MikeyyAustin has been around for a minute, but as of late he’s been gearing up for some big things, including his latest single “Midnight Stereo” produced by Ess Be and featuring Phourthelove and Sareem Poems, with live instrumentation from The Happy Medium. The song is an upbeat departure from Mikeyy’s usual style, presenting a side of the artist that’s been naturally emerging throughout the past few months. With a laid-back delivery coupled with funk/soul vibes that are perfect for summer, this track has us looking forward to what’s to come from this talented Lansing musician.
We caught up with Mikeyy to talk about his process, what inspires him, and more:
B: First of all, could you introduce yourself?
M: I am MikeyyAustin, 21 year-old hip hop musician and band leader from Lansing, Michigan.
B: Great. So how did you get into music?
M: I’ve been performing since I was about 5 years old, my mom used to write songs for my brother and I, we’d perform them at talent shows at church, and since then I’ve picked up the piano and guitar, kind of teaching myself, and from there that’s when I started getting serious about songwriting. I put out my mixtape in June/July of 2016 called “T I N T E D,” and from there I put out my debut album, “L I F T E D,” in May of 2017, and then I put out another mixtape called, “Art4Sale,” in January of 2018. I’m now gearing up to put out the second album, so that’s where we’re at right now.
B: And how does this next project fit into your larger musical catalogue?
M: I think that this is the one that’s kind of going to seperate from the past work that I’ve done, just looking at the music I did before, and the process of trying to find yourself as an artists, trying to find what your sound is. And even with working with different producers who might have a batch of beats and say, alright, pick whatever beats you want, so then you’re trying to work with their production style and trying to fit that.
But with this project I’ve been working with a producer named Ess Be from Illect Recordings, he’s producing everything on it. The process is like, I tell him the idea of the song, or the flow or the vibe or whatever, and from there he makes the beat from scratch, and as he’s making the beat I write the song, so there’s this really free-form aspect to it that feels much more natural than anything we’ve ever worked on.
B: Right on, so tell us about this song.
M: So this is actually the very first song that we recorded throughout this whole process. I remember meeting Ess Be at his studio, and I told him something like, “I want something that reminds you of summertime, lazy days, movie drive-ins, with a bit of a funky/soul aspect to it, and with me being a musician myself I always try to incorporate some live instrumentation, which always helps bring it to life, but it just started with that idea.
Before I could even get it all out, Ess Be was already working on something, and he knew exactly where I wanted to go with it. So we created it together, and as he was working on the beat I was able to sit down and work on writing the song, and if I remember correctly, I wrote the song in about 30 minutes. I think that comes with knowing who you are as an artist and having that freedom to create, I don’t think I’ve ever written music that fast. The process is usually much longer for me, but it all came out very naturally, and it’s been that way throughout the whole process.
B: Gotcha. Could you maybe talk about that a little more? Like outside of music, what are some of the different themes that influence you creatively?
M: For sure, so I do a lot of stuff in the community here in Lansing, I’ve been big into finding way to give back and support the youth. Right now I work at some schools as a restorative justice facilitator, so helping out with whatever conflict that they have, and back in December of 2016 I started an organization called Reo Town Sessions, where we highlight local artists once a month and just give them a platform to express themselves as an artist. It’s all forms of art, we’ve got painters, photographers, dancers, and more, so we’re trying to make that opportunity more available in our community. We do some fundraising as well, we put on events like the Black Arts Matter Celebration, and we find different ways to raise money, and with the money we surprise high schoolers with surprise art scholarships, between last year and now we’ve raised $6000 to support continuing education in the arts.
This all started from back when I attended the Lansing School District, I’ve always been into music and creative things, but we didn’t really have the resources in those schools to pursue the arts. Especially in underfunded schools, the art programs are some of the first to be cut, we would always deal with that at the schools that I went to, so our idea was to address these issues and that’s how Reo Town Sessions came to be. I think all of these things have a big influence on who I am as an artist as well, because it’s more than just me making music and wanting to be heard, it’s also about giving voices to other people, which I fell is reflected in my music.
B: That’s awesome. Pivoting a little bit, if you had describe your music in just a word or a sentence, what would you say?
M: I would say, “L I F T E D.” That was the name of my first album, and the whole idea of it was in whatever you’re doing, you should be trying to uplift somebody else. So whether that’s me being a teacher at a school, or a doctor, or even a janitor, whatever I’m doing, I want to use that platform to uplift others.
Check out MikeyyAustin’s new single “Midnight Stereo” on Soundcloud here and on Spotify here. Be sure to catch him at Olivet College Music Festival this summer along with Soul Brother Stef, Munch, and more!