Atlanta musician Mike Rickard turns up the heat
COOLER TEMPERATURES MAY HAVE descended on Atlanta, but local gay musician Mike Rickard is still ready to make you sweat. The East Atlanta cutie celebrates the release of his second CD, “Sweat,” at the Red Light Café Oct. 10, and chatted with David about exploring outside his comfort zone on the new album:
David: What were some of the issues that were going on in your life while recording the CD that motivated some of the songs?
Mike Rickard: Kind of where my mind was, was making sure that I am living life to the fullest — taking advantage of every moment, every opportunity, and not being afraid to take chances. Also, my partner and I have been together for a while, and so some of the songs on the CD kind of reflect the work that it takes in a relationship after you’ve been together for a while, like the song ‘When the Hot Cools Down.’
How much of the CD would you say is autobiographical?
Every bit of it, I would say. The one song that I would say is not reflective of my life now is the song ‘Crawling,’ which is really about being in a place of total discomfort and not being comfortable with where you are with your life right now.
I would say that was kind of my life before I came out.
What was your coming out experience like?
When I came out, that was probably the first time in my life that I didn’t feel this constant striving, of not feeling good enough, of feeling like I was kind of missing the mark or failing. Actually, when I came out that was the first time I felt real peace or joy.
Can you talk a little about the title track, ‘Sweat’ — it’s got a great funkiness to it and sounds like you were able to let your hair down with it.
You know, it’s funny because I really wanted it to be a song that people would groove to, but I pictured it probably being a little more acoustic-sounding. When the producer was playing the electric guitar part, at one point we were in between takes and I said, ‘You know, I was picturing the song being this way, but after listening to your guitar parts, I feel like I need to go take a shower — they’re just dirty!’ He said, ‘The song is totally sexual and you just need to commit to it.’ And I said, ‘You know what, you’re right,’ and we just went with it.
The collaboration that I had with the producer, Mike Ofca, was phenomenal. He took everything I wanted to do and he honored it, and there were a few instances where he pushed me to maybe go a little bit beyond what I was wanting to do sound-wise, and I just couldn’t be happier with the result.
Who are some of your artistic inspirations?
I would say the people that really do it for me, particularly from a male perspective, Jason Mraz is one of my absolute favorites. I think he is a killer singer, I think he’s a great musician and songwriter, plus he puts on one hell of a live show. Musically, I’ve always liked John Mayer, and what I didn’t realize until my vocal instructor pointed it out is that there’s a lot of Rob Thomas influence on the CD as well.
I also gravitate a lot toward female singers as well, and I would say a huge influence on this CD was Natasha Bedingfield and her CD “Unwritten.” I thought it was such a fun CD, but it really had something to say, and it had an energy level that just really influenced a lot of my writing style.