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Lansing Musician Featured As Standout Entry In Tiny Desk Contest

MikeyyAustin sings into a microphone, behind him, one person plays the bass and another plays a keyboard.
MikeyyAustin Youtube
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MikeyyAustin and his band, The Soulcial Club submitted a performance of "The Sunlight Song" recorded and livestreamed at Dogtown Studios in Grand Rapids.

NPR’s annual Tiny Desk Contest is underway. This is the seventh iteration of NPR Music’s nationwide search for the next great undiscovered artist.

The winner will play their own Tiny Desk Concert and be featured on All Things Considered.

Lansing artist MikkeyAustin sent in a submission, and his performance with his band, The Soulcial Club, was featured recently as a standout entry.

WKAR's Sophia Saliby spoke with him about his background as a musician.

Interview Highlights

On Why He Decided To Enter The Contest

So, this year came around, and we had just done a live performance, livestreamed session in Grand Rapids with Dogtown Studios. And it felt like it could have been at NPR, itself, or a Tiny Desk Concert, itself. I saw a sponsored ad of the NPR contest, and kind of just went for it [and] didn't really think anything of it. And then a day or so later, we saw the feature where [we were] like their the top of the week.

On Why He Chose "The Sunlight Song" To Submit

I would always kind of echo that the platform that we use is to spread sunlight. So the album, "Greenhouse," it was all about growth, harmony, newness, but then also being able to use our platform, whether it's music, or whether it's your profession, or even, you know, being a janitor, whatever you do every day taking those opportunities to spread sunlight.

On What It Meant For The Song To Be Highlighted

It took a second to process, and then after that, you know, I started to kind of reflect. Back in October, I posted a post on Facebook after we did our first live session during the pandemic and just kind of said, it'd be nice, you know, to do an NPR Tiny Desk. So then, I kind of went back and thought about that, and then kind of seeing that at the same time, it was all like it kind of came full circle, so it's been pretty cool.

Interview Transcript

Sophia Saliby: This is All Things Considered on WKAR. I’m Sophia Saliby. NPR’s annual Tiny Desk Contest is underway.

This is the seventh iteration of NPR Music’s nationwide search for the next great undiscovered artist. The winner will play their own Tiny Desk Concert and be featured here on All Things Considered.

One Lansing artist has sent in a submission, and his performance was featured recently as a standout entry. MikeyyAustin joins me now. Thank you for being here.

MikeyyAustin: Absolutely. Thanks for having me Sophia. It's great to be able to connect and talk with you all.

Saliby: So, for those who aren't familiar with you and your music, could you tell us a little bit about your background as a musical artist here in Lansing?

Austin: So, as far as like music and performing, I've definitely been performing since probably around five or six years old. Definitely, for me it started in the church. My mom used to like write raps for my brother and I, and we would perform at different youth events or different talent shows and kind of from there, I guess, like my love for just live instrumentation grew.

My mom used to like write raps for my brother and I, and we would perform at different youth events or different talent shows.

So as a teenager, I got into like playing piano and drums and guitar. And then, I guess that interest surrounded me around people who were actually talented and good at what they do. So, the band that I play with now, I was able to connect with them kind of as a teenager, and we've been rocking ever since.

So, I would say probably around 2016, I put out my first serious, I guess, mixtape and then since then, we've been able to perform. Whether it's locally, traveling around, performing. I've been able to put out a few different projects. [The] most recent is my album, "Greenhouse." And I think the best part of that is just being able to create cool events and cool things to do in our hometown.

Saliby: Why did you decide to enter this Tiny Desk Contest?

Austin: So I actually did it, I want to say, 2017, it was the same band, the same guys, and we happened to be in a band rehearsal. So, it's very low quality, just kind of like, you know, spur-of-the-moment type of thing. We just put a camera out and started recording. The audio was terrible. And we just threw it up, and it ended up getting pretty decent feedback, but we didn't really think anything of it.

So, this year came around, and we had just done a live performance, a streamed session in Grand Rapids with Dogtown Studios. And it felt like it could have been at NPR, itself, or a Tiny Desk Concert, itself.

I saw a sponsored ad of the NPR contest, and kind of just went for it [and] didn't really think anything of it. And then a day or so later, we saw the feature where [we were] like their the top of the week.

Saliby: This song is called "The Sunlight Song." Can you tell me why you decided to submit this one for the contest?

Austin: I would always kind of echo that the platform that we use is to spread sunlight. So the album, "Greenhouse," it was all about growth, harmony, newness, but then also being able to use our platform, whether it's music, or whether it's your profession, or even, you know, being a janitor, whatever you do every day taking those opportunities to spread sunlight. So, that's always kind of been our platform. So then, you know, when we have the opportunity to put something out that represents us on a bigger scale, I wanted to use something that, you know, we stand for.

I would always kind of echo that the platform that we use is to spread sunlight.

So, even though the song is a little bit older, I think I originally wrote it in 2018, and if anybody who's seen me perform, seen the band perform, they've heard us play that song. But we play it so often because it is a representation of who we are and kind of what our platform is.

It happened to be my favorite song from our past, live session. And like I said, it just kind of represents who we are as a band, as individuals and how we use our platform.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVTIk9HW-IM

Saliby: How did it feel when you found out your song was one of these highlighted entries? It's literally a picture of your band that's on the main photo of this web post.

Austin: No, it's really crazy. I saw it while I was at work. I think I was driving, and then I got the email. So, I didn't really believe it. It was definitely a moment of, you know, not believing that it was actually real. I mean, for me, like that was, just because we did it as a spur-of-the-moment [and] didn't really think anything of it, that was just a big win in and of itself.

Back in October, I posted a post on Facebook after we did our first live session during the pandemic and just kind of said, it'd be nice, you know, to do an NPR Tiny Desk.

You know, even if we don't progress or whatever the next steps may be, that's just a really cool one for us. So, definitely seeing that the initial reaction was just, not really, it being kind of unbelievable.

It took a second to process, and then after that, you know, I started to kind of reflect. Back in October, I posted a post on Facebook after we did our first live session during the pandemic and just kind of said, it'd be nice, you know, to do an NPR Tiny Desk. So then, I kind of went back and thought about that, and then kind of seeing that at the same time, it was all like it kind of came full circle, so it's been pretty cool.

Saliby: MikeyyAustin is a Lansing musician. Thank you for joining me.

Austin: Thank you for having me.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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