Here's my contribution to Mike's collaboration page.
Here's the original before I got my grubby hands all over it.
In looking at the original, I really thought Mike's figure seemed to be trying to drown something out by clamping the headphones to his head. I took the graphic on his t-shirt as a clue, and thought the character might feel harassed by a cacophony of tweets. I chose to surround him by those tweeting birds, and went with a really typical tattoo-style blue sparrow. My thought was that while they're cute, they're really common and trite. I thought this character might be trying to escape the noisy assault of insipid distractions. And lastly, I really filled the background with a wall of color to make the contrast between the tweeting birds and Mike's character really stark, to highlight the separation this character is trying to achieve with his headphones.
So that's my thought process - I swear it was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - the way I saw it. ;)