Mic Check: K Michelle DuBois feeling the musical ‘Fever’ on upcoming album

Atlanta singer K Michelle DuBois has a new album, "The Fever Returns," due in February 2021.
Atlanta singer K Michelle DuBois has a new album, "The Fever Returns," due in February 2021.

Credit: Allyson Reeves

Credit: Allyson Reeves

Editor’s note: With live music and concert reviews on hold due to COVID-19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is focusing on how Georgia musicians are spending their time in our feature, Mic Check.

From Ultrababyfat in the late ’90s to Luigi in the early aughts to a well-regarded solo run that continues with her upcoming fourth solo album, K Michelle DuBois’ accomplishments are vast.

Born in Oklahoma, raised in Tennessee and an Atlanta resident since forming Ultrababyfat with longtime friend and collaborator Shonali Bhowmik (in 2001, the band was the rare female-fronted outfit on the traveling rock caravan known as the Warped Tour), DuBois is still happily creating.

Her new album, “The Fever Returns” — due Feb. 12 — is another collaboration with producer/engineer Dan Dixon, a lifelong friend she refers to as a “sound artist.” The pair artfully blends DuBois’ ’90s rock sensibilities with her affinity for ’80s music on songs such as “Heaven,” with its Police-like guitar, and “Waves Break,” which sounds influenced by the best of Duran Duran and the Thompson Twins.

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Though she has been off the road most of 2020 — her last gig, a duo performance with husband Jim Prible on bass, was in Savannah in February — DuBois is looking forward to the release of “The Fever Returns” while trying to craft a video for the title track and pondering a livestream performance upon its arrival.

She recently chatted from her Atlanta home about the album’s title, her current musical selections and the timely Police cover available on her website.

Q: Your new album comes out in February, but was it also delayed from 2020?

A: Everybody was focused on so many other things — politics and the pandemic — and it didn’t feel like the right time to put new music out. Baby Robot (Media) wanted to help me with distribution and PR, so we worked out a new timeframe for getting it out. In the midst of this, my husband and I had to move into a smaller place (while getting things done to our house), so I don’t have my home studio right now and I’m working off of a little laptop.

Q: It’s kind of of eerie that the album title was inspired by sickness you dealt with in 2019, considering what so many people experienced in 2020.

A: I had strep throat for a few weeks and before that I had a fever and I just had convinced myself it was because the pollen was so bad. But it came back and I said to myself, “The fever returns!” I was spending so much time by myself and at that point I was kind of in writing mode and my guitar was always out and I started writing that (title) song. A recurring thing with me is being thankful that I keep finding the desire and the passion to create music. I feel like it can’t be ignored when it does come up with me.

Q: You have a cover of The Police’s “Truth Hits Everybody” on your website (kmichelledubois.com). Were they part of your ’80s influences?

A: I’m a huge Police fan. That cover is one of the ones I produced in my home studio and took it to Dan to do the mixing. I was thinking right now, what do we want more than anything? We want the truth. I figured sooner or later the truth is going to hit everyone in the face, so it’s so appropriate for right now. I wanted to transform it.

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Q: What have you been listening to?

A: Recently I asked Alexa to play me some Dr. Hook and it was cracking me up and I was enamored. But my husband and I both have loved the new album by The Weeknd (“After Hours”). I also listen to Stevie Nicks — I play a mix of her stuff all the time — and Fleetwood Mac. I’m enjoying Siouxsie and the Banshees. I’m always listening to ’80s music mixed in there. There are a couple of songs that I brought up in the studio where I was like, ‘I love this guitar tone from Killing Joke.’ I’ve got to say, we pretty much nailed it!

Q: You moved here from Nashville when you were a teenager, but what kept you here when Shonali moved to New York?

A: Before I moved to Atlanta, I was in Santa Cruz (California). I did that thing where you graduate from college and go West and work in a coffee shop for a year and stay stoned the whole time. But there came a time that I had to get away from a dude and if I didn’t go to the other side of the country we’d never break up! I thought Atlanta would be temporary. It’s the friends that I’ve become so close to. Shonali is my closest friend, but I kind of knew that maybe it was time for us not to be attached at the hip. I came to Atlanta with her so she could go to law school at Emory. I’m lucky that she’s in New York because I love it there and I can visit, but I never felt like I wanted to live there.

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