Migs is a songwriter and composer who was just signed to the big label AWAL as an independent artist.
After making the move from Lisbon, Portugal to the faster-paced environment of London in 2014, Migs draws inspiration from the process of adjusting to his newfound freedom there.
It is a narrative that may apply to any young person who has relocated to another country and found it difficult to build the life for themselves that they had envisioned.
Migs got his start in the creative business as a designer for music prizes including the Mercury Prize 2018/19/22 and the BRIT Awards 2020/22. Being in such close quarters with other artists has provided the impetus for him to become serious about pursuing a career in the music business. Migs published his first extended play (EP), titled “What Did U Expect,” in 2021 after he had completed a music producing course at the London Sound Academy.
In the meanwhile, he is working on his most recent project, which is a narrative about coming of age and falling in love.
This song was written by Migs for the version of himself that was 18 years old. It was inspired by early experiences of Migs probing into his gay thoughts and was influenced by the poet and writer Ocean Vuong.
Cat Santanna was the one responsible for producing and mixing the music at the Noatune Studios in Hackney, London. Cat is a woman who identifies as LGBT and lives in London. She is influenced musically by artists such as Ilangelo, Flume, and even Odesza.
I was able to have a one-on-one chat with him, during which he disclosed a number of additional confidential details about his musical career and his most recent song.
What is your real name?
Miguel and Catarina.
What’s your official Showbiz name?
Everybody in the UK calls me Migs and so that’s the name I decided to go with for my music identity. The same applies to Cat, everybody calls her Cat and so she adapted her Portuguese surname and went with Cat Santanna.
How did you get into music?
Migs: It was very unexpected if I’m honest. I always loved music and always tried to desiccate all these lyrics and productions I was listening to while growing up. I was really fascinated by storytelling through music.
A few years after I moved to London I started working at a creative agency as a designer that produces a lot of work for The BRIT Awards and the Mercury Prize. It was a huge amount of my workload and so I got to attend those events and have a close look into the music industry.
I then decided I actually wanted to give music a go and so took on a short production course at the London Sound Academy in 2019. When covid took over I was left in my flat in London with all this time to experiment and make music. Eventually, I met Cat (who studied music in London) through word of mouth and we’ve been working together since.
Cat: I have been making music for about 15 years. I started playing the guitar and eventually got into production as I wanted to write my own song ideas and, it quickly became my main passion. I have done quite a bit of music but currently, I want to focus on a solo career having released a single on the 25th of May called Blue Lotus.
What were your first project and the people you worked with and which year?
Migs: My first project was my EP – what did u expect in March 2021. Some of those songs I had written months and months earlier had no clue if I should even release them, I didn’t even know-how. I then realized it was a good extension of my creative work and I had so much fun making it that I thought I’d put it out and share it with my friends. Turns out it opened a huge window for me to keep making music, it was obviously just the start.
Cat: I have worked with a variety of people, projects and brands over the years. My first proper attempt at a self-release was with Nocturnal back in 2018. I had the idea for that project for at least one year before officially releasing a single and it really helped me in creating my own sound and exploring some skills I didn’t know I had. I first collaborated with Migs, as Nocturnal, on a song called Midnight Move.
Who or what inspires you or motivates you? And why?
Migs: I am moved by the capacity to communicate through music and being able to say so many things that are hard to say in just a conversation. Musicians can put so much into their songs to underline and emphasize what they’re saying.
I listen to a lot of artists but conversational lyrics are a big thing for me. Amy Winehouse, Simon and Garfunkel, Sade, and Elton John are excellent examples of it. I then get inspiration from pop productions like Donna Summer, Kylie Minogue, 070 Shake or even more recent dance hits like Peggy Gou, Dua Lipa, Charlie Puth etc. I think it’s really fun to give words meaning by adding sounds. It’s so much fun!
Cat: Until this day I am not really sure who or what inspires me, it’s really a mix of everything. I do take a lot from artists like Flume, Odesza and Mike Dean. I currently really like Labrinth’s production too and I am very passionate about Sound Design and have always been a fan of 80’s sounds and synthesizers.
Any models you look up to? With reason(s) why?
Migs: I’m not sure about looking up to, but I love the non-conforming work we see from artists like Madonna, Lil Nas X, and Kanye West. I like looking at music as a way of pushing boundaries, I love queer music. But I also love a dramatic pop love ballad (laughs). I think in general when I’m writing lyrics and I get the urge to not say something I ask myself ‘What would this artist do?’ and it often gets me a good answer.
What do you look out for in this line of business?
Migs: I would say any artist would love to inspire and leave the listener feeling a little better about themselves, but in all honesty, I do this because I have a lot of fun and it makes sense to express myself through music. If people listen to what I make then that’s awesome!
Cat: I agree with Miguel and I want to add that I particularly like making music for active listening as I call it. You know those songs that every time you hear them, they just get better because you hear something different and you uncover a new dimension within the song? I want to be able to do that.
What are some of the challenges you face in your career path?
Migs: Social media (laughs)! If I could just make music and not have to worry too much about promoting it and make sure my friends know there is a new single coming out I would be so much more relaxed. But at the end of the day, in any job you get, you’ll have to do stuff you don’t enjoy as much.
Cat: Couldn’t agree more. Although recently I realized that being spontaneous about it really works for me.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
Migs: I think the internet is an incredibly positive platform for upcoming musicians. You get to connect with other people and grow a little community you can support (and be supported by).
There is an ongoing conversation about making music for the sake of TikTok virality and some major artists seem to think this is compromising the quality of music that’s being pushed. I think I agree with it, it could be a problem but not something my friends and I care about.
We’re just making the music we love to make regardless of potential virality or not. The internet has been excellent to expand the reach of my music organically.
Cat: When I started making music, youtube was just starting out. To see the development of content in the past 15 years has been quite a ride and it’s not an easy race to keep up with! I firmly believe that there is an audience for everyone though, it’s just about putting yourself out there. The internet provides that without involving labels and radio plays and whatnot. It’s great and it’s allowing artists to own their art without needing third parties.
Do you have any advice for aspiring songwriters?
Migs: I think I am an aspiring songwriter myself (laughs) but to anyone who is planning to release their first-ever song I would say not to worry about what people might think or not. Stick to your gut and do what you think is best for you.
Never compromise your work by what people might tell you. It’s important to listen to advice but only from people you actually trust. Music-making is such a subjective art form that I think it’s valuable to only listen to the people you love or actually trust.
Cat: Agreed and also, do not be a perfectionist! I think most artists are like this but if I learned anything, it is that it holds us back more than it helps.
What is your current project about?
Migs: All about celebrating pride month! ‘In-between’ is about being young and falling in love. I remember the first time being with someone made so much sense to me.
There is a line on the song ‘You held my hand, I felt so free’ – that feeling in your gut is indescribable. Of course, your heart gets broken eventually, your first ever love doesn’t usually last forever (laughs).
This single is about the nostalgia of it all, especially as a gay man the feeling that you finally found your place was very unique.
Cat: When Migs first showed me ‘In-between’ that line was exactly the one that resonated deeply with me. I immediately knew I wanted to do the full production for this song because it’s just too good in every way! I am also part of the LGBTQ community and I felt that the song was written in a way that could connect with the wider community and I thought that made the song even more special.
What are your hobbies?
Migs: I draw a lot. Listen to loads of music. Love watching a historical/period film or series – they are so dramatic, it’s hilarious. I also surf when I go back to Portugal (where I am originally from), but in the UK I go on long walks in the nature.
Cat: I am also into artsy hobbies or reading philosophy books. Recently, I have been trying to become a better and more varied cook.
What do you do aside from this profession?
Migs: I am a graphic designer!
What is one message you would give to your fans?
Migs: To the people who always supported me I can only say thank you! A creative outlet is something that can be at times hard to sustain (emotionally) and so the support of the people who appreciate and relate to my work is so important. Eternally grateful for the people who listen to my music and pay attention to my work.
Cat: I am really grateful that there are people who listen and enjoy the music I do and send me heartfelt messages. It’s really a beautiful thing and it elevates the whole experience.