“Where are you now? Are you listening? Can you hear us? Can you feel us?” Those are the harrowing questions Conner Redden, lead singer for Flight By Nothing, had following the death of fellow Anna High School graduate and his dear friend Mikala Davis.
In March of this year, those questions became the lyrics to the bridge of Flight By Nothing’s most popular song, “Mikala (Carry You On).”
Davis died in a fatal automobile crash on April 4, 2018. She graduated third in her class from Anna High School in 2016, and was studying at the University of North Texas in Denton. A few days after her death, a balloon release took place at Anna High School in her memory. Hundreds of bright yellow balloons with messages written on them floated away to symbolize healing for the community. At the event, Mikala’s younger sister, Madison, explained that everyone dies twice — “once when we leave this world, and again when someone speaks our name for the last time.” While her family was carrying Mikala on in their hearts and with a fundraiser for theater and art scholarships, Flight By Nothing was thinking of another way to immortalize her.
The song initially started as a partial instrumental brought to the band by guitarist Luis Salinas back in the spring of 2017, when the band first started to form.
“At first, it was a song about long distance relationships — that’s what the first verse is about,” Redden said. “Then, Mikala passed, and it all came together. One night while washing dishes, I had all these questions, and I just started singing them.”
Writing the song was not just getting lyrics down to perform. It was a deeply personal process for Redden, as well as the two other members of the band who also graduated from Anna High — bassist Porfirio Rubio and drummer Samuel Morales. While the song is about carrying on Mikala’s legacy and mourning her death, it also features cover art from Mikala herself in the form of a self portrait.
Mikala’s death was a huge blow to the Anna High community, but writing and performing the song helped bring healing to the members of Flight By Nothing and they hope it has brought healing to those that hear it. In August 2018, an early version of the song was performed at a celebration of Mikala’s life hosted by her family.
“Hearing the song for the first time, I felt connected to Mikala (that still remains true) and so honored to have her carried on is such a moving and powerful way,” Mikala’s mother Kelly Almand said of when it came to her attention that her daughter would be the muse of a new song. “Music was a passion of her’s along with her friends. She would be over the moon happy and to connect me to that, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude — that they found inspiration in who and what she is.”
The song made its radio debut on April 22 on Dallas rock station 97.1, marking a huge turning point for Flight By Nothing’s success. These Anna High graduates turned local band are now spending their growing career sharing the light Mikala had with the world and doing exactly what the title of her tribute song suggests — carrying her on.
Flight By Nothing released their EP “Roads” last September. They have performed at The Curtain Club, Double Wide, O’Riley’s Pub, and Deep Ellum Art Co. in Dallas; The Tin Panther and Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth; The Power of the Peace in Arlington; and Phi-re Fest at UT Austin. Their music, including “Mikala (Carry You On)” can be found on all streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.