Interview: Micki X0

Micki X0 is a talented producer based in Portland, who recently released a song titled Light Me Up. I wanted to know a little more, so I decided to have a chat with Micki X0. See how we got on below!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a song titled Light Me Up, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about this song and where can it be purchased?

Thank you for asking about it! The song is basically about numbing the pain of your problems through substances. I’m bipolar, and before I reached a healthy place with my mental illness, I threw myself into substances to self-medicate. I really want to emphasize, though, that this is very unhealthy and that it is not meant to glamorize substance abuse. It is meant as a letter of understanding to those going through something similar. If you are going through something similar, make sure to see a professional and create an environment that keeps you away from substances and this mentality. It’s not easy, but it’s incredibly important and you will definitely be much happier in the long run. As for where to find the song, it’s available on all streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, or wherever you listen to music! There’s also a video for it on YouTube (my first music video!), and I encourage fans to check it out, as the visuals really do enhance the experience of the song.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

This is a great question! Honestly, it’s different every time, but one thing that is consistent, is that I usually start with a concept of what I want the song to be about. Sometimes, that concept comes in the form of a full song being written in ten minutes (like my debut single Why Did I Stay?, and sometimes it comes from going through bits and pieces of lyrics I’ve written, finding a concept in them that speaks to me, and then writing a song around that. From there, I make a simple vocal melody that I bring to the producer I’m working with, along with some songs of inspiration (this usually means I hear a small note or sound in that song that I like, or the feeling that it gives me), and we build a beat from there before recording the final vocals for the track. I like to stress that I am as involved as possible, but it’s a collaborative effort. I don’t usually do it alone. The producer for this track is Make Music or Die, someone I work with very often, and he is very talented!

Are there any plans to release an album or EP anytime soon?

No plans for an album or EP yet, but it’s definitely in the cards one day! I would ideally liked to be signed to a label or have a much bigger following before that next step. A LOT of time, money, and effort goes into an album or EP, and I’m just not sure I’m ready for it quite yet.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

Honestly, it’s quite the opposite! I got started with music because of the pandemic. About two years before the pandemic, I was in a really dark and terrible situation. I didn’t have any idea who I was, what I wanted, or how to feel like I wasn’t just completely broken and a shell of a human. I knew I liked to sing, and I stumbled upon a local karaoke bar. It took a few months, but life started to turn around. I found a place where I could be happy, and I every night I was there (about 3 nights a week), I felt like I was slowly becoming more confident and like I had a place to just be myself in. Obviously, karaoke didn’t mix well with the pandemic, and I felt lost again for a while. But, I knew singing was a big part of what was helping me to learn about and love myself, so I thought I’d take a shot at creating my own music. A friend of a friend through karaoke introduced me to Make Music or Die (a producer), and then Micki XO was born. So, the pandemic didn’t only not hinder me, it birthed me and my music.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

I do have plans to release more singles! I actually am looking forward to releasing my next one in September. My birthday is September 30th, and I try to release a single on my birthday each year. The next track I have in store is called Fake Gold, and I’m really excited to share it with the world!

You’re based in Portland – what is the local music scene like?

The music scene here is very tight knit. I’ve only been doing music live for about a year now (and primarily in the summer time), but I have quickly learned that the artists in Portland are all very connected! Once you do a show or two, if you network right, you can usually meet someone who will want to collaborate with you or introduce you to someone who’s looking to put on a show. I haven’t met a single musician here that I don’t like. Everyone I’ve met is very supportive and very inclusive. It’s a pretty small scene here, but once you start to break into it, you really get to meet a lot of wonderful and talented people.

Your music is quite unique – it features elements of pop and electronica but I also felt it was quite atmospheric. What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

Thank you for the compliment! I try to keep my music unique, yet relatable. Just the other day, someone described it as “dream pop with an industrial strangeness”, and I think it’s the perfect way to describe it. I’m influenced by a lot of things, honestly, but I think the biggest influence for me is creating music that makes someone out there feel like they’re not alone. While I was in a dark place due to being bipolar, I felt like no one understood what I was going through or how I felt. I heard a song by Halsey, who is also bipolar, called Control, and for the first time, I felt like someone understood me. Like I wasn’t alone. I want to make music that make someone feel that way. I’m influenced by important topics in the world. I’m influenced by interactions with others around me. I’m influenced the thoughts I feel like I couldn’t share outside of lyrics. In terms of what music I listen to, I’d say it’s all over the place, but the artists that never fail to inspire me are Halsey (of course!), Billie Eilish, Amy Winehouse, Eminem, and Lupe Fiasco… just to name a few! Really, any time I hear a song that inspires me, I make a note of it. And the list is HUGE!!

You seem to tour quite a lot. What are your shows like and why do you think people should come and see you perform?

It honestly depends on the venue and the crowd. Is it a club? Is this a dive bar? Do these people want me to pump up the party or to have me perform something that they can have in the background while they chat? I like to tailor the experience to the setting and the people, so that they can get the most out of it. I usually perform in more club-like settings while in Portland. I keep it upbeat and exciting. When I perform in a more intimate space, like The Barn at Hickory Station in Albany, OR, I keep it upbeat and exciting, of course, but it’s much more laid back and intimate. I’d say that people should come and watch me perform, because I the experience of the sound vibrating the floor or the connection I get to experience when locking eyes with concert-goers really enhances the music. If you ever felt like you connected with me digitally – just wait until you see me in person! Not to mention, I really love meeting fans and am always excited to chat after a show and get to know people better. So, it’s a great way to connect with me on a more human level as well!

Do you have any tour dates lined up in the UK?

Oh man! I would kill to have tour dates in the UK! Unfortunately, not yet. But if you’re looking for an edgy dream pop musician to perform for you in the UK, then contact me immediately!

Any last words for the fans?

Are we at the part for last words already? This interview went by too fast! I guess what I would like to leave everyone with is this: from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read this and learn more about me. Thank you for your time and support to listen to my music or attend shows. Just thank you. I am nothing without the amazing people who I get to work with or the amazing people who support me – whether it’s streaming, shows, social media, kind messages etc. You are so important to me, and I can never say thank you enough!