New Zealand’s multi-instrumentalist Mihka Chee has just released her debut single, ‘I Was Better’. Mihka now resides on Sydney’s northern beaches where she’s been nutting away at her upcoming EP, Both. Tomatrax caught up with Mihka to ask a few questions.
What inspired you to become a musician?
My mum is a piano teacher and she had my three sisters and I in violin and piano lessons from the age of 3. My granddad was a jazz/blues guitarist and my grandmother was an organist, so I was pretty much destined to be a musician. I feel really fortunate that my entry into music was very easy and a natural thing in my family.
When did you write your first song?
I think I was about 16. I don’t remember how it goes but it was probably really awful, and most likely about a crush I had. I played it to my best friend and then realised it had the same chords as a Shakira song, and ditched it immediately.
You’ve just released your debut single, what’s it like to have it out?
It’s equal parts terrifying and exciting to finally have it out there. What has been really cool is the support from my friends and family. My dad has asked me to email him the lyrics and has it on repeat all day. Mum tried to listen online to my song being played on the radio but somehow got the timing wrong, so she was up until way past her bedtime and very disappointed that she missed it. I love them both to bits, they are so supportive.
What made you pick ‘I was better’ as your first single?
I talked to one of my closest friends about which song to pick as the first single, and he said “I Was Better” sounded the most like me. I lived in London for two years and I used to call him when I was drunk and rant about shit and he said that the song sounds exactly like one of those drunken phone calls. I thought that was a fun kind of way to make an entrance.
You have an EP coming out soon, how will the rest of the EP compare with ‘I was better’?
I think the EP represents me pretty well for the time I was writing those songs. Thematically they’re all about love, work and relationships and those things were filling my head during the writing process. It’s primarily pop/rock which is a good representation of my style.
Where did the title Both come from?
Both is my favourite song from the EP, and the last song I wrote before the recording process started. Pete (my drummer), Jimmy (bassist) and Oscar (mixing engineer) all picked that one as their favourite too, and lots of people have said that it’s the standout track when we play it live. As a title, I think it just sums up the themes of the EP pretty well.
When writing what comes first, the words or the music?
Usually the music – I’m a riff lover. When I’m sitting in the practice room trying to start off a song, I’ll normally do that by coming up with a riff first. Occasionally, a lyric will pop into my head as the start of the song, which then influences the chord structure and riffs.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Yes, but I have to take a break from it too, otherwise I start hearing things that no one else is ever going to pick up and I get too critical of myself.
What other music do you listen to?
There’s so many awesome female musicians that I have on repeat like Ecca Vandal, Ali Barter, Meg Mac, Ngaiire, Margaret Glaspy and Maggie Rogers. I listen to a lot of Gary Clark Jr., as well as 90s rock bands like Incubus. I love a good pop hook so I’m really into Sia.
What do you have planned now that your single is out?
Releasing the EP is the next step, then hopefully a tour with the band, and recording the next project.
Check out Mihka Chee’s webpage to find out more!