Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Mica Levi of Micachu and the Shapes; I say “speak with” instead of “interview,” because while I definitely asked questions, the end result (read: my rambling) comes off much more as a conversation. If you’re already rolling your eyes because you just HATE IT when I talk, then just skip to the non-bold parts to get Mica’s responses. OR if you just hate reading altogether, then I vote you do at least one of the following: 1) Buy Never and listen to it FOREVER, 2) check out some of the amazing music videos for the songs from that album, and/or 3) check the band out at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday night OR catch Mica’s DJ set at Cameo Gallery this evening. You have thirty seconds on the clock to choose your own adventure, and your time…starts…NOW!
So where are you right now?
I’m just standing on the bus right now, we’re in New York.
So I don’t know if they told you what my semi-self-indulgent framework for this interview was going to be, but since it’s October I’ve been trying to base some of these around a show called Celebrity Ghost Stories. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that or not; the premise is basically Z-list soap opera stars sharing their “real life” experiences with weird paranormal shit, and I’m ALL about that. SO, I was going to ask if you have any of your own stories that might fit into that category.
Right. Paranormal experiences…I mean, none that I can distinguish from just everyday weird shit. Can it just involve really coincidental stuff?
Yeah, that’s totally fine.
Okay, so guess what happened yesterday?
This isn’t going to seem paranormal at all, it’s just going to seem like a coincidence. This is the first thing that’s come to my head, so it might not be right, but I walked into a room, and I said, “Has anybody seen Doug?” and two people at the same time went, “You’re sick?” I mean, it was at exactly the same time, and both with the same face and everything. So that was the most recent “paranormal” experience I’ve had.
Well even in the non-paranormal sense, do you ever get, like, crazy fans writing you weird fan mail or anything like that?
I suppose we do, yeah. I mean, it feels a bit weird to say “crazy”; obviously anybody who’s sending us fan mail is obviously of the same mind. I mean, I’ve had a marriage proposal before, and that was quite weird.
So do you get recognized in the street and stuff? Or are you still mostly anonymous?
No, no. It happened a couple years ago, but no, not at all. Not at all. Thank god for that!
Totally. I mean, I don’t predict I’ll be famous or recognizable anytime soon (or ever), but I don’t think I could handle people coming up to me all the time. I mean, I can’t even handle people coming up to me in shops asking me if I need help with anything.
Yeah, I don’t think I really know anyone who gets that, either. I can’t really envision what that’s like as a reality. Sounds crap, doesn’t it?
Pretty much. Okay, so let’s talk about the videos, too, because those are all pretty incredible. ‘Low Dogg’ killed me! Whose dog is that?
That’s my friend’s dog.
Well you tell your friend I like that dog.
Yeah, it’s a beautiful dog. Never worked with animals though, and it took fucking ages. You know, the dog was fine, but then the minute the cameras were on her she freaked out.
It’s weird, it’s like they can kind of sense there’s something happening there, because I try to take pictures of my dog all the time and she is not into it.
I think it’s cool, though, that they know it’s really shit.
Exactly! And so all the videos sort of share this common backdrop, common aesthetic…
So what I took away from the videos was, you know, you sort of have this video game vibe, and you play video games when you’re a kid because it’s like, this amazing adventure escapism, right? But then the subjects in your videos are kind of all doing these semi-boring, like, adult life things, and it’s kind of this interesting contrast. Which I feel like I can relate to, because I live in New York, and my life should be fucking exciting, but instead I’m eating like, cereal, and going to bed at 10pm. I mean, I don’t know if that’s the aesthetic you were going for, but that’s kind of what I got from it.
No, that’s cool! I mean, when I was a child, I loved it when there was a human being in a cartoon, like Mary Poppins or something like that. I don’t think I can ever think that’s not amazing, when a cartoon actually meets a human. So yeah, I guess it’s sort of fake reality, real stuff…I mean, it wasn’t massively video game inspired, but it is like that in certain parts. I can see that now, yeah, so maybe it was subconsciously a part of it. But that’s cool. You know, sometimes you make something, and you just sort of have to go with it, and you think in order of practicality, like, “Maybe we could do this, and then this here,” and the way it all ends up is maybe sort of slightly out of your control. It’s just a series of decisions that you’ve made with other people to sort of get somewhere else. So if that’s how you see it, that’s cool. Like I’m always finding out different things about it. Does that make sense?
No, totally. And just in terms of ideas, then, how do you and your band mates sort of figure those things out? Like are you kind of the president and you can be like, “No, I veto what you just said.”
Well, I don’t know, it depends on the scenario, because we’re all really reasonable with each other. So when we’re working on something together, if it’s not good we’ll just all know that it’s not good. Or, like, Raisa might say, “Just give it a minute and you’ll see that it’s great,” and then we’ll give it a minute, and we’ll be like, “No, that was not great.” But I don’t know, you just kind of work it out. We all try to tune ourselves together so we know when something doesn’t work right.
And so obviously we’ve already established in like, every single interview with you ever, that you make instruments, so I’m not even going to really get into that unless there’s something you want to tell me about…
Yeah, thank you!!!
Well, that’s the thing, and this is what kills me, is like, every single interview is the fucking same shit, so I mean, I do apologize if I ask you any repeats…
No, you haven’t! It’s crazy, isn’t it? I don’t understand why that is.
I guess it made sense a long time ago, because you didn’t really have the Internet where you could just Google it, but it’s like EVERY single thing. Anyway, obviously you’ve had a lot of experience with all kinds of instruments, but is there any one that you just fucking hate to play? Because for me, I grew up playing the violin and the clarinet and hated both. I was much more into like, the kazoo.
Being into the kazoo…that’s a good one, I quite like that. I feel quite annoyed with the guitar sometimes. I feel like it’s a challenge I have to overcome, because…it’s fucking good, the guitar is really good. I mean, it’s popular for a reason; it’s easy to play, it covers the middle of the frequency range really well, you can play chords really easily, you can make harmonies happen very easily, and it’s quite versatile as well. But it just has this fucking sound, it sounds like the fucking guitar, and the guitar is just everywhere in the world, everywhere all the time. I play the guitar in our band, and I feel like I have to overcome…I mean, like Raisa for instance has this infinite possibility with electronic sounds, Marc’s got his drum kit, and I’ve got this guitar, and I’m like, “Ugh, I hate the guitar.” But it’s cool as well.
Totally understandable. And so you’ve also said that music-making is a pretty constant process in your everyday life, but let’s say somebody just has this ability to delete music as a thing from Planet Earth.
Like, what do you do with all your free time instead, and/or do you end up being deleted as well along with it?
Okay, I just need a minute to actually imagine that…if it got taken away from me, I think I’d be really miserable. I don’t really know what I’d do…I guess I’d try and get a normal job if they’d have me, though that doesn’t seem to be what happens. I don’t know…you’d have to draw? You’d have to make art in this world. You’d have to listen to traffic. I’d probably end up just like, getting really into ambient sounds. Maybe everyone would just get really interested in the sound of traffic jams.
Yeah, music would prevail somehow.
Music will prevail! Yeah, I don’t believe you, I don’t believe you. The answer is, I’d probably be deluded. That’d be the eventual outcome.
Okay, so back in the world where music exists, you’ll be at Le Poisson Rouge Monday, yeah? And then are you in town Saturday as well or do you jet straight over to Chicago?
Saturday? Yeah, I think we’re around Saturday.
Okay, cool. Well I’ll tell everyone to look for you in the street, then, and test out how you go with being recognized.
Yeah, we’ll all be on the street in New York. So just come to the street.
Okay, everyone. You got that? The street. We’ll see you at the street. And/or at Cameo Gallery tonight, and/or at Le Poisson Rouge Monday.