Wednesday, November 21, 2012


On Thursday, May 19, barely two days before the predicted Judgment Day,multi-talented musician, Michelle Arellano Adams, will turn 27.

Growing up was a very interesting experience,” she reminisces, unmindful that her birthday is 7000 years from The Great Flood and 13,023 years from The Creation, “lots of fun and always very creative.”

Creative is an understatement.

Well, she comes from a royal family of artists: her father is British writer, Michael Adams, and her mother is a Cultural Center of the Philippines 13 Artists awardee, Agnes Arellano, who comes from a highly educated clan of architects and painters trained in Europe.

As a brill kid, she used to help her sculptor mom out in the studio.

Ms. Arellano, an M.A. psychology and B.A. Fine Arts holder, gave her little jobs to do like stirring plaster or painting a little nook in one of her Dead Trees.

Yes, she was taken along to lots of art exhibits and gigs, so music and the visual arts surrounded her almost all of the time.
And now, after less than three decades, she herself is a professional artist, too, who already has collectors' items: her debut album God Bless The Child (2006) with both Philipine and British editions; her second,Space (2007), which was released when she graduated from London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama; and her latest Willow Weep for Me (2010).
With or without planetary conjunction, she is more popularly known as Mishka. Being not so Beatles anymore, she must be precious and priceless as “ a gift of love” in Indian? Or as cute as “a mouse” or “a little white bear” who is “a leader amongs others” or “like the God” in Russian? Who is “tall and thin” in Arabic? Coming from “a dwelling place” or “tabernacle” in Hebrew?
But, musically speaking, she reminds us of the U.K.-chart-topping Bermudian reggae sensation who happens to be a man.
Anyway, we prefer a full monty -- Filipino and feminine -- Mishka!
Vim Nadera: How would you describe your literary, visual and musical home?
Mishka Adams: I have some very strong memories of big gatherings at our house, and how late at night when people started to filter home mom would get out the guitar and start singing folk songs. Mostly Joni Mitchell, Peter Paul and Mary, that kind of thing. Later in my life she taught me to sing them with her and in my teens we sang them together with some little harmonies here and there. I didn't see that much of my dad as he was always out working extremely hard, but he was a big influence on the literary side of my upbringing. Our house is full of his old books, and he always encouraged me to read; he wrote a lot of poetry in the first couple of years of my life which still I read now from time to time; I find it very inspiring, he was a great writer.
VN: How are they as parents? Are they cool or hot?
MA: Definitely very cool, though they were both very fiery and passionate people. My upbringing was quite a liberal one!
VN: Did your mom teach you sculpture?
MA: She showed me how to do a few things, like live casting, and we played with clay a lot. I remember this quick dry terracotta she used to buy; we'd make little pots and creatures... I went on to study art in high school as one of my A Level choices.

VN:Among your mom's masterpieces, which do you love the most?
 MA: That's a hard question to answer. It changes but at the moment I think my favourite is The Supreme Penitent. It's extremely emotional and powerful. I remember the day that she cast it!

VN: Did your dad teach you writing?
MA: No but he was always encouraging, and is still a big influence on me.

VN: Among your dad's literary pieces, which do you love the most? 
 MA: My favourite is his poem Snowqueens, from the collection Fire and Death. It's a beautiful poem written for my two older half sisters.

VN: Who are your major poets?
 MA: At the moment it is Neruda and Rilke.

VN: You end up as a musician. Is it a sort of rebellion?
 MA: I had nothing to rebel against! My family always encouraged me to follow my passion.

VN: Your house was or is an art hub. What are your fondest memories?
 MA: As I mentioned above, I fondly remember the parties we used to have there, (and still do, though not as often!) we always had lots of musicians over and long jam sessions fuelled by food and beer were a given. I also used to love hanging out in the days that Pinikpikan would rehearse in the garden.

VN: Are you more Filipino or more British?
 MA: I think I can safely say that I am a mixture of both. Certain aspects of my character are influenced by each place. For example, I think I have become a very independent person, and I think this is due to my English background. I enjoy living my own life and making my way in the world. In the same respect I also love to be around lots of people, and I really enjoy big family gatherings, and long meals around a big table, which is a filipino part of me. I think living in London brings out my filipino self a lot more, and I feel proud of my heritage.

VN: What is so Pinay about you? What is so Briton about you?
 MA: Pinay: I still point with my lips. British: I am constantly apologising.

VN: What are your wishes for Prince William and Catherine Middleton?
 MA: The same that I would wish for anyone: a long and happy life together.

VN: Among Filipino artists, who influenced you the most?
 MA: Ah. so many. My mom, Sammy Asuncion, Bayang Barrios, Edgar Avenir, basically the whole of the Pinoy Jazz and Folk/Rock scene.

VN: Among British artists, who influenced you the most?
 MA: My three greatest music teachers, Pete Churchill, Barak Schmool and Guillermo Rozenthuler.

VN: Please tell us about your first sax experience.
 MA: To be honest, I don't really remember it. I just remember wanting to play it badly and the immense relief upon discovering that my hands were just about big enough to hold an alto.

VN: Why jazz?
 MA: It just had a sound that spoke to me I guess. I don't think we choose our favourite genres, we just find things that we connect with for inexplicable reasons. I enjoy the harmony and the improvisatory aspects of it, but that appreciation came later in my life. Also, jazz can be so many different things!

VN: What did you learn from UK jazz legend Courtney Pine and Cameron Pierre?
 MA: I never met Cameron, but I listened to Courtney's music a lot in my teens and in the time before he came to Manila. I just loved his presence on stage, his playfulness and openness.

VN: And from Alan Bates?
MA: Everything I've learned about the record industry I've learned from working with Alan and Candid. How the process of putting a record together works, and the work that needs to be put in to really make something successful.

VN: Could you tell us more about Guildhall School of Music and Drama?
MA: It is a well known school in London, built right next to the Barbican, a famous classical venue that houses the London Symphony Orchestra (they now have a diverse range of events, including jazz gigs). I did the Masters of Music there, specializing in jazz as a vocalist. I was on a course of 20 people, and the only girl and the only vocalist on the whole Masters course. It was a terrifying experience in many ways, but I learned more than I ever imagined I would, and I'm still processing a lot of the information now! I met a lot of wonderful musicians and teachers there. It was a very important experience for me, and definitely kick started my life as a musician in London.

VN: What lessons did you get from God Bless the Child that helped you succeed with Space and Willow Weep for Me?
MA I learned a lot about what it was like to record as a vocalist. When you've never done a recording before you can be quite surprised at how you sound when you listen back to yourself, but it is an invaluable experience in honing your vocal technique. I also learned how best to prepare for going into the studio. I developed my own practise routine and found ways of preparing my songs so that I felt ready when going into the studio.

VN: What is the proverbial sound track of your life? Why?
 MA: At the moment, anything Brazilian! I just love the sound of it, and how it makes me feel.

VN: How would see yourself 10 or more years from now?
MA:I have absolutely no idea. My only wish is that I will be happy.

VN: How would you like to be remembered?
MA: As a compassionate and kind person, and an honest performer

On May 4, 2006, some 3,738 mothers simultaneously breastfed their babies for one minute at the San Andres Sports and Civic Center in Malate, Manila, breaking the old Guinness World Record set by 1,135 mothers in Berkeley, California on August 3, 2002.

If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.

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