We sat down with the talented Danish producer Mikkas to find out about his musical background, his recent Beatport chart success, his new collaboration with Amba Shepherd, his future plans and much more.
Hi Mikkas, where are you at the moment and what have you been up to?
Hi guys! I’m currently sitting in the studio taking a break to answer these questions. I have been spending the last few hours trying to get a new bassline to sit perfectly with the kickdrum, but it seems it’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I’m not even sure I like it anymore. That happens a lot I tell you. I spent five hours tweaking something only to end up hating it.
How did you first get into production?
As a kid I got hold of a demo of a sample-based program called eJay. It was a program where you had an amount of samples that you could put together and in the end create your 'own' songs. I was instantly hooked and I remember my dad bought me all the eJays that were released. I believe this was back in 1998. In the beginning of 2000 my cousin introduced me to this program called Reason and this was just what I needed. With Reason I could finally create my own sounds, rhythms and, more importantly, melodies! I’ve been doing it ever since.
Have you always wanted to be a producer? If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
Back then I never saw myself as a producer. To be honest, the word ‘producer’ wasn’t a word I was that familiar with – I just wanted to make my own music. So I guess the answer is ‘no’, I’ve never wanted to be a producer, it was more about the music rather than being a music maker. I don’t know what I would be doing if I wasn’t making music these days. I’d probably be doing the same thing as my friends, getting regular 9-to-5 jobs working for some computer company.
How would you describe your sound? Where do you get the inspiration from?
I would call my own sound ‘oldschool reimagined’. I always laugh a bit when people call my sound “fresh” because I get a lot of my inspiration from the older trance and hard dance music. I think it’s the fact that I’ve moved into the house/electro scene that this combination of oldschool trance with modern electro has sparked something that people find fresh. A lot of the oldschool sound can definitely be heard in the way I do my arrangements, breakdowns and melodies while the basslines and more glitchy aspects of how I build my tracks are inspired by the more fistpumping culture in dance music. I always love music that is highly energetic and aggressive yet blissfully melancholic. In other words I am attracted to opposites; hard and soft, aggressive and relaxed, beautiful and ugly.
You are based in Denmark, how’s the dance music scene there?
It’s pretty limited, though getting a lot better I must say. Growing up listening to especially trance music, there wasn’t really any place in Denmark I could go and experience this type of music first hand. Today it seems like this wave of EDM is slowly taking over the Danish club scene, inviting the new breakthrough producers and dj’s to play here. Although it’s not very underground here – which would be cool - it’s better than before.
Your remix of Emma Hewitt’s Rewind has been #1 on Beatport’s Trance chart for more than a month now, you must be really pleased, were you expecting such a great responce?
Not at all! When I finished the remix I didn’t have a special gut feeling about this particular remix. Don’t get me wrong I really liked the end result and was very pleased with it – but I didn’t go “we have a hit” until I actually saw people’s responses. So far it has been an amazing experience!
Finally, your new track with Amba Shepherd has had a great response so far, what was the creative process that went into making that track?
Amba sent me different acapellas to see if I wanted to work with one of them and the one that stood out for me was Finally. It instantly sparked an idea in my head and I actually thought this would be a very easy track to write, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Since I started working on Finally until I actually finished a full track, a whole year had gone by. During that year I think I almost finished four different songs with Amba’s vocals in them but I wasn’t 100% pleased with them. I always felt like the instrumental didn’t do Amba’s lovely vocal justice, so I scrapped all the ideas and began again. Finally has been the most difficult track for me to write to date, but I am very pleased with the final result.
How did the collaboration with Amba Shepherd come about? What was it like to work with her?
We both worked with Porter Robinson on his Spitfire EP; I remixed Unison and Amba collaborated with Porter on the track Vandalism. We hit each other up through Twitter and I told her I loved Vandalism and would be very pleased to work with her some day. She instantly sent me a bunch of vocals and then we took it from there. Since then we have been talking a lot and I can honestly say that Amba Shepherd is the sweetest person in this business but also very determined and professional.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Ugh this is a tough one. There are so many talented people in the industry that I admire and would love to work with. Cosmic Gate is a duo that I have been looking up to during all the years I have been listening to trance music so it would be a boyish dream come true to be able to work with them after all these years. I have known Porter Robinson for a few years by now and we share a very similar taste in music so a collaboration with him sometime will sound great I think.
What are your top 5 tracks right now?
1. Porter Robinson & Mat Zo - Easy
2. Solarstone & Scott Bond – 3rd Earth (Heatbeat Remix)
3. W&W – Lift Off (Original Mix)
4. Helvetic Nerds – Blood Pressure (EDX & Leventina Mix)
5. Armin van Buuren feat. Fiora – Waiting For The Night (Original Mix)
What advice would you give to aspiring producers who are trying to break in the scene?
I think the golden rule is to not try and break into the scene. If your main drive is to get a breakthrough then I think you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Making music because you want to have releases on all the big labels will only result in music with no personality and no soul. I know it sounds a bit tacky but it’s completely true – I can easily hear when there’s heart and soul in the music, even in fistpumping EDM. So find yourself as a musician! Ask yourself what it is you exactly love about music and try to capture this in sound. If you just try to capture what is popular at the moment you will not succeed.
What else can we expect from you in 2013?
Big remixes coming up, and also new singles and collaborations. This is also the year I will start playing my music outside of the studio – Finally!