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Close-up with Award Winning Country Artist – HICKS

Swedish-born HICKS was voted “Best European Country Act”.

Hicks (Miqael Persson) is an accomplished songwriter from the south of Sweden, with multiple Gold and Platinum records to his credit. His rock-edged songs have been recorded by artists like Jimi Jamison (Survivor), Giant (Dann Huff), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Little River Band, W.E.T. (Featuring Jeff Scott Soto), Grammy nominated Toby Hitchcock and Grammy winner, Barbados.  He has also written with Nashville heavy-hitters like Anthony Smith, Dallas Rogers, Dennis Morgan and Sharon Vaughn. In June 2014, “Hayride” became his first official US radio single release on MTS Records. It reached the Music Row chart Top 80, making Hicks the first Swedish artist to chart on Music Row.  In December, “Mama’s Kitchen” was released on MTS.

  1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?

Hicks: I uploaded my first video on Youtube three years ago, just to see what kind of response I would get. And man did I get a response. What a crazy ride these three years have been. WOW… Way beyond my wildest dreams. I started out playing in bands. But leaned more and more about songwriting. I wrote songs for the different bands I was playing in. Soon other bands contacted me and wanted me to write songs for them as well. So I quit touring and I thought I was done being an artist, and focused on writing songs. That took me to Nashville where I got to know manager/producer Ronnie Thomas. I played some songs for him hoping that we could find some artists that would cut them. He listened… and then he told me that I should record those songs myself. No I’m a songwriter, I’m done being an artist I said… No you’re not he said… I thought about it for about five minutes. Then I went back to Sweden and started recording. Best decision ever…

  1. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Hicks live!
Hicks live!

Hicks: Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash are the first ones I can remember. My Mom and Grandpa are big country music fans. So I listened to a lot of country music growing up. As I got older I fell in love with Rock. Bands like Def Leppard, Journey, Toto, Survivor… Then I saw Garth Brooks for the first time and BAAAAAMMMMM that just blew me away. What he brought to the table was something different. And I just loved it. These days Brooks and Dunn are closest to my heart. I’m so happy to see that they are doing Vegas together with Reba. They say it’s not a reunion… But you can always hope.

  1. Swedes have a strong tradition of hard rock and catchy pop music. How did you get into Country Music? And what was the first Country song you wrote?

Hicks: Like I said I listened to it growing up… I like rock and pop as well. But there is something special about those country songs. Once you’ve got into your bloodstream you can’t get them out. The first real country song that I wrote was called Travelling Man. I co-wrote it with Jorgen Elofsson. It was cut by a Swedish band, so we had to change the lyrics to Swedish. The album went Gold and they won a Grammy… pretty great start writing country songs… :o)

  1. We know you’ve received invites, awards and nominations worldwide, but how is your music received in Sweden?

Hicks: Country music isn’t that big over here in Sweden. But it’s starting to grow. Radio plays my songs every now and then. I’m starting to get more and more recognition with everything that’s happening abroad. Newspapers and magazine are getting in touch wanting to do interviews. So it’s getting better and better…

  1. Talking about awards and nominations, which of these, if any, has had the most positive impact on your career so far?

Hicks: I am so proud and honored of all the nominations and awards. But I think that the British CMA “Best European Country Act” has had the most positive impact. And being invited to play and represent Sweden at CMA Fest in Nashville, that was HUGE… I owe a lot to Lee  Williams for making both those things happen.

  1. Live gigging or studio work, which do you prefer and why?

Hicks: Hmmmmm… That’s a hard one… I love both equally… But I think if I really have to choose… Live gigging… Meeting the fans is really special. I mean they make us who we are. The interaction between us on the stage and the crowd is an AMAZING FEELING. We throw a big party and we invite everybody to be a part of it…

  1. Tell us something about your songwriting processes. Do you lock yourself up in a room and ‘work at it’ or do songs arrive while you’re busy doing other interesting things?

Hicks: Every song is different… But mostly the ideas comes to me while I’m busy doing something else. Especially when I’m driving my car. I usually don’t write songs with any instrument in the beginning of the songwriting process. I work with the melodies and lyrics in my head until I think a have something. Then I pick up the guitar and start putting chords and tweak around with it… And then there are times when I lock myself in and really work work work…

  1. Do you have a personal favorite song in your catalog? Is it also the crowd favorite at gigs or are these two completely different songs?

Hicks: Mamas Kitchen is my favorite right now. It’s a tribute song to my Mom, for always taking such good care of us and spoiling me and my brothers. She’s the best… We don’t get to see each other that often me and my brothers, cause we travel the world in our different lines of work. but we always meet up in Mamas Kitchen where we catch up tell our stories tease each other you know just being family. Mamas Kitchen and Hayride really gets the crowd going and sing along. The chorus in Hayride is so simple that the second time you hear the chorus you sing along on the top of your lungs…

  1. You’ve written for some big name artists such as Jimi Jamison (Survivor), Giant (Dann Huff), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Little River Band, W.E.T. (Featuring Jeff Scott Soto), Grammy nominated Toby Hitchcock and Grammy winner, Barbados, as well as co-written works with Nashville writers Anthony Smith, Dallas Rogers, Dennis Morgan and Sharon Vaughn. How did this all come about?

Hicks: Luck… Hard work… Faith… Being at the right place at the right time… You know, one thing leading to another… Following my dream no matter what… My colleague Erik and I wrote some songs for his band Eclipse. They are singed to Frontiers Records. And the CEO over there liked the songs so much that asked us to write some more songs for his other artists. And then other artists heard those songs and wanted us to write for them and so on. It really snowballed from there… It’s so cool to have been working with all these great artists that I grew up listening to. They have inspired me when I started out and then hear them singing a song that I wrote that’s really amazing…

  1. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you day after day to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion, hysteria or pride etc., and why?

Hicks: Passion… I am so in love with what I do. And I have such a big passion for music. When I went back to being an artist, I came home. I thought that I was done with that. Boy was I wrong. This is who I am… This what I love… It’s how I express myself…

  1. Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?

Hicks: The exiting stuff is that I can do a lot myself. Being with a big label everything goes a lot slower. Some decisions takes forever. Now if I have an idea I wanna try I just go ahead and try it. Nobody can tell me how I should sound or what I should write about. I am free to be me…. I’m trying not to get discouraged. I work hard and stay focused. I get lost at times. Then I have to be a little inventive to find the way. The way is always there the trick is to find it…

  1. Do you have a permanent band for gigs and recordings or do you use different musicians for each occasion?

Hicks: I have pretty much the same players. The session players for the US are not with me live. I have a permanent band here in Europe. When I play in the US I have different players. It’s too expensive coming over with my own band. We’re an eight piece band and that costs a lot to travel with.

  1. How involved are you in any of the aspects regarding your music (recording, producing, and marketing processes etc.)

Hicks: All the way… I’m not a control freak. But I love being involved with as much as possible. I mean it’s my career and I want it to be the way I want it. I have no problem delegating stuff to other people that I trust. I’m best at songwriting, singing, arranging and producing. And it’s hard being on top of everything. That’s why I work with Michael Stover at MTS Management. He’s the best. Hard working and just as dedicated as I am. It’s just too much work doing everything on your own. Focus on what your good at…

  1. What do think is the best piece of advice in this business you received and actually followed so far, and one piece of advice you didn’t follow, but now know that you should have?

Hicks: The best advice was the one Ronnie Thomas gave me to go back to be an artist again. I haven’t regretted that for one second. I’m still struggling with this one if it was a bad move or a good one… I was offered a lot of money to sign with a big record label. They wanted to push me in a little different direction. But I just wanna be me doing what I love. So I turned it down… But it was a lot of money.

  1. At this point, as independent artist, is there any aspect or element you consider exclusive to Major label artists that you desire and feel will undeniably benefit your future?

Hicks: It would be nice to have the budget of the major labels. That would help a lot…

  1. Do you consider Internet and all the new technology, as fundamental to your music, or indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre copy-and-paste artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?

Hicks: Without Internet I wouldn’t have been able to take it this far. It sure has made a lot of things possible for us indie artists to make some noise.  I think that real talent will always find it’s place. All the other stuff will disappear in time. We have a Swedish saying “Up Like The Sun. Down Like A Pancake”

  1. You deliver tight, solid and superbly recorded songs. Where do you usually record and who do you work with to obtain your sound.

Hicks: I do all my recording at Blowout Studios with the incredibly talented Erik Martensson here in Stockholm. He is just so amazing to work with. And he’s been so involved with helping me create my sound. He knew exactly what I was looking for. I can’t thank him enough… Genius… Some instruments are recorded in Nashville and Austin. But everything is mixed and mastered at Blowout Studios…

  1. The same quality heard on your recordings, shows up on your videos. How do you handle you video production work, and do you have big budgets for this?

Hicks: I don’t have a big budget for it. I am so lucky to be surrounded by some very talented people. Lasse Niemala helps me with my videos. He’s the cameraman, editor and director. I usually have an  idea how I want it to look and feel. Then we sit down and brainstorm around those ideas. We don’t do a story board. Everything is shot on inspiration. Like “Let the camera roll and see what happens” To me it feels a lot freer to be working like that. Sometimes I get some crazy ideas, and Lasse tells me what is doable and not…He does the first rough editing before I look at it. Then I come with suggestions, and we throw ideas back and forth till we think it’s done.

  1. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as a Swedish Country music artist, in your quest to achieve your goals?

Hicks: I don’t focus on barriers. Instead I focus on what I want. What feels good. What is working. How do I write even better songs. It’s easy to get stuck if you focus on barriers, gatekeepers, mountains to climb… I’m not saying that I don’t struggle at times. it happens. But I try to stay positive and focus on the GOOD stuff. Not the bad…

  1. Currently you’re on a roll and climbing, Just where do you see Hicks 5 years down the line from now?

Hicks: World domination hahahaha I’m humble… Playing at the CMA Awards. I have played at the British CMA and that was a dream come through. Two platinum records. Two # 1 on Billboard. Done at least one big US tour. If you’re gonna dream you might as well dream big…


Artist Website





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