Michelle is a classically trained cellist, contractor, and arranger residing in the greater Los Angeles area. With an impressive resume of orchestral, chamber, pop, rock, and jazz experience, Michelle is lauded for her versatility and adaptability on the cello.

While she can hang with the traditional ensembles, Michelle's favorite music is the living stuff: contemporary pop, hip hop, film scores, EDM, rock, and more. She plays alternative styles of music with the electric, all-female string ensemble, Electric Angels. Michelle has played for orchestral and solo sessions for Riot Games' "League of Legends", she has participated in Hollywood Scoring's Future Session Players Clinic under the baton of Bruce Broughton. She has played for FX and the Hallmark Channel and has been hired for session work at Sony Pictures, The Bridge, Warner Bros, The Village Recorder, and many more.

Michelle has been featured in music videos for the American electronicore band, I See Stars, and has played onstage with the Columbian-American DJ, Erick Morillo. She has played with legendary hip-hop artist, Coolio. She has played sessions for major video games and prime time television. She was a consultant and stand-in for the character Janine (Ren Harris) on the Feeln original series, "The Eleventh", and has worked on set with Cloris Leachman and Florence Henderson. She is currently the band cellist for the pop artist, Maisy Kay, cellist for the band MetronOhm. She is a section musician for the Loft Sessions, directed by composer Evan Chapman, which has been featured on NPR. She is well on her way to a successful career in the LA music industry.

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Interview with Michelle Packman, cello

Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I loved playing with the Maisy Kay band, the other musicians are killer and we have a great time acting like fools haha!
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on too many things to list. haha, I've had about 10 sessions in the last two weeks, have some string arranging and a video shoot coming up, currently setting up a session contracting service for string players called Lushify String, etc etc. I work typically 7 days a week.
Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
Jonas Petersen, composer/producer ("You deserve an orchestra"), Kiara Ana Perico, violinist. They are both fantastic!
Analog or digital and why?
Both!
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
Competence, quality, musicianship. Full refund if you are still not satisfied.
What do you like most about your job?
Session work. If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, it would be session work.
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
If I can play certain songs. YES! I can play anything! haha
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
I feel most people's conception of cello is very limited. I try to provide options and advice when I am asked or believe it is appropriate. Strings can of course produce beautiful, lush sounds, but they can also be heavy, gritty, soulful, etc.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
If the job is open-ended, mostly stylistic questions, to provide examples, etc.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
It will save me time (and therefore you money) if you can provide as much info about what you'd like as possible. The best possible scenario is stems with just the parts you want me to play and written notation. If you can't do that, no problem at all, I can arrange as well, but as it will take more time, it will be more expensive.
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
Lucky for me I would only need my cello and my bow, but the sand and salty air is actually really bad for the instrument, so this question is kind of whack.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I never knew exactly what I wanted to do with the cello until I was out of school. As a child, orchestral playing was all that was available to me, so I took for granted that I could do so much more. But I always loved populist music, I listened to so many musical styles growing up and after graduation, I began to love working with living musicians and composers. I started violin at 8 years old and switched to the cello at 12. I studied jazz guitar, viola, and flute somewhere in there too. In college I learned piano and have always loved exploring other instruments. I graduated in 2012 and have been playing non-stop ever since.
How would you describe your style?
I can play any style yo! But I tend to like thoughtful, compositional soloing and melodies.
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I love working with all of my clients. I love meeting new people and collaborating, spreading positivity and building community through music production is one of the joys of being alive for me. I love pop and neo-soul, I love creating lush layered arrangements. A great example of this is the work I did with a guitarist/producer Juan Carreno Ariza, Nigel Tay's "Love Out Loud" was great.
Can you share one music production tip?
For cello, mic placement is super important. For acoustic cello, use an omnimic close to the bridge angles slightly towards the right f-hole of the cello. This is the side of the cello with the bass bar, plus, the cellist won't hit your equipment with their bow. A room mic is great too; the length of the fundamental frequency of the lowest note (c2) at equal temperament is approx 5.3 meters or 17.31 feet. For electric cello, the best electric hands down is the NS design CR series. I endorse the NS CR4. A direct signal combined with a mic on the bridge (tweak of course for balance) produces a beautiful consistent tone, which can be difficult to achieve with an acoustic. I have recorded this way with Riot Games for League of Legends and the results are stunning.
What type of music do you usually work on?
There is never a typical setting. I can do orchestral, cinematic, hip hop, rock, pop, indie, folk.... really anything.
What's your strongest skill?
I'm communicative, professional, honest, and on time. As for playing, my strongest skill is my ability to be flexible in my interpretations and not take criticism personally. I dislike drama.
What do you bring to a song?
I'd like to believe that my strength is my expressiveness and tone. I spent years and years and painstaking deep practice honing my tone, I think that is one of the most definitive facets of cello and where the woul of the instrument is, the tone is so damn beautiful. Tone is typically the thing clients think of when they hire a cellist so I take pride in delivering something really soulful.
What's your typical work process?
All I need is a track. Send me a track and I can either arrange the part or learn a part my client has already written. I can learn by ear or read notation. I am also comfortable with improvising if that is the feel the client wants.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I have the basic setup to record remotely. Listing gear is boring, if you really need to know, hit me up.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Right now I'm really into string arranging for contemporary music, especially neo-soul and R&B, but I love working in all genres. It's the variety that is so inspiring to me. I love pushing my boundaries.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
The highlight of my job is that there are no highlights! I play in so many different scenarios, from corporate events, trade shows, sessions, concerts, weddings.... As for production, I can record my acoustics or my electric. I have been recording since I was about 12 or so, so I have a lot of experience with proper micing. I own a contracting business with great LA session players so I can put together ensembles as well.