Blackbird Blackbird (formerly known as Bye Bye Blackbird) is the stage moniker of San Francisco’s Mikey Maramag. Right now, he is arguably one of the leading figureheads amongst a scene of ethereal, dreamlike and reverb laden electro-pop.
Last Thursday Maramag headed to London’s Lexington during a tour of small venue dates in support of his critically acclaimed album Summer Heart, released back in December 2010.
With only a mac on stage for company, Maramag gave off more than an air of a DIY approach to music making. The image was not without substance; he self-released his own album in 2010 and is still available to contact as ‘manager’ though his personal gmail account, (it’s firstname.lastname@example.org, by the way, say hi!) . This accessibility and control is somewhat unusual given that Maramag is starting to head up a rather large and worldwide fanbase.
In particular, Maramag has found great popularity with the Scandinavians, and looks set to play more than a few dates this year in Sweden. It is not hard to see why he has such popularity there: his particular brand of dreamy pop has a smoothness and harmony to it, particularly on tracks like ‘Kings’ Hawaii’ and ‘Happy High,’ which one can imagine providing a perfect soundtrack to a snow capped, mountainous and blue-skied Scandinavian scene. Like his fuzzy-electro contemporaries Ruby Suns and Bear in Heaven, all have found a firm fanbase up in the far Northern hemisphere.
That is not to say he was not to be well received in the UK. If Thursday was anything to go by, Blackbird Blackbird will be touring here for many years to come, having only last summer played sets in Hoxtons’s much smaller Macbeth.
It was perhaps testament to his performance that night, that despite the coldness and disconnection that can sometimes come with a lack of physical instrumentation, Maramag more than managed to bring a great deal of warmth to the show. This was not more apparent than when he was joined onstage by a cute dancing stage invader during ‘Hawaii’. He continued though his set, rose cheeked, half-dancing, and not quite knowing where to look.
Given his sparse stage setup, Maramag had lots of time to speak with fans after the show and did so with earnest politeness, genuinely happy to speak with his individual audience members (‘friend me on facebook!’) Like many of his contemporaries, including Bradford Cox, Maramag gives the impression of being a real music fan. A brilliant cover of ‘Float On’ and adoration of his music peers on both Twitter and in interviews are perhaps most indicative of this.
Therefore, as a music fan, Maramag has the advantage of possessing a knowledge of the contemporary music scene that many of his peers lack. His album is available for free download via Last FM, he continues to tour extensively and actively posts on Twitter. Such actions show a current awareness of online culture that will stand him in good stead in years to come.