‘Billie Jean’ Guitarist Alexandr Misko Releases Record – EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Guitarist Alexandr Misko performed the song “Billie Jean” and posted it to YouTube. Little did the 19-year-old Russian guitarist know his excellent “Billie Jean” video would go viral on social media and his performance would be watched more than 10 million times on Facebook.
So who is Alexandr Misko, where is he, and how did he get so good at guitar? CaliforiaRocker.com asked the remarkable young guitarist Alexandr the important questions.
CaliforniaRocker.com: How do you do it? I have never seen a guitar player who uses the top hand to play the strings?
Alexandr Misko: Well, how do I do it? It’s a hard question for me to answer. To say briefly, I just play what I love in the style which I love — it is called Fingerstyle. I try my best to make my own music interesting and original and to become a successful musician. Also I am working hard on my playing abilities and techniques because I want to sound just as good live as I sound on my recordings.
Alexandr Misko Tells of ‘Billie Jean’ Technique
CR: What is this unusual style of finger picking with the top hand?
AM: The technique that you are talking about is not really new – it’s called “tapping” and many players have been using it all over the world since the ’50s, though mostly on electric guitars. The main thing is the ability of a composer or arranger to use it in appropriate way. I mean, you can move your hands all over the guitar and use many unorthodox techniques, but it all won’t make any musical sense. The music itself is primary, and all your ideas should be concentrated around it. If it’s not, then it is all just “flashy” maneuvers for a circus.
CR: Did you think your video “Billie Jean” would catch on so quickly?
AM: Rob Poland from Candyrat Records really helped me with the promotion of my video, but I never thought that it will become so viral. I hoped that it would be great if my video reaches 100 or 200 thousand views, but now it has more than 10 million of views! It’s just amazing. And I am incredibly thankful to all that people who are sharing it and watching it. Also I want to personally thank Rob for posting this video on his page and channel.
CR: Are you happy about all the views on “Billie Jean?”
AM: Yes, views are coming really quickly, it’s a viral video. It took my video less than a week to reach more that 10 millions, that’s why it’s even more surprising for me. I really hope that this success will help me to tour in other countries. Also, kind words from all my fans are really motivating me to become a beter musician. I won’t dissapoint them.
Alexandr Misko and Learning ‘Billie Jean’
CR: What was the your process on learning this song?
AM: Well, when I listened this song some good ideas started to pop up in my head, like “Hmm, I can play that bass with one hand, Hmm, and I can put a little scrunchy on 2 low strings to mute them and create that signature sound…” Then I just picked up guitar and started to work on my arrangement. After a couple of days it was finished, but it took me a whole week to practice to play it properly without any technical and rhythmical mistakes. Yeah, it’s really complicated song and definitely not easy to play.
CR: Where were you born and have you ever come to the United States?
AM: I was born in Russia, in the little south town called Krasnodar in November of 1997. Unfortunately, I have never been anywhere outside Russia, though I do lots of gigs around my country. I really hope that someday I will make tours in other countries and I’m ready to work hard to achieve my goal.
CR: Do you live with your parents and do you have any other talented brothers and sisters?
AM: I live with my parents at the moment, and I’m the only child in my family.
CR: Do your parents play music?
AM: No, my parents don’t play music at all. Though, my mother graduated from musical school in her teens many years ago, but it turned out that music is definitely not her cup of tea, so she completely abandoned it and threw away her piano long before my birth.
CR: Do you want to play music in the United States?
AM: Yes, definitely. It would be so great for me to do some gigs in a foreign country, especially in the USA, though it’s so far away from my home.
CR: How do you know so much American music? Do you listen to American radio or Internet radio?
AM: Well, American music is really popular in every country, so everybody knows many foreign hits even though the lyrics and the language itself can be a mystery for that people. As for me, I don’t really like to listen to popular music, I’m fond of underground and complex music. Many modern American composers influenced me, for example Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Alex De Grassi, Trevor Gordon Hall and others.
CR: Have you made any recordings?
AM: Yes, in February of 2016 I released my debut album The Songs Of Adolescence and it’s available through all world’s popular music services (including on iTunes and Amazon). This record is very personal and important for me because it’s the collection of my best songs that were written in the period from 16 to 18 years. Also, I need to mention that there are no covers, only my original music, so it’s rather hard to promote and to sell it. But I am ready for obstacles like that because I’m sure that my own music should be primary. To be a composer for me means much more, than just an arranger, that’s why I’m really interested in recording and playing my originals on gigs.
CR: What is your favorite band? Do you have more than one favorite?
AM: I have many favourite bands, so it’s better to say something about genres that I love, because the list of the bands would be almost infinite. I like deathcore, progressive math metal, technical death metal, slamming brutal death metal, shoegaze, cloud rap, chill step, trip hop, nu metal, minimal music of 19th and 20th century, instrumental new-age music, and many many other genres. I try to be very versatile in my musical tastes because it reflects in my own music.
CR: Is music your favorite thing to do?
AM: I have many hobbies and interests, but music is definitely my favorite thing to do. Not only because I’m in love with music of any kind, but also because I see it as my future profession.
CR: What is the secret to being a great musician? Do you have to feel the music to play well?
Well, I think the secret lies in dedication and many hours of hard work. I don’t really believe in a “talent” and some natural abilities to play music. If the talent exists, it gives you only 3 percent of the success. The other 97 percent of the success are made only by you.
This story originally ran in CaliforniaRocker.com on Dec. 12, 2016.