Oyster Bay, Long Island native Mikey Wax has been writing music for more than a decade. Inspired by Billy Joel and the Beatles; Wax became a piano wiz as a child and wrote his first song at the age of eight. But he’s come a long way since then. His 2009 debut album “Change Again” took social media by storm and earned him placement on TV shows, radio stations, plus more. His second album “Constant Motion” continued to elevate his career.
Now Wax is working on his third album and has transitioned from an indie artists to a potential pop chart topper with his new single “You Lift Me Up” and deal with Universal Records affiliate Toucan Cove . Mikey chatted with Dominique Zonyeé of Artists on The Rise about his new album, new label and what the future holds for him.
How has your music changed since the release of your 2008 debut album Change Again?
Change Again was a very moody, melodic and mid-tempo album. I think at the time I had a much more anxious and perhaps sadder outlook on the world. I had a lot of fears about coming of age and getting older. My new album is much more positive and upbeat. Although I’m still a pretty anxious person, I see the world as my oyster.
How did living in Nashville influence your creativity as a singer/songwriter? Do you still live there?
Nashville was an extremely inspiring place. I went to college there and since it was my real first time away from home, everything from the southern hospitality to the warmer weather was different and opened me up creatively. I currently live in NYC, but the thought of moving back to Nashville always crosses my mind (so much so that I went back down there for a few months to record my new album which is releasing in June).
You seem to have created a name for yourself by carving your own niche under the pop love song umbrella with Billboard and iTunes chart toppers “In Case I Go Again” and “Counting on You.” What do you think makes you stand out from other “romantics” in music?
I think a lot of it is persistence, but also having an ear to write something catchy and meaningful. When I write, as much as I’m writing for me, when you invent a cool hook, you’re equally excited to share that hook with the world.
“In Case I Go Again”
Your new single “You Lift Me Up,” is such a great spring/ summer good time song. It’s so full of life and energy; what’s the concept behind the song?
I wrote this song after a fun weekend away with friends. I was really unsure about a lot of things at the time, and they kind of helped to take my mind off things. I came back rejuvenated and with a feeling of deep love for all my fans and friends who have supported me on this journey so far. I was really inspired to write about the beauty of unquestionable loyalty.
“You Lift Me Up” (Lyrical Video)
How do you find writing inspiration? Who are your musical influences?
The funny thing about inspiration is I usually only realize it after I come up with an idea, lyric, or fully finished song. I’ve never been one to say ‘I’m gonna stare at the stars and write a song about them.’ Most of the time, when I’m completely relaxed and not really thinking about much is when the good stuff comes. I think a lot of it is just being in a positive and relaxed mindset, even if you’re writing about something sad. But in regards to my musical influences; they vary all over the place, but I grew up on The Beatles and Billy Joel.
It’s (almost) a fact that every time we hear you sing it’s in unison with a guitar or piano…how many instruments do you play in total?
I can also play the drums, and by drums I mean knife and fork at the dinner table. At the moment, singing, piano and guitar are my go to.
That’s hilarious! So there are three versions of “You Lift Me Up”, which is your favorite mix? Classic is great of course, but I am digging the EDM version.
Thank you! I find myself blasting the EDM version a bunch cause that’s the one my friends like driving to. It’s actually pretty amazing to see that this version just hit 600,000 streams on Spotify. But I might be a sucker for the acoustic version though as I recorded and produced it in my basement and felt a strong connection to it.
So you are working on your third album; do you have a title yet? After the success of your well-received 2011 album Constant Motion what was your game plan for this up coming project?
The album title is really the most creative thing I’ve ever come up with. Are you ready for this? I’m calling it… “Mikey Wax!” The label and I felt a self-titled album was the way to go in hopes of introducing my music to a bigger audience. I knew I wanted to keep it upbeat, and finding the right balance between sounding like a “band” and a solo artist. For the most part, I’ve always toured solo, so my fans are used to that. But I plan to do more band shows for this record. In fact I’ll be doing a full band performance at my CD release show June 10 in NYC.
What was it like working with producers/songwriters and multi-instrumentalists brotherly duo Scott and Ed Cash?
Scott and Ed are music geniuses, simply put. They were the most fun and supportive guys to work with. The experience truly helped me reach new musical levels I could have never done without their guidance on this album.
How was the transition from indie artist and on tour for 4 years to now being signed by Universal’s Toucan Cove?
Being on Toucan Cove is an amazing opportunity, but it doesn’t change much of my job. I still have to be writing and performing as much as possible, and deepening the relationship I have with my fans. I’ve learned that the song and my fans are the backbone in a constantly changing music business. Having a label will hopefully provide more exposure for my music and help me reach new fans that would have never heard of me otherwise.
What’s next for Mikey Wax…Besides the album of course?
11 shows at venues around the country, plus a bunch of house concerts! If you want to host your own Mikey Wax house concert? head to mikeywax.com for more details.