THE first port of call today...
is with Julian Mika. He has been talking with me about his latest track, Know To, and what comes next; which albums and artists have been inspiring and influential; what he thinks of the current British Hip-Hop scene – he recommends some rising talent to watch.
I have been asking about his heroes and idols; whether he gets time to chill outside of music; which artist he’d support on tour if he had the opportunity – Mika ends the interview by selecting a cool track.
Hi, Julian. How are you? How has your week been?
Yo. What’s happening? Yeah. It’s been good; lots of things going on. Lining up a couple things for the next months. You know how it goes.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
First and foremost, my name’s Julian Mika - that’s my real name, no stage name. I feel like it’s important to keep it personal; it represents what I'm trying to do with the music which is to keep connected to the people who listen and get involved. I want to feel like there’s a relationship there through the music and what better way to start that than with your birth name. That’s really me at the end of the day.
Know To is your new track. What is the story behind it?
(Laughs). Do you want the short version or the long version? Nah; I'll put it simply...I heard the beat and the song literally just wrote itself. You have different experiences of writing. Sometimes, it takes a bit longer to write a track and you sit with it a bit more and sometimes it’s like fishing. You just catch it out of thin air and that’s what happened with this song.
It came at a time when I was figuring out a lot of different things and I just felt like this song is going to represent the start of something new. It’s kind of like saying I've been waiting for some time and the time is now.
Might we see an E.P. coming next year?
You might (laughs).
Which artists do you consider role models and icons? Did you grow up around a lot of music?
The thing is, yeah, the list of artist is very long because there’s been a very wide range of music that has surrounded me my whole life. But, what pops into my head straight away, and even if it might seem super bate (laughs), are the early Jiggaman (Jay-Z) records. When I heard Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint young, it proper just connected to me and I feel like I really studied that. The words and the way it makes you feel like you were really there. And, then obviously you got your Tupac Shakurs who I just feel like even (just) his character in interviews taught me loads. In terms of Hip-Hop, as I’m sure you can imagine, the list is long.
When I think about my relationship with words; that really brings up Bob Dylan for me. There was something about his voice and the poetry he used which was intriguing to me, even as a child. In a funny way, that kind trickled down to my taste in music. I like a voice that actually stands out; that you can recognise as soon as you hear it, along with the words which makes the message so much stronger. From that, that sparks the time when I heard Boy in da Corner for the first time. You can’t deny the production and Dizzy’s voice.
Lastly, growing up, there was so much music around. So much Soul, Rock; Blues...just all of it. The Aretha Franklins, Whitney Houstons; Sam Cooke, Ray Charles; Otis Redding, Lauryn Hill; James Brown and, of course, uncle Frank, the great Frank Zappa. It’s one of those questions I could sit and talk about for days because these are all part of the D.N.A. that makes me. Not just as an artist but as a person.
Do you think the British Hip-Hop scene is growing? What is your take on the modern vibe?
So, firstly, I love it, what’s going on. It’s not even just about Hip-Hop to me; it’s just about being part of something. I just love the whole thing of being unapologetically U.K. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, as long as you’re representing that; you’re all one because we are representing where we are from and not sugar-coating it for the rest of the world to accept like we might have done back in the day.
But, also, that is part of the growth...so, yeah, in short: I do think the scene is growing. It’s always been here but it’s for the world now, not just our little bubble and that’s sick to see. Coming from London, I just rate the merging of sounds because that represents our community, essentially.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Yeah. I’ve definitely got plans. Keep releasing music, getting shows going. Big plans for 2019; I’m excited.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Yeah. I think my favourite memory would be Willesden Green Resident Studios; just turning up there after-hours with a bunch of olders, just falling in love with the craft. Those were like the beginning days of catching the bug.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Oh, rah; that’s mad-difficult. I recon, right now, it would have to be Reasonable Doubt - like I mentioned earlier. Also, To Pimp a Butterfly and Views. The answer to that question will forever be changing though. Depends on the day, my friend.
As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?
A boxer puppy (laughs). R.I.P. Noodles.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
It’s funny, actually. I was having this conversation with my girl the other day and, again, obviously I could list a thousand artists but, for right now, I would have to say SZA, yeah. I think there’s something I like about supporting an artist that’s in the same family of what you do but that’s in a different medium.
My rider would be: Magret de Canard (laughs hard). Nah. I would probably have some good speakers to bang music, some rum and ginger; some Monster Munch, a bucket-full of 99p chicken wings from KFC - cos it’s my favourite, even though man’s trying to get on that veggie life (laughs). Tea and biscuits, no doubt, and a nice comfortable sofa. It’s the simple pleasures. Yeah. I'll keep it at that for now.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
The advice I would give myself (laughs) would just be persistence.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Not yet. I still want to get a couple songs out into the world but, yeah, keep your eyes peeled.
IN THIS PHOTO: slowthai
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I watch The Great British Bake Off (laughs). Shout out to Prue.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Eugy – ‘Starboy Soco’ remix
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