Norwegian, of Bulgarian descent, supremely talented, with a way with a tune that has already made him a platinum-selling superstar in his homeland, word of Paskalev has already been spreading beyond Norway following standout performances at SxSW and elsewhere, while promos for songs he's already released at home have developed a life of their own online. In fact, the video for the EP's super-catchy lead track, 'I Spy', a brilliant Tom-Cruise-in-Risky-Business-homage, has made waves from Norway to Hype Machine and racked up a million views on YouTube already.
Says Paskalev of the clip, "I wanted to dance the way I'd dance if I was on my own. Plus, the label gave me money to make a video, so I thought it would be fun to find out how it would feel to be Tom Cruise for a day." (We'd add that it's also quite refreshing to have the rules of the pop promo turned on their head to have a man dancing in his pants for a change!)
'I Spy' EP Tracklisting
A bit more about Mikhael Paskalev... Paskalev's early love of music came from his parents, and he learned about life on the road early on, following his dad and his wife around as they sang duets at hotels across Norway, backed by a midi keyboard, to unintentionally comical effect. Paskalev's father would later go on to act as MC for Mikhael's own first solo gig, to an audience in a biker cafe who watched the excitable 14 year old stake his claim as their new Hendrix/Page style guitar hero. "The bikers were all very impressed," he remembers, fondly, "...although looking back, I suppose it's possible that they were just humouring me..." A stroke of luck, then, that our budding axeman had happened upon the kindest bikers in the land.
Teenage years were spent playing in the usual garage bands, where Paskalev continued his rock god stylings, but this nascent career was cut short when he developed tendonitis in both of his arms and was forced to give up playing for three years. Paskalev counts this as a turning point for him as a songwriter since, unable to thrash along, his eyes and ears were opened to much more than guitar hero posturings.
Paskalev's journey next brought him to the UK, and Liverpool's LIPA, where he studied for three years. ("The music colleges at home only really taught about classical and jazz music, but I wanted more," says Mikhael now.") For his first year, he kept a hermit-like existence, eager to be alone to work on his music, but after a year he "got a bit more social" and made good friends with Joe Wills, a producer wunderkind who has helped him bring his "bastardised soul" music to fruition and with whom he now runs the Obscenic label. Paskalev's songs are recognized by unusual instrumentation and structures and strong melodies. At times they are shamelessly catchy, but they never leave the lovely, raw soundscape in which he and Wills choose to operate.
Paskalev brings his live set, which switches from songs accompanied by just his nylon-strung guitar, to a six-piece band and a circus of energy, to the UK for dates with Half Moon Run this November. Listings as follows:
18th Nov - London, Shepherds Bush Empire
20th Nov - Glasgow, King Tuts
21st Nov - Birmingham, Institute
23rd Nov - Dublin, Workman's Club
24th Nov - Bristol, Anson Rooms
26th Nov - London, Shacklewell Arms (headline show)
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.