What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I come from a family of music lovers! Growing up my parents were always playing music in the house. Between my dad always singing and my mom always blasting music, I think it sort of just seeped into my soul from a young age.
That’s a tough question to answer! I’m only here right now because I can’t imagine myself doing anything else, but I think I would have maybe followed in my sisters footsteps and continued acting.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love to read! It actually brings me so much more joy than I think I even realize. It really helps me to quiet my head down, which I usually have a hard time doing because I’m either always hearing music in my head or I’m just buzzing through a million thoughts at once.
Through reading I often come across really cool thoughts or phrases that tend to resonate with my soul. Like in my new single “Roaming” I read a really cool space fact that helped to inspire the lyrics and theme of the song.
How long has your band been around?
I really had my jumping off point in 2020 during the pandemic. I figured that if the world was going to be on fire I might as well go out doing the thing that I loved, so I left my job, found an amazing team, and haven’t looked back since!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
While I was born and raised (proudly) in Ottawa, I am currently based in Toronto!
Being here has really influenced my sound by virtue of being able to work with Engineers and Producers that have worked with my favourite bands. It’s allowed me to record the songs exactly as I hear it in my head!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
My Full name is Michael Shankar, but my friends growing up have always called me Mikey. I went back and forth between which name I wanted to use, and ended up on Mikey because it feels more personal to me.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
My most memorable show was actually a practice show that we were playing. Sometimes those are the most fun because there’s no pressure so we were extra killing it that night. It stands out to me because when we started the set the whole bar was rowdy but by the time we got to Figure it Out, which is a soft/emotional song, the whole place was dead quiet, and everyone was just zoned in on us. It was the moment that I realized that this was going to work.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
My favourite venue is one that I haven’t played yet but is coming up! It’s the Bronson Centre in Ottawa. This venue growing up to me was Madison Square Garden, so I’m super excited to be able to play there!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Oh what a dope question. Easy. It would be Me opening, Billy Talent (my heroes) and then the Red Hot Chili Peppers to close us out!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Play with a metronome! Writing music is fun and playing live is sexy, but if you want to record your music in a studio like a professional you need to be comfortable playing your songs with a metronome. I know it’s not fun at all, but I promise you it’s important.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
I would’ve told myself to just start. I spent a lot of years practicing in secret until I felt comfortable enough to present myself to the world as a musician. While I’m glad I did that, I think there still would’ve been a lot of pros to just getting out there and seeing what happened.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
This is kind of like asking me which one of my children I love the most! (I don’t have any kids but you know what I mean).
It honestly changes day by day but right now I’m especially proud of Operator. It’s my first song ever to go to radio, and it’s just officially crossed over into month three of it being spun regularly so that means a lot to me!
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My favourite song to play live is Operator, I wrote it as my perfect show intro and everytime I play it, it hypes everyone up like crazy! The most requested is definitely Me and My Friends!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
If I had to define myself, I consider myself more a songwriter than even a guitar player (even though I love guitar). My process is usually just doing something completely unrelated to music aka washing the dishes and then a melody will just sort of pop into my head and from there it’s up to me to carve it out and see if it’ll get turned into a song or get put into the vault!
Music inspirations come from everywhere for me, I’m a lover of art in general so sometimes again it’s something completely unrelated that’ll get my head going. Even a car turning signal can be turned into a melody if you’re open to it!
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
The overall message that I wanted to get across with the Sugar Cane Bandits ep is that I am a songwriter.
I am a lover of all genres and all sounds and I’m going to write whatever I want to write. That’s why you have Operator that’s a loud and in your face rock song, and Figure it out that’s a beautiful soulful song on the same project. I’m not going to be defined by a genre and I’m certainly not going to stay in my lane!
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
No we never have disagreements, I’m at a place now where I understand how I want someone to speak to me, so I take extra care to talk to people the same way.
We have conversations all of the time about parts not working out, or things that need to be changed, but as you mature you start to understand (especially in our group) that it’s never ever a personal thing if a part needs to get changed, it’s just about doing what’s right for the song.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
So many plans for the future! We’re in rehearsals right now preparing for the up and coming shows to support the release of my debut ep Sugar Cane Bandits!
I’m so so so proud of these songs and my team, and I seriously can’t wait for everyone to hear it!