Mica Levi, known by her stage name Micachu (born 1987, Surrey, United Kingdom), is an English singer, songwriter, composer,and producer. She is classically trained and is best known for experimental music in a variety of genres.
The daughter of musicians, she started writing and playing music at the age of four. She studied violin, viola and composition at the Purcell School before being offered a scholarship to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study composition.Levi performed as a DJ and MC around the UK garage and grime scene in London, and released a mixtape titled Filthy Friends, which was posted on her Myspace page in 2006. For Filthy Friends, she enlisted the help of friends and musicians of various backgrounds including MCs Baker Trouble, Brother May, Man Like Me & Ghostpoet, singer-songwriter Jack Peñate, jazz band Troyka, London pop-band Golden Silvers, producers Kwes and Toddla T. Following its release, Filthy Friends became sought after on the London club scene.
While a student at Guildhall, Levi was commissioned to write an orchestral piece for the London Philharmonic Orchestra which was performed at the Royal Festival Hall in April 2008.
Levi formed a band called The Shapes, which includes Raisa Khan on keyboards and Marc Pell on drums. They signed to Accidental Records who released their debut single "Lone Ranger" in May 2008, followed by "Golden Phone" in August 2008. With the Shapes, Levi's focus has been on experimental pop music. Most of this music prominently features an acoustic half-guitar with various non-standard tunings, extensive distortion, and use of noise and found-object elements, as well as occasionally unusual time signatures. Despite these experimental leanings, the artist categorizes her output with The Shapes as pop music.
Their debut album, Jewellery, produced by influential electronic musician Matthew Herbert, was recorded around Mica's composition studies at Guildhall School. Advance copies of the record reached the press in early 2009, and generated positive feedback. In the wake of this growing buzz, Micachu and the Shapes were signed to Rough Trade, who released Jewellery on 9 March 2009. Drowned In Sound consequently hailed the record as "thrillingly improbable pop made by a grade-A maverick."
Levi describes the music she performs with The Shapes as "pop", without many of pop's defining characteristics (obvious choruses and accessible lyrics). She often uses unorthodox instruments, many of which are homemade. These include a modified guitar played with a hammer action, called a 'chu', and a bowed instrument fashioned from a CD rack. This multitude of objects, varying from broken bottles to a vacuum cleaner, help Mica achieve her distinctive and unique sound. She also owns a 3rd bridge Home Swinger built by Yuri Landman.
She produced the very effective horror-like music to the 2013 Jonathan Glazer's movie Under the Skin.