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Micky James

21st July 2023

Interview: Flora Grafton

Photo Credit: Skylar Watkins

While this generation is flooded with extreme talent, it seems late 20th century rock is the hardest era to emulate – until now.

New-Yorker, Micky James, has risen to fame with his modern reinvention of the previous rock-n-roll era. James’s background in theatre and performing arts is channelled through his music, bringing an element of contemporary pop into his darker and mysterious sounds, and sees no sign of stopping ahead of his new EP release, Loner of the Year.

The artist draws inspiration from musical legends, such as David Bowie and Julian Casablancas, and has amassed over 24,000 monthly listeners of Spotify. At just 30 years old, James has taken the music industry by storm and, while he may dress like Mick Jagger, the artist brings a sense relatability and youth to his music.

His sound is experimental and endearing, and balances the passion and rawness of 1960s/70s rock with the fun and honesty often found in 21st century music.

Hi Micky, how are you?

I'm doing great, thank you.

Great! So, I’m here to talk to you about your new release, "Loner of the Year". To start, can you talk me through the journey of the EP – what was the inspiration for it and how has it transformed from birth to release?

A majority of the songs on the EP came to fruition in 2020. Most of the songs on the EP came from a reflective place. For myself, there was a lot of time during that year to reflect on the past and acknowledge some of the holes that I needed to patch up internally. I've always had the idea of packaging these songs into a body of work because of the time in which I wrote them, so when the concept came to be of putting an EP together a little less than a year ago, It felt necessary to let these songs see the light of day. 

And what would you say this project reflects? Is there a side to you within this work that you want to project out for the fans to listen to? Any particular message you’re wanting to convey?

I'm not sure I would say there's an overall message that the EP conveys but I was quite reflective of my past when writing these songs. In some songs than others I touch upon the feelings of loss and longing and reflecting on my past as a young adult. 

If you could describe this production in 3 words, what would they be?

Glamorous, Dirty, Pop

Can I ask you what your childhood looked like and how it shaped your love for music?

I grew up in a very musical family which led me to picking up the guitar at a very young age. My dad introduced me to The Beatles first, and my cousins and uncle introduced me to a variety of different artists- such as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana etc. 

Who was your musical muse? Are there particular artists that inspire your sound/creativity?

David Bowie has always been a big force on how I approach being an artist. He always had this amazing ability to be aware of fashion and music that's making its way into our culture. He was never really caught up in trends and was always interested in moving the needle to some degree. 

What made you want to pursue music full time and how did you take the leap to do so? 

Since I came from a pretty musical family - from my teenage years on I performed in many bands which led me to drop out of school and pursue music professionally. From there it was a whirlwind: I started my first band as a frontman and got signed to a major label. Eventually, that group disbanded, leading me to my current project as a solo artist.

You’re still young, how have you found the journey to getting to where you are now in your career?

It's been fulfilling. I feel like I've gotten to the point in my journey where I can express myself and my art exactly the way I've always intended it to be. I'm excited to see the growth in the project and where it will take me next. 

Is there anything or any decisions you’ve made thus far that you’d advise people trying to get into the industry not to make?

I believe it is always important to be open minded and accepting of advice to grow but It's also incredibly important to be aware of your own path as an artist and what it is that you're trying to convey. There were definitely moments in my past where I listened to too many opinions of what I should be and how I should sound and that could be extremely dangerous. The liberty I found in starting this journey as a solo artist is that I can be whoever and whatever I want to be. 

What advice would you give to someone trying to enter the industry? 

I think my advice to someone entering this business is that I think it's important to be in tune with music and culture that's about to make its way up and not so invested in trends. I believe it's important to be aware of what's happening around us but it's just as important to be aware of art and culture that's evolving and inspiring. 

To end the interview:- What has been your greatest memory or milestone of the journey so far? 

This project has been on a journey for quite some time now so all of the tiny stepping stone victories have been wonderful memories, so it's hard to say. A more recent milestone that occurred was performing at a venue in New York City that has been on my bucket list venues to play since I was a teenager going to shows. I did a short run with Joe Perry of Aerosmith In April and we did a show at Webster Hall. I've been to countless shows there and as a native of the city it felt like a small victory to me. My 17 year old self would be quite proud. 

Thanks so much for your time, Micky. I can’t wait for the release and for everyone else to hear the EP.

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This conversation took place prior to writer's strike.

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