New Zealand multi-instrumentalist Mihka Chee has plenty of reasons to smile with the release of brand new single I Was Better off her EP aptly titled Both. Mihka is a self-described music nerd from way back, she attended her first music lesson when she was a day old as mum bundled her along to see one of sister’s violin lessons and happily spent her teenage years in band rooms. Launching her solo project in late 2015 the sky is the limit. Mihka shares a few words about her new EP with Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles.
Congratulations on your EP Both, are you relieved and satisfied now that is finished?
Thank you! I am. It’s exciting and a bit scary to finally have something to show people but I loved every minute of it.
Did you ever think that the writing process would be such a therapeutic process?
I don’t think I anticipated that, but therapeutic is a good word for what it turned out to be. There was a lot of stuff that needed to come out and expressing it through music was probably the healthiest way to do that. There were also a lot of tears and wine and questionable choices, but it was all necessary and turned out okay in the end.
Do you worry about giving too much away about yourself in these songs?
Always. But I physically can’t write things that are overly cryptic – it just sounds like I’m trying too hard and people probably see straight through it anyway. I have just realised that you have to be true to yourself because anything else isn’t sustainable or enjoyable.
How much did you learn about yourself during the creative process and resilience going through some tough times personally?
One really significant thing that I learned is that some of my closest friends had also been through really tough times and not reached out for support, due to shame or guilt or whatever else. When I told people about my separation, so many people responded with their own experiences of their heartbreak and it just floored me that I never knew this about people who were so close to me. I processed things through talking to people about it but many of my friends didn’t do it that way, and I just looked at them and their resilience and I just thought that if they could be so brave, I would be brave too. Music helped me to be brave and say what I needed to say.
Any regrets chucking in a corporate career for music?
I won’t say that the money wasn’t really useful, but I don’t regret anything. I couldn’t do the corporate career and dedicate myself to music at the same time, and I’m really glad that I made music my priority.
What’s the best part of your new journey in to music?
Doing everything the way that I want to do it has been more fulfilling that I ever thought it would be. I was always a band member, never a front woman, and just kind of went along with what everyone else wanted to do. Now that I’m making the calls, it’s a lot more responsibility, but knowing that I’ve lead the process is very satisfying.
Have you continued writing for another album or EP?
Yes, I’ve written three new songs since recording the EP and I’m itching to record them. I have always wanted to do an album though so it might be a while before that happens.
What sorts of ideas and themes interest you?
Lately I’ve been writing about themes like identity, self doubt and acceptance. It’s really linked to starting up this solo project and finding out who I am through that process.
Who has been your biggest influence musically and why?
My mum. She is a piano teacher and got my three sisters and I into piano and violin lessons from when we were 3 years old. Without her, I probably would have had a much longer path into music. She is also incredibly resilient and self-sufficient – just an all-round badass.
Any plans to tour including Adelaide?
I really hope so! Once the EP is released, my plan is to take it on the road so watch this space.
Will you return to London?
I’ve been back for a couple of short trips since leaving, and I still love it – it’s got so much to offer, especially the music scene. I’d love to play some shows there and collaborate with artists.
Interview by Rob Lyon
For more info about Mihka Chee visit her website www.mihkachee.com