"We are badass. We are some the freshest people in the country, some of the most colorful, smartest and funniest."
This is how Psychic Mirrors frontman and mastermind Mickey de Grand IV describes Miami. He speaks with serious authority, as he's been playing music and touring since he was 12 years old.
He was taught how to listen to and dissect music by his abuelita. "In Cuba, they have really good music education across the board, even if you're not a musician. She taught me how to listen to the orchestra, how to pick things out."
On his Cosmic Chronic label, de Grand recently released a collection of lost tracks by his other grandmother, Bertha Sandoval. The tapes were hidden in her apartment on Flagler, collecting dust.
Discussing Sandoval's secret reels, he says, "I was so impressed by all the material that I wanted to make a collection album of the best tracks. It was recorded from 1969 to 1972 here in Miami. She couldn't remember everyone who was on the session, except [that] Paquito de Rivera, who wrote and performed the theme song for ¿Qué Pasa, USA?, with his group Fly Out, was on piano."
After much persuasion, she let de Grand take the tapes with him. He says, "Nobody knew they even existed, she never talked about it. She's very humble."
And de Grand is very humble too. He's more likely to talk to you about you than he is to hype his band's upcoming twelve-inch record, his many years of music education, his ability to play dozens of instruments, or Psychic Mirrors' upcoming show. "When someone is constantly pushing their music on me, that makes me feel icky. I get it, bro. But if you're good, shit comes to you."
This guy might hate tooting his own horn. But he's no slacker. He wakes up at 5 a.m., puts on his headphones, and starts making music. He then goes off to work. And before he goes to sleep, he gets back to writing music. "I'm not saying I'm a machine. I just have a lot of music. But it never seems to be enough."
When he and his 11-piece orchestra come together in guitarist Ryan Haft's home studio in Pinecrest, the scene is surprisingly serious. There's barely any breathing room, everyone has his or her own little work space. Some mosquitoes manage to sneak into the session, but the little bloodsuckers cannot distract this band. They have sheet music to read, tempos to debate, and melodies to perfect.
At rehearsal, de Grand is a teacher, a leader, and a perfectionist. But he's never a dictator. "I try to give them as much respect as they give me -- which is tenfold.
I love my whole group like they're my family."
Psychic Mirrors is good enough to blow up nationwide. But de Grand and fam love the Magic City. They just want to keep Miami fresh, dancefloors hot, and minds open. Moreover, de Grand's not too concerned if the rest of the country gets it or not. Like he says, "I don't give a fuck. I just don't care. I'm just trying to do something for my town, my city."
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Psychic Mirrors' Twelve-Inch Release Party. Saturday, September 10. Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Call 305-576-7750 or visit bardotmiami.com.