Miguel Migs is an eclectic phenomenon whose name has been massively infamous in the world of house music ever since he moved to San Francisco in 1994 to start making it. His tunes have drawn people onto the dance floors time and time again and never fail to create that pleasing kind of itch that makes you turn the volume dial on the stereo up to eleven. He’s given EDM culture a large spectrum of musical possibility that is both unassuming and brilliant at the same time. To top it all off, the guy is a pretty damn cool person, too. Just listen to him talk about his world and what makes him tick and you’ll understand pretty quickly.
Migs is the latest producer to be crowned an official House Master by the prominent Defected Records and has released a series compilation of his work which features both classic and current cuts including original and remix works. The result is a collection of music that is unmistakably Migs, from the well-crafted song writing to the soothing basslines. His album, Outside The Skyline also launched this past September, marking it as his third album release overall. As for plans for the future? Well, Migs, as always, remains upbeat about his long-term future; he’s ready for anything and everything.
Well, whether you are a musician, artist, chef, writer, performer or whatever, some of these ‘skills’ have to come naturally of course and part of it is the way your brain is wired, as well as how much passion and determination you have for something. When you find your craft or something you love and dive into it it’s a bit of a combination of things... I learned mostly through experimenting and experience, playing music, as well as from others along the way and im still learning… A combination of it all I guess.
Is there a moment in life that changed the course of, or defined, your sonic aesthetic?
I've always been very open minded when it comes to music… I grew up listening to all different styles, so my “sonic position” has always been influenced by so many different genres of music. Im constantly getting inspired by various styles of music and im always trying to achieve better sounding production values, striving for depth, texture, dynamic separation and putting sounds together in a way that is captivating to listen to, rather than just for the club environment or experience.
What about a musician or an era of influence.
The more soulful side of the musical spectrum has always influenced me, gravitating towards music with atmosphere, deep melodies and interesting elements, regardless of the genre… when I started getting into “electronic/dance/house” music in the early 90’s, music in general was more soul/funk/jazz oriented and it was an exciting time. From hip hop to acid jazz, trip hop, deep house, and neo soul in those days. Music was more “musical” generally speaking. This was a time that influenced and helped push me in the direction of creating electronic music. So the influence comes from all different styles anywhere from prince, steely dan, sade, tribe called quest, zeppelin, the cure, cymande, the stones or burning spear, and hundreds of other artists, I get inspiration from all of it…
Speak about the hierarchy of skill (craftsmanship), style (your unique aesthetic) and emotive content in your work.
I love getting lost in my own little world while working in my studio. Experimenting with sounds and getting creative with effects, ETC…. I love working with vocalists and writing and recording new songs, the whole process is addicting and its what I think about pretty much everyday, partly because it’s a bit ingrained into me… I keep my studio set up pretty simple. And regardless of the nice expensive gear you may have, the equipment doesn’t make the music, you have to stay open minded and dive into the process, work with what you have and focus on the creative side of it all, and of course have fun with it…
How would you describe your sound to a deaf person?
Colorful, warm, dimensional… think of it as food/flavors you enjoy, but for your ears!
If you were starting out now, would you do anything differently?
I'm sure there are some things that we all look back on and if given the chance would do a little differently, but I never really look back and regret anything. It's cliché but life is too short and you cannot waste time worrying about things you cannot change. You gotta just move forward and focus on doing things you love, and doing the best you can do at whatever your craft may be.
What’s the secret to your success?
Stay creative with an open minded… don’t follow the sheep and do your own thing!
Have you ever been paranoid in life?
A bad mushroom trip when I was 18… it was the classic experience of thinking the government, FBI, police and bill collectors are all after you, like being stuck inside a crazy nightmare movie scene... I have not done them since!
Do you think there are any commonly held societal beliefs that are false?
Between religious fanatics, shady politics, weed being illegal yet millions of people die everyday from cigarettes, and priests who molest little boys and get away with it…We live in a pretty twisted world… not sure if this answers the question but there are some bat shit crazy people out there.
Does character invent style or does your style invent character?
People just need to do their own thing more, be creative and don’t just follow the trends or hype, do something yourself and go for it—instead of just sitting there being cynical and judging everything negatively… you will never please everybody and that should never be the goal. People need to be more open minded in general and develop their own character and style without spending so much time knocking someone else’s...
The movement from CD to MP3 was a big paradigm shift in the music business. Crystal ball time, what will cause the next big shake up?
The next “big shake up” in the music business? Good question. I still buy CDs from artists I like when they have a new album out, and I still have most of my records... so I'm probably not the right guy to ask.
Do you have a pet?
I actually really like dogs although it's tough having one because I'm on the road so much, but one day I will definitely get one.
Travel probably takes more of your time than it does the average person. Do you have any tales of extreme excitement or extreme boredom that the average person might enjoy reading?
Long delays, missed connections, lost baggage, sitting on a plane for hours upon hours, jetlag and sleep deprivation, it's definitely not always exciting and can be really hard on the body!
If you visualize music as your listen, what (generally) do you imagine?
Definitely depends on the type of music and depends on the mood you're in of course, but as we all know music can be so inspiring, change your entire day and outlook and take you back to good and bad times in your life… I'm always daydreaming to music, I get really lost in it all the time, and I mean that in a very good way.
If you could send advice via a fortune cookie to up-and-comers, it would read:
Do your own thing, stay true to creating what you feel while still experimenting, be open minded, and enjoy the ride!
Which do you prefer, a smoky, low-lit club or a big stage with bright lights and colored gels?
A low lit club 100%... I'm not a flashy person nor do I like lots of attention or people staring at me as it's awkward and uncomfortable, but unfortunately it's part of what we do performing… I like keeping it super dark, so there is no distraction and you can really just tune into what you are doing and focus in on the music and vibe. Bright lights throw me off and are distracting to me.
What value do you place on environment as a creative springboard?
Your environment can change your frame of mind and creative direction, absolutely. For instance, if you are somewhere warm by the ocean as apposed to being in a dark cold city, your music and mood might reflect you’re surrounding. Or even your studio set up atmosphere, some people more than others. It’s a personal thing of course, but for me, when my home or studio is all cluttered and messy im not as clear minded at all.
Talk about some of your “classic” memories of touring.
There have been some amazing times and experiences around the world through the years… I definitely feel grateful and blessed to do what I do for a living… From playing at some great festivals in Europe and Australia with some amazing artists, to playing at outdoor open air venues on the beach while watching the sun rise over the ocean and everyone is dancing, to small and sweaty intimate venues where everyone is completely connected to the music, there have been so many amazing gigs…
Can you talk a little about the upcoming mix for Defected.
When Defected hit me up to do the House Masters series compilation, I thought it would be an interesting project, to go through my past catalogue and look at the body of work I have created through the years… It was actually tough limiting the song selection and choosing exactly what was to go on the comp, because different pieces of work reflect different periods of time and I wanted to have it feel as balanced as possible. The goal was to mix it up a bit using some dubs, vocals and remixes from the past till the present. But at the last minute there are always songs you forget about that would be a great fit for the project, you just cannot include everything you may want to use... Over all it’s cool to be able to release a project like this and hopefully some people will enjoy it…
You can pick up House Masters via iTunes here.