Mikal Steps In From The Wilderness
Mikal has appeared from the wilds to prepare the new album for Metalheadz… as the sampler for Wilderness starts to appear we pulled up some chairs in front of the fire and had a chat about it.
Why ‘Wilderness’ as a title first of all? It’s a wicked title: beautiful, wintery and austere… buuuut also creepy; think: Blair Witch.
It means a few things but that would be telling.
The material so far sounds rich, it’s got depth, it makes me think about all sorts of great stuff, it’s filthy… I couldn’t sit still when I heard it.
Thanks, I wanted the album to be as diverse as possible and to include everything I like about Drum & Bass.
So what influenced ‘If We Become’? SUCH a great mood! It had me at ‘hello’ as such.
That one was more about the intro, that’s where the production started on that track. I think the influence came from a few pad and fx sounds and it developed from there. All the beats and bass came after getting the intro more or less finished. I tend to work that way a lot.
Now to where you live… how do you find in such a great creative hub as Bristol?
It’s a great place to live.
Is there a creative network there? I feel in many situations a ‘creative network’ means ‘broadband’ whereas in Bristol it’s real.
It’s always been a great place to meet other likeminded people. What’s perfect about Bristol is that it’s not an enormous place but big enough to still have lots of nights going and there be something for everyone.
I do have a lot of friends here who make music and although we probably spend most of the week indoors working, we do try and meet up when we can.
Back to the beats, take us behind ‘At The Controls’? This damaged me badly when I got into it.
Xtrah and I have worked on a couple of tracks together over the last couple of years. We started out by sending each other some folders of individual sounds and a few stems to get things started.
The first track we came up with was ‘Directive’ which was the flipside of Xtrah’s single for Metalheadz Platinum.
There were still loads of unused sounds in the folder he sent me so I wrote the track out of what was left.
The sound design was mostly Xtrah’s work and I put together the arrangement. After a session each on the tune it was done. I went back in on the mix a couple of times and that was it.
Do some of your ambient noises come before or after the rest? I mean does the tune suggest them or can they inspire the rest of the tune?
Often the way I start a track would be creating pads and other atmospheric sounds, then building the drums and bass around that. I like to start things around the tune/melody before getting into everything else.
I find it creates the mood for the rest of the track.
OK, if someone offered you a big studio with lovely outboard gear, atmosphere, live instrument capabilities like piano, drums + vocal booth etc etc OR a new digital set up but both at same price what would you go for?
I think I’d go for the big studio with the outboard gear and the booth(s) as long as I could keep using my laptop!
Tell us more.
I’m beginning to reintroduce more hardware into my production.When I moved to Bristol I got my old Akai sampler, Lexicon fx unit and my old synths out from storage.
I haven’t used them in years and they need a few repairs but this year I’m working on fixing my old kit.
So what can we expect as a sneak peek into the album, if the sampler’s this good?
There’s a few of the main album tracks out there already. Check out Noisia’s recent Noisia podcasts for a couple and Friction’s played one or two so far.
The full album is quite diverse, there’s a lot of different Drum & Bass styles and couple of non D&B tunes in there.
There’s several collabs too with: Break, Riot from Buraka Som Sistema and two vocal tunes featuring Chimpo & Sophie Barker from Zero 7.
If you were limited to very little music and trapped indoors, what would you choose to hear?
Hmmm… it’s impossible to choose!
I’m more likely to listen to old film soundtracks.
What’s plans for the 2016?
I’ve got a lot of work to finish in the studio of my own and others. Working with Riot on our next ep, finalising a single for Warm Communications another single for Mako’s Utopia Music too.
I’m producing for other non D&B artists. I’m putting down ideas and finishing off some other tracks for the next Headz release but mostly I can’t wait to finally get out of the studio and tour the album and play it out.