Ditching the repetitive beats of the EDM festival mainstage, Dannish producer and DJ Mike Hawkins is forging a new independent path with a fresh sound and label. A champion of a new type of chillwave, Mike Hawkins is mixing modern electronic music with 80’s synth-pop with bombastic hooks. We are happy to present his latest single “Undercover” on Vaypor/Armada Music, which he describes as the “best work I’ve ever done” and stands as the best example of what Mike Hawkins is trying to do.
We had the chance to chat with the Danish producer about his new direction, how other chillwave acts have influenced and what else he has coming up. Stream “Undercover” below before it is released tomorrow via Vaypor/Armada Music and read on to learn a little more about what he scheming.
1. How would describe your brand of Chillwave dance for someone who knows traditional Chillwave?
So obviously the first thing to stick out would be that what I’m doing is extremely pop compared to the rest of the stuff out there. I think what I do is heavily inspired by my upbringing in rock and indie dance. I love simple, dramatic riffs and hooks. I think the tools I bring with me are the atmosphere and minimalism that I love in similar records. The whole movement is a bit strange because what’s happening right now is sort of a blend of these synthwave/chillwave/vaporwave things that are all vastly different but play off a lot of the similar methods.
I think a whole new tangent of the music business is emerging from artists who want to explore sounds that “dare” to do a little bit more. Most of the guys I know doing this kind of music, whether its pure wave or more retro electro type stuff don’t give a rats ass about the established industry and it’s tools, they just want to release music and be heard. That’s one of the reasons I launched Vaypor, I want to try be less of an A&R and just help people grow and perfect themselves in the music they love to do without thinking too much about “playability” before they even hit the studio.
2. Who are some of the Chillwave dance producers that have influenced you?
It’s hard to say because there aren’t really any front figures yet. Axwell dipped his toes in it for a second with his remix of Discopolis “Falling” back in 2013, and while the timing might have been wrong it still hangs with me. It’s one of the most underrated records of modern times in my opinion. I’m also really trying to suck up as much inspiration as I can from this new producer Ofdream we just signed to Vaypor. The kid’s an absolute prodigy, one of the most talented artists I’ve ever come across in my 11 years in this industry, for real. I can’t point out singular artists besides that, I think. I’m very proud of some of the other guys we’ve signed on Vaypor so far, including Skit and Kareful. And we’re also bringing some of the freshest newcomers from Poland to the label soon - for some weird reason, Poland of all places has a HUGE electronic music / wave scene and it’s really healthy there.
3. How would you say your new music is influenced by classic Chillwave acts like Toro Y Moi and Neon Indian and more?
I think what the guys are doing is amazing. It’s a bit more on the nose 80’s than the stuff I’m releasing, but they are really nailing what they do. They are recreating something that’s gone missing in modern music to some degree. If you listen to it and it feels like a hit record from a lost time you just never heard, they’re doing a great job. I try to pick up some of the ways they make their stuff sound so authentic. I think the real breakthrough for the genre, at least in terms of widespread acceptance, would come from interpreting it in a modern setting. That’s what I’m trying to do with "Undercover."
4. What else do you have coming up?
I’ve been playing clubs for more than a decade at this point so I have a really hard time letting the club-tracks go. I realize it can be a strange duality to do both, an unholy union of sorts, but I have a lot of club records coming. Then I’m working on a bunch of singles in the alley of “Undercover,” in both the poppy and chilled out end of the spectrum, just furthering the sound and what I've started. In particular I have one collab coming up with Ofdream and Joysticker that’s going to be really special.
For now “Undercover” is really my main focus. It’s the best work I’ve ever done.