Misha B: B+
With her current, pivotal second single - the soulfully-heartfelt and edgily-pounding “Do You Think Of Me” - currently dominating Britain’s contemporary pop and urban airwaves, 20-year-old Manchester singer/songwriter/rapper Misha B is currently proving the latest in the ever-increasing line of hitmakers to emerge from British television’s high-profile reality singing contest “The X Factor”.
Indeed, having originally come to national prominence in 2011 as a semi-finalist on the show’s eighth series (when her public popularity notoriously took a battering after her being controversially branded a “bully” by one of the judges), Misha actually signed her first record-deal in February of this year with Relentless Records. For whom her debut single - the exciting, dancehall/soul-tinged “Home Run” - hit Number 11 in the UK last June, while also becoming one of summer 2012’s most enduring radio hits. Since which time she has been consistently recording with numerous British-urban hit producers (including TMS, MNEK and Naughty Boy) with a view to releasing her as-yet-untitled debut album in 2013.
Born Misha Bryan in February 1992 in Manchester, UK, Misha (who is of Jamaican heritage) was raised in the city’s Moss Side and Longsight Districts by her aunt, to whom she had been unconventionally handed over by her former-heroin-addict mother at just three months old, her father having disappeared shortly after she was born. Going on to attend Trinity C.E. High School in Hulme as a teenager, Misha (who while at school interestingly played football for Manchester United’s under-16s!) first started out writing poetry before moving on to rapping and later, at 14, to singing seriously. Following which she would eventually, and successfully, conquer her initial stage-fright by taking up busking outside central Manchester’s busy Arndale shopping centre as well as performing on the city’s open mic circuit.
All of which would ultimately prepare her for her aforementioned stint on last year’s “X Factor (UK)”. During which - under the mentoring of US R&B songstress Kelly Rowland - Misha would quickly became famous for her creative stage outfits and quirky British-urban takes on numerous pop and soul classics, with her obvious natural star-quality picking up favourable comparisons along the way with artists ranging from modern-day female urban icons Missy Elliott (who has publicly declared herself a fan), Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Hudson to such legendary classic divas as Tina Turner, Grace Jones and Chaka Khan.
… Which in turn brings us back to today and the aforementioned current single “Do You Think Of Me”. As a charismatic Misha B - all Mancunian flattened-vowels, Batman top and black-leather dress(!) - sits alongside “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis on the top-floor of Lower Thames Street’s Northern & Shell Building for a revealing, introductory chat.
PETE: You’ve been quoted as saying you have “a strong emotional connection” to your current single “Do You Think Of Me”…
MISHA: “Well, the concept of the song is basically just missing somebody who’s a loved one - whether it be a friend, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, somebody that passed away… And with it being for me such a very, very big topic, the reason I was happy to choose it as a single was because I can literally relate to it in so many different WAYS. For example, I’ve now moved to London whereas before I’d always lived in Manchester. So at this point I’m obviously missing everyone back HOME. And then even when I think back to when I was little, I remember times I’d fall out with my best friend and so whenever I’d be doing things we’d normally be doing together it was like ‘I’m thinking about HER, I wonder if she’s thinking about ME’. You know, that little question “do you think of me” really does apply to so many real-life situations people FIND themselves in.”
PETE: With you hailing from Manchester’s Moss Side district, how do you feel your early upbringing has impacted on you as an artist?
MISHA: “Music is just something that I grew up literally living as part of daily LIFE. Because in the neighbourhood I was in, in Moss Side, EVERYTHING is musically heavy! Like we have our carnival every year which everyone looks forward to. Plus in the summer as well we also have these big parades that go on from early morning to the end of the day where you hear music just blasting from so many different PLACES! They have the soca, the dancehall, the pop, the reggae, the bashment - you know, basically just everything you can THINK of!... Then growing up in my household was very, very SOUL heavy. So when you add all that together, I guess that’s where my influences COME from. Like right now as I’m talking to you, I’m having this very, very big flashback where I’m remembering watching the Jackson 5 movie as a child over and over again - which is probably why Michael Jackson is my greatest INSPIRATION. You know, to me he’s just the world’s greatest in every SENSE - you just can’t GET no better!”
PETE: In terms of public perception, during your time on “The X Factor” last year you arguably had one of the bumpiest rides of ANY of the show’s former contestants. How do you now look back on that whole experience?
MISHA: “I look back on it as the best experience of my LIFE. And while a lot of people could well get confused by me saying that, I do kinda see it as everything really does happen for a REASON, as clichéd as that may SOUND. You know, to me you have to look at it like ‘OK, THIS has happened, THAT has happened. But at the same time, life is what YOU choose to make it, not what anyone ELSE chooses to make it! I’ve been given this great opportunity. So am I gonna give up now just because I’ve been faced with this situation? NO, I’m NOT!! I’m gonna continue and I’m gonna make everybody else that believes in me proud and remind those people that are quick to criticise why I AM here - which is for the MUSIC!’!
The single “Do You Think Of Me” is released November 4 through Relentless Records
You can read more of this interview with Misha B in our end of year print issue out November 16... Click below to order your copy now...
Words PETE LEWIS