Beyond the Surface: Singer-Songwriter Mikey Wax

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As an avid SiriusXM listener, I discovered a new song that sounded like an old standard “And a Happy New Year” on the Holly Channel, immediately iTuned it and had it on repeat for weeks. It elicited what felt like the innocent early 1960s, a simpler time we long to go to, in this uncertain era of constant din.

I was surprised what sounded like a beautiful, classic-sounding song was actually written by a young singer- songwriter from Long Island named Mikey Wax. Mikey has a new single “Helium,” which is an upbeat pop-sounding tune that’s a big departure from the ballad that is “And a Happy New Year.”

Mikey debuts our new celebrity musician driven feature “Beyond the Surface,” which will go beyond the surface of those who are manifesting their Higher Selves by living out their calling in life, and perhaps chose the tougher path — the right road from that fork in the road — to live the Mozart life.

I hope their introspective insights on their own life paths might help you carve out yours, and find your own voice in the din...

I was introduced to you with “And a Happy New Year” on SiriusXM a few years ago. It took me back to that comfy, simple era of the early 1960s. You’re obviously way younger than that. What was your inspiration behind that, can you talk about how that song came to you, how you channeled that, was it a melody first and then lyrics, for example?

For that song I originally only had the verse melody. I was playing it out live singing gibberish words and it always got some kind of reaction because of the simplicity of the melody. I tried to write lyrics for it as a “regular” song but I couldn’t get anywhere. I can’t remember how or when but it finally hit me that it was meant to be a Christmas song and it had the feel of one of those classic holiday songs. After realizing that, the lyrics and chorus came pretty easy. That record was a lot of fun to make because I didn’t try and take it too seriously.

Your new single “Helium” is completely different than the ballad we just spoke about. It’s more upbeat pop. What inspired you for this song?

In general the production of my music has definitely become more modern pop, but I like to think underneath it all, if you strip both songs down to just a guitar and a voice, they are both simple melodic songs. For Helium, I had the chorus melody first for a long time, and was struggling with the verses. I knew I wanted the song to have a unique title, which is how I came up with Helium. A close family member of mine was battling cancer recently and there was endless love and support. “I’ll lift you up, I could be your helium” was mainly attributed to that.

What is your songwriting process, do you have a routine like work on music a certain time of day, for example?

I go through periods where I can be diligent with my songwriting and have planned hours in the day for it, but for the most part it sort of just happens. More often then not, it seems to really only get finished when there’s a deadline like “I have to be in the studio tomorrow, better finish that verse lyric!”

When did you know you had this gift of music and how did you start to do the human discipline it takes to channel it, hone it, and bring it forth?

I knew at around eight years old I always had some kind of emotion in me that had to be expressed musically. I have a weird memory of being in 5th grade and it was the last day in elementary school before moving on to middle school. I felt sad about how fast it all went by and wanted to write a song about it. What does a 10 year old really understand about how fast time goes? But I felt it.

I’ve said in my blog posts that those who make music, are examples of people who are more fully able to express their Higher Selves, some of the best songs were written in a moment of inspiration, under 20 minutes. What song or songs, was that for you?

On past albums I have a few songs like that. To name a few…”In Case I Go Again’, “Last Great Song” “Wait By The Door” “Counting On You” “You Lift Me Up.”

We all have times when we’re in the desert, the wilderness of our lives. But it helps us evolve and create that next, better chapter. What was a valley, a low point in your life that helped raise your consciousness, and stay true to yourself and your own path in life? And what did you do right when you had that epiphany?

To be honest, I feel like I’m coming out of that phase of my life now. Last year was a time of being in between albums so I wasn’t recording, plus I had just finished touring so I wasn’t on the road. I wasn’t sure where I was headed, and if I had any more music to share that could move my career further. Last winter my family struggled with some challenges too, and I remember thinking I wasn’t sure what I have left to give musically. But my team and I kept pushing, kept writing, lots of trial and errors, lots of personal and musical growth, and I think I’m just now at the point where I’m peaking my head over the valley.

Original music is channeled from our Higher Selves, when we are most connected to our own Higher Information, what do you do to connect with your Higher Self, your true self? Do you have a day you unplug and just do you, for example?

I don’t do anything in specific, I think it’s just a combination of things. It’s almost like being lost and found at the same time, having a sense of wonder and uncertainty but also overwhelmingly confident. As I’m typing and thinking about it, having endless free time, an iced tea, the TV on in the background, blue skies, those things seem to spark creation. However, finishing that creation seems to come with limited time, more iced tea, no TV or noise on, and being locked in a room.

Unlike any time in history, we are now in a overwhelming digital era. There’s a lot of detritus and distraction that pushes us to say, read a gossipy article on the web, we normally wouldn’t have before this era, or partake in the public schadenfreude. How do you find quiet in this noisy era? How do you ground yourself and focus on your own life path and purpose and what you want to achieve in the time we’re given here?

I think my natural tendency is to wander off into my own world. I also have a few hobbies that bring my mind back to a quiet almost childlike place. Songwriting is definitely one of them. Being in the studio and building a song is usually like being on cloud nine, if it’s going well. I also like to create tangible things, like model city buildings with streets, cars, trains, people.

What advice do you have for people who have the gift of music, but don’t know how to start to channel it, develop that gift and bring it out?

I think a lot of things in life can be compared to exercising. Nobody really wants to do it, you kinda just have to start and it gets easier and becomes a habit. Keep in mind, I still struggle with this and am still learning this process. But once you start and get going, the easier it becomes, like getting on the treadmill the first five minutes are awful but then you get used to it.

How did you know that this is your life path, your calling?

I can't remember a day in my life when I didn't know how to play piano. Writing songs and expressing myself musically was something that always came natural to me. The unnatural part was at first showcasing that ability to other people in fear of being judged. That's the sort of thing that took practice and honing. To write music you have to be vulnerable and full of feelings, and to perform live you kind of have to say to yourself "I don't give a sh*t.”

What song do you play to pick you up, inspires you, perhaps when you’re feeling down and need some inspiration?

Music from the 1940’s and 1950’s always gives me a relaxing good vibe, as well as good jazz.

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