Music Talk: For Mika Sade It Was Music That Chose Her

musician mika sade

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Highlights

Mika Sade’s quirky folk music has reached a global audience with Artlist and is featured in dozens of adverts, films and videos
With 4 full-length studio albums in both Hebrew and English, Mika’s extensive musical catalog has made her one of Tel Aviv’s most loved and respected artists
Mika says her collaborative projects with Artlist Original have pushed her further as an artist and encouraged her to explore new sonic territories

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Mike Sade didn’t choose music. Music chose her. She’s part of a long line of musicians and artists – her father was a prolific opera singer, and her mother was a singer and fashion designer. Mika’s grandparents were both musicians, and one of her cousins sings in the Berlin opera – so Mika began making music around the same time she started talking. “It was how I spent time with my family,” she says. “I was always singing, always writing lyrics, and when my father was there, he’d play along with me.”

Growing up with music

Mika can’t remember a time when music wasn’t part of her life. She grew up in Tel Aviv, so she had access to concerts, gigs, instruments and school bands from a young age. Her voice has always been her most outstanding instrument, although she also plays bass, trumpet, guitar, ukulele and pretty much anything else she feels like playing. “There was never one specific moment that I decided to make music my career,” she says, speaking from her studio in Jaffa. “It actually still feels weird calling music my career – it’s just my passion.”

״I realized that a good album can happen very fast״

Mika has always written her own songs and switches between Hebrew and English in her lyrics. She finds it easier to address the deeper, more sensitive narratives through her mother tongue and uses English to explore her lighter side with lyrics that aren’t so emotionally loaded. Mika wrote her first Hebrew album, “Mika Sade,” in 2009, which she remembers fondly. “I feel like I didn’t know much about life when I wrote that,” she laughs. “I was very innocent and naive.” The subject matter may have been child-like, but Mika’s songwriting abilities and vocals certainly weren’t. Even then, her voice had the depth, texture and range of a seasoned professional. After her debut album, she began to establish herself in Israel’s indie/folk circuit and performed at bars, clubs, salons and other small venues across the country.

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Mika’s second album came out in 2013, with a Hebrew title that translates to What Do You Prefer? This album demonstrated a more mature sound and subject matter. The tone is more melancholic and nostalgic, the songs tinged with realism. Still, Mika’s unmistakably optimistic energy remained. Around this time, Mika began performing internationally, with gigs in Italy, Portugal, the UK and all across Israel. She says performing has always been her greatest love, and connecting with an audience through her music is one of the most gratifying experiences she’s ever known.

2016’s Birds & Guitars is Mika’s best-known full-length project and her first album in English. “I was signed to a very big local label. And I wanted to leave the label, and the condition was that I write them an album.” She wrote the album with her life and music partner Orel in a month and was surprised by how easily the music flowed and how happy she was with the end result. “That taught me an amazing lesson about creating and handling songs and I realized that a good album can happen very fast,” She says. And she’s still proud of that album today.

Partnering with Artlist

mika sade

Mika’s quirk-folk music caught the attention of the Artlist team in 2018. Her emotive, narrative-led songs were perfectly suited to the taste of Artlist’s subscribers, so Mika became one of the first artists to be signed to Artlist’s then-emerging label, Artlist Original. Since that collaboration, Mika’s made some of Artlist’s most loved tracks, including “Birthday,” which would fit well with a Wes Anderson score or an indie rom-com directed by Greta Gerwig or Mike Leigh.

The Cocoon” is the track that means the most to Mika. She wrote it during a time of upheaval and says it seemed to spill out of her in a way that was beyond her control.

“At that moment, something very special was happening. It felt like the song was already in the room, and I just had to collect it and channel it.” Mika says that special feeling is magnified when she’s onstage and spilling those emotions out to hundreds of strangers. Ultimately, though, it’s that authenticity that helps her connect with people and drives her to continue to write music. “Being on stage is therapy. It kind of feels like your soul is coming out your mouth, and it’s very intimate and scary, but I do it because I want to make people feel less alone.”

״I don’t care if I reach 10 or 100 people – if their hearts are open after they hear me play, then I’m satisfied״

Working with Artlist Original has helped expand Mika’s creativity, as she’s often asked to write songs in a specific style or theme. Although she has full artistic freedom over what she produces, this pushes her in directions she wouldn’t usually go. “I realize how important it is to have guidance and not be alone with the creation and everything it involves. With Artlist, I have a team, and I create much more music with their support.”

Mika has a 3-track EP coming out on Artlist Original in September. It’s a continuation of her folk catalog and addresses themes of motherhood, new beginnings and nostalgia. “I love to sample my own voice. And I did that on one track called ‘Life,’ and it’s created a really fresh, special sound.”

There’s no doubt Mika will continue to make music as long as she’s able to, but her ambition isn’t to sell out stadiums or go platinum. “My idea of success is to raise my kids to be good people and to make people happier when they hear my songs. I don’t care if I reach 10 or 100 people – if their hearts are open after they hear me play, then I’m satisfied.”

For more music, check out Mika Sade’s page on Artlist.

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About Alice Austin

Alice Austin is a freelance writer from London. She writes for Mixmag, Beatportal, Huck, Dummy, Electronic Beats, Red Bulletin and more. She likes to explore youth and sub-culture through the lens of music, a vocation that has led her around the world. You can contact and/or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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