Interview: MikelParis (keys with O.A.R) on new album “HIHOWAREYA Vol. 1”

October 8, 2013

Interview: MikelParis (keys with O.A.R) on new album “HIHOWAREYA Vol. 1”

From Germany to Australia, New York to London, MikelParis has been on stages worldwide.  His passion for rhythm and groove intensified when he joined the cast of Stomp and he later parlayed this experience into working with Platinum selling artist Pink, Train, renowned comedy rockers The Dan Band, folk singer Jewel, and eventually American touring staple O.A.R.  In addition to sharing his talent with other artists, he also has a solo career and developed a unique style of playing the acoustic guitar called "GuitarDrumming." It infuses his piano and rhythmic skills into an organic, groove-oriented sound that has become the foundation for many of his songs. In his debut solo release "FLOW", he infused this GuitarDrumming style and dynamic melodies into a collection of songs that truly reflect the album’s title. His single "Great Unknown" has been played during the pre-show music at O.A.R concerts. MikelParis is currently releasing songs from his upcoming "HIHOWAREYA Vol. 1" release, filming and airing episodes of his travel and music show, "TuneTrek", developing a multimedia live show, and has started giving performance presentations at Apple stores and other corporate events. I got a chance to speak with MikelParis in the middle of September about his creative process. Here are some of his insights.

Tell us what’s going on with your solo projects.
“I’ve been with O.A.R. for 8 years and even throughout that process, I’ve always been writing my own personal stuff, testing the waters a little about doing solo shows along the way. It’s not been ’til maybe the last couple of years that I’ve gotten really serious about it and really started to think about the music I want to get out there and share with people. I’m putting stuff out there and getting reactions. I’ve been doing a song a month since June. ‘Star’, ‘Great Unknown’, and ‘Work It Out’ are released to iTunes already. Around the third week of October for the others.”

‘Star’ is truly beautiful with great rhythm, and it’s emotional too. Was it inspired by a special someone? It sounds like maybe it was.
“Thanks! Sort of. A lot of my lyrics I find sometimes do start with real-life inspiration, and then sort of morph into fiction or into storytelling. The biggest struggle for songwriters I think is to make that connection between the lyrics, and the notes, and the tempo, and the instrumentation, and when you get everything to gel, it’s magic.”

When are you going on tour?
“As far as solo, I’m working on getting set up with a booking agent now. The pieces are slowly coming together, so I’m hoping for late fall or early winter for that.  O.A.R. has about a 2-week run starting the beginning of November which I’m really excited about. Some Florida dates, and we’re also doing some one-off’s.  We’re going to Boston this week, and then we’re doing the New Hampshire speedway, and then Fort Worth speedway in November. I’m super excited for these NASCAR shows with the band. I’ve become a fan of NASCAR.”

What’s the best part about being on tour?
“I love being on tour. I love traveling. It’s been in my blood since I was a young kid. There’s something about discovering and seeing a place for the first time, or discovering something new about a place you’ve been to, that I just can’t get enough of. And playing music while touring, sharing that energy and that creativity with audiences all over the world - as a musician it’s the most rewarding thing - to get to share that energy with people. I get antsy when I’m home for more than a couple of weeks. I get a feeling of needing to get out and share and experience and see things.” 

Why are you doing this tech event today?
“I was extremely mediocre at backing up my files in the past. Before the summer tour, however, I decided to turn over a new leaf and started backing up my files everyday after major work sessions. I was working on pretty big projects, including editing videos. One of the projects I have that relies heavily on reliable storage and the ability to share large files is my TuneTrek travel and music show. With TuneTrek I find interesting historic landmarks or scenic vistas around the country while on the tour bus. I’ve filmed about 25 episodes so far and basically I have a guitar on my back, and a camera bag on my front, and I head out and see some really cool spots. I’m working with HD video and some pretty large files, around 8-10 gigabytes apiece. So having really reliable storage and the ability to share these large files has been really valuable. For HIHOWAREYA Vol.1, I again worked with large files, pro tools and GarageBand, so I needed a really good way to share these large files with my mix engineer, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. When I met him to produce the sessions, he was able to have the tracks up and running for me. I was able to do this with my WD network drive and it worked pretty seamlessly. I’m really excited to see how the WD My Cloud makes this process even easier.” 

Can fans follow you on Twitter and Facebook?
Yes, definitely. I use my name on all my social media - MikelParis.

Interview courtesy of Alex H Yong

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