Rochester, that town in Upstate, NY that gave us Julia Nunes, has blessed us with another great artist – harpist-singer-songwriter Mikaela Davis.
Davis performs, and continues to study the harp at Potsdam working on classical pieces while she isn’t writing songs. She made her debut CD with the aid of the crowd-funder Kickstarter, and released it earlier this year. The CD, by the way, is highly-recommended. You can hear the work of a precision-based study environment in the sound of her playing on these tracks, and her voice is nothing to sneeze at either. Click to buy it here or on the bottom.
CM: You’re from Rochester, NY–Is there something in the air or the water in that part of New York that there are three really gifted singer-songwriters (you, Julia Nunes and Lauren O’Connell) coming from this area?
Mikaela: Something is definitely in the water! The music scene is growing — there’s Joywave, The Demos, The Absolutes, Josh Netsky, Sports, Walri, Harmonica Lewinski etc. All incredible musicians. The art scene is growing as well.
CM: The album is incredible! I really enjoy the way you use the harp as a pop instrument on songs like “Just Trying to Be Your Friend”. It just sounds so cool, like you are playing the harp sort of as a rhythm guitar.
Mikaela: Thank you!! In my pop songs I mainly am just playing chords without any fillers.
I’m Just Tryin’ To Be Your Friend
CM: Can you talk about your beginnings with the harp, and why you chose this instrument?
Mikaela: I started at my elementary school in second grade. My school district owns harps like they own violins, cellos, etc. I chose the harp because my Oma had passed away the year before and I wanted her to hear me practice the harp under the skylight in my living room – I imagined she would only be able to see me if I was playing the harp. I took private lessons with Grace Wong from 4th grade to 12th grade, was in Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra from 9th – 12th grade and Performed the Debussy Danses harp concerto senior year. I am currently studying harp performance with Jessica Suchy-Pilalis at the Crane School of Music. I will be performing Pierne’s Concertstuck Harp Concerto in April!
CM: After you and Joanna Newsom, I don’t know how many other artists that write songs and happen to play the harp are going to prove themselves in a singular way the way that you guys have, and you and JN have your own musical identities. Would others have to prove themselves the same way?
Mikaela: I mean, any harpist could write songs just as easily as a pianist. They don’t have to prove anything. You’re right though – I haven’t heard of many singer/songwriters on harp. It was definitely a interesting transition from writing songs on piano to harp (I used to write for piano and voice in middle school and put on a concert of original music in 7th and 8th grade).
CM: The CD was funded through Kickstarter, and this has proven to be very successful for many indie artists. What are your thoughts on the program, and would you go through them again if need be for the second CD?
Mikaela: It was great. I would recommend it to anyone! I want to try and stay away from asking for money. I’m recording a single with a B-side at Red Booth Studios in August and I’m hoping my CD sales will cover that.
Great Fairy Fountain – The Legend of Zelda