Interview: Mike Dignam

When Scouting for Girls landed in Newcastle back in December, and performed live at the O2 Academy, B**P sat down for a chat with Mike Dignam, an upcoming singer-songwriter who was supporting them on their tour. Mike has now been writing and performing for five years, and over that time he has performed with a whole host of different artists, including Gabrielle Aplin and Lewis Watson. He has recently released his debut album ‘Fight to Forgive’ and will soon be embarking on a headline tour. Let’s find out a little bit more about him!

How did you feel when you found out you would be supporting Scouting for Girls?

I was excited, because it’s a big opportunity with lots of people to play to. They’ve got great songs, haven’t they? They’ve got the crowd pleasers, so I knew everyone would be up for it. It was that little pick-me-up that I needed to carry on going forward with everything.

Were you at a down point in your career? 

No, I had done everything. It was just an uncertain time and I needed that bit of focus again. I would have done something, and gone on some sort of tour, but this was a really good one. I feel like I’ve had a good end to the year, you know?

Where has been your favourite place to perform?

Cambridge, or Edinburgh. They were both really up for it, full of beans and just wanted to go for it.

A lot of artists tend to get famous through reality TV shows. How did it happen to you?

Well, I’m not famous! But I just played guitar and sang and got more and more gigs. If people want to go on TV and get famous that’s fine for them, but I never wanted to go from zero to hero in a week because I don’t think I would know what to do with it. This has been a real gradual thing for years that’s been building up and getting more momentum. I’m just gradually getting more well known, but it’s totally manageable. I can go where I want right now and it’s fine, but you just get the odd person who shouts your name down the street and that’s weird, but imagine if it was everyone!

Do you think you would want it to get it to that point?

I don’t know. Obviously, on one side you want success; you just want more and more people to listen to your songs and to feel like you’re connecting to them. This isn’t name dropping, but Passenger was out in Brighton one night (where I lived) and I ended up going out for a few drinks with him. It was really good to be out with him for a few hours because no one bothered him. People didn’t really know who he was and yet he can sell out rooms everywhere he goes in most cities, so I guess he’s got it pretty sweet. He can be a totally normal guy and yet tour the world and do what he loves.

Have any ex-partners or friends gotten back in touch after you’ve written a song about them?

Yeah, totally. It happens quite a lot. I think people who listen to the songs obviously don’t know exactly what it’s about but the person who it’s about will definitely know. It’s weird, and I don’t know why I do it. I think I’m weird sometimes, like ugh, you go home and you write songs about them? I don’t know, it’s like therapy, getting it out of your system. One of them was called ‘Best Friend’ and it’s about my old best mate, and he heard the song and rang me and was like ‘I didn’t realise you cared that much’. I guess it does help sometimes.

Were there any songs that were particularly difficult to write?

There’s one about my step dad passing away that I’ve been trying to write for two years now, and I start it and bawl my eyes out because I start thinking about it. I don’t know if you draw a line – should everything be so transparent with my songs? There’s something about a real song like that as it could get to a lot of people because it’s honest.

Who would you say inspires you musically?

A guy called John Mayor. He’s just brilliant. I love his lyrics, his guitar playing and his whole approach to song writing just takes a different angle to anyone I’ve ever heard. At first listen you may think it’s just a guy who writes pop songs, but if you listen closely, his lyrics are so clever and so different to the average pop writer.

What music genre would you say you lend yourself to?

I’d say I’m a singer-songwriter but with a bit more grit in there, you know? Especially with this new record. It’s hard to define it now because a lot of singer-songwriters now are coming out sounding like a band, like Jake Bugg. I’m a guy who writes songs, but I’m not like Jack Johnson who is just acoustic guitar and vocal.

Have you had a lot of public support on this tour?

Yeah, loads and loads and loads. I give out CDs at the end for donation, or whatever you want to give me for it, and every other person wants one. We’re getting hundreds and hundreds of people wanting one every night and that shows to me that it’s connecting and it’s working and lots of people are into it.

You’ve recently released your album and you have a headline tour coming up. What are your plans after that?

I’m going to try to finish the album, record and release a single on tour, get onto the chart and get some more radio, and come out with an album pretty soon after that tour.

Do you have any advice for anyone who is aspiring to be like you?

Work hard and write good songs, but don’t be a pest. I was a pest and some people are a pest with me, thinking I’m their golden ticket. If I hear one of your songs and it blows my mind I’m going to want to work with you, but I can’t give someone a career because we’re all trying to do that ourselves. I know when I read messages from people I want to sit and reply because I was that kid, but if I sat there all day and replied to everyone I wouldn’t be able to do anything other than that. You’ve got to believe that the universe will pay you back for your work. If you’re truly great you will get there but if you’re crap then maybe you need to listen to yourself a bit harder and do something else. I know it sounds harsh but if you’re rubbish then you’re always going to be rubbish but if you’re great and you just haven’t been heard yet then that’s a different story – you will be heard.

If you’re interested in finding out even more about Mike, take a look here. To purchase tickets for his headline tour, click here. There is no doubt that he will be going far in the music industry, so you may as well give him a listen now! Enjoy!