A couple weeks ago, I tuned into the 155th episode of the Nang Selection show and discovered an incredible artist. About 30-minutes into the show, my ears perked up when the track “Bad Man” by Mickey Blue began to play. The production was flawless and played off Mickey’s voice incredibly well. Mickey created an infectious chorus by flipping the one-hit wonder “Hey Mickey” by Toni Basil only adding to the song’s high-replayability.
Off the strength of “Bad Man,” I had to investigate further into Mickey’s sound. After diligently listening to his SoundCloud page I can hear that Mickey is building a solid catalog of music through fantastic production, honest lyrics, and top-notch harmonies. The Toronto native is still in the beginning stages of his career but it’s safe to say that he is destined to make a mark on the music industry.
I recently spoke with Mickey about the early success with his single “We Just Be”, his passion to impact people’s lives, and performing for a intimate crowd. From the interview below, you’ll understand that the best is still to come from Mickey Blue. He’s got an incredible sound and the drive to be one of the greats.
Sonic Selects (SS): Your single “We Just Be” just passed over 100k plays on Spotify and Soundcloud. How does it feel to see that success early on?
Mickey Blue (MB): It feels good don’t get me wrong but there is so much work to be done. It’s nice to get a little taste. You enjoy it for 3 or 4 seconds then you get back to work. I have this common understanding with Benny [Benstar] where we want to take this thing so far and never to get too attached to one song.
If one song happens to take off so be it. That’s the key ingredient to getting exposure. We just want to be heard at the end of the day. I want my songs that we spent hours writing and recording to be heard. This is a little taste of what’s to come because the new material is 10 times better.
SS: Looking at your music library, you’ve worked with producer Benstar on a number of tracks. How did you two link up?
MB: I released my first piece of work (“I Got You”) on Soundcloud, not knowing what I was doing.I just put it out there. I worked with a childhood friend, Devin who produced the track. At that time, I was making music for people in my town. I wanted to put out music and see how people react to it. Their reaction would determine if I become serious about it going forward.
Benny ended up liking my stuff on Soundcloud. I asked a mutual friend if he knows Benny and he said, “Yea I play ball with him at the Y”. So my friend introduced us. We ended up going to dinner and grabbing a glass of wine. I told him I’ve put out a bunch of work and I’m ready to get serious. Benny was completely on board with the vision. He understands exactly what I’m trying to do. We have the same outlook on the future of music and how we want to see it change.
He makes beats and I sing and write. We’ve been getting together every week for two years. We’re just stockpiling music and releasing it when appropriate.
SS: What is your creative process like?
MB: I’m a firm believer in making the most out of your time when you’re alone. I’ll put pressure on Benny and myself to be creative as possible when you’re alone so when we get together we’ll have more options than we need.
I write all the time by myself. I can write to any tempo in my head. I can take lyrics and stretch them. Benny comes to me with a new 10 beats and I’m coming with 8-10 new concepts every week. It becomes very collaborative. Benny will build the core of the beat, I’ll come in over it and we’ll chip away at it. Sometimes it doesn’t require much but other times you have to listen to it 78 times to really know it’s good.
SS: How do you deal with those days where you aren’t feeling creative?
MB: My thing is to distract myself. I’d go workout, watch TV, or see a friend or my girl to get my mind off it. You can’t force this kind of stuff. The material isn’t going to be as fresh or honest if you’re forcing it. When you’re sitting there for an hour and nothing’s coming you need to distract yourself.
It’s also coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to have bad days regardless of what your profession is. The people that have more good days than bad are the people who can put the past behind them as soon as possible and move forward. I feel that’s so important in every way of life, not just creativity. The most important thing is to bounce back.
SS: Is that something that you’ve had to learn through your past experiences?
MB: To be honest with you, I’m still learning every day. You have to be open. If you shut your mind down and don’t try to improve yourself as an artist, it’s tough to be taken seriously.
I really see no roof with this. I just see consistency. I’m never going to be basking in my accomplishments for no more than an hour at a time. I want to keep going and improving. So I’m always working and always learning. As I’m explaining this, I’m still working at this but I still need to keep reminding myself of it.
SS: Your creative collective is called ‘We Are The School’. Can you describe how it got started?
MB: The last couple months before I graduated, I started jamming with my friend Luke who made wine and beer in his basement with a bunch of his roommates. I thought it was the coolest thing. He played keyboard and had a mic. We would jam and do covers.
I graduated with a Theater Degree. After graduation, I came home and told my parents that I wanted to do music. You should have seen the look on my dad’s face. It was absolutely priceless. I’ll never forget it. He asked me, ‘So how are you going to do music?’
I told him, ‘I’ll find someone who makes beats. I just started writing’. That’s when I found out that Devin went to school for music production. Then we linked up and made a couple of songs including “I Got You”.
We Are The School are the guys that that didn’t laugh at me for pursuing music when I came home from school . These are the guys who were into the idea immediately. They kept pushing me to ‘see this through’.
We started to put out more music and began to get a following. We sold out our first show, 250 people plus a wait list on Boxing Day. The whole town was out. I didn’t know that my music had stretched that far. I got to give credit to these guys for believing me.
It started with about 7 of us. It’s growing by the day but this is the core group. I went to high school with some of them but none of them were my immediate friends. A lot of my immediate friends thought this was a joke. I was asking people to send me beats and they’d laugh at me. Now they won’t stop hitting up my phone. These guys were the ones who believed in me because they knew who I was before and knew that if I put my mind to something I could do it.
We started this brand, We Are The School. It’s a common collective where everyone can get involved. We made these exclusive jackets with team numbers on them. I want to have people in the community that they’re a part of the team. I want people to know that this was the movement coming out of Markham (Canada). I hope that can encourage people to follow their dreams.
SS: You performed at the Pemberton Festival this past summer in an incredible venue alongside artists like J. Cole, Miguel and Anderson .Paak. What was that experience like?
MB: It was crazy. It was by far the best sound system I’ve ever been on. It was outside. I’ve never performed outside. It was during the day too. I’ve never performed during the day.
Daytime performances don’t really fit the Mickey Blue aesthetic. It was kinda weird seeing the everyone’s face in the daytime and not having my cool lighting on stage. It was crazy at the start but I got over it within 10 minutes.
SS: The lineup for the festival was pretty stacked this year. Were you able to meet any artists?
MB: I met a lot of cool people. The coolest guy I met was Miguel. Me and my crew were walking in the artist village which was tucked away from the rest of the festival. We were walking in and Miguel was walking out with one of his boys after J. Cole’s set. He was heading to Cole’s trailer and I caught a glimpse of his face underneath this hood he was wearing.
Miguel was one of the only guys that really took the time to talk. I didn’t want to rude and overstay my welcome because people were going on stage. All I wanted to do was say, “hey, this is what I’m doing…” So in the future, we could maybe link up on a track.
When I tried to leave he asked me, “What do you guys do? Do you have anything coming up?” He was genuinely interested. It was wicked.
SS: Having performed at Pemberton and smaller venues, what type of venue do you like to play your live show?
MB: I really, really like small venues. The small venues, when everyone is packed in tight forces people to engage. I remember the shows when was younger that were in small venues and it makes you appreciate it more. It makes you feel more involved personally.
I’ve only played four live shows ever. My fifth show is coming up on November 5th at the Supermarket in Toronto. It’s this beautiful little spot. This will be the first time I will be headlining. I’m so excited.
SS: How do you plan on to improve your live show going forward?
MB: I don’t want to give somebody the same show twice unless I’m going to a different city. I realize that I have a niche fan base right now. If they are going to come out and give me their time I’m going to give them something that they’ve never seen and heard before.
I think it’s so important because I wouldn’t be getting these shows without them. I wouldn’t have gotten Pemberton without them. I would have never continued to make music without them.
My job is to take you out of whatever problems you’re having that week and help you to enjoy the moment.
SS: Are you working on an album?
MB: Yes, Benny and I are in album mode right now. Every song we make will either contribute to the storyline of the album or it will be single material. Right now we’re stockpiling.
We’ve got a lot of momentum on our side. I’m a firm believer in momentum. If you have a wave with you whether it’s the exposure you’re getting or the creative flow you’re in you need to take advantage of it. Because you can wake up tomorrow and it can be gone.
SS: For someone listening to you for the first time, what should they expect to hear from Mickey Blue?
MB: Honesty. I think Benny and I do a good job of designing the music so it comes from the heart and a relatable place. A lot of my music is about relationships and love. Most people have experienced some sort of love or infatuation over the course of their lives. I just want to tell that story as honestly as possible. I want to have a lyric resonate to the point where everyone can relate to it.