In 1988, an ambitious 24-year-old, Alexander “Mishka” Frith embarked on a musical journey that has continued after 20 plus years in the industry.
His biggest inspiration? It stems from his island roots of course – sweet reggae music.
“I got my start at KEMH like most Bermudians — as far as music, I signed a deal in 1988 at Creation Records”, he said. “At the time, I was living in Nevis, St. Kitts and my sister [singer, Heather Nova] brought a friend on holiday. He was the head of this big record label and wanted to sign me.”
From there Mishka lived in England for over a year and described the experience as being a “huge culture shock”.
“The music industry is a world unto itself, and it wasn’t a friendly world. My experience was quite cutthroat, and the job is demanding. I was happy to rehearse and record, but the social aspect was a struggle.”
“Getting the opportunity to play for people and to become a performer was like a drug. Until it, all fell apart and I had to start from scratch, making my way with different labels and managers.”
Now living in Maui, Hawaii, the industry hardships prompted him to become an independent artist. He is also producing his own music, which is a huge stretch from his humble beginnings as a singer, songwriter playing acoustic guitar.
His earlier work, led by the drum and bass, incorporates some of the musical elements of rhythm and blues, and mento, and any pains can be heard through his soulful lyrics.“I started off simple, made my way up to big production, and now I’m scaling back, with just vocals and lyrical based content in this new album. I’m trying to get it across in a very simple form.”
The reggae artist explained that being signed is challenging, but it also meant that you have more help working with other people, are able to produce much more music, and your projects are marketed correctly — which is why many sign to big labels.
“However, there is a catch-22. You have little to no creative control, and your music is owned by the company. Independence also has its pros and cons. At the moment, I’m surviving and liking not being told what to do.”
In November, Mishka embarked on his second tour of the year. The first half, starting in Florida, featured a three-piece band, while the second half was more of an intimate setting — a duo with a percussionist.
His new album is set to be released mid-2019, and he is looking forward to the possibility of performing at a local show next summer.
“Until then I just want to say, love to all my Bermy people, Bermuda raised me to a large degree, and I have endless love for Bermuda and Bermudian people.”
To keep up with Mishka visit his website mishka.com or follow him on Instagram and Twitter @mishkamusic.