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Behind The Song: An interview with Mikol about his single "Oye Pana (Remix)" ft. Reyes

As a fan girl of outstanding talent, humble artists, black excellence, and quality presentation, Mikol is an artist who embodies all of the above (and makes it look easy)! I enjoyed every minute of our discussion about his latest single and music video, OYE PANA (REMIX) ft. REYES. From briefly checking in and chatting at shows to getting the opportunity to hear a bit of his background, I understand where his level of creativity, passion, and humility stems from. Homie is pure talent, style and inspiration. Take a look for yourself!


South Gate, Pupusas', Good People & Good music. Watch Mikol's debut music video for the Oye Pana Remix. The visual is a triumphant expression of what Mikol overcame growing up in the City of South Gate. The lyrics document the experience, the music articulates the vibe. Though we go through struggles in life we can overcome them and celebrate. Directed by Zxmbiac POLLY: What does "Oye Pana" mean? MIKOL: "Oye" means listen and "pana" is a Puerto Rican, Columbian, Dominican slang for "partner" or "friend" or "homie." POLLY: What's the story behind this song? MIKOL: The song is about me growing up in a city that was foreign to me and I was looked at a certain type of way because of my skin tone and what people stereotyped me to be. I am basically trying to say through this song that I am probably what you're thinking and morein a positive way. So the whole song is like a call to people's perspective to me as a black kid growing up in a predominantly hispanic community. And I was in foster care so I was placed with a family in South Gate when I was about 11. So it was a culture shock to me. It wasn't just my family moving to South Gate and we're a black family living there. I was a black kid that got placed in a hispanic home that's really part of my blood family, but still foreign to me. I never knew them at all so it was a big culture shock to me. I had experienced being stereotyped and being discriminated against, but I hadn't experienced it in that kind of setting. Walking to school, walking down the street to go to the grocery store... a lot of times I was being called things in middle school that tried to play on a lot of the hate, anger and tension I already had in me. So the song is basically me overcoming those obstacles by embracing them and telling the story of the things I've seen growing up in South Gate from crazy things in my high school and etc. I got saved when I was very young so I was experiencing this a lot of times in the context of a believer. So the song is documenting what I went through as a young black kid, as a believer, and trying to make sense of everything that I saw. At the same time, wanting people to accept me in a certain way while accepting the message of hope that I'm trying to give them as well. POLLY: Wow, I did not expect any of that! Now that I think about the song and the video, it all makes sense... I want to go back to watch and experience it now that I know that. MIKOL: Yeah, that's wassup! POLLY: Can you talk about your journey as an artist? When you were young and going through all of this, were you always writing music and pursuing an artists lifestyle? Has that always been your outlet? MIKOL: Well, this song isn't about anything current. It's like a time capsule of what I experienced before. I didn't start really writing until I was about 17 or 18 but I've been experiencing this since I was 11. But music was always an outlet for me whether it was me writing it or listening to it. It was a way that I articulated how I felt at a time. So music was always big for me but I when I was experiencing a lot of this, I wasn't expressing it in a certain way. It was all just pent up inside of me. After I got saved and I was around 16, I started getting around a group of people that could cultivate the gifts I have and it started to come out in writing. It was probably one of the freeing things I had ever done just by writing out what I was feeling and what I was experiencing. It actually lead me to a lot of the results that I was already trying to see from the inside of me. As I continued to experience things, writing helped me form not only an opinion or worldview but a response to a lot of things that I was being discriminated against. For the people I was growing up with at the time, I saw that my music and the way I was writing was almost part of their story as well and that became my thing. POLLY: I like that a lot! I also write music and I agree it is very freeing to be able to talk about it and be in control of the conversation. It's your perspective your giving and your story tell so that's really good. MIKOL: Yup, Definitely! POLLY: What advice would you give to the passionate artist who is stuck because they lack the confidence to release their music and pursue their craft? Also, what would you say to those who want to move forward but lack direction? MIKOL: Pursue despite how you feel. Often times that will produce the results you ultimately want to see for yourself but sometimes we're just too afraid to go after it. It really just takes being vulnerable and courageous. I would say, go to open mics. If you have a couple of friends that you trust, you should recite your stuff to them and show them your music. Perform for them and get some feedback. Doing things that will build your confidence is going to help that. I was the same way... the thorn in my side was self doubt. Things that always helped me overcome that was having people around that gave me good constructive criticism and feedback that pushed me to take necessary steps. I would say, first start being fearless enough to move beyond your feelings. Living with regrets of not doing it is far worse than doing it and getting a negative response. Move forward and be courageous to share your writing or music with people around you and build a support system within that and allow them to build up your confidence that way. POLLY: Wow, good response. MIKOL: Lol, thank you. I've lived it. POLLY: I feel you. Keeping people who will give you constructive criticism and push you to move forward is very important. Sometimes you also just need someone to tell you "you can do this." And sometimes you just need to start "small" and reach out to open mics and ask to perform. MIKOL: Yup! POLLY: Let's talk about the music video. I love the whole concept. Y'all looked like you were having fun, it was a party. Those donuts look yummy! Shout out the donut shop. MIKOL: Yeah, they were fire! The donut shop is a shop called "Donus" which exists in the city of Downey. I stumbled upon it because I was really in a vegan mode one time and I wanted something sweet. I saw these advertisements for vegan donuts so I was googling vegan donuts and that shop came up. So me and my wife took a trip there and it was history. They have a really good drink called a "Lavender Leche." And we tried a vegan horchata donut which was crazy fire! We've being going back ever since. I love supporting black or latin culture. I love supporting grassroot things and I loved what they were doing for the culture so I just wanted to put them on the video. POLLY: Yeesss. That was a good idea... it really made the video! I also really loved your style throughout the video. Did you style yourself or did you have a stylist? MIKOL: Hehe, yeah I helped with picking out stuff but no I did not style myself. My wife is a stylist so she did the styling for and Reyes. She did her thing so the styling was on point! POLLY: You typically have really good style. How would you describe your style? MIKOL: It's an evolving thing. I kind of move with the seasons. I like feeling free. Right now I've been in a mode of color pops. For the video we were looking for color pops that represented the city and that were things that stood out. There's some headbands and bandanas in there that I wanted to utilize. I love denim jackets so we able to find that. My style is always evolving so I'm a little all over the place sometimes. One day you'll see me performing in cut off shorts and the next day i'll be in some slacks and a t-shirt that's tucked in with a chain on. So I'm all over the place but I like to stay up to par with fashion, hip hop, and mainstream culture. POLLY: Yes, you do a pretty good job with that. You spoke on dressing according to the season... What would you say is the theme of this season of your life? Give us a phrase. MIKOL: Thank you! And hmm... that's a good question. Not sure if I can come up with something on the spot... but if I were too... this season represents "building." Idk because it's such a weird season for us. We are quarantined and we got COVID going on... so for me the I feel like it's time to build what I didn't have the time to build before. I would say "using what's in my head" is the phrase to capitalize on this season. POLLY: I like that. Using what's in your head... taking that and bringing it out! MIKOL: Yes, exactly. POLLY: Who has inspired and influenced your overall presentation as an artist, including audio and video production, flow and style? Who do you pull ideas from? MIKOL: That's a good question. I'm the type of artist who's always looking at all kinds of things. For the Oye Pana vibe I'm looking at... you're getting the first scoop of this... You know how you said I'm the first person to do this segment? You're the first person who's getting the scoop on OYE PANA even before we put it out. POLLY: Yaaassss!! MIKOL: Haha, OYE PANA went throug three different transitions. There's been three different songs of OYE PANA. And this is it's final form. For this form, I was really inspired by J Balvin and what he's doing in the culture. And guys like Tommy Royale, I really like their style. I'm a very versatile artist so sometimes I'll be in the Spanish bag and I'll be inspired by like Bad Bunny, Tommy Royale, J Balvin and Rosalia... and other times I'll be on my J. Cole vibe or Kendrick. Other times I'm just inspired by those I'm coming up with like Generation Recovery, John Keith, John Gives... my bothers... Anthony Gray and Vintage, my home girl. I'm try to be as versatile as I possibly can but it's all depending on the season I'm in. In this season, this Spanish vibe that I grew up with is represented by guys like Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Tommy Royale and that space. My favorite artist of all time... you're getting the first exclusive scoop on this... a group called The Arrows/Pamela Myburgh, Rey King, and a singer named Kimbra. No sure if you've heard of her before but those are all artists that inspire me. Ultimately, the layer of my music is to be this voice of God through culture that doesn't always sound "Christian" but inherently has God all over it. That's what I try to be through my music no matter what style or phase I'm in. I like to be super transparent and vulnerable with what I'm dealing and struggling with. I try to keep that voice in that even when I'm creating a happy or vibey song like OYE PANA. POLLY: Oh wow, that makes sense! You are very versatile as an artist and now I know where that influence comes from! MIKOL: Yeah, for sure. I'm a little bit all over the place sometimes. POLLY: Are you originally from LA? MIKOL: Yeah, born and raised in Cali... LA. I moved all over the place in LA... growing up in foster care but yes, I'm originally from here. POLLY: Talk a little bit about your collaboration with Reyes. Give him a lil shout out. MIKOL: Yes, my boy Reyes! We have history. We have real history. We used to go to church together when I was 11. I met him when he was like 12 or 13. We've been good friends ever since. We've created music. He's been on both projects I've put out. He's somebody I've collaborated with in the past with writing and just vibing. He was always a part of this song. Like I said, there have been three phases of this song and he kinda helped inspire the very first one that we did. He just wasn't on the song. So it felt right to come back to this and actually put him on the song and get his vibe on there. When I got the beat from Marvs Productions, I heard it and knew I needed someone who could sing on this and be vibey. So Reyes sent me something back and it was fire so I just had to use him on it. So it came back full circle. POLLY: As we wrap up, I just want to know what your favorite line is from the song? MIKOL: Haha, can I give you two because I don't think I can think of one? POLLY: Yes, yes, lol. MIKOL: Off the top... "I like my ice with horchata." That's one of my favorite lines. I think it's a creative way to say what I was saying. And my other favorite line that kinda has meaning is: "These paiasos used to run around and call me 'mayate.' Love is always good for killing things.. turn around and tell them callate." POLLY: I actually love those two lines too! Nice. I'm really happy we were able to have this conversation and I'm actually really inspired after hearing the backstory of this song. As an artist I'm realizing that sometimes you just gotta do it! MIKOL: Yeah, exactly! Thank you for having me, sis. I appreciate that. POLLY: I'm really excited to see where everything goes with your brand and music career. Keep it at. You know I'm always rooting for you... I'm a big fan! MIKOL: Thank you. I see it and from the bottom of my heart I really appreciate you. Anytime I see you it's just all love, sis, and I super appreciate that. I've been doing this for a long time so to see people like you, it gives me the hope that I need to continue to move forward. So yeah, you'll be hearing more of the backstory of the song in different elements on like IG. Later on today I'll be on LIVE at like 7:30... POLLY: ...and I will be tuning in! MIKOL: Fo'sho, fo'sho. And we're going to also release a video series on the backstory as well. Going more in depth of what we didn't get into today. So yeah, stay tuned! POLLY: Alright, I'll be on the lookout. Thank you so much... you have a blessed day! I'll tune into your live. MIKOL: Fo'sho sis, take care. Mikol's merch, social media, and music links: ► Saint Mikol Merch at http://www.saintmikol.com ► Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/oye-... ► Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/1I1Nxm... ► Follow Mikol http://www.instagram.com/mikolxmuse ► Follow Zxmbiac http://www.instagram.com/zxmbiac ► Follow the Squad LegendariMinds http://www.instagram.com/legendariminds ► Support the Squad http://www.legendariminds.com