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Chicago artist Mikhael Hell will perform at CHIRP Night at the Whistler on Tuesday, December 5th. We caught up with Mikhael recently to ask a few questions…
So...What’s going on? Tell us about your current releases and/or upcoming shows (such as CHIRP Night at the Whistler!).
I’ve played in indie and punk bands in Chicago and beyond for forever (bass in Mystery Actions and Jen & the Dots, drums in The Cloud Corporation, I was even the singer in an all-girl Misfits cover band!!!), but I just started playing out solo as Mikhael Hell this year.
My curse is that I love getting wild and rocking out on stage, but every time I sit down to write music, only super sad, darkly gut-wrenching pretty songs come out! So the stuff I was writing was never a good match for the bands I was playing in.
When Mystery Actions wound down last year and I wasn’t in any bands for the first time in a long time, I was like, you know what? F*ck it. I’m finally gonna do my sad, weird-ass pop songs about lesbian drug dealers, vengeful Greek gods, suicides, and serial killers. It’s not at all what people are going to be expecting from me, but it’s what I got.
As far as shows, as you know my next show will be CHIRP Night at the Whistler, Tuesday December 5 After that, I really want to focus on recording and getting the songs I’m playing in a barebones fashion right now really arranged and produced just the way I want them.
How do you go about turning your thoughts, ideas, and feelings into sounds?
Chord progressions and song ideas just come to me while messing around on the guitar. Lyrics are harder. They usually come to me in dribs and drabs, which I have to capture on my Notes app and then weave together. I’ll get a flash of, like, one line, and have to frantically type it into my phone while in traffic (don’t suggest Siri, that witch does not understand a word I say!).
If your music was a kind of beer, ice cream, or coffee (take your pick), what would it taste like?
Cotton Candy Vodka Ice Cream
Do you have any particular or unexpected influences? Are any other artists or bands catching your attention at the moment?
Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, Nick Drake, Elliott Smith. Tortured geniuses too tender for this world. They were failed and stigmatized by the systems and societies of their times. I like to cover their songs and call it my Mental Health Awareness series.
Locally, Ami Saraiya is such a gob-smackingly talented music multi-hyphenate, I hope she releases more stuff. I’m also eagerly anticipating new vault releases from '90s Chicago new wave/indie band Pulsars.
If you couldn’t make music or be involved with music, what would you be doing right now?
I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be happy, that’s for sure.
What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done in a basement?
Used a can of hairspray as a flame thrower.
If you were someone’s life coach, what are the top 2 life lessons you’d teach them?
(1) Rest is resistance – that’s from author Tricia Hersey. Sacrificing your life on the altar of busyness and workaholism is a trap. (2) As the Oracle at Delphi would say, γνῶθι σαὐτόν - Know thyself.
Are there any stories or anecdotes you want to share but haven’t been asked the right question to do so? Or do you have anything you’d like to declare to the world? Feel free to share…
Actually yes!!! I’m playing solo right now, but I’d love to get a band together to perform Mikhael Hell songs live the way they’re supposed to sound. So if there are any musicians out there reading this who are interested, hit me up on my socials!!!
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