BTD Radio Interviews, MikeWhitePresents
BTD Radio Interviews, MikeWhitePresents
BTD Radio presents….MikeWhitePresents! Welcome to the studio!
I am so excited to interview you, I have been spinning MikeWhitePresents tunes on BTD Radio for some time now and I want to say “thank you” for supporting our show. When I see a new song by MikeWhitePresents in my mailbox I already start dancing before I listen to the song. I know where you are from but can you tell our listeners where you are from.
MikeWhitePresents : The vast and grandiose city of London, placed here in the most United of all Kingdoms. Although technically, our singer Michaela lives in a village about 1 hour out of London, but Dan and Mike are fully-coated Inner City Urbanites!!
I would like to quote a line from your bio, “We write, produce and perform our own original music.” Who is we?
MikeWhitePresents : Mikeyboy is the core writer, lyricist and producer of the “Collective”. Michaela is the vocalist, writer and lyricist. DJ Danny is a co-producer, enfant terrible and cymbal-clapping monkey who provides inspiration via his vast dance and house music knowledge and record collection.
But we are also heavily supported behind the scenes by associate vocalists Paulette Edwards and Jenni French, Mix Engineer and co-producer Griff, and fellow enthusiast musicians like Matthew Meadows, MasterMataz and Stan Dart.
We always preferred the title “dance collective” rather than “band” because we’ve spent about 165 minutes on stage during our lifetime and the rest of it stuck bent and curled over in our various recording studios. We’re very much a studio-based outfit.
Could you tell us about your new song 2AM (Stan Dart Remix) I like how it starts out with that ambient type of feeling, then bam, your hit with a dance mix. I totally dig it.
MikeWhitePresents : Thank you for that. We are also very proud of the song. It started as an ambient, soulful house chill track, which took us many hours to construct as every line of the “choir” sound in the tune was created and recorded by Michaela..she did all the parts – men, women, altos, sporanos, the whole lot! It was such an eerie, mesmerising sound that we felt it could become a real calling card for us.
We’d performed it live at several gigs, and discovered it had enough space in it to be improvised and elaborated on quite simply. So when our dear Austrian producer friend Stan Dart expressed an interest in “dramatizing” the chilled mix we’d put on our album “Taste” (available on iTunes), we were thrilled at the idea.
The dramatic, stabbing strings is all Stan’s idea and it really lifts the tune into a new, EDM direction. It’s the great joy of collaborating with another musician, that if you allow yourself to be truly open and unbiased to their contribution, then something quite magical can happen. Stan actually flew out to London to meet up with us, and I think when we got face to face and threw back a few cold brewskis, it was clear that we were all thinking from the same hymn sheet!!
What is your process of starting a song? Does it start out with a beat first or lyrics?
MikeWhitePresents : Oh, it really is so different each time. I guess from Mike’s point of view it’s fair to say it usually starts with a lyric or title idea..a particular mood he wants to set up..and then the music is created from that idea or lyric. Dan is more a music centred person, and Michaela usually thinks the music before the words. But any one of our songs can have a quite separate genealogy. “Miss U Bad” for example, definitely came from the groove and chord patterns…it was a piano disco groove first, and the words came much later. Whereas “God’s Blues” was several pieces of music combined into one song, and it was never fully “locked off” in the studio by the Team until the lyric was spot-on for the music. It took nearly a year to write that song!! “Miss U Bad” took about 4 days!!
I love to ask this question so I am going to ask you in this interview. How did you come up with the name “MikeWhitePresents?”
MikeWhitePresents : It came from a discussion Dan and I had right at the beginning of the project. We were both sick of hearing all these House DJ’s creating alias identities for their releases and changing styles and names like they were swapping socks! So we were committed to having ONE project title that would never change and would represent our desire to make music in any style or genre and allow our audience to understand that while the groove can move, the “Brand” remains the same!!
So we were getting a bit tipsy on too much Shiraz one night while making some beats, and Dan put the DVD on and was watching “school of rock”. And I turned around and saw the title come up “written by mike white”, and I said “that’s a weird coincidence” (because in that state you really do think it’s that significant!!) Dan said, “we should call our music “mikewhitepresents” cause then everyone will think it’s a band run by this Hollywood writer who also works part-time as a sleazy, rip-off House promoter”. And thus, our name was born!
So let’s say someone comes up to you and says, “Oh yeah, your MikeWhitePresents from Tennessee.” You are like, huh? How would you correct that person and get them excited about your music when all they like to listen to is country music?
MikeWhitePresents : I’d ask them if they’re as thrilled with the building climax of pianos, harmoniums and voice in Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” as I am. And I’d recall to them the tale of how I once had my own country rock band when I was 18. We played Willie, Merle, Cash but also dabbled in the crossover areas of The Band or CCR / Lynyrd etc. It was from loving Country and Soul music that I learned to believe in the need for good structure and storytelling in a song. And then one day, someone played me this music by a Trance artist called “BT”, and all I heard was the same love of structure, form and storytelling. It just happened to be electronic and very fuckin LOUD. You see, music can defy our expectations. It can open our minds quicker and more passionately than a thousand politicians ranting at the lectern. It can captivate us and drag us into it’s world and best of all, it can remain our own dirty little secret if we don’t want the guys down the bar on a Friday night to know we secretly like to pump up Marc Almond or Mariah really loud and get the spines up a chillin!! So perhaps, good sir, we ARE that “mikewhitepresents” you know from Tennessee, because we carry all that heart and soul from that State’s musical heritage in our hearts and fingertips, but probably, we are the NEW “mikewhitepresents” from London England you’ll never forget once you shove our CD into your car stereo and turn us up to eleven!!
What artist would you like to work with that you have not worked with yet and why?
MikeWhitePresents : If little Herve was still with us and shouting “boss, the plane the plane” on a perfect Fantasy Island of music, we’d dearly love to work with the sublime Mavis Staples or the first lady of Philly Soul, Ms Sheila Ferguson of The Three Degrees fame.
And Kylie. Because…it’s plucky little Kylie!!
Could you tell us about your song “Straight Roads?”
MikeWhitePresents : Oh, nice tune! Dan and I conjured that big Trance groove and the heavy Trance stabs from a session we did one Friday night many years ago. It was thumping with layers and layers of kicks and snares and arpeggiators. Sounded like a real pulse..like an engine roaring and pulsing. Dan was mucking about with the mix and I was yabbering away to him about how he should hear this great album I’d just bought called “GP” by Gram Parsons. So he was adjusting levels and doing hi-hats…and I was playing this awesome Country-Rock music thru the monitors. And at the end of the record was this brief radio promo Gram had recorded where he had this line “I used to want to drive a big truck all the way down to Florida”. Dan said “that’s an awesome quote, lets use it”!! So we laid it into the mix, added some vocoder to the line “straight roads in Florida” and bingo..we had the basic song. We did, however, continue to remix 14 different versions of it till our good buddy Griff did a tight little electro remix of it which we decided was the best choice for the album “Taste” (still available in iTunes even after all these sentences!) Just recently, in 2012, we decided to put one of the original mixes – the “Monster Truck” mix – up on our websites, and it’s had the most fantastic reaction. I think download wise, it’s become one of our 5 most popular tunes!
So you produce all your songs, could you take us through a of production day with MikeWhitePresents? How do you know when a song is complete and ready to share with the world?
MikeWhitePresents : The day always begins with admin work…emails, listening to new music, hooking up with any new contacts who might like to join up with the craziest House sound on the Planet!! And, of course, always thanking folks for the kindness and courtesy they show by listening and downloading our music.
One of the great benefits of working as a collective of like-minded creative, is that we can share the workload…so while Mike might slave about for hours on end with drum programming, Mik might begin recording some rough vocal ideas, Griff might begin laying up any MIDI files that have been prepared for the session…but it’s always about using the studio as an instrument. We generally try not to WRITE in the studio. That is a different process and can often take many months of file sharing, MIDI sharing and long rambling phone conversations! The studio is reserved for mixing, recording and shaping the track. And, most importantly, to allow the performers and vocalists to find their vibe. Without the feeling behind the performance, you usually don’t have anything to work with! It’s like directing a film…the producer has to support and cajole the performer…and in a way, how you drive and operate your studio is the same approach. But our music has always taken a very long time to become…born. We listen, re-listen, discard ideas, rebuild songs…we’ve never just gone into a session and emerged 10 hours later with a song. Time…time is our friend here at MWP!! And there are ALWAYS acres and acres of draft mixes we do before we let it swing out into the planet of music!!
I am going to ask you a few typical interview questions such as, who were your childhood influences and do you see a little bit of those influences in yourself?
MikeWhitePresents : Well, I guess that all our musical passions are extensions of the first important moments when we heard them in youth and are trying forever in our later life to reconnect that music back to the initial feelings we held for them. It’s the “first kiss” idea isn’t it..music is the same I figure. So I always think the influences from our childhood are the things we’re still trying to catch up on in our latter lives. But interestingly enough, Dan and I were hundreds of miles apart as kids, and yet we both remember the first time we heard Mike Oldfield’s “tubular bells” and Jarre’s “oxygene” and what a huge influence it had on our love for music..and certainly for Mike, after living with parents who saturated the family home with Wagner and Mahler for his first 10 years!, the first time he heard electro acts like OMD, Pet Shop Boys, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode he realised he had a sound that would never leave him and would always be his central meeting point for what his musical soul tick.
What do you like to do when you are not making music? What do you like to do to chillax?
MikeWhitePresents : We’re all big movie buffs, so there’s a fair amount of watching and chatting about films. Dan and I are huge karaoke nuts, and I guess we do karaoke at least 2 or 3 times a month. (Dan’s song is Lionel Richie “all night long” while Mike always goes for Meatloaf “two out of three ain’t bad). Dan is also a very keen CloudSpotter and member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, while Mike loves to trawl the long white corridors of the Tate Modern Gallery catching up on some of his favourite works by Pollock or Bacon or Klee. But the best chillax is just hanging with the kids and the family, doing lots of fancy cooking for big family Bar-B-Q’s, and burying yer nose in a damn fine book (Keith Richard’s “Life” is highly recommended folks!)
I had the pleasure of meeting one of your wonderful vocalist, Jenni French in LA last year. How did you two meet? Tell us how do you start your collaboration process? What advice could you give to other artists out there who want to collaborate across the country?
MikeWhitePresents : Jenni is a mini marvel! We’d been aware of her music for years, and she was one of the first friends to find us on the reverbnation music site. When Michaela went off to have her first child, I still wanted to develop some of the song ideas I had, so I asked Jenni if she’d be interested in trying some demos for us. I’d always been fascinated by her ethereal, clear and cleverly double tracked vocal style. The first song we created together was called “I Was Abandoned On The Dancefloor”. And like most of what we have done together over the last 3 years, it was ludicrously easy to work with her. We always chat for a while on Facebook about an idea…I’ll always give her every text or lyrical idea I might have, and discuss the context of the song’s idea. We send her a mix of the instrumental, or sometimes a bunch of stem mixes and give a list of tech specs we need for her vocals to come back to us as. And then I wait a few weeks, check the old “dropbox” and HOLLA! She brings the goods to the table! I’m very excited this year because Jenni and MWP are finally working on a long-playing project. An E.P is what we’ve discussed, and I’m really looking forward to watching it develop and grow from the 4 or 5 musical ideas I’ve written so far into how she adds her own poetry to the music, then defines it with one of her beautiful vocal performances. I think our fans, and her fans, will be rocked out of their rocking chairs when they hear it!
One of the crucial dynamics of collaboration is trust. By definition when you do an online collab, you are dealing with someone who isn’t in front of you or working face to face in the studio. So you have to express your desires and ideas very carefully and clearly. But principally, you have to go with your gut, that the person you’re working with can bring something new to the process…something different or leftfield. And when they do something, you have to allow their own personal creative process to grow and mingle with your own. Our basic rule in MWP is that whatever a person contributes is not to be shifted…we try to keep it honest to their own style or vision. If it means an idea or direction we might have taken a song in changes slightly (or entirely!!) then that is to be applauded and accepted. The unexpected magic of the unknown is what really makes doing a collaboration with someone worthwhile.
We would love for you to tell our listeners where they can find your music? If you have any special shout-outs, please feel free to do them now.
Our album “Taste” is available on
Spotify, Deezer…just about everywhere.
Big shout out goes to all our fans, our friends and supporters who enable the music we record to become something tangible and real in their souls. Without ears we are nothing.
And, of course, our biggest musical hug goes to our dear Dawn, who has been such a killer promoter and supporter of the MWP Project for literally eons!!
Love and Praises from London,
Mike, Mik and Dan.