Unfiltered. | Junior set to perform first gig following release of EP

Junior Eli Mickey performs at BIGhouse as a part of a worship band.

YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, you name it. Junior Eli Mickey released his four-track EP, “Unfiltered.,” a day before the turn of the decade on these platforms for more than just the city of Cedar Falls to hear. 

Mickey became interested in making his own music only a year ago. Not quite sure of where the spark of interest came from, Mickey said the inspiration most likely came from his cousin who had also released music on Spotify and Apple Music. “I think I just thought it’d be a fun thing to try, and I ended up loving the process,” Mickey said.

After starting with covers, Mickey said he eventually got the idea to put his own thoughts and words on paper and make something of his own. “I knew I wanted to do more. It started small. I just wrote a bunch of songs with just me and my guitar that weren’t meant to go anywhere, and then I decided to save up for a bunch of recording equipment,” Mickey said. “Once I did that, it was just a matter of sitting down and making my ideas a reality.” 

A one-man band, Mickey said although he mainly plays guitar (both acoustic and electric), he broadened his horizons when it came to formulating his EP. Playing piano, bass, drum pads and even experimenting with cello, Mickey was willing to go out of his comfort zone to find the perfect sounds for his songs. 

Although there’s so much he can do on his own, Mickey said he would love to have another person to bounce ideas off of. “As of right now I’m kinda all by myself when it comes to creating,” Mickey said. “I would love to start producing with others because that’s when some of my favorite music is made. It’s so much better to have ideas and inspiration from two or more people instead of just me.”

Music means a lot to Mickey, and continuously cultivating his skills and sound is what inspires him to keep working at his craft. He said the feeling of joy he gets from playing is what pushes him to keep working with all the instruments he uses. “I love layering everything together until you have a solid base for a song,” Mickey said. 

In terms of the workload of each song, Mickey said it’s no sweat to put his words down on paper. “Lyrics are pretty easy because it’s usually just whatever I’m feeling at the time, whether it’s a feeling toward someone or about something that happened to me, the lyrics are a good way for me to open up,” Mickey said.

Mickey said his favorite lyrics of those he’s written come from his song “Klondike Bar” because he was willing to get creative with it. “’You is one, two, three, I could be your fourth, make a four leaf clover,’ I liked this just because this thought process took longer. This line especially, it really meant like, ‘Hey, I know you’re doing just fine without me, but If I were to be involved, not really bringing much to the table, we could be something special,’” Mickey said.

With clever lyrics that are truly original, Mickey sets himself apart from other singer/songwriters. Mickey said there are specific sounds in parts of his songs, however, that are inspired by some of his favorite artists. He said he’s drawn off of “aspects of Tame Impala, Rex Orange County, Brittany Howard, Tobi Lou, Stella Donnelly, Faye Webster, Smino, the list goes on.”

On Friday, March 6 at Spicoli’s Reverb, Mickey will be opening for senior Milo Simpson at a Twenty-One Pilots tribute show. Mickey said when Simpson asked him to open for the show, it was a no-brainer. “Milo and I know each other through worship bands, and he’s one of my closer friends and probably the best drummer I know. He’s so talented,” Mickey said.

Mickey plans on playing a diverse set by “mixing in some covers with [his] originals and some new songs too.”

Full of excitement, Mickey said there’s a lot of energy ready to be poured into Friday’s show. “This is my first legit show ever, and I’m really pumped. Hopefully I get more opportunities in the future because this is what I want to do,” Mickey said.

Music is clearly a real passion of Mickey. He said he continues to create music because of the happiness that comes from playing. Even though he has no concrete plans right now as to where his music career will take him, Mickey said he’ll take any chance he gets to keep pursuing the love he has for this so-called “hobby.” “If something were to come out of it, I would be so excited. I want to continue doing this for as long as I can,” Mickey said.

The concert on March 6 starts at 9:30 pm with doors opening at 9 pm. Tickets are $10 at the door or $7 if purchased online in advance.

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