The Daily Quarterly: Who was your favorite singer growing up?
Mika Newton: Celine Dion was definitely one of my favorites. I think she was the biggest inspiration and role model for me when I was first starting out. I actually won a lot of early competitions performing some of her hit songs. Now that I think about it – I guess Celine really helped jump-start my career.
TDQ: What was your favorite album growing up?
MN: Wow… tough to choose. I don’t know if I can pick one. I loved Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet,” Aerosmith’s “Get a Grip,” and of course Celine Dion’s “The Colour of My Love.” I’d have to rank them as my top three, in no particular order.
TDQ: What made you want to be in show business?
MN: To be honest, I never really thought about “being in show business.” It’s just a result of me wanting to sing for people, to share my emotions. When you’re doing something you truly love, all you want to do is be honest, and stay true to who you are. That’s what makes people fall in love with your music – when they can feel how much you love it, too.
TDQ: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
MN: Probably the best advice I ever got was from my first music teacher. He told me to never try to prove anything on stage. Just go out there and give it everything you’ve got. Everything you feel. So that’s what I try to do – leave every ounce of me up there on the stage.
TDQ: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?
MN: To become a brunette, haha!
TDQ: Who are your influences?
MN: I’ve always admired Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Steven Tyler and Bon Jovi. They’re absolutely inspiring and so, so talented. I also find that my personal life influences my music a lot. To me, life and music share a special connection. They’re co-dependent. Indistinguishable. I love discovering new music, too. The internet allows you to find some really unique talents out there.
TDQ: You grew up in Ukraine and now live in Los Angeles. Besides the climate, what is the biggest difference between the two places?
MN: Coming to America was a great decision for me. I live in Los Angeles, which I love, because it really inspires me. I’m feeling more comfortable and becoming more assimilated each and every day. But of course I miss my home country, my family and friends and my Ukrainian fans. The main difference between California and the Ukraine is, besides the weather, people in LA are like open books, and I absolutely love that. If you work hard, this city will help you achieve your goals. So many people come here and are working as hard as they possibly can to catch a dream. How can you not be inspired by that? It creates an amazing vibe in the city.
There’s so much sun. I find that nice weather fuels me creatively. I do go back to visit and perform in Ukraine every now and then, and it’s always a wonderful experience I look forward to. But I love LA. It’s my home now. I’ve been here for two years and I feel like the city is a part of me.
As for the American audience – I’m convinced that there’s not that much of a difference between them and my fans back in Ukraine. My goal is always the same – touch the souls of other people. Luckily, souls don’t have a nationality. ; )
TDQ: You finished 4th in the Eurovision Song Contest 2011. What was the most important thing you learned from that competition?
MN: I was so honored to represent my country at Eurovision. The contest itself changed my life forever. Before that, I had never performed in front of such a large audience. 32,000 people! It’s a huge opportunity for young singers and all you have is three minutes to show what you’ve got. You can’t lie or pretend. You have to be yourself and let everyone see the real you. That’s what I learned. Be yourself. If they like you, great. If they don’t, keep working until they do.
The months leading up to the contest were incredibly busy. I traveled all over Europe meeting a lot of great young singers. After Eurovision, I made the decision to move to LA and start my career here.
TDQ: Tell us about your experience working with Randy Jackson
MN: In 2011, right before Eurovision, I was invited by JK Music Group to travel to Los Angeles for a two-week recording session with veteran songwriter Walter Afanasieff. He’s absolutely wonderful. Walter’s written and produced music for such artists as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and my hero, Celine Dion.
During that visit I got the chance to meet Randy. As soon as I met him, I felt his energy and knew he was someone special. I sang for him, and then a few days later flew back to Ukraine for Eurovision. Two weeks after that, I received an offer from JK Music Group to move to LA to start working with Randy on an American album.
Well, the album is finally finished. It’s scheduled for release this September. Randy did an amazing job producing it. I’m honored to be working with such a talent. I’ve already learn so much from him. I feel like I’ve grown working with Randy, both as an artist and as person. Most importantly – he’s helping me choose the right songs for the American market. Since I’m new to this scene, learning more about the industry here and working closely with Randy in the studio has been a real education and a treat for me.
TDQ: What project are you working on right now?
MN: I’m working on some new material, collaborating with other talented artists, and getting ready to release my new music video this summer and my first album this fall. It’s all very exciting!
TDQ: What was it like working with DJ Paul Oakenfold on your song, “Come Out and Play?”
MN: I’m so glad I had a chance to work with Paul. Not only is he a phenomenal DJ, he’s a musician and emotionally-deep person with a heart of gold. Our combination of music, love, and light are what you can hear in our remix. He’s really creative and smart and was so comfortable to record with.
TDQ: Where do you see yourself in five years?
MN: In five years… Wow. I don’t know. I guess I see myself continuing to spread love around the world. If I’m able to bring it to more people – that will be my greatest accomplishment!
Of course, I also dream of starting a family one day. I’m not 100% sure if that will happen in the next five years, but you never know! Love could be right around the corner! I want to experience a full and happy life. As an artist. A woman. A mother. All it takes is patience, and just the right amount of luck. ; )
For more on Mika, check out her website.