Meet 32-year old Amsterdam-based DJ and producer Mike Mago, the man behind Bmkltsch Rcrds and a slew of top-shelf songs (a current favorite of ours, "The Show.") and remixes. Rerubs like this Mago exclusive download we have here for you today of Mason's "Grotto" track via Animal Language. If you're not familiar with the man's music, imagine someone hitting you on the head in a 4/4 rhythm while massaging your belly and tickling your feet and blowing air on your neck from time to time. Yea, that's kinda what it sounds like.
In addition to his own output, Bmkltsch Rcrds releases music from acts like Broke One, Tuff Wheelz, Lars Moston and Teenage Mutants to name but a few. 2013 has seen both Mago and Bmkltsch Rcrds come out strong and is shaping up to be stellar year for all parties involved. The imprints new sonic directive straddles the line between melodic and energetic, classic and current and buoyant and dancefloor… case in point: "About Her," a recently released and rather sumptuous EP from French producers Tuff Wheelz. Have a listen to that and all the other Bmkltsch Rcrds releases below.
We got the chance to toss out a few questions Mike Mago and we learned a few things… perhaps you will too.
Nowadays there are so many ways to spread your music and to get a fanbase that to me there is no use saying an artist is commercial or underground.
Hi Mike, can you breakdown how you got your start, talk a bit about where you're coming from musically…perhaps there's a moment in life that helped define your sonic/aesthetic philosophy/position?
I started DJing when I was around 18. All my friends were hip-hop DJs at that time so I was influenced by this culture a lot. But still I wasn’t a real "hip-hop head." I started collecting records that were sampled in hip-hop tracks, thus got acquainted with jazz, funk and disco. I really use to love the original records more then the hip-hop tracks and started to become a fan of musicians like Stan Getz, Deodato, John Coltrain, Canonball Adderly and Donald Byrd. I started strolling down markets and secondhand shops looking for "that one track sampled in this or that hip-hop track." When I had about 30 records I went to every bar/pub in my city (Utrecht) to ask if they wanted to hear my rare grooves and if I could play there during the night. With the money I earned with that (most of the time 50E and free beer) I bought more records, expanding my collection. I didn’t buy any house or dance at that time cause I really use to hate house. I wanted to hear funk, hip-hop or at least music with breaks like breakbeat and DnB, but this was hard to find in our city. Instead there were trance and progressive parties everywhere. I could still hear myself say that I wished I liked this music, for it would make my life easier. After playing around in some pubs and clubs I discovered broken beat (acts like Seji and 4hero) which had the same tempo as "dance" music but still had the feeling I got from soul and funk. From there on I started listening to guys like Solid Groove/Switch and 6th Borough Project and before I knew it I was bridging the gab between breaks and "4-to-the-floor music."
If you were to describe your sound as a scent, a signature fragrance as it were, what would it be called?
It would be a mixture of rosemary, bergamot, nutmeg, cardamom, sandalwood and musk. I'd call it: Magia De Mike—"If you don’t look good, make sure you smell good."
What’s the secret to your success?
This mantra: Work as hard you can and work as smart you can.
The most important thing is that people really make music that is essential. Music that creates a (unique) feeling, thought, need or satisfaction. No matter what genre. No matter how modern. No matter how big the crowd. People who release non-essential music only take up webspace and valuable time.
Do you think there are any commonly held societal beliefs that are false?
The concept that you’re either commercial or underground. I think underground is a outdated therm. Back in the days you had two options: Make your records heard and get them played on mainstream radio or TV, which was the "commercial" world, or apply to a smaller group of people that use smaller media and word-o-mouth to spread your music, which was the "underground" world. Nowadays there are so many ways to spread your music and to get a fanbase that to me there is no use saying an artist is commercial or underground. It’s too dualistic. There are many worlds to move in. The only thing you have to know is how you get your music to the people that like it or are gonna like your music. If you make progressive house you have a big audience but also loads of other DJs that produce it. If you make gayfolkheavymetaltechno you are bound to have a smaller crowd to please, but you’re also probably the only one who makes this music. Which artist of the above is commercial "smarter" is a question that can’t be answered. The most important thing is that people really make music that is essential. Music that creates a (unique) feeling, thought, need or satisfaction. No matter what genre. No matter how modern. No matter how big the crowd. People who release non-essential music only take up webspace and valuable time.
How will you feel six months after your heart stops beating?
I would feel nothing, because I would be dead.
Do you have a pet?
I have a cat called Buck. Four months old. Totally crazy. We took her because she was from a farmer's cat nest and the farmer was gonna put the kittens in a sack and drown them. Normally she jumps on my shoulders when I come home and sits there most of the night. Watching everything from human height. She also likes to watch Zelda.
Any colorful/memorable incidents involving a fan or fan relations?
When I had my first release in a while. It was called "Plant" and I had people coming to the DJ booth an giving me actual plants as a present from time to time. Weird but funny. I think they all died though.
If you could send advice via a fortune cookie to up-and-comers, it would read:
Don’t believe the hype.
Tell me about your most memorable night out.
My most memorable night out was definitely seeing Sven Vath play at Creamfields in 2010. I was playing there with a former project and afterwards we went to see Sven Vaith play. We stood at the side of the stage. The way he was acting; talking with his "On stage bartender," hanging with the dancers and even leaving the stage to come back and noticing his record had stopped playing for four minutes. In front of a 10K head crowd. It was amazing. Mainly because all the records he played were so good and everybody loved it. I was flabbergasted.
Which do you prefer, a smoky, low-lit club or a big stage with bright lights and colored gels?
I love both. The bigger the stage the harder it is to read the crowd and the more you must rely on your experience with records or sequences of records that work. If you make the right choices before a big crowd it can really be satisfactory. With a smaller or more intimate crowd, you can experiment more and take the risk of losing yourself in your own story. If it’s a new story and you have done things you didn’t expect it can be equally satisfactory.
Outside of collaborative efforts, do you discuss or exchange ideas with other producers?
I feel very comfortable with sending and discussing tracks with other producers. Mainly because I’m used to doing this from my A&R perspective when running the label. And off course, music is my life so I love talking about music in general, my tracks, tracks from others, strategies, hypes, tricks, etc., etc.. I’m in the studio all day alone thinking about the next step on a lot of levels. So at night and on the weekends I feel the need to ventilate these things and discuss these thoughts with others who are in the same position.
With all the talk about electronic music, where it’s been, where it’s going…what are you tired of hearing, what should everyone shut the fuck up about?
The use and misuse of the term EDM. How "The US doesn’t understand real dance/techno." How social media can have this or that effect on your career…again, who’s "commercial" and who’s "underground."