'Letting go of perfection': Mikaela Davis on greatest challenge recording her debut album

Davis is going to release her debut album, Delivery, via Rounder Records and produced by John Congleton, on July 13

                            'Letting go of perfection': Mikaela Davis on greatest challenge recording her debut album

Harpist, pianist, singer, and songwriter - the young Mikaela Davis is a lot of things. She crafts songs that range from sweet to salty, from folk to funk, from AM rock to experimental 80s pop and so much more. 

This coming July 13, the 25-year-old artist is going to release her debut album, 'Delivery' via Rounder Records and produced by John Congleton (Angel Olsen, Alvvays, Future Islands, St Vincent).

Mikaela, who has also worked as a voice actress, talked to Meaww about her journey from being a performer for her family, to getting a band together and eventually, reaching this milestone of a debut album. Here are excerpts from the conversation:

• What’s the story behind the name of your album?

Delivery is the name of my album and also the name of the first track you hear. I wrote this song in a time when I doubted myself and questioned everyone who wished to help my career. This story is common, and I’ll bet everyone in the entertainment industry - any line of work really - has gone through a similar experience.

• When did you first start performing? / And how did you get your band together?

I’ve been performing for my family since I could walk & talk. My beanie babies have seen many improvised dances to Michael Jackson songs. Sang in chorus all through grade school, started piano and harp at eight.
My drummer Alex and I have been good friends since high school. The first incarnation of my band was the two of us. He started off playing bells to accompany the harp. That slowly turned into a drum set, and we eventually added guitar. Alex met Cian in college at SUNY Purchase and brought him into the band. We didn’t have a bass player for the longest time, but when we played our first show at a larger venue opening for Rubblebucket back in 2015, Cian suggested we have his brother Shane join us on bass to fill the room. The rest is history!

• Who are your biggest influences?

Neil Young, John Lennon, Melody Prochet, Harry Nilsson, Alice Coltrane...

• What kind of music do you like listening to? Can we have a link to a playlist/mixtape that you particularly enjoy?

All kinds of music... my band made a playlist for the tour we are currently on, follow it here: TOURMOOD playlist.

• If you had to pick just one artist/band that you would like to collaborate in the near future, who would it be?

Melody Prochet!

Photo by Jacalyn Meyvis.
Photo by Jacalyn Meyvis.

• Who produced the LP? What was it like in the studio during the production of this record?

John Congleton. Studio time was especially dildo-cious on account of the dildos that made their way onto the record. My Twitter has more details from August 2017.

• If you had to pick one favorite among all your tracks, which one would it be and why?

'All I Do Is Disappear' is my favorite track on the album - possibly because we almost didn't record it. I wasn't sure if the song was good enough, and I hadn't even shown it to the band yet, though I'm really happy with the way it turned out: a simple arrangement with an unexpected build up of chaos at the end.

• What were some of the challenges / the greatest challenge that you faced while recording your music?

Letting go of perfection. John works fast - we were done tracking bass and drums within four days, by the tenth day we were done with all instruments and most of the vocals. I get self conscious about how bright my voice generally sounds, and with John I sang only three or four takes of each song. I decided to trust him and let go of trying over and over for the "perfect take" - I'm happy I did.

• Vinyl or digital? What’s your preferred format and why?

Vinyl, 'cause it sounds better.

• Any plans of touring soon?

Yes! I believe I'm coming back to Europe this fall! Keep an eye out.

• What can we expect next?

Anything. I'm not even sure what to expect.