By Faith Vara
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine recommended I listen to a new act called Mickey Darling. After hearing their latest single, “I’m Just a Buzzkill,” I instantly fell in love with their dancey, feel-good sound. This new indie-pop duo from central Texas is making some of the most exciting music I’ve heard in awhile, and I was eager to find out more about them. I recently got the chance to do an over-the-phone interview with them, and we talked about nearly everything. From their musical beginnings to their life as a D.I.Y. band, Mickey Darling shares it all. Here’s what went down:
Faith Vara: So to start off, I’ll let you guys introduce yourself and tell us your role in the band.
Skyler: My name’s Skyler. I’m just the lead singer and the lyricist. I live in San Antonio right now and that’s basically it.
Austin: Come on, man. Give yourself some more credit.
S: Okay, bro. I write all the songs, I– no, I’m just kidding. I mean, as far as the band goes, I like to think of myself as the charisma and the– ah there was something beautiful in my head but I totally blanked out for a second.
A: You’re like the creative direction of the band. That’s what I would classify you as.
S: You’re so sweet, bro. Do you really mean that?
A: Alright, my name is Austin. I produce the music, I play all the instruments and sometimes help with the creative direction. That’s pretty much it so far.
S: Yeah, Austin is basically like the backbone of the entire Mickey Darling operation. Without him, none of it’s possible. So, it’s basically like– I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to Vampire Weekend, but I basically describe him as the Rostam of the band. Which is basically like the guy on the side who was making all the music. And he was in the band, but of course, obviously everyone was looking at Ezra Koenig like, “Oh yeah, it’s Ezra. He’s amazing!” But really, behind the curtain, Rostam was Vampire Weekend. That’s who Austin is.
A: Wow, you really killed it for me, didn’t you?
S: Thank you, man. I’m really just trying to hype you up right now.
FV: So, Skyler, you said you’re from San Antonio, correct?
S: I am, yeah.
FV: And Austin, where are you from?
A: I’m also from San Antonio, but I just live in San Marcos right now.
FV: Oh, really?
A: Yeah, I go to school here.
FV: So, how did you guys come together to form the band?
A: Me and Skyler have known each other since high school but we had never really made music together until my senior year or freshman year of college. And we had made one or two songs, but then we had been talking about the bands Boy Pablo and Gus Dapperton, and we were kind of fanboying over them. Then he was like, “Try to make a song like that.” So, I ended up making the song, “Shane Dawson,” and that was the first song I made for Mickey. And this whole project was supposed to be his EP, but we ended up making it a band thing.
S: Yeah, it was really random. It wasn’t a planned thing at all. I was like, “Oh, wait. You can make amazing music and I can sing and write lyrics over it. Let’s just do it.” So, it wasn’t like one of those things where we had been jamming for years.
FV: Would you say music is something you guys always wanted to pursue?
S: For me, I didn’t grow up listening to music at all, really. I don’t remember ever hearing music in my life, growing up. The first time my dad ever showed me any artist was when I was in seventh or eighth grade. He asked if I had ever heard Queen, and I said no. He showed me the Live Aid performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and it blew my mind. So the next year, I got a guitar and I wished that I could do that for a living, but it was never one of those things that I was going to pursue with my entire life. I didn’t think I was good enough, nor did I grow up in that scene, but now it’s all I think about. *laughs*
A: With me, my dad forced me into band in middle school, and I stayed in it until sophomore year, but then I quit. I got a guitar, but I never thought of doing music for a living, I just liked jamming with my friends. But at some point, I realized I really enjoy making music and being able to express myself with it. Lately, I’ve been really focusing on it and trying to make it work, while at the same time, I’m about to graduate. I’m kind of torn between getting a real job and producing music, but preferably, I want to do music.
S: That’s my boy!
FV: With some of your songs, they’re named after celebrities and pretty well-known people such as Pauly D, Shia Labeouf and Shane Dawson. Was there a particular reason for picking those names?
S: That’s so funny, nobody has ever asked that. It all started kind of as a joke, it was never meant to become what it did become– like, four whole songs with celebrity names. When I was writing lyrics for the first song, I accidentally rhymed Shia Labeouf into the song. Then I was like, “Oh that’s kind of funny, what if we call this Shia Labeouf?” So, we thought on it, and ended up naming it Shia Labeouf. Then for the next song, which is called Em Rata, it kind of just happened. I never had thought about writing a song with a celebrity’s name, it just so happened that I wrote a whole song based around this infatuation with this Instagram model that I found. So after that, I thought that we should name the first four songs we put out after celebrities. And I wanted to make sure that they were all in different sub-categories of pop culture. So, it basically just kind of happened after we starting going.
FV: What would you say the songwriting process is like?
A: It kind of just starts with me playing around on the guitar until I find a chord progression I like. Then, I’ll make a song in about an hour and send it to Skyler to see if he likes it. If we both enjoy the song, then it kind of just happens. It’s honestly just me sitting in my room trying to figure out if I like the sound of something or not, and that usually happens in bursts. A couple of weeks ago I made like ten demos, so we listened to them to see if one would become a Mickey track.
FV: So, going back to the song title names, with one of them being “Shane Dawson.” Skyler, I actually found your YouTube channel, and I was wondering if there was ever a dream of becoming a big YouTuber?
S: Yeah, definitely. I definitely fed into that fantasy because I grew up always loving being the center of attention, since I was the baby of four siblings. They were all smarter and older than me, so I always had to be as interesting and fight for the attention. With this whole YouTube generation, everyone wants to be the next Shane Dawson or David Dobrik, and I definitely fed into it for a while, until the whole Mickey thing got started. I didn’t really have any direction with YouTube since my channel wasn’t really specific at all, but I would still love to be a YouTuber. I just don’t know the line between wasting time and actually doing a good job on a video.
FV: To piggyback off that, do you guys have any other interests besides music?
S: Because of the whole YouTube thing, I can edit really well now. I like making the music videos for Mickey, especially because we like to be really D.I.Y. We don’t want to pay like $20,000 for a big-time filmmaker or director to film a video for us. So, I really enjoy editing, especially if it’s something I’m passionate about.
A: Before I started doing music, I really liked collaging and painting. I also really like skating.
FV: Speaking of videos, as a D.I.Y. band, where do you get the inspiration behind your music videos?
S: It’s all really random. It was kind of easy with the whole celebrity thing, because all we had to do was put the person’s face in it and then give it a little twist. With the last two songs, “I’m Just a Buzzkill” and “Peer Pressure,” it is kind of difficult. Like, I want to make something that’s easily digestible, but that also has a good storyline. We just sit around with some friends or the people who are going to be in the video and we brainstorm for like two hours. I usually come out with a solid foundation of the idea at the end of the brainstorming session. It obviously would be different if we had lots of money to spend, but I just happen to have a DSLR and an editing software from YouTube. So, we basically have everything we need to make the videos.
FV: Also, as a D.I.Y. band, it can be difficult to plan everything out and get all the logistics together, but are there any plans for touring in the future?
A: We’re probably going to do some Texas shows once I graduate. Right now, we’re trying to look for other smaller bands and seeing if we can get in contact with them to hop on their tour. We’re not going to be able to go to every city we want to, so we’re going to base it on the data we get from our streaming services– like where we have the biggest amount of fans.
FV: What about an album or an EP? Do you guys see that coming in the future?
S: Yeah, definitely. With the singles, we just wanted to establish some sort of presence before laying out an album or EP. We didn’t really want it to get swept under the rug with no one listening to it since we weren’t even a band seven months ago. But we will definitely probably end up releasing an EP this summer, ideally. I’m not too sure about it yet, but we want to keep giving people more and more content. Whenever we first made “Shia Labeouf,” we told ourselves that we wanted to release a new song and music video every month to keep us on that track. So, definitely this summer, I’d imagine. But of course, I could be a complete liar, but I’m hoping we’ll get it done.
FV: To wrap this us, if you guys had to describe Mickey Darling in three words or less, what would they be?
S: Okay, I already got it. My three words are going to be: Fun. Different. Pop.
A: *laughing* That’s like a whole new genre. I’d say: Dancey. Indie. Pop.
And there you have it. Skyler and Austin, two great guys with great personalities, are creating something very special with Mickey Darling, and I’m excited to see where they go in the future. These guys were genuinely fun to chat with, and I’m thankful they gave me the chance to talk with them. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out their music. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.