INTERVIEW: MIKA NEWTON (2013)
Ukranian pop star – that’s not something you hear every day. Mika Newton is an accomplished star on the Ukraine pop scene with several big soundtrack hits, and after major success at Eurovision 2011 (she came in fourth) she moved to Los Angeles and signed with the Randy Jackson music group. Her debut single “Don’t Dumb Me Down” received support from MTV, and remixes by Steve Cova and Ray Roc garnered club play. For “Come Out and Play,” she worked with the legendary Paul Oakenfold to resing the lyrics for the remix. Along with Kerli and Hannah, Mika is one of the Eastern European pop stars are taking over the world!
Ron Slomowicz: I first heard of you a couple years ago when you were on Eurovision and you had the sand girl with you, how did it feel to be chosen to represent the Ukraine?
Mika Newton: It was an honor and very hard to get there, there was a lot of competition. I had a crazy, busy life for about six months and when I got to Düsseldorf it was really nice. I realized that I had to be myself and do my best for three minutes during the song.
RS: Did you practice with the sand artist before you went up there?
Mika Newton: I chose her a week before we went to Düsseldorf and I told her my story and what I wanted to share when I was singing. She came up with a beautiful story about kids and when we were on the stage it was the first time seeing what she was going to do.
RS: From there you moved from the Ukraine to Los Angeles right?
Mika Newton: Yes
RS: What has it been like adjusting to LA life?
Mika Newton: I moved right after Eurovision and it was a little weird. I barely spoke English and really all I could say was my name. On the one hand all my life was over in Ukraine and on the other hand I realized I should change my life, start over, and learn a new language. It was a big challenge for me but I realized that I wanted to move on and learn new things; I have been in the states for almost two years now.
RS: How did you meet up with Randy Jackson?
Mika Newton: It was actually before I moved to the States and before Eurovision. I was introduced to Randy Jackson in January and performed in front of him with no track, just myself wearing a simple dress. I performed the song “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith and he liked my choice. He said that it was interesting that I was so small but had a very strong voice. After that we discussed signing the contract and me moving to the States. It was a hard decision but I love Randy Jackson and have loved working with him, I am very happy that I made the move.
RS: “Don’t Dumb Me Down” was a song that came out of that, did you write that?
Mika Newton: No, I didn’t write it, but I can relate to the song since I am a blonde girl and there are times I have had to prove things. I have realized that I just have to be myself and if someone is smart they aren’t going to judge me for being a blonde. It’s hard because people love to judge you by your appearances and that’s not okay.
RS: What was it like recording your new single “Come Out and Play” with Paul Oakenfold?
Mika Newton: It was really cool because I recorded my voice and the track with Paul is a little bit faster. It was hard for me because it is not my native language and it is a lot of words. A year later I recorded the same song but it was even faster, it’s sad because I can sing but I have to worry about my pronunciation and it was so fast. I’m glad that I am used to working on my lyrics really fast. We went to his studio and we recorded the whole song. He is really creative, smart, and calm and it was so comfortable to record it.
RS: How did you meet him?
Mika Newton: I met him at a company dinner. I think it is very important to get to know the person before you start working together. It is good to see their energy and see if they like your music. After the dinner I realized that he was exactly who I wanted, I am really happy with what he has done.
RS: I really like the Interstate remix of it, are there more remixes coming?
Mika Newton: Actually we are going to put a bunch of new remixes on ITunes. I really like a lot of them .
RS: Did you make a video for the song?
Mika Newton: We will shoot a video when I get back from performing in Ukraine.
RS: Do you know what the story with the video will be?
Mika Newton: My message is that all of us have had hard and easy times in our lives but sometimes we get depressed, it’s all part of being a human being. What I want to say is just to come out and play anywhere at any time, even when you are sad. I want to make the video showing that you can work hard but you should always have time to play. It is going to be a positive video showing that there can always be a bright future.
RS: Now remember, I am a dumb American; are Ukraine, Slavonia, and Estonia all near each other?
Mika Newton: Kind of, Slavonia is next to Slovakia, Hungary, Belarus, and Russia.
RS: I ask because I am wondering if you are friends with any of the Eastern European pop singers – like Hannah and Kerli who are from Estonia.
Mika Newton: No, unfortunately, it is sad because I would love to share our culture and our music.
RS: I love your ring and I love the way that you are dressed, do you style yourself?
Mika Newton: Yes, today I did. When I saw this ring I loved it and bought two of them. I am obsessed with crystals and they actually clean your energy and your connection to the other world. I totally believe in it and they are like my babies.
RS: “Come Out and Play” is your second single, are there more songs coming or are you working on an album?
Mika Newton: Yes, we have already recorded a whole album and the next songs are going to be ballads. I have a powerful song called “Chase” that is like the style of a Whitney Houston or a Celine Dion song but with a little bit of a rock style. I love so many different artists like Celine Dion, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, and Paul Oakenfold and Tiesto, I am very open to all music. If someone asked me who my favorite artist was I couldn’t answer, I just love it when I can feel their soul in their music.
RS: How is the EDM scene in Ukraine?
Mika Newton: There isn’t a scene there, the industry doesn’t work there. The last Miami Music Winter Conference inspired me to feel that dance music is very important and different. I wasn’t very familiar with dance music and I liked it but I didn’t really consider it music. I was here for a week last year and it totally changed my mind. In Ukraine we don’t have any great DJs. I don’t know why.
RS: Are you nervous about performing with Paul Oakenfold?
Mika Newton: It is going to be very different because I haven’t performed the remix yet or with a DJ. I am glad that the first DJ that I am going to perform with is Paul Oakenfold though. I just want to share my music and have fun. I am hoping that I have good energy and that my crystals will help me. I am not really nervous but I want to make sure that everything goes okay with the speakers and microphone.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Mika Newton: Just believe in yourself; dream more and more because miracles happen around us. I want to thank all of them around the world for their help and support. Thank you for believing in me, I appreciate it so much. When I do fan meetings I can see them and appreciate them sending me positive energy, I can’t live without them.
Interview conducted during WMC.