MiG Ayesa has come a long way. Not just in his professional life, but in his travels as well. Born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in Australia, he caught Brian May’s attention in London and then ended up in New York, which is now his home base. In his music career, he’s been on a top rated TV show, had a major label release and starred on Broadway.
MiG has just released a new CD, More Than Ever, which is a tour-de-force of rock and pop which blurs the lines between modern artists such as U2 and James Blunt and the classic pop radio staples of Hall & Oates and Tears For Fears. At his recent CD release party at the Highline Ballroom, which drew fans from all over the globe, MiG delivered the songs with a charisma and passion that exuded the stardom for which he seems destined.
As he prepares to leave for a six-month engagement in London, I had the chance to sit down with MiG and get his take on where he’s been, and where he’s headed.
How and when did you start performing, and how did you end up in New York?
I was born in Manila, but moved to Australia when I was still a baby. I had a stutter as a child but it disappeared when I would sing, thus began my love affair with music. I had several bands throughout high school, but it was at university while doing a communications degree when I got my first professional acting job in a feature-length pilot for a series called Mission: Top Secret.
I thought it would just be a weekend job kinda thing to help me earn some money, but it ended up taking over my studies when I won the role of ‘Ritchie Valens’ in Buddy, and I was sent to London to join the cast there, including a Royal Variety performance for the Queen. Bitten by the performing bug, I was totally hooked!
Fast forward many more stage shows, some TV shows, a couple of films and several bands and I find myself living in New York City. After getting my Green Card through the Decca/Universal deal I got after becoming a finalist in Rockstar: INXS, I saw Rock of Ages off-Broadway and loved it! When the opportunity came up to audition for the show’s first National Tour, I jumped at the chance and auditioned like everybody else. But to my delight, shock and surprise was offered the role that same day.
How did your appearance on the Rock Star: INXS show come about?
I was living in London at the time performing in Queen’s We Will Rock You and I heard through a friend about this new [TV] show that was looking for a new lead singer for INXS, replacing the late Michael Hutchence. Being a Sydney boy, I was an ardent INXS fan from way back, so could not resist the compulsion to sing for the auditions. Before I knew it, I was flying to L.A. for the show. After beating thousands of hopefuls for a spot in the show, I made it right through to the finals, finishing third, and secured a recording deal with Decca/Universal. I’m pretty sure almost every gig I got from that point on was kinda connected to my time on that show, so I have a lot to be thankful for.
How would you describe the music that you do?
I’d say it’s rock/pop with a sprinkling of funk. I just do what moves me. That’s why sometimes it’s hard to put me in a box.
How does the writing process work for you?
It can all begin with something different every time. It could be a word, a chord progression, a short melody, an idea, a feeling. There are no rules. I do love co-writing more than writing with myself. When you work with someone, your musical influences suddenly double. They may take you places you never considered before, out of your default zone or they may just stop you second-guessing yourself with choices you may have passed on if alone. It can happen organically, or when I really sit down to create. I love the process and wish I had more time to do more.
What are your goals for your music, both musically and professionally?
I just want world domination! Or at least to be able to pay my rent and bills, so that I don’t need to do anything else other than work with music in some way or form. I would love to write for movie soundtracks as well as for other artists. I just want to move people with my music, and if it brings some brightness or helps them deal with their sadness, my job here is done.
You’re about to head to London again to perform in the Michael Jackson stage show Thriller. How did that come about, and what will you be doing in the show?
I actually did the original U.K. tour workshop in 2007 and they’ve been trying to get me back to do the show ever since. It just never worked out schedule-wise until now. You have to understand there is no storyline, like a jukebox musical. It is a celebration of MJ’s life and music in a concert-like form. We ALL play MJ in one way or form. I’m more like “Rocker MJ” doing his rockier songs like “Beat It” and “Dirty Diana,” but am part of many ensemble pieces with the other singers. The music is the star of the show. We are merely bit players.
You can find out more about the new CD, what MiG is working on, and upcoming shows at mig-music.com.