“Temptation,” the third studio album from non-binary, dream pop singer-songwriter Michael Rider, is about loving someone that isn’t good for you. On the heels of completing 2016’s “Double Edged” with collaborator Dan Spencer, Rider went straight to work producing their new project, opting for a team to further develop their sound. This extended the duration of the project significantly, ultimately taking four years to complete.
In December 2016, Rider began work with Mike Tierney, a Grammy-nominated producer, but left three years into the project due to artistic differences and the duration of the project itself, and LA-based producer David Mason took the reigns. The stop-go nature of the project was due to the financial difficulties of being an artist in a fast-paced environment in which the arts aren’t held to the same esteem as other occupations, along with creative discrepancies along the way. The final push to finish the album came in October 2018, when Rider began working with Brooklyn pop artist M the Myth and engineer and producer Nathan Feler.
Rider’s creative journey is reflected in the album itself. Similar to the work of Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell, and Imogen Heap, they powerfully illustrate their struggle with hypnotic, minor chords and abstractions. Their rhythm veers from aggressive and moody into a flamboyant, dance floor fantasy. “Temptation” exists to capture and develop mood and disregards traditional structure. “Words have never been my strong suit, but as an artist, I capture emotion with rhythm, sound, and texture,” Rider muses.
The album centers around falling for someone for all the wrong reasons, feeling like a secret in unrequited relationships, and ultimately searching for a fulfilling and healthy love. Rider cited severe emotional pain and turmoil throughout their years as inspiration for the project, struggling to find love while tackling the complexities of gender, sexuality, and artistry in a largely unaccepting society. Although finances served as a detriment and compromising factor throughout production, it was important for them to express their journey and with the support of their team and loved ones, was able to persevere and create a well-rounded and sonically challenging dream pop experience.
Michael Rider was born in Richmond, Virginia and migrated to New York City on a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts. They started performing at the Sidewalk Cafe, revered by the likes of Regina Spektor, The Moody Peaches, and Kimya Dawson. A visual artist as well as a singer-songwriter, they attribute their artistic development to the city, commenting that “[It] taught me that my artistic abilities come with boundaries. Even though living as an artist comes with its challenges, I cannot compromise my well-being. We live in a world where we don’t pay for music, but as an artist I can still thrive by confronting the truth and understanding temptation is an illusion. The key is to love, respect, and value oneself.”