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Performing in New York City, October 2008
Background information
Birth name Mica Levi
Born 1987 (age 22–23) in Surrey, United Kingdom
Origin London
Genres Pop
Experimental Music
Instruments Vocals
Vacuum Cleaner
Years active 2006-present
Labels Accidental Records
Rough Trade Records

Mica Levi, known by her stage name Micachu (born 1987 in Surrey, United Kingdom), is an English singer, songwriter, composer, and producer. She is classically trained and is best known for experimental music in a variety of genres.



Levi was born in Surrey and raised in Bow, East London. The daughter of musicians, she started writing and playing music at the age of four. She studied violin, viola and composition at the Purcell School before being offered a scholarship to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study composition.


Levi performed as a DJ and MC around the UK garage and grime scene in London, and released a mixtape titled Filthy Friends, which was posted on her Myspace page. For Filthy Friends she enlisted the help of friends and musicians of various backgrounds including MCs Man Like Me & Ghostpoet, singer-songwriter Jack Peñate, jazz band Troyka, London pop-band Golden Silvers, producers Kwes and Toddla T. Following its release, Filthy Friends had become sought after on the London club scene.

While a student at Guildhall, Levi was commissioned to write an orchestral piece for the London Philharmonic Orchestra which was performed at the Royal Festival Hall in April 2008[1].


Micachu and the Shapes

Levi formed a band called The Shapes, which includes Raisa Khan on keyboards and Marc Pell on drums. They signed to Accidental Records who released their debut single "Lone Ranger" in May 2008, followed by "Golden Phone" in August 2008. With the Shapes, Levi's focus has been on experimental pop music. Most of this music prominently features an acoustic half-guitar with various non-standard tunings, extensive distortion, and use of noise and found-object elements, as well as occasionally unusual time signatures. Despite these experimental leanings, the artist categorizes her output with The Shapes as pop music.

Their debut album, Jewellery, produced by influential electronic musician Matthew Herbert, was recorded around Mica's composition studies at Guildhall School. Advance copies of the record reached the press in early 2009, and generated positive feedback. In the wake of this growing buzz, Micachu and the Shapes were signed to Rough Trade, who released Jewellery on March 9 2009. Drowned In Sound consequently hailed the record as "thrillingly improbable pop made by a grade-A maverick." [2] The album was strongly-tipped to be nominated for 2009's Mercury Prize [3] Its omission from the shortlist sparked widespread criticism, perhaps best summed up by the Guardian: "but what about...Micachu and the Shapes, and all the others we were convinced would make the grade?" [4] Mica has stated herself that she never expected to be nominated, even saying that "I’m not totally behind that record" [5]

Micachu and the Shapes toured widely throughout the UK in 2008, including performances at Bestival and V Festival. The band played abroad in South Africa and in the US at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City and SXSW in Austin, Texas. They also performed on the Main Stage of the Siren Music Festival at Coney Island in Brooklyn in July 2009. Touring is set to continue throughout Europe and North America in the summer and fall of 2009[6].

Self-built instruments

Levi describes the music she performs with The Shapes as "pop", without many of pop's defining characteristics (obvious choruses and accessible lyrics). She often uses unorthodox instruments, many of which are homemade. These include a modified guitar played with a hammer action, called a 'chu', [7] and a bowed instrument fashioned from a CD rack. This multitude of objects, varying from broken bottles to a vacuum cleaner, help Mica achieve her distinctive and unique sound. [8] She also owns a 3rd bridge Home Swinger built by Yuri Landman.


Studio albums



  • "Lone Ranger" (2008)
  • "Golden Phone" (2008)
  • "Lips" (2009)
  • "Turn Me Well" (2009)



External links


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