When Mimi Velevska answers the phone from her day job on a Wednesday morning, she speaks with the kind of heightened enthusiasm that one wouldn’t normally have on a Wednesday morning. But Velevska is of a different breed; her day job isn’t the only reason she has to get up in the morning. She’s just weeks away from the release of her debut EP,The Bonafide Electric, a collection of songs which Velevska hopes will lead to her “establishing my sound on the Melbourne scene,” she says. “I’d love to get a response out of people.”
It’s not just the impending release of the EP which has Velevska bubbling. There is an unmitigated passion in her voice, one you might expect from someone who states that if "Anthony Kiedis, Slash and Tina Turner had a red-head musical love child, I want to be her."
There’s exuberance in all three above performers, one Velevska attempts to channel every time she steps onstage.
When asked about her early musical influences, the 22-year-old outlines her transition from a simple consumer of pop music to one more in tune with her desire to perform.
“After reading [Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography] Scar Tissue, I learned that I’ve just got to do it. When I first started learning about music, it was all about jazz. Then reading that book, I thought about what I wanted to be doing musically, and I realised I wanted to be singing. When I first heard the Chilli Peppers, I thought to myself, ‘Oh my god!? What is this?’ Although I was around in the ‘90s, I was more caught up with The Spice Girls. The Spice Girls was the first album I ever bought, but could I go back in time, it’d probably be Blood Sugar Sex Magik. I’d like to think that the jazz and soul that I do is combined with a bunch of rock, a bunch of energy. I wanted to get back to stuff like Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Led Zeppelin. That stuff has always been around, but I’ve only really dove into it lately because I’ve been focused on having a pop sensibility, if anything.”
Though her influences would easily find a home on classic rock radio, Velevska’s rough around the edges sound harkens back to the ‘90s. She’s an old soul at heart, but still game to discuss current music which turns her on.
“Wolfmother is pretty cool,” she says. “Zeppelin seems to have influenced a lot of bands that I enjoy, including the Vasco Era and Money For Rope, so I guess that’s always present. I like a combination of sounds, stuff like the Black Keys or Gary Clark Jr. Genre-bending stuff always intrigues me. I’m a 22-year-old, but I’m listening to stuff much older than me.”
Being relatively young, it likely would have been easy for Velevska to follow the road oft-taken and churn out predictable singer-songwriter fare, largely derivative of her influences. Instead, Velevska imparts a soulful and original voice upon her music. And its music which she believes is meant to be heard only one way: loudly.
“A couple of years ago, I felt like I was being restricted from who I really wanted to be onstage,” she confesses. “Performing onstage is a kind of exorcism, and it doesn’t matter what else you have going on in your life, when you get onstage, you get to be the best part of yourself. I can be the loudest or craziest person I want to be. I can channel the spirit of performers I enjoy, whether it’s Axl Rose, Tina Turner or Beyoncé. People who aren’t afraid to be themselves on stage. Very often in life we have to follow rules and be orderly. Onstage is where you can be a wildfire. I’m happiest if I can get to that point.”
What Velevska learned from the recording of The Bonafide Electric, done so in under a week, will certainly impact her musical career in the future. Yet for now, Velevska’s only goal is becoming an unadulterated performer. And that’s not a bad homage at all.
“Onstage, I want to try and translate that electric side of myself. I literally want to try and have a bonafide electric performance. For me, it’s not about being the best musician in the world as much as it is about being that electrifying performer onstage.”
BY JOSHUA KLOKE
MIMI VELEVSKA will celebrate the release of her debut single Damn at The Workers Club on Saturday May 5.