An underground pop phenomenon in the making, Sharaya Mikael counts 1980’s Madonna and Belinda Carlisle among her musical role models. Mariah Cary and Whitney Houston get a mention as well - Not your usual influences for a solo artist who is coming up strictly the DIY way.
“I was raised on 80’s Billboard hits,” says Mikael. “Belinda Carlisle was a childhood favorite, along with Whitney, Mariah, and Madonna. I’m sure that influences my melodies and hooks.” Mikael’s sure done some editing down of these queens of the pompous pop sound with the resulting originals possessing a folky earthyness and a simple, clean edge.
A good pop hook played plain and simple makes songs like ‘3ft From Gold’ and ‘Canada (We’ll Never Know)’ stand out from the regular singer-songwriter crowd. Mikael’s guitar playing may be obviously folk tinged, but she does not take refuge in jangly fillers or cliches. Her new EP ‘Rush’ showcases a confident writer who can combine catchy tunes with engagingly worded lyrics.
A closet songwriter since high school, Mikael only recently hit the stage. She juggled a day job and singing background vocals for Portland, Oregon, folk band The River Empires for two years, touring and recording with the band. Lead singer Jessy Ribordy liked Mikael’s own songs and offered to produce an EP of her material. The ‘Far Field’ EP came out in March 2010 and sold enough to pique Mikael’s curiosity as to whether life as a musician could be a real option.
Her experience touring with the River Empires and promoting ‘Far Field’ encouraged Mikael to quit her office job less than twelve months ago and to go solo. Luckily, her first serious DIY tour as a solo artist prooved successful enough to support her. Booked and promoted strictly the DIY way by Mikael and a friend, the tour grew to 70 gigs over a period of six months. The money from the gigs and CD sales from the stage after the shows prooved sufficient to bankroll the trip and a modest lifestyle. What more do I need, mused Mikael and took the plunge leaving paid employment for good.
Mikael moved from Portland to the muscial melting pot of Nashville in January of this year and is currently working on a full length album. Nothing is certain in music, but Mikael enjoys her newfound freedom too much to worry about her future. “I still have no idea what I’m doing, but it’s been a fun ride.”
Sharaya Mikael’s ‘Rush’ EP is due out on 15 November.
Watch Sharaya Singing ‘Canada (We’ll Never Know)’
Listen here to ‘3ft From Gold’