INTERVIEW: Mike Schikora “What’s Old Is New Again.”

Colorado Cowboy Mike Schikora lives with the motto "If you can live without the necessities you can afford the luxuries!" Finding himself stifled after a seven year publishing deal as a staff songwriter, he made a very tough decision to take some time away from Music Row and go back to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Since that time he has became a partner in his own independent record label [Front Range Records], continues to write new songs for his own Publishing Company [Tuck And Go Music] and currently is promoting a CD project with his latest single called “What’s Old Is New Again.” I took advantage of some time with Schikora to ask him about the life lessons he learned and how it has impacted his music career and also his personal life.

Bev: I am excited to know more about the project you have out; this is the second single off this album?

Mike: Yes, this is the second single, the title track off the record and we decided to give the online world a direct opportunity and it has done pretty well. I have been having a lot of fun seeing how it has done in other countries and have had some responses as far as interesting bookings.

Bev: Are you only releasing the singles online or can you purchase a physical CD?

Mike: The new project this year will be an entire CD but with these single tracks, it is digital only. We will get all that organized in the next few weeks and try to have it ready by October.

Bev: Which online websites are you using to promote it?

Mike: We basically did a direct marketing type of test and found a lot of data base organizations and a lot of country and western type event centers. I have also compiled lists with emails and connections with fans that like the music. And then there is radio, of course. We sent them MP3s of the single separately and the full electronic press kit because we feel for us, this is a better way of doing things. We have also pursued the international market of radio stations that are doing online streaming.

Bev: When you sat down to do this project, did you have a full concept of what you wanted it to be or did everything just kind of come together as you wrote the songs?

Mike: I had the full concept in my head for quite some time. It has been like this trilogy project, I have had a lot of the songs written and ready and whatever I have written since, if it qualifies as a good song to make the new cut, then I throw it in. That way I am not stressing about trying to write a full record out of the shoot with a deadline. I have been working on it for quite some time.

Bev: Are you doing the county fairs and similar events to promote it?

Mike: Yes, I have some stuff coming up, I finally get to go back to my home town to do a big event there so I am pretty excited about that.

Bev: Where is home town at?

Mike: I am from Libby Montana, up in the Northwest corner.

Bev: I know you were here in Nashville and then you went back to the country, just stepped away from it. Can you explain how that whole process took place?

Mike: I graduated college and did an internship at RCA in Nashville in the summer of 1987. The business was quite different then it is today. I climbed the ropes and got involved with writing a bit and was a staff writer in town. Sometimes what gets you the job is being creative and unique. After some time, I wasn’t feeling the creative energy enough to satisfy my own needs. I took the advice of a friend and industry professional that maybe some time off would be good, so I followed my heart and found moving to Colorado was a better experience for me, because I moved back to a place I was comfortable again. I simply took the attitude to stop trying to write and, instead, write whenever something came to me and that way I am not pressuring myself. I go with the creativity and the moment when I feel it.

Bev: You also produce; I am curious if you have a preference of performing, producing or writing. Do you really like one over the other?

Mike: The speed, I like to call it, my speed, I like to do all three and be a part of the whole project. I really love being in the studio. That is pretty cool, especially when it is your own song. I really love it when the song turns out better than you thought it would. That is a big bonus. I enjoy the entire process from start to finish. From the concept of writing it down, recording it the way you want, and then taking it to the stage live and seeing how people enjoy it.

Bev: The live performance is the ultimate reward?

Mike: It is the test to see if people like it. Not every song makes the cut like you think. These are your personal babies. When you get songs out there in front of an objective crowd, you can bet which ones they like more than the others, but sometimes you have that one that you really want them to like and sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

Bev: Do you tend to write towards the people or in a similar fashion of people that influenced you or do you think you have a style 100% your own?

Mike: I think I have some songs that I have written that, once they enter my head as a concept, I hear the melody, I start to relate it to the sound of a particular artist in the past or today and that can help influence how I end up writing it versus songs that completely come out of nowhere. I could never think that’s for someone or that is for so and so.

Bev: Who would you say were your biggest influences before you started doing this on your own?

Mike: I grew up with my Dad’s 8-track tapes and hearing a lot of the Boots Randolph and Chet Atkins music, some of the classic country sounds like Patsy Cline and George Jones, but then you have to throw in Abba who was pretty big at that time. I would have to say, I like the traditional movement that happened in the 1990s, Randy Travis, The Judds and Alabama. They were a big influence on me because I was just coming into my own as a young adult, I was in college and I was finding this music to be my passion and that is how I ended up in Nashville.

Bev: Have you been able to perform with anyone that you looked up to?

Mike: Yes, Guy Clark was one, I opened for him actually.

Bev: When you did that, were you nervous? Were you comfortable? What were some of the feelings you went through knowing this was one of your musical idols?

Mike: I was more excited and thought “I hope he likes my stuff”. I received good feedback and from a songwriter’s perspective, that is a songwriter’s songwriter right there.

Bev: Is there someone that you still hope to get on stage with and be able to share some time with?

Mike: I would love to play with John Prine and Kris Kristofferson. I might be dating myself a little but I think of them as the classics and having an acknowledgment from them would be awesome.

Bev: In the all the time you have been on stage, have you had any embarrassing moments or any good stories you want to share?

Mike: There are a lot I could probably include, but one is that I forgot my Capo and had no idea and had to stop and laugh it off and everyone was laughing with me, it was a very comical event. I dealt with it and made it funny. I must have told a joke and it was a very good evening.

Bev: Are you into Twitter and Facebook, MySpace, all the social networks?

Mike: I have to be. I accidentally got a Twitter account by someone sending a message saying I had a friend. I got an email saying I had a message on Twitter so my curiosity got to me and I created my account but I never got the message. MySpace and Facebook are just about all I can handle.

Bev: Do you think the social networking is a positive or negative thing?

Mike: I think it is instrumental in this day and in our present cultures. I feel it is a vital marketing opportunity and I have had more hits from marketing that way than I the old fashioned way. The interaction with fans is immediate and I even sense it. I have gotten to be friends with songwriters that I would think no way would they ever entertain the idea of talking to me, but with the interaction and the opportunity, it is definitely a game that has to be played today.

Bev: Do you think too much personal information is shared sometimes on there or it gives fans an open door to know too much or to be too close?

Mike: I think it depends on how the artist manages it. I don’t try to get too personal, I don’t share a lot. I try to keep it as a business. It is not necessarily my dating page, I have a different purpose than that. You can eliminate potential opportunities and fans by being too informative about your lifestyle.

Bev: Where do you hope to be in the next five years with the music?

Mike: I want to have the second album out and by five years, I want to establish a very good songwriting based career out of this. Being that guy up there in front of the fans and maybe they don’t know me, but they know the song. It is very competitive and to make it to the higher level where the Taylor Swifts are at right now, has become a little more of a steeper climb and the walls are a little more tighter unless you have some amazing opportunity and backing behind you to really get that a full chance. Those of us left have to rely on our talents and the songs, getting them out there as much as possible and surviving where we can and finding an audience.

Bev: When you meet with the fans, what is one of the things you hear most often?

Mike: They like to hear my words and they like hearing the story behind the song.

Bev: Are you the kind of artist that when you perform live you tell the story behind the song before you sing it?

Mike: It depends on the venue. If it is a more intimate setting, it reminds me of writer’s nights at the Bluebird or Douglas Corner where I can have a little bit of creativeness to talk a little bit in between each song. I enjoy that and I think it makes people enjoy the song on a different level and get to know the inspiration behind it as opposed to a quick 35 minute set where you just go through them to get as much stage time as you can.

Bev: As far as the second song you have out right now, what has been the reaction?

Mike: It is a favorite among the couples. Especially couples that have been through a marriage, ended in divorce and now they are with somebody new. I get a lot of reaction to the song that is about “us” and the fact that it is kind of modern in a way. It fits right in with a lot of what you hear on the radio, it just needs that chance.

Bev: I have really enjoyed speaking with you and getting to know you. I wish you much success and look forward to speaking with you again.

Mike: I love the questions and I thank you.
For more information please visit and

No comments: