Today, I have a special treat for you.
I’m very excited to be interviewing singer/songwriter extraordinaire, Mikey Wax. If you don’t know who he is yet, I’m certain you will, soon enough!
Who said a picture is worth a thousand words?
Before you continue, I strongly suggest you listen to these two songs (my favorites).
Mikey and I went to the same high school. We were in a Peers As Leaders (PAL) class together and he always loved music (and I always loved fitness) so I thought it’d be really neat to feature him on my blog – as we’re both pursuing our passions.
Today also happens to be a BIG day for him. Read on to find out why.
1. When did you start playing music?
I started playing “the desk” in Kindergarten. I remember my Kindergarten teacher would send me to the quiet area cause I kept tapping the desk like a piano. I’d say for real I started playing piano when I was 8, writing songs when I was 10, and picked up guitar and singing in high school.
2. When did people start giving you positive feedback?
My sophomore year of college I wrote “Last Great Song”. My friends would keep coming to my dorm room and ask me to play it and that’s kind of when I knew I could write a song that people would actually want to listen to.
3. When did you decide that you want to pursue music as a career?
Very early on. Playing and writing music has always been a huge part of my life. As soon as I finished college, I knew I had 12 songs that I wanted to record for an album and wanted the world to hear.
4. If you had to describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before (and if you haven’t you soon will because Mikey is blowing up), what four artists are you a mix of?
haha. Um – I always feel like this gives me more credit than I deserve – but, 4 of my biggest influences would be spread out between classic rock of the Beatles to Billy Joel, all the way to more modern music like Dave Matthews Band and Coldplay. Keep in mind, the first music I ever learned on piano was classical. I used to break strings on my home piano like I was Beethoven or something.
5. When would you advise someone to stop going after their dream?
I don’t understand the question. Kidding. They say if you do something for 10,000 hours you can make a living from it, so don’t stop – just keep perfecting.
6. How does one go after their dream if they’re not able to make money from it at first?
Sometimes you need to invest in yourself and believe that all the other stuff will come down the road. When I graduated college I worked for my dad and lived at home. Instead of asking for a pay check I asked for studio time. It took me a year and half to finally finish my first CD “Change Again”. I didn’t have much of a social life either. I put it all towards that first album.
7. Do you think it’s easier or harder to become a famous musician today than it was 15 years ago?
It’s interesting. Probably both. It’s more flooded now because of outlets like YouTube and other social networking sites, but at the same time there’s a new YouTube sensation every week. And I can’t really complain because my feature on the homepage of YouTube was a big step forward for me!
8. What is your most proud music accomplishment?
Having my music video get featured on YouTube and receive so many hits was a big thrill. Being asked to open for artists like Howie Day or Elliott Yamin and playing for a few hundred people a night is also up there.
But in terms of my own personal growth, getting over my stage fright and just being able to perform without having a nervous breakdown was a big accomplishment. I owe that to doing over 100 intimate house concerts and to fans of my music who stood by me and allowed me to progress as a performer. Now I live to be on stage, and I feel at home when I’m out there.
9. Who are your biggest inspirations music wise and why?
The Beatles would be my all-time biggest musical inspiration. They took all the good melodies though and left every other musician to steal bits and pieces. I love jazz. I could listen to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald all day. Especially in Winter. Same with Frank Sinatra. I love the simple lyrics from that time period.
I’m inspired by the piano work of everyone from Billy Joel to Coldplay. Vocally, I love how pure James Taylor sings, or Neil Young. Their voices are immediately recognizable. Even early Dave Matthews.
10. What would your dream music career look like?
That’s tough. I guess the dream is always to be selling out Madison square garden 10 nights in a row like Billy Joel did. So let’s go with selling out MSG and writing some songs that can live on forever.
11. I love your song “In Case I go again“! It’s so cool that you filmed it at the Syosset train station. Every time I watch it, it brings back a lot of memories of going to and from NYC when I was in high school and college. What made you decide to shoot it there?
The song is all about those college years of coming and leaving home. I liked the traditional concept of a train…for some reason it made the song feel and look more like home. The Syosset train station has this vintage feel to it, and really gave a lot of meaning to the song once we filmed it.
12. Do you ever get writers block?
Not really. If I’m not inspired, I won’t push it. I often put myself through music starvation, where I don’t touch an instrument or sing for a few days. I’ll just go out, hang with friends and be an observer. I usually come back with fresh ideas. Lyrics are my biggest challenge. You want everyone to understand what you’re saying while saying it in a unique and non-cheesy way.
13. I love how grass roots you are. I think your idea of doing small private concerts with at least 25 people is brilliant. How’s that working so far?
The house concerts are amazing! It’s really become a huge way of touring for me and has helped me build a nice following in a lot of cities. I’m always amazed by the people who put the concerts together. They are so cool and down to earth, and so welcoming to have me in their home. It’s great as a performer to have that direct interaction with my fans. No venues to deal with, no booking agents. Just me playing my music for fans in their home.
14. You have an amazing voice. Could you create a little jingle for MyBodyTutor?
haha. my body tutor la de da de da. I’m onto something, give me a couple days.
15. Tell me about your new album? Who produced it? What inspired you? What’s different about it than your last album? What can we expect? Where we can we buy it?
The New album comes out Tues, Sept 20th!! It’s called “Constant Motion”. I recorded it in LA with a producer named Warren Huart (the Fray, James Blunt, Aerosmith). My first album was a very artistic/melodic and reflective album.
This new album over all is much more up-beat and forward-thinking album. It definitely leans in more of a pop direction, but songs like “Marion” and “Fall For You” still hold elements of that artistic/melodic side.
I feel this album was a natural progression for me. The album will be available on iTunes starting today, Sept 20th, and you can also order physical CD’s from my website, http://mikeywax.com. All my current tour dates opening for Elliott Yamin are on there as well!
Thanks, Mikey. This was a lot of fun! And good luck with your new album!
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