Introducing: Mikey Dam, New Zealand’s Rising Pop Star
New Zealand singer-songwriter Mikey Dam exists in a lane all of his own. After establishing himself through a series of drops, including his 2017 debut mixtape MNO, the emerging artist has built an undeniably true-to-self catalog. Mikey, amongst few other artists, puts his life as well as the hardships and triumphs enveloped within it on display for his fanbase to relate to and hopefully move past. As his first drop of the year, Mikey Dam shared a vulnerable cut aptly titled “Would You.” The song exemplifies his evolution as a human and artist, preparing listeners for what’s soon to come in the coming years.
Mikey Dam continues to carve out his own raw brand of therapeutic pop-tinged R&B with sincere relatability at the heart of his work. A songwriter first, his foundation is charged by heart-spoken honesty and sincerity – his biggest asset being his powerful portrayal of everyday real-life truths.
We got to chat with Mikey Dam about sculpting his own sound within the New Zealand music scene, his new single and video “Would You,” and preparing his label debut project. Check out the conversation below.
Tell me a bit about yourself, when and where did musical journey begin?
It started in 2009 and it was honestly by accident, I wasn’t making music prior to that. I met a guy named Mike Novo through bicycling and one day we had exam leave. I go to his house and he said “you should listen to these beats I made.” From there, I was literally mind blown that you could live off music. I ended up here and I started off as a rapper, but being a part of this Pop and singer-songwriter wave has been a journey. It’s been incredible and it kind of opened other doors for me as I didn’t know being a songwriter was a full-time job until three years ago.
I think New Zeeland is quite small compared to less countries so you obviously have less competitors. I think that makes the competition out here quite harder but that was better for us because the bar was always high.
How does being based in New Zealand influence you sonically?
I think I’m grateful because it sculpted a sound around how I make music now. For a long time, I think if you’re not from America, you’re trying to sound like you’re from America. Even the R&B realm in New Zealand, I think it tried to capture the sound of America. I think the best part about being from here is being able to resculpt the music industry and giving us a brand and sound. I want people to say “you know what, I’m proud to rep New Zealand.”
You have a record called “Would You,” what was the process like translating those emotions into lyrics?
We had a second lockdown here and I pulled up this beat with guitar loops and I was stuck on it for a while. I already had the hook for it and it was pretty simple. It was the moment I found the melody for the verses and pre-hook that it fell out natural. The version that’s out now is the version that I recorded the same day I made that song. They asked me to recut it, but I was like “no, we can’t recapture that moment.” They had to stay that way because you literally have to go to a place that reminds you of those words and that’s why it’s sometimes hard to reword vocals.
It’s pretty much like trying to relive a memory in your brand and sometimes it can be harsh. Just that feeling of lost of breath before you want to cry. You kind of just figure out a bunch of things about yourself. Songs like these, I usually tend to record them by myself for a few hours and ask myself how deep can I go and how can I make it make sense to other people.
How does it compare to any of the other material that you’ve been working?
I think a lot of the songs that I’m working on right now while I’m putting my project together are pretty much me being as honest as I can. The moment I signed a deal with one of the best labels, I was pretty wrecked. I could make a whole bunch of bangers for the radio or I can present myself to the world on an international level as who I am so people know who I am before I try to make those big bangers people want to listen to. I think that the songs that I’m working on for this project are explaining me as a person.
Obviously I’m not going to meet every fan face-to-face as much as we’d want to so I think the best way to do that is to let them inside of my life. You’re either with me or your not and I appreciate everyone listening and taking the time out. I’m literally giving them everything, my audience sees and knows everything. My project is quite vulnerable, dark, stories about fears and life experiences, love, loss, and relationships. I just want people to know who Mikey is.
What do you want fans to take from your music?
I really want the fans to take away that… What I’ve realized about anxiety is that when you find out someone else has anxiety, you instantly feel relief. It’s a relief in a good way, but it’s sad that someone else goes through the same experiences as you. I think the message behind “Would You” was let’s put some light behind the dark parts of your life. I think it can get a bit more darker when there are people around you that are still stuck in those loops. I’m hoping that from this generation, we change our way of life rather than it still being the same as others.
With the pandemic going on, how have you been staying positive and creative?
It’s super hard but I signed a publishing deal with Universal Publishing Australia so I’ve just been firing away. I have a real ADHD brain when it comes to making music so through the lockdown, I’ve just been keeping busy. Watching other songwriters and how they move as well as connecting with people. I think we’re just trying to keep each others spirits up and I think being here in New Zealand, we have it really good. I’m very grateful and lucky to be in a country that’s open and allows us to travel around.
In regards to your legacy, what type of impression do you want to leave on the world?
Honestly, that I just knew who I was. That I was still intact through all these hard moments. I was grateful for everything and everyone in my life. That I tried setting benchmarks and history out here in New Zealand.
If you enjoyed our chat with Mikey Dam, check out our interview with artist-producer Dominique!