Michael Cera Q&A: His Debut Album & The 'Stigma' of Actor/Musicians

Michael Cera photographed in 2012.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Michael Cera poses for a portrait during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. 

'If you put something out, you're inviting people to perceive you a certain way,' he tells Billboard of 'true that.'

Up until now, actor Michael Cera's flirtation with music has been mild, relegated to backup vocals on Weezer's 2010 track "Hang On" and stints with bands Mister Heavenly and The Long Goodbye. But on Aug. 8, the 26-year-old released his bedroom-skuzzed debut album true that to Bandcamp quietly, amplified four days later when friend Jonah Hill tweeted a link to his 4.42 million followers. Currently in New York for a Broadway stint in This Is Our Youth, Cera explained to Billboard how his nighttime hobby became a 17-track LP.

Listen to Michael Cera's Debut Album

Did you go into writing songs for this in anticipation of recording this project and releasing a full-length album?

No, there was no intention of that at all. It was just that I'd amassed all of these tracks that I like enough to put out. All of these were compiled over a couple of years.

What was your intention to release it?

I didn't really think of it as releasing something. It was just something that you post online. I really didn't even consider it an album, so much as some of my musical efforts put onto a page and organized as an album. That's what I like about Bandcamp, is that you could pay for it if you feel like it. It's like a donation, almost, or you could stream it there for free. I've been sharing music with friends for a long time, for years. I like getting feedback from friends and nice encouragement and I made this Bandcamp page and sent it to a couple of friends and said, "Here's a bunch of my music compiled." Jonah tweeted it, which was nice, because he brought it to a lot of people's attention and that was really cool. I like that people like the sound.

On Bandcamp, you tagged your album with the words "dirty" and "modest."

I guess that's how I would describe it. It's very dirty sounding, it's very sloppy. It's modest. It's not really dressed up in any way. It was to manage people's expectations.

That being said, now that the music is out, would you consider going into a studio and working with an established producer and making a polished album?

I don't really know right now. Honestly, there's a terrible stigma that if you're an actor or something, and you're going to make some [polished music], it's just kind of embarrassing no matter what the result. It makes me cringe just to think about that. Maybe that's not smart to share, but that's how it is. I kind of have that sense of that myself. I don't know. If you put something out, you're inviting people to perceive you a certain way. I don't have too much of an interest in that.