Behind My Eyelids: Micki XO Talks Mental Health and Musical Inspiration

Portland’s own Micki XO has captivated listeners with her introspective and hauntingly beautiful music. She’s this Portland singer who’s been blowing up lately. Her new song “Behind My Eyelids” is intense – all about mental health struggles and finding peace. It’s got this haunting vibe with synths and drums that really gets under your skin.

Micki’s been around since 2020, always talking about real stuff like mental health and relationships. You can tell she’s inspired by artists like Halsey and Tate McRae – her lyrics are super raw and honest.

I was reading this interview with her, and it’s wild how she turns her pain into music. It’s like, you feel less alone listening to her, you know? she brings a raw honesty to her lyrics that resonates deeply with her audience. She’s definitely making waves in the dreamy electronic pop world.

The interview digs into how she writes songs and what inspired “Behind My Eyelids.” It’s cool to see an artist tackle the tough parts of life but make it sound beautiful at the same time. Definitely worth checking out if you’re into that kind of music.

Watch Behind My Eyelids below

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What is your stage name
My stage name is Micki XO.

Is there a story behind your stage name?
It was originally just going to be “Micki”, but it turns out that name was already taken. Micki is my childhood nickname that my dad gave me, and the XO drumkit is my favorite plugin that my producer uses (I’m a sucker. for some dirty bass and drums), so I combined them to come up with the name “Micki XO”.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in almost anything, but I’d say most of my music is inspired by mental health. I’m bipolar, and I was misdiagnosed for 11 years. While I was misdiagnosed, I never felt like anyone understood what I was going through, always brushed off my symptoms, and I felt incredibly alone in the world.

I always wished I had music or something I could connect with to help get me through it. I may have been diagnosed correctly sooner if I had. I want to be that person for someone, so I write based off of my own experiences, as well as the stories of others that I hear on the topic of mental health/being bipolar in most of my music.

What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
In the early years of my life, I wasn’t a musician yet, but music always got me through tough times. It would give me an escape I desperately craved, and it helped me connect to peeple when I wasn’t sure how to connect with them. I have strong memories of my sisters and I taking road trips, growing up together, and burning CD’s to some of our favorite songs. Back in the day, it was our form of communication with each other, essentially.

Are you from a musical or artistic family?
I don’t, actually! My family all works in healthcare and tech, for the most part. I’ve always been the black sheep in that sense, but I’ve never been able to see myself going down those paths myself. Art is and has always been my life.

Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
It actually was a community of people who inspired me. I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship, and didn’t know what to do with myself, didn’t know who I was, and felt like I was completely broken. I was driving one night and saw a sign for karaoke at a local bar. I decided to go in and sing, because I have always loved singing in the car and shower, and just felt like I had nothing to lose by trying it.

Turns out, I had everything to gain! I sang, and felt more like myself that I maybe ever had. I kept going back there, and after a few months, I started making a group of friends. One of them introduced me to their friend who does production, and I decided to start writing music with him. 4 years later, and we are an unstoppable force!

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It actually was a community of people who inspired me. I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship, and didn’t know what to do with myself

How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
I am actually almost completely self-taught. I started taking voice lessons and piano lessons about a year ago with an incredibly talented friend of mine to get better, but before that, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Just kind of let my soul take me where I needed to go. I just use my instincts to help me feel out what I want the song to convey and go from there.

What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
My first ever concert was a free concert at the local mall. Our local radio station put on a show with Avril Lavigne, and I went and saw her. I caught a radio station sticker that they rained down on the audience from the top level and kept that sticker for over 10 years because of the memory.
How could you describe your music?
My music is pop that meets industrial srangeness. I don’t like to define myself in one genre usually, but that’s the best way I could describe all the different parts of it. I just write and make what I’m feeling. I don’t like to put myself in a certain box, becuase that’s who I am. A woman of many parts all thrown together into one interesteing human. My music is similar. I’ve done styles from acoustic pop all the way to songs that have EDM sounds. I think every song is like a person, it’s different and demands its own respect and identity.

What musician do you admire most and why?
If I had to narrow it down to one, I honestly couldn’t. I’m inspired by so many different musicians, but I would say my top three are Halsey, Billie Eilish, and Phantogram. Halsey because I love her music and because she pours her soul into every track so honestly. She was the first person to make me feel like I wasn’t alone.

Billie Eilish because she takes musical risks, isn’t afraid to be herself, and like me, doesn’t fit in any one box. She’s a pioneer for so many musicians and the industry as a whole, all at such a young age! And Phantogram, because their music speaks to my soul. They are also a pioneer of music, combining rock sounds with pop with EDM sounds. It’s inspired and I’ve never heard anything like them.

Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
Yes, a lot! I started out with a song I wrote in 10 minutes. I had never written music, and I had never learned any rules of songwriting. It made the song unique and original, and I still love it with all my heart, but now that I’ve learned the rules a bit more, I have kept that uniquness and originality, and crafted it in a more refined way.

I’ve gone from inspirations that everyone knows, to being inspired by artist my friends have never heard of. I’ve stopped caring what people think of my music and started writing for ME. That has been the best part of my evolution of music.

Who do you see as your main competitor?
I don’t like seeing other musicians as compeitors, honestly. I like being inspired by them, learning from them, and if I get the chance to, working with them. We are all chasing our dreams at high costs, and I think it’s important to support one another.

What are your interests outside of music?
My other interests actually became my day job! I’m a Graphic Designer and Photographer, and art direct all my cover art. As I said before, I’ve never known a life where art wasn’t my main focus, even if it’s in different forms.

If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
I would say I’d be a Graphic Designer and Photographer, but honestly, I’ve never felt more of a rush, more of a satisfaction, and more of a purpose than I have with music. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
I think it’s a problem that most people I know have encountered and what holds them back: the costs. Music is exremely expensive and time consuming. If you have those resources, it makes a huge difference. I wouldn’t say I don’t have them, but I also wouldn’t say I have a plethora of them either. It’s a tough line to walk without them.

If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
One word: greed. There is so much greed from people. The labels that want to give you a “loan”, the people profiting of of your artwork who did not help build it, and the greed that some people have to not support others in the industry. There are definitely good people in the business, but it can be tough having to watch your back all the time to not get taken advantage of.

Why did you choose this as the title of this project?
I chose it because the pain I feel is largely in my head, thoughts, and introspectiveness. It’s not on the outside. It’s behind my eyelids, where people can’t see it, but it still exists and screams at me.

What are your plans for the coming months?
I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say some very big things are in store, and I can’t wait to share them with you all!

Do you have any artistic collaboration plans?
I do! I’m currently working on a song with the very talented Zane Thomas, as well as an artist I just started chattiing with named Jayme Graves. They’re both amazing people and artist and I can’t wait to work with them! Stay on the lookout for our relaeases!

What message would you like to give to your fans?
I would like to leave you all with two things. The first being how grateful I am of all your support. I would be nothing without the people who help bring my art to life, whether that’s my producers, my social media team, my label, or each and every person who likes, comments, or comes to shows.

You all are the reason I write music, and you are all people that I am eternally grateful are a part of my journey. The other thing is that don’t let anyone tell you that you are just one thing. I am more than my mental illness, just like you are more than just your struggles, your looks, or your status. People are all capable of being their best self and achieving your dreams. You just have to work hard, and most importantly, never give up!

Mister Styx
Mister Styx
My name is Mister Styx and I'm a music blogger and an HVAC Engineer. I'm passionate about all kinds of music, from rock to hip-hop, Jazz, and Reggae as a matter of fact I am always eager to hear new sounds as music has no barrier, and I'm always looking for new sounds to explore. Hop on lets go fetch for some new sounds!

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