13 Questions

13 Questions with Mike Blue

“Do what you love, everything else is secondary. Money will come and go, unlike time.”

During lockdown live streams haven’t been my thing. At all. However, as with most things, there are exceptions.

One evening I stumbled across Mike Blue’s live stream. Things seemed to just… flow. Playing songs and interacting with his Facebook followers, the young Liverpool troubadour came across as humble, warm, genuine.

From there, Blue’s live streams are something I have made a point of catching.

Blue has been busy during lockdown. He is currently working on his second solo album that follows 2018’s The Demo Tapes while his band, Mal Hijo, which are something likened to Blue Oyster Cult’s debaucherous step-son, have their album coming out before the end of 2020.

In-between these endeavours, Blue can also be seen busking around the city, including Sefton Park – a stone’s throw away from Sun 13 Towers. For those yet to witness, no one in the city does a better Dylan cover than Blue.

Blue is one of the most naturally gifted young musicians in Liverpool and we were delighted when he agreed to take part in our 13 Questions feature.

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1. Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?

Mike Blue: “At the moment I’m living in Liverpool and working on my second solo album. I’m aiming to get it out by the end of the year. My band, Mal Hijo, has its debut album, Superstar Crematorium, coming out this year and is currently in the mixing/mastering stage which is very exciting.”

2. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?

MB: “It’s been awful, but I’ve been one of the lucky ones who haven’t been exposed to the virus, or at the very least exposed to the symptoms, so I cant really complain. I’m fortunate enough not to have any family members or anybody close to me fall ill so even though it’s been financially a struggle I’m in no position to kick up a fuss.”

3. What have you been up to recently?

MB: “Each day I’ve been trying to track something from my next solo album–be it a guitar section or a voice, or I’ll just sit there and try and hone in on the parts a little better so they’re more precise–same with the voice.

“My first album, The Demo Tapes, was recorded in the space of a few hours with no overdubs, so I’m trying to put a little more thought into the production side of things this time round.”

4. When did you last get into an argument?

MB: “My last argument? Mmm, I don’t really find myself in arguments often, I’m not the argumentative type. I find that there’s a lot you can get yourself caught up in without trying too hard these days and all the stress and noise of it all isn’t good for anybody, so if I sense there’s a tense situation I try and just walk away or remind myself that in the end, most of the time, it’s insignificant and trivial in comparison to some of the issues going on in the world today.

“But, for the sake of the question: my better half has recently become vegan and we were discussing the importance of veganism for both the planet, the animals and for one’s health.

“I found myself slowly taking the ‘redneck-you won’t take my meat away from me‘ stance and increasingly became alienated by the fact that I was trying to justify my own reasons for consuming meat. Fast forward to yesterday and I went to buy some chicken from the shop and couldn’t do it, so it now looks like I’m a vegan by proxy. Not really an argument, but an interesting story at the very least.”

5. When did you last shout at the TV?

MB: “I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a big Metal Gear Solid fan – my flatmate and I have been playing one of the arcade modes on one of the games and we’re racing each other to get the highest score on each level.

“I must have tried this one level six or seven times and failed in a row, so I shouted some profanity at the TV, I must admit. But man, if you saw how needlessly hard they make the levels you’d understand my lapse in composure.”

6. When did you last consider quitting social media?

MB: “I have the debate with myself weekly. It’s a real shame, I think, because my only real need for social media is so I can use it as an outlet for my music – it largely ends there.

“I wish I didn’t have to keep up with it; it can be demotivating when you see how much people post from day-to-day and that in itself becomes another problem: there being such a high saturation of content, the ‘good’ stuff gets lost amid the stuff that just isn’t saying anything.

“I wish I didn’t have to deal with all that but in 2020 it’s a necessary evil. I just try not to take the mick with it, I try and post stuff that only serves as some kind of function, and I try and use it to engage with people as much as possible, as opposed to just passively putting stuff out there every day.”

Mal Hijo

7. Did you have any hobbies as a kid?

MB: “I was only ever really interested in writing and playing music – Writing and playing in every sense of the world. I’m lucky that at 24 I’m able to make a living from playing and preforming (not always my own music) but I’m sticking at it.

“I think all the hobbies I did as a kid I’ve brought with me into adulthood. I do enjoy the occasional frame of snooker and playing retro old school video games when I have time. Oh – and watching bad b-list ’80s horror films is always great fun.”

8. What was the first gig you went to?

MB: “Man, that’s a tricky one. That age of being 15/16 and being from a small town there wasn’t much choice, I think I was actually playing before I went to see a gig, so it was probably a gig that my first band was on the bill of. From what I remember, I think it must have been in one of the bars in Liverpool like Zanzibar or elevator or something…

“Oh no – it was the Picket, I think. I remember I was on bass at the time and I think I was wearing a grey stripy T-shirt from the George section in ASDA complete with a mop-top and Hofner bass – pretty sure every other band on the night was better than us but we were young and having a go.”

9. When were you last told off?

MB: “I’m generally quite a good boy, I like to stay out of trouble, but on occasion it does find me. As a busker you get some stick occasionally from some of the shops along the street. I understand their frustration from time to time but I like to think I’m one of the good ones – I don’t play too loud, I move from place-to-place, I don’t repeat songs often etc. But there’s a staff employee who’s got it in for me I must say, whenever she gives me stick and shouts over at me I try to reason but some people don’t want to be met with reason – they want a fight. Alas, I just try and keep my head down and do what I can where I can.”

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10. What’s your first memory?

MB: “I was, god I don’t know how old – a toddler maybe? And in a paddling pool in my back garden, I remember a wasp stinging me on my lip and my mum took me inside to put vinegar on it. Not the best first memory but one to remember, nevertheless. And drawing – I used to have a thing for drawing carrot toppers. I have no idea why, I was mad for them.”

11. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

MB: “Simply Red.”

12. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?

MB: “Vinyl is great because it’s the way its always been – it’s never died, it never will die. There’s nothing better than hearing it on wax. But CDs can be more affordable to make and easier to sell for bands just starting out and streaming sucks financially but I’d rather somebody hear my music and I get nothing from it then nobody hear it at all so I don’t know, swings and roundabouts.”

13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

MB: “For anybody who is on the fence and thinking about changing something up in their life – maybe it’s quitting a job and starting something up for themselves or maybe it’s just getting into something they’ve wanted to do for ages but have been too afraid to in the past, just do it. Life’s too short.

“I think its easy to get caught up in the rat race, when I left university so many people were down my throat asking me what I’m going to do with my life, where is the money going to come from, aren’t I worried because I’m not in a ‘job’ or ‘financially stable’. Its all just noise, a noise which is there to distract you from whats really important.

“Do what you love, everything else is secondary. Money will come and go, unlike time. So spend it on what you love and who makes you the best version of yourself you can be.”

Listen to Mike Blue’s The Demo Tapes on Spotify.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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