Mikey Wax

If 2010 is any indicator, 2011 is going to be huge for one Mikey Wax. The guy was a song making machine, releasing a 6-song EP titled “For Better Or Worse” in February that ranked on the iTunes top 100 pop albums in the US and Canada, followed by another 6-song EP just two months later titled “The Traveler”. It all came to a head when his music video for the tune “In Case I Go Again” was featured front and center on YouTube’s homepage (talk about an endorsement!), garnering nearly half a million hits within the week.

Wax’s “The Traveler” comes a long way from his debut record, “Change Again”, which was released in 2008. “Change Again” saw some big success, ranking as high as #46 on the Top 100 iTunes Pop chart in the US, UK, Canada and Australia… but fell short in the eyes of Mr. Wax. He says “’Change Again’ is my baby. I spent nearly two years recording that album. ‘Change Again’ is everything I wanted to be but couldn't fully attain at the place I was in as a musician and person.” “The Traveler” defines Wax a bit more clearly – and he got into what to expect with us: “‘The Traveler’ was an idea I had to record 6 songs I wrote where the lyrics contained different places and concepts/stories behind those destinations. I think in the record I supposedly traveled to California, Israel, Berlin, Peru, Alabama, and maybe one or two more...oh and the moon. At the time, only Alabama was true, but I guess the EP was more about wanting to live, learn more, see more, feeling both independent and grown up.”

Like I said, 2011 looks like the year of Mikey Wax, as he works to finalize his second full-length studio album. Keep an eye out and check out the new EP’s. There’s so much more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Mikey Wax

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Mikey Wax (MW): I'd like to think my sound is somewhere along the lines of artistic/melodic pop music, where the lyrics are honest and meaningful. People have told me my music is sensual, which I guess is good. I hope what separates me is that my music can fit all seasons, can inspire and also relax you, can be put on at the beach or before you go to sleep.

PEV: What kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?

MW: Growing up I listened mostly to the Beatles, Billy Joel, Elton John, and James Taylor. Being from Long Island and playing the piano, it was pretty much standard to know every Billy Joel song. I knew all the Beatles songs by the time I was ten, which I owe a thank you to my older brother Evan for constantly playing around the house.

PEV: What was it like for you when you first started out? Any "war stories" or lessons learned starting out in the business?

MW: Not sure I'm out of the "starting out" phase just yet. I've been able to spread my music to a good number of people the past year and a half, but there's still so much more I hope to do this year to break out even further. It's always a tough battle for an independent artist. The hardest part for me up to this point was finding and building an audience, being comfortable performing live, surrounding myself with the right team, and finding ways to promote new albums.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself - "I am really onto something!"?

MW: The first time I remember thinking I was onto something was when I wrote "Last Great Song" as a freshman in college, and all my friends in the dorm kept requesting to hear the song. It was a real song, with people singing the lyrics back to me. It let me know that I could potentially write songs that lots of people would want to hear. As far as my overall career, I saw a big jump when the music video for my song "In Case I Go Again" was featured on the homepage of YouTube last summer getting almost half a million hits in a week.

PEV: With that, what can fans expect from a live Mikey Wax show?

MW: When I go to a live show, I like to be inspired.  I'd like to hope my shows make you feel something inside, even if I'm not perfect, I hope that passion shines through.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

MW: Don't suck.

PEV: Any preshow rituals before going on stage or do you just wing it?

MW: I usually just wing it. Everything, from the set list to the solos. That's the advantage to doing mostly acoustic shows... there's a freedom and spontaneity to it, but it's also a style that fits my personality.  I enjoy playing with a band too, and in those cases we rehearse for the show and stick to a set list.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

MW: It's tough to say because I've been writing songs since I was ten. I'd say I've always been a storyteller with a big imagination...I used to make up elaborate lies as a kid in elementary school. I once had the whole grade believing hockey star Wayne Gretzky was sleeping over my house for the week.  That being said, I've also always had a reflectionate/sweeter side to me, which I think comes out more through my music.

PEV: Tell us about your latest release, "The Traveler EP". What can fans expect from this work?

MW: "The Traveler" was an idea I had to record 6 songs I wrote where the lyrics contained different places and concepts/stories behind those destinations. I think in the record I supposedly traveled to California, Israel, Berlin, Peru, Alabama, and maybe one or two more...oh and the moon. At the time, only Alabama was true, but I guess the EP was more about wanting to live, learn more, see more, feeling both independent and grown up. The inspiration came from my first real year of touring and being on the road...all the faces I had met, and people I had the chance to play for. I really wanted to make an album that had more of a 70's singer/songwriter style, and I think I captured that best in the song "Birmingham".

PEV: How is "The Traveler", different from your debut 2008 release, "Change Again" which ranked at #46 in the Top 100 iTunes Pop chart in US, UK, Canada and Australia? How have you changed from that work?

MW: "Change Again" is my baby. I spent nearly two years recording that album. Change Again is everything I wanted to be but couldn't fully attain at the place I was in as a musician and person. As much as I love that album, I have a tough time listening back because I still here hear small fixes I would make. It was a strive for perfection. Change Again was chosen as the title not just because it was a lyric from a song on the album, but because of everything at the time.... having just graduated college, joining the real world, and also my artistic mind changing things in each songs a thousand and one times before I could live with it. I've changed again (no pun intended) a lot since that album. I'm much more confident with my sound and performing. I have a much better idea of what I'm going for now then I did then.

PEV: What's one thing we'd be surprised to hear about Mikey Wax?

MW: I was a hockey player my entire life, until I was 17 when I broke my wrist and the fear of not being able to play piano scared the shi* out of me, so I quit.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

MW: I always knew, but I didn't know in what respect. I never thought I would develop the courage to sing...I thought I might just be a piano player in a rock band. I'd still like to write movie scores. I think that would be cool.

PEV: What one word best describes Mikey Wax?

MW: Humble.

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

MW: I truly enjoy being on the open road, playing music every night, and meeting all different kinds of people and learning their stories. Plus everyone seems to be really happy when I get back home, so I like to keep my friends and family missing me because I know they'll get sick of me after I'm back home for a week.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

MW: I just had the opportunity to play 8 shows throughout California, which I had always wanted to do. However, I didn't have the chance to make it as far as Seattle, WA, which I've always heard great things about for music. I think it would be pretty cool to tour in Australia or the UK!

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What's it like when you get to play at your hometown?

MW: I have the most supportive and caring family and friends. I don't think there's a day on the road when I don't speak to someone in my family, or talk to my friends. Plus, my manager is my younger brother, Jonny, so it's pretty much impossible to escape my family. I used to not enjoy playing shows at home because I felt like I could only let everyone down if it wasn't my best performance, however, I've learned to embrace it and enjoy the moments we're all together in the same room.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

MW: Oh man...The funny thing about being an independent musician is it's a 24 hour thing, although you don't get paid for all those hours. I'm totally fine with that because it's both a job and a passion, and I absolutely love it. If I'm not playing or writing, I'm either rehearsing, working on the tour schedule, writing back to e-mails, adding e-mails to the e-mail list, recording demos, and anything else musician related...I try to do 30 push ups every morning though!  I'd say my biggest hobby outside all that is people watching while sipping a cup of coffee. I'm very fascinated by the way we all lead different lives, yet how connected we all are this day in age.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

MW: I need to listen to more music. I'm very much in my own world. Um, I'm really enjoying singer/songwriter Andrew Belle's current album.

PEV: If you weren't playing music now what do you think you would be doing as your career?

MW: I'm not a desk person. I'd probably enjoy opening a restaurant or starting a business. Something that involves creativity. Maybe develop a ride at Disney World.

PEV: So, what is next for Mikey Wax?

MW: I'm currently finishing the songs for my 2nd full-length album which I'll be recording this spring! I'm excited to record the album with producer Warren Huart who has previously worked with the Fray and Augustana.  I want my next record to build upon what I've done so far by adding a little more pop and up-tempo songs, and I think Warren and I are going to make an awesome album together!

For more information on Mikey Wax, visit www.MikeyWax.com

 

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