MY frustrating ambition with regards finding more women…
to feature on this blog continues. Luckily; Makk Mikkael has arrived to provide some relief and sunshine! I talk to the talented young songwriter about the new single, Jungle, and its awesome video. She discusses subjects like urban crowding and feeling harried; how the song reflects a dark period in her life – and why she felt the need to get the subject down on paper.
I ask her about growing up and the music she got into her; whether there is more material coming down the tracks; what music means to her – those special albums that she holds close to her heart.
Hi, Makk. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m doing great, thanks. Jungle’s been getting lots of love; super-happy about that. It’s been a hectic time - hustling with the crew to get this track out. It feels great to finally have music out!
I'm excited about what's coming next!
Jungle is your new cut. Tell me about creating the song and what it means to you?
Jungle is really special to me.
Not only is it my introduction to the music world but it’s super-personal and close to me. I wrote Jungle in what you could say was a ‘dark’ phase of my life. I was around someone who took my energy and drained me, emotionally. Looking back, I’m happy it happened - because I felt all those rollercoaster emotions which, in return, I was able to create good music from...
The video has a yellow tinge – a ‘happy colour’, as you say. Is being out in the wilderness someone you feel less alone, perhaps?!
I grew up in the Rocky Mountains - so I definitely feel at home in the wilderness.
It’s a big change going from the mountains to the ‘concrete jungle’: the pace is so much different and people are hustling, constantly. Jungle was inspired so much by my surroundings in Toronto, as well as a personal relationship. I think the mix of everything I was experiencing played a huge part in why I love the colour yellow. Yellow is my vibe. The colours will definitely morph and change with how I’m feeling - and the stages of my life.
For this album, though; yellow fit so much. I look at it as a ‘coming out of the dark’ and moving ‘towards the light’.
Tell me more about your new album and the themes you explore…
The album is coming out in the near-future.
My sound and style morphed into what it is now by listening to the early Weeknd tracks; Jessie Ware and Roy Woods. I listen to a lot of music and I feel so connected to it. The style that will be explored throughout my album will have dark, ambient; low-fi vibes. If you were to associate colours with my album...think yellow.
I’m still in the creative stages of putting together this album - and I’m constantly discovering new themes and ideas to write about. I write best when I’m feeling low or vulnerable; when I feel like the world’s on my shoulder - that’s when I’m most creative with my art. As long as I’m putting out what my soul loves and craves; I will feel good about everything that’s coming up in the future.
How much of the music was compelled by changing fortunes and coping with a relationship transformed? Was it a confusing and transforming time for you?
It was a confusing time, absolutely. I don’t know if I can really explain how I was feeling - because I wasn’t sure in that moment. Majid Jordan’s track, Changes, perfectly represents how I was feeling when Jungle was written. I had this underlying feeling of being swallowed by the ocean and, every time I would try and come up for air, I was pulled back down to the bottom of the ocean. It was like time was frozen; everything was at a standstill - my emotions and thoughts, especially.
I was physically and mentally incapable of grasping onto anything or anyone - including myself. As an artist, it’s so important to go through ups and downs and be able to captivate how you felt, not only for yourself, but for your listeners. That’s so important to me no matter what I experience, good or bad. I have to know that I can write about it - once the dust settles and I have my clarity back. People come and go and are in your life for a reason: to teach you things and for you to grow and reflect. This person that was close to me and, looking back, I don't know if we ever were that close. My energy was drained almost always and, back to that underwater analysis, that’s what I felt 24/7...
So; it obviously wasn't healthy - but I grew as a person and got some art out of it.
Are there going to be more singles? Is there another song you feel perfect for release?
For the next release, which will be soon (B.T.W.), I have narrowed it down to two tracks! I want to put both out A.S.A.P. When the time comes for the next track to be released, I’ll get my team involved and we’ll make the right decision.
Honestly; just putting music out is so exciting for me. That’s my passion and what I’m all about - so wouldn't have it any other way.
I want to know how you got into music. When was the seed planted?
From a very young age; all my friends and family constantly inform me of the mini-concerts I would put on in the basement. I was first onstage when I was around five or six. I was at this venue...I don’t remember where. My mom was in a band and she asked me to come up onstage with her. I sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and was hooked. The light and energy in the room everything had such an impact on me...
I always remember that moment when the spotlight was on me and there wasn’t a care in the world! Music is and has always been that for me. I get to express myself and be myself: I think that’s so liberating and freeing knowing, whatever you experience and go through, you can write and sing about it.
Which artists did you connect with at a young age, would you say?
I was obsessed with Hilary Duff, Hannah Montana; Aly & AJ and JoJo. I think those were the top-four influences for me. I still watch the Aly & AJ concert tour every once and a while. They love music and I’m all about the music. I went to three Hilary Duff concerts and every time, I flipped out. I don’t view concerts the same as I did when I was younger, though. I don’t go to them to get drunk or party - which is what millennials are about. I’m always there for the show.
The joy was so intense when I was younger: now, I’m (just) like ‘I wanna get onstage; let’s do this!’.
What does music mean to you? Is it somewhere you can find safety in?
Absolutely. Music is something that completely makes or breaks me. Nothing else out there effects me the way music does. It’s so personal and close to me.
When I’m writing songs, it’s medicine for my soul. I watched this TEDTALK a while ago by Elizabeth Gilbert - who wrote Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic. She was expressing how your art, whether it be writing, music or painting, as artists; you have to tap into your inner ‘Genius’ - which is your alter-ego. Your ‘Genius’ is an extension of your creative-self that you blame failures and success (whatever it may be) on. If you have time, I would definitely recommend watching it...
What I took away from this was it’s not your fault, as an artist, if you have an idea and lose it. We’re built on emotion and are easily breakable but, when you can blame your alter-ego, you’re not as tough on yourself - and you’re less judgemental on your thoughts and ideas.
It is (just) something I find comfort in - and keep in the back of my head when I’m writing.
IN THIS PHOTO: Kacy Hill
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Willow Smith. I know she's not a new artist; however, she has a song called IDK. It’s so groovy. Majid Jordan dropped their new album and it’s insane - all synth, atmospheric -sounding stuff. Swell is dope. Very moody and low-fi-sounding (which is my jam!).
IN THIS PHOTO: Willow Smith
Kacy Hill’s Foreign Fields pretty much the song I have had on-repeat for the past couple months. It’s so good. I don’t think anyone mentioned (above) is a new artist (haha) but it’s not mainstream radio stuff: definitely more the left-of-centre, vibey stuff that I’m into.
IN THIS PHOTO: Majid Jordan
Speaking of which...I created a playlist on Spotify - with the last little bits of what I’m listening to right now! It’s called Makkjams. Check it out if you want to expand your musical library...
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Love this question so much!
The 1975’s first album (The 1975)
I saw them live and was even more hooked - if that’s possible. I’ve listened to them since 2013 and it strikes the best chord in me; it’s comforting listening to them.
My second choice would be Clean (E.P.) by The Japanese House
Side note: she's signed to Dirty Hit Records - which is the 1975’s label - and the 1975 co-produce The Japanese House. Clean is the most nostalgic E.P. out there. All the feels and the videos that were released (with it) are bang-on.
Third would be Toro y Moi - Boo Boo
I (just) recently discovered it - but it’s been on-repeat since then. I feel like this album is the soundtrack to my life. It also dropped on my birthday so, if that’s not a sign, I don't know what is!
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Just do you. I think it’s so sick to be yourself in an industry that has a lot of the same thing going on. If you put in the work and hustle, you will move mountains. You’ve just gotta believe in yourself and do it...
What is your touring schedule looking like? Are you coming to London anytime soon?
WOULD BE SO DOWN TO GO TO LONDON.
Before I moved to Toronto, not too long ago, I was narrowing down the best places to live for music: London was up there along with L.A. I did live there for a couple of months with singer/songwriter Kiesza. Music is amazing in London (I can only imagine). It’s one of those places that has a vibe like Toronto; there’s a cool underground sound that’s poppin’. I’m going to start a tour in March/April and I couldn't be more excited. I will have quite a few more tracks released by then. I’ve been planning out my live show: the colours, vibes; everything that I want to express in my music...
It’s going to be dope.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already - or will you be busy working?
I’m going home to see my family in Calgary. We’re getting a puppy and going skiing lots - so I’m taking a break from Toronto for the month of December. I will most likely be writing while I’m home.
I'm always ready for that inspiration to strike.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Miguel (ft. Travis Scott) - Sky Walker
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