Friday, April 19 2024

We’re thrilled we had a chat with indie artist Mikey J, a versatile multi-instrumentalist musician and producer from Melbourne, Australia. Drawing inspiration from legendary songwriters of bygone days, his family and personal experiences, he writes captivating songs mixing the styles of rock, blues, folk and funk. Among his standout tracks, ‘My Little Dragon Girl,’ stands tall with over 55,000 streams, marking a significant milestone in his musical journey.

Can you tell us more about the artist ‘Mikey J’?

I, Mikey J, started in lockdown – lots of time, not much to do, so picked up the guitar and started recording. I was originally going to just do instrumentals as I find lyric writing a little challenging, but an old student encouraged me to put that out of my mind and give it a go. Lockdown produced 4 albums in quick succession, each one getting a little bit better each time as I learned more about recording and, more importantly, mixing and producing. I’ve always enjoyed playing lots of different instruments, so what you hear is (mostly) me – guitar, bass, keys, cello, mandolin & ukulele have all featured with my playing, while drumming and some of the other instruments are programmed or midi, with a couple of collaborations with others as well!

What initially inspired you to pursue music?

Back as a child, music was always around. My dad was a phenomenal musician – piano, trumpet and drums were his bag – and mum was also pretty decent. I started out on piano and in a choir, before picking up the violin. That teacher made me stand all the time, so I switched to cello so I could sit! We had a Japanese exchange student stay with us when I was about 12 and dad bought a cheap acoustic guitar for him. That was the end really as it quickly became my favourite instrument. I played in a few bands through high school, with the main one (Blue Tracer) the beginnings of my own creativity. That album is still up on my BandCamp and is a very 90s teenage rock album. When I met my wife, she provided the spark to re-engage with songwriting as I finally had a muse! And then since lockdown I’ve found songwriting and creating a great way to escape from the day-to-day. I find it a great way to unwind, connect with others, and get the sounds out of my head.

What’s your inspiration?

Guitar playing-wise, my inspiration is and always have been, George Harrison. I just love his playing and ability to have the right part on a song at the right time. The Beatles were introduced to me from my mum as a young fella and what they could do with a couple of chords and an imagination is just mind blowing. To get from ‘Love Me Do’ to ‘Strawberry Fields’ in the space of 5 years or so is incredible and they have always been a source of inspiration. Other bands and artists that have influenced me are pretty varied – Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Ben Folds, You Am I, The Cat Empire to name a few, along with some of the legends I’ve met on social media – The Future Us, Kelly Kintner, The Perics, Scoopski, Marc Schuster, Brian Lambert, Joe Peacock, the Sky Diving Penguins, Cosmic Bos and so many more! In terms of my lyrical content, my main muse as I said is my wife! I often describe my tracks a ‘sappy love songs’ as most are about her.

What’s a song that you wish you had written yourself? And why?

Something by the Beatles. I just love the progression, the gorgeous guitar solo, phenomenal bass line and sappy love song lyrics.

You have released a good few some songs. Is there a song or album you are the most proud of?

That’s a really hard question! I’m really proud of my first release, ‘ISO-inspiration’, even with its flaws as it was the one that got me going! The other one is probably ‘Suburban Musings’ as that’s when I finally figured out a minuscule amount of mixing (thanks to @mixedbyadam) and was able to release something that was somewhat professional sounding! The fact that I have songs and albums out there means I’m proud of them as I wouldn’t release if I wasn’t happy with what I’d done (at the time at least). Probably my most proud achievement is winning the Best Single (Public Vote) for ‘My Little Dragon Girl’ in the inaugural Lights & Lines Album Writing Club Challenge. This has allowed me to release an album through a pretty cool indie label.

How do you see the future of indie music?

Another tough question with so much uncertainty around at the moment with Bandcamp’s take over, Spotify trying to screw us indies and the general challenge of getting heard through the millions of songs released each year! What I do know is that there are so many artists who will keep going because it’s in their DNA to create and release music – me included. I think there will always be some platform that will rise up for a time, then maybe a different one, and another again. Indies will adapt and keep putting out our music.

Can you tell us if you are working on new stuff? Are there any new releases planned?

I have my next album – ‘Muffet Way’ – finished and off getting mastered and hopefully might be released on Lights and Lines in the new year. Pretty proud of this one as I think it might be some of my most sophisticated lyric writing, and there are some pretty cool solos and collaborations in there too. I’ve also got about 25 other songs in some stage of production for the next release (or more) after that!

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About Author

Gee Nelson

Gee Nelson has been a musician, producer and songwriter since the '90’s. Besides music Gee loves reading, writing, watching British sitcoms and playing board games. His biggest influences are Green Day, Nirvana, Offspring and Eels. His favourite genre is 90’s and early 00’s (indie) rock.

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