Micachu and the Shapes Leader Mica Levi on Love Songs and Procrastinating

By

Twenty-two-year-old Mica Levi, a.k.a. Micachu, is a singer, producer, D.J., and classically trained composer from England. Her band, Micachu and the Shapes, makes pop music that's experimental enough to occasionally feature a vacuum cleaner (Björk and Kim Deal are fans, obviously). Their debut album, Jewellery, was released in early September, and they'll play tonight at Brooklyn's Littlefield, and at Manhattan's Le Poisson Rouge tomorrow. Mica spoke with Vulture about life on the road, growing up around musicians, and how anything can be a love song.

You were born in Surrey. Did you grow up there?
I grew up in and around Watford, which did have a quite a big garage/punk radio scene. It’s built over a massive sewage system; it’s sort of a shit-bridge. George Michael was born there and so was Geri Halliwell.

How did you first get into music?
My parents were both musicians, so I was saturated by it from an early age. My dad’s such an avid record collector, and when you’re a kid and you see loads of CDs and loads of records, it’s quite appealing — especially the LPs that had the massive, colorful covers.

How did you start making mix tapes? You just released your second.
I was studying composition at Guildhall in London. I met some rappers around the area — they were basically criminals, but they were really nice. We had this weird relationship where I just made beats and they would come over and freestyle for hours. Our lives were very different and certain things got a bit difficult, but it was just really, really fun. Me and my friend Ques — he’s a fantastic producer from London — we just did a mix tape together. It’s quite chilled out.

You’ve said you try to steer clear of love songs, but a lot of your songs seem to be about love, or things you’d like to say to lovers.
Yeah. That’s sort of exactly it. I start writing love songs and it’s all these words that happen to rhyme — “I miss you, kiss you” — I thought it was just a downward spiral, so I stopped. Some of that record is about relationships and love. “Turn Me Well” is definitely about relationships. A lot of it is a bit cynical. But I think you could say that anything could be made into a metaphor for love.

You’ve been doing a lot of touring these days. How’s the road treating you?
The road is long, but it’s been a pretty amazing experience. There’s a lot of sitting around. I mean, for a set of 45 minutes of music a night — the rest of the day is spent procrastinating.

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?
What do we do in the car? We listen to music. Marc tends to ask philosophical questions with no answer that no one has the patience for. We eat stupid food. You stop at a service station and you spend any money that you’ve made on the tour on stupid fucking food. Here in the States is the worst, there’s such a variety of candy. We play a bit of football in the service stations as well. When we tour in England, you begin to become familiar with certain service stations, and that’s a pretty depressing thing.