans come to fruition.