Micachu & The ShapesView In iTunes
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Micachu is the stage name of Mica Levi, a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist born in Surrey, England, and raised in the Bow area of East London. Levi's music, which she calls experimental pop, is a boundary-blurring mix of hip-hop-tinged beats, found sound samples, singalong melodies, rock guitar, and the odd vacuum cleaner or two. She also makes her own instruments, including the Chu, an adapted guitar that she named after herself. Levi began playing and composing music at age four, but despite her classical training -- which included studying viola, violin, and composition at the Purcell School and studying composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama -- Levi was just as inspired by hip-hop and the U.K.'s thriving grime and garage scenes. Along with DJing and MCing at shows and creating her own loops and beats in her bedroom, Levi released a mixtape called Filthy Friends on her MySpace page that spanned all of her pop, classical, and hip-hop favorites, including Golden Silvers, Man Like Me, and Jack Peñate. Micachu connected with producer Matthew Herbert, who signed her to his Accidental label and worked with her on songs for her debut album; late in 2007, she decided to broaden her music to a live, full-band sound, so she recruited drummer/percussionist Marc Pell and keyboardist Raisa Khan to form the Shapes. The band released its debut limited-edition single, Lone Ranger, in May 2008 and its follow-up, Golden Phone, which became a MySpace hit. That year, Levi also had one of her works performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall as a part of her composition studies. Micachu & the Shapes toured that spring and summer, playing with the Mystery Jets and dates at Bestival and V Festival. In spring 2009 Micachu's debut album, Jewellery, was released by Rough Trade Records. In May 2010 Micachu & the Shapes collaborated with the London Sinfonietta, recording a set of songs that featured the band's handmade instruments as well as the Sinfonietta's traditional classical sounds. Micachu then reworked the live recording, resulting in 2011's Chopped & Screwed. The band self-produced their second album, 2012's Never, which was even more experimental than Jewellery and focused on rhythm and texture. Levi pursued projects outside of the Shapes for a few years, collaborating with her friend Tirzah on the EPs I'm Not Dancing and No Romance as well as her BAFTA-nominated score to Jonathan Glazer's unsettling sci-fi film Under the Skin. Micachu & the Shapes' free-flowing third full-lengh, 2015's Good Bad Happy Sad, grew out of lengthy jam sessions that Pell recorded unbeknownst to Khan or Levi. ~ Heather Phares