Interview with Guelph Singer/Songwriter Mikalyn
With more than a combined 2.7 MILLION streams on Spotify and concert appearances alongside the likes of Tyler Shaw, Scott Helman, and Virginia to Vegas under her belt, Guelph-based singer-songwriter Mikalyn has just taken the biggest leap of her career with her new indie-pop single “Blame.” We had the opportunity to interview Mikalyn during this exciting time, which can be read below.
Mikalyn’s ascent in the music business has been, in some respects, an atypical journey thus far. She gained an initial unconventional foothold when a Brazilian re-
cord label discovered her original, piano-driven music on Soundcloud and offered to transform them into EDM hits. What followed were monster collaborations with the likes of Zuffo, Diskover, Ownboss, and Evokings.
On “Blame,” Mikalyn strikes chords capable of resonating with anyone who has dealt with heartbreak in their life. Displaying an emotional maturity well beyond her 19 years, the track documents the grieving process following a relationship breakdown in which harsh realities are faced and former truths get called into question.
Mikalyn’s ethereal vocal harmonies dominate the track as she asserts control over her destiny and refuses to capitulate to guilt over the relationship’s demise.
“Many people have experienced that moment when they realize they taken on too much burden in a relationship, blaming themselves for things that are not in their control, and wanting it to work so bad that they sacrifice themselves in the process. This song is about putting an end to that,” explains Mikalyn.
The captivating video for “Blame” lends gravitas to the track, providing snapshots of the relationship’s happier times before the clip culminates in the cathartic burning
of mementos. There is a haunting beauty to the video that will resonate with viewers on many levels. On the cusp of what is arguably the biggest turning point in the singer’s career to date, “Blame” is a calling card of profound significance for Mikalyn, as she confidently finds her true artistic voice. Click below to watch Blame and keep scrolling for our interview with Mikalyn where we discuss the new single, turning piano driven music into EDM hits, her favourite live performance moment and much more.
Interview with Mikalyn
You’ve got a new single “Blame” out, what was the inspiration behind the lyrics to the song?
I wrote Blame back in January of this year with my co-writer and friend Chris. It was partially inspired by my life, but also my friends’ life and relationship. Blame is essentially about reaching a breaking point in a relationship, when you are tired of always excusing their actions or wrongdoings and taking them on yourself. I feel like lots of people do this so that their partner isn’t seen in a negative light, but you can only take on so much before it starts to become a burden. Blame is all about that feeling!
The song mixes a variety of elements from different genres, can you tell us your writing process and how you put them all together?
When I write, especially with Chris, we usually start with a blank slate. He’ll come up with a track and I’ll start freestyling different lyrics and melodies until we find one that we like. I listen to a very wide variety of genres, so I think that helps me in my writing. I have so many different influences, and like to include lots of harmonies and atmospheric bits so it all comes together naturally!
You recently performed at Western University, how was the feeling of performing live again?
It feels great! I’ve been lucky enough to do a few shows over the last few months, and I really missed it. There’s just something about being able to sing directly to an audience instead of a screen. There’s always excitement when you’re sharing a space with someone.
Brazilian label Reven Beats discovered your piano-driven music on Soundcloud and offered to transform your piano driven tracks into EDM hits, leading to monster collaborations with the likes of Zuffo, Diskover, Ownboss, and Evokings. What were your first thoughts when approached with the idea?
I really didn’t know what to expect. Initially, when Reven approached me they wanted to remix some songs off an EP I wrote with Chris called “Love Again.” The songs weren’t doing too much, so I thought “what do I have to lose?” It was really cool seeing them transform the first few tracks, and they were doing really well so I started sending them more and more songs! Collaboration has always been very important to me, so it seemed like a natural next step, and I’m really glad I said yes in hindsight.
Did that experience affect your music and songwriting going forward?
I think since I only ever sent them demos, of just vocals and piano, it didn’t affect my writing personally. However, through collaborating I gained more experience in the EDM genre. That allowed me to learn how to topline for EDM specific songs a lot better, which has been super helpful.
How was the experience of shooting the music video for “Blame”?
Shooting Blame was super fun! We have a pretty small crew – myself, my dad, Chris Grey (the co-writer/producer of Blame), and Chris’ mom. We are all super close, and that way all hands are on deck. Everyone has a different role to help the shoot go smoothly. Blame was shot over 2 days, and the first day we shot at Studio Bon Soleil in Toronto. We had a basic idea of the shots we wanted to get, but once we were actually in the space we thought of even more! Our shoots tend to be relaxed – sometimes new ideas are added, others are scrapped. The second day we shot outside, which was more of a challenge because we were in a race against the sun, it was super hot out and we had to shoot a fire scene. We also had to get a subway scene, and we ended up shooting it at 11pm to make sure it would be as empty as possible! Overall, I love shooting videos because it’s a way to bring the song to life visually.
What is one of your favourite memories from the shoot?
I have a lot of great memories from the shoot, so I’ll name a few. The first was shooting the fire scene because we didn’t know what to expect. It was really funny, because we were all getting swarmed with bugs, and rationing our water because we didn’t know if we brought a lot to put the fire out. The fire ended up being a lot bigger than anticipated, and you can actually see me look up at one point towards the end of the video – that was me checking if the tree branches above me were okay. Another favourite memory was at the end of shooting, Chris and I walked over to our favourite food place, The Bagel House. It’s open 24 hours, and was a great way to end the shoot. Every single time we do anything – hang out, photoshoots, writing sessions, we have to go to the Bagel House at least once.
You’ve played alongside huge artists like Tyler Shaw, Scott Helman, and Virginia to Vegas. Can you share one of your favourite live music memories with us?
Those were all such amazing experiences! I would say one of my favourite live music memories was the gig with Tyler Shaw, LivLoveLyrics. All the opening acts shared a dressing room, and I got to meet such cool people. It was my biggest stage at that point, and the first time I ever got my makeup done professionally, so it was a big deal for me. Performing in a setting like that was so surreal, and it’s something I’ll cherish forever.
Do you remember your first live performance? How did it go?
I actually do remember my first live performance! It was for my kindergarten talent show, and I was 5. I sang “Irish Lullaby,” because it was the only song I knew back to front. I closed the show, and I still remember the feeling after. I was so excited to be singing for people, and I felt super proud. After that, I never looked back!
You’re based out of Guelph, what is the city like?
Guelph is a very artsy city, and it was a really great place to grow up. I was able to go to lots of open mics when I was starting out, and it really helped me get comfortable on stage. Guelph is also home to lots of amazing teachers, my vocal coach and piano teacher are both from Guelph. It’s not too far from Toronto, which is where most of my co-writers are from. I could always attend music industry events or writing camps because it wasn’t a far drive, so it was really great growing up there as an independent artist.
Who are some other Guelph based artists that you’d recommend checking out?
I would definitely recommend checking out Tragedy Ann! They’re a folk duo based out of Guelph, and they are so talented.
What do you think your top 3 most listened to songs have been so far for 2021?
That’s a hard one. I think it would be “I Didn’t Change My Number” by Billie Eilish, “Affection” by Between Friends, and “Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear.
Who are some of your favourite Canadian artists?
There are so many amazing artists, it’s hard to pick a few. I think my top ones are The Weeknd and Shania Twain.
What is your dream venue to perform one day?
Not so much a dream venue, but my dream tour is an international tour in large general admission venues. I’ve been to a lot of concerts, and my favourites are always the general admission ones. It feels so intimate, and the energy is always so high! I would love to be able to give people the experience that I love so much one day.
What are your plans for the rest of 2021?
For the rest of 2021 I’m just going to be planning my next releases and getting ready for the release of my upcoming EP! It’s almost done, so now it’s just in the fine tuning stages.