15 questions with Ottawa artist Mikayel

Artist and songwriter Mikayel is one of Ottawa’s multi-talented and hardworking upcoming artists. 

His music, a mix of Afrobeats, Hip Hop and Afro Pop, Mikayel seamlessly fuses the upbeat culture of his birth country, Zambia, with a ‘new edge’ vibe that transforms the listener. 

Mikayel moved from Zambia to Ottawa to study Construction Engineering. His passion for music and songwriting has led him to explore English Literature, Piano and even poetry. Music, for him, is a process, a healer, and a journey. 

We caught up with Mikayel to discuss his new music, his take on the journey of becoming a prevalent artist in Ottawa, and what’s next.

You’re from Zambia, can you tell us some of your favourite memories growing up there?

I have so many fond memories of growing up in Zambia. I grew up with nine siblings of which I was the second youngest. I think growing up in a big tight-knit middle-class family made me appreciate the simple things in life. We had no video games or gadgets, we had to be a little creative.


What is it like being an upcoming artist in Ottawa during the pandemic?

Ottawa has its own challenges when it comes to upcoming artists because every upcoming artist wants to move to Toronto. I see a positive shift when it comes to the music industry in Ottawa… with all the new music festivals coming out like Cranium festival. I can’t speak for every upcoming artist, but for me, the pandemic time has allowed me to work on my music and also my brand which has kind of been a blessing in disguise.

You moved to Canada in 2005 to study Construction Engineering. After completing your studies in 2008, when did you know you wanted to start your career in music?

I’ve been recording music and writing songs for a long time, but I rarely shared it with people until recently.

But, the few people that heard my music before encouraged me to share it.

Has poetry always been something that interested you?

Yes, I took English literature and have always been interested in creative writing from a very young age.

Who has helped/inspired you with your music career?

My producer/engineer and friend “JR”. We’ve been doing music together for more than 10 years. Seeing him grow as a musician and to know how much passion he has for music has inspired me to strive for more.

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by anyone striving to be the best version of themselves, every day.

What is one inspirational music quote you live by?

“One thing about music is when hits you, you feel no pain.” From Bob Marley.

What is one thing about yourself that people might not know?

Wow, tough question (laughs). I have a 3-year-old daughter.

Tell me about your new song and the inspiration behind it?

I actually have a few songs coming out but the latest one to be released is titled ‘Too Focused’ It’s just a song that talks about staying focused. I like to write songs that inspire people.‘Too Focused’ talks about being adaptable and being able to surf through the waves of life.

What can we expect next in your career?

More music, more videos and we are working on collaborations with other artists.

What advice do you have for other aspiring artists?

Do what you love. If you love music, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. Be yourself.

If you aren’t making music, what can we find you doing?

I run a small home renovations business. I always love to see the process of change and I feel like my work helps me experience that. It’s almost similar to the songwriting process.


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