Words: Miljan Milekić
Not many bands had a wild ride to where they are now, as The Bots did. Under the spotlight from a very young age, they are on the scene for years, and yet, playing everywhere from Vans Warped Tour and Afropunk to Riot Fest, Bonnaroo, Coachella, or Reading and Leeds. And yet, it seems like they are only getting started. Taking influences from every genre and era, the brainchild of Mikaiah Lei released the brand new album ‘2 Seater,’ reflecting on the last seven years of his life and how he got to where he is today. Scroll down for the interview as we talked to Mikaiah about the new record, band’s music, and skateboarding.
First of all, congrats on the new album! I know it’s still early, but are you happy with the feedback so far?
Mikaiah: Thank you very much, I actually am pretty happy so far with the feedback. The people that have heard it and spoke about it have all been positive, so I’m very pleased. As well as playing them live, people have been very receptive, which makes me feel good about it.
All of the songs from the new record are actually written a while ago, some even a decade ago, but you decided to revisit them, give them a new life, and finally release them into the world. What made you go back, and why did you think now is the right time to do it?
Mikaiah: I kinda just wanted to get them off my chest and, finally, put these songs out there. I wouldn’t have wanted them to go to waste after everything I did to get there. It basically tells the story of the past seven years and how I got to where I am now. Now that this album is out and we’re all caught up, I could move on with the new music and talk about what I’m doing currently.
So, ‘2 Seater’ is a 10-track record, and I always thought 10-trackers add increased pressure to the artist, as there is no room for mistake. No bullshit, no fillers. Would you agree with it, and was that something that was on your mind during the process?
Mikaiah: I agree, ten is a tight number of tracks, and it’s important to make sure there isn’t any filler. I did actually want more songs originally, but we decided on ten and saved two for the deluxe version. All of these songs mean something to me in one way or another.
You have been under the spotlight of the media and part of the music industry for so long now, and yet, you are still very young. How challenging was it to practically grow up surrounded by all that media attention and expectations, and play so many massive events at such a young age?
Mikailah: It was quite challenging, to be honest. When you get to a certain level, there are very few rules or people telling you no. As a young man, growing up with all those perks, it’s easy to indulge and over-consume, etc. I tried to keep my head on straight while enjoying myself here and there. Most importantly, I had my friends and family to keep me grounded. As for expectations, I try not to let that get to me. It’s normal to have little moments of stress, it’s what keeps us sharp.
It’s been seven years between ‘Pink Palms’ and ‘2 Seater.’ Why such a long break?
Mikailah: My intentions were to release the music on this album shortly following ‘Pink Palms,’ but life got in the way, and setback upon setback got us to the point at which we are now. I had to regroup and reimagine myself.
As massive skateboarding fans, we got instantly hooked by the ‘See It’ video. What was the idea behind it, and how did it all come together?
Mikailah: I knew for one of the videos I wanted to feature skating/skateboarding. I reached out to a bunch of my skate friends and hit up downtown LA for a sorta, day-in-the-life-style skate video. Filmer and director Ted Newsome totally brought the video to life. He helped scout the locations, skated all day, following us around in the hot sun with a giant camera, and so much more.
Also, not being strangers to skateboarding yourselves, while at the same time being from LA, do you feel like skateboarding culture, in one way or another, influenced or intervened with your music?
Mikailah: Skating had always been a big part of my life as a kid. It’s through skate games and videos how I learned about the music that inspired me. Music and skating go hand and hand. It can pump you up or just enhance the moment, part, line, or whatever application of it.
So, your perfect skate session – what’s the spot, who’s with you, and what music are you blasting?
Mikailah: Somewhere far from my local skate spots, maybe somewhere I’ve never been. I’m with all my skate friends, and I’m blasting 80s post punk – Cocteau Twins, Devo, Talking Heads, mixed with contemporary artists like Animal Collective, Björk, Death Grips, and others.