With her trusty harp, Mikaela Davis has previously featured as a member of touring bands for Bon Iver, Mac DeMarco and The Staves – but now she’s arriving proper with a debut of her own, the John Congleton (St Vincent, Wild Beasts) produced ‘Delivery’.
Hey Mikaela, how’s it going? Excited for the album?
It’s going. Yes!
‘Delivery’ is a really compelling listen, did you achieve everything you wanted to with it? It sounds like it must’ve been a long time in the making.
I’m very happy with this record; I feel like I’m finding my voice.
Is it hard to figure out what you want to do when you’re able to utilise different styles of music so well?
I don’t really think about it too much, it just happens.
You can hear the impact of John Congleton coming through, what drew you to working with him? He really seems to complement what you’re doing.
I liked that each record he’s produced sounds different. He makes every record sound true to the band he’s working with and goes in a different direction each time – working with all kinds of artists. I admire his weirdness.
Do the songs on the album relate back to specific events in your life? How personal are they?
Yep, most of them are pretty personal.
Do you have a favourite style of song, or vibe you like to evoke?
Not really, I’m down to try anything.
What skills did doing a degree in Harp Performance afford you, and how do they come into practice day-to-day?
Technique! So I don’t ruin my hands. I warm up by displacing strings with each finger (except for pinkies, we don’t use those) slowly up and down the scale in thirds, sixths and octaves. It helps build muscle in my fingers so I can play correctly. The tension of the strings on the harp is very high, so this is important. There is much more, but I won’t bore you.
Does that kind of course encompass different applications for music, or do you have to be a bit of a renegade to move beyond a strictly classical setting?
My classical background still influences my writing and soloing. Sometimes I quote concertos I’ve played in my solos.
You’ve notched up quite a few musician pals – have any imparted any particularly useful advice?
Go your own way!
Where do you go from here?
Taken from the August issue of Dork, out now. Mikaela Davis’ debut album ‘Delivery’ is out now.
Words: Sam Taylor