Mica Levi, known by her stage name Micachu (born 1987) is an English singer, songwriter, composer, and producer. She is classically trained and is best known for her band Micachu & The Shapes and for experimental music in a variety of genres.
Levi was born and raised in Surrey, United Kingdom. The daughter of two musicians, she started writing and playing music at the age of four.
Levi performed as a DJ in London, and released a mixtape titled Filthy Friends, which was posted on her official Myspace page. For Filthy Friends she enlisted the help of friends and musicians of various backgrounds including MCs Baker Trouble, Brother May, Man Like Me & Ghostpoet, singer-songwriter Jack Peñate, jazz band Troyka, London pop-band Golden Silvers as well as producers Kwes and Toddla T. Following its release, Filthy Friends became sought after on the London club scene.
While a student at Guildhall, Levi was commissioned to write an orchestral piece for the London Philharmonic Orchestra which was performed at the Royal Festival Hall in April 2008.
Levi was an Artist-in-Residence at the Southbank Centre in London in 2010.
Levi co-wrote and produced Tirzah's I'm Not Dancing EP, which was released by Greco-Roman Records in August 2013, to critical acclaim.
Levi composed the soundtrack to Under the Skin, a film directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson, released in 2014. The film is based upon the novel of the same name by Michel Faber. Levi won Best Composer for this score at the 2014 European Film Awards, and tied with Johnny Greenwood for Best Music/Score at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards.
Levi formed a band called The Shapes, which includes Raisa Khan on keyboards and Marc Pell on drums. They signed to Accidental Records. With the Shapes, Levi's focus has been on experimental pop music. Most of this music prominently features an acoustic half-guitar with various non-standard tunings, extensive distortion, and use of noise and found-object elements, as well as occasionally unusual time signatures. Despite these experimental leanings, the artist categorizes her output with The Shapes as pop music.
Their debut album, Jewellery, produced with influential electronic musician Matthew Herbert, was recorded around Mica's composition studies at Guildhall School. Advance copies of the record reached the press in early 2009, and generated positive feedback. In the wake of this growing buzz, Micachu and the Shapes were signed to Rough Trade, who released Jewellery on 9 March 2009. Drowned In Sound consequently hailed the record as "thrillingly improbable pop made by a grade-A maverick."
In 2009, the band received a grant from the PRS for Music Foundation.
Micachu and the Shapes toured widely throughout the UK in 2008, including performances at Bestival and V Festival. The band played in the US at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City and SXSW in Austin, Texas. They also performed on the Main Stage of the Siren Music Festival at Coney Island in Brooklyn in July 2009. Touring continued throughout Europe and North America in the summer and fall of 2009. In Spring of 2010, Micachu and the Shapes supported Spoon on tour throughout North America.
The band performed with the London Sinfonietta at Kings Place, London in May 2010 and in March 2011 released the live recording as the album "Chopped and Screwed". Unlike their previous effort, the recording largely avoids pop sensibilities in favor of a slower, hip-hop indebted style and repetitive, discordant string arrangements. The band were chosen by Animal Collective to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that they curated in May 2011 in Minehead, England.
The follow-up to their debut, Never, was released on 23 July 2012.
Levi describes the music she performs with The Shapes as "pop", without many of pop's defining characteristics (obvious choruses and accessible lyrics). She often uses unorthodox instruments, many of which are homemade.