Interview with Mikkas
Back in 2013 I wrote a song called Finally with Danish producer Mikkas (Kasper Smed Nielsen) which was released on Strictly Rhythm. To this date it is one of my most treasured collaborations. The songwriting process was organic and time-consuming. I had recorded the vocal including over 50 tracks of layers, harmonies and parts in a complex arrangement. Mikkas (Kasper) laboured over every aspect of the production and worked the track around my vocal in what sounds like effortless perfection as if the two parts (vocal and track) had always been destined to complete each other.
Hi Mikkas! I’m so excited we are releasing this version to the world.
Yes, me too! So good to be back with some new music again.
Let’s go back for a second… do you remember how we first met?
Absolutely! We can thank Porter Robinson for that. In short, Porter had asked me to do a remix of 'Unison' which were going to be released on his EP 'Spitfire'. It was on that same EP that you had a collaboration with Porter called 'Vandalism' which was, and still is, an awesome song and I loved your vocal on it. I believe I wrote you a DM on Twitter a while after the EP released asking if you would be interested in doing a collaboration with me and the rest is pretty much history. This was 9 years ago now but 'Finally' was first released about two years after that so it still took a while before we made it happen.
Finally is a pretty special release for both of us. Can you let the fans know, what it means to you?
'Finally' is the most personal song I've ever made. It encompasses everything I love about electronic music growing up; the hard, glitchy beats, the roaring bass line, the soothing breakdown and the epic melodic climax. These elements were a stable in most of my music back then, but 'Finally' just taps in to those nostalgic emotions in a way no other of my songs could. This is probably one of those songs I ended up putting hundreds of hours into to make it feel perfect. I'm just immensely proud of it and I'm so happy I got to revisit it again with you seven years later.
When did you first start writing music?
I started "writing" music back in 1998 with my good friend Mikkel (Mik-kas! Clever ehh?) (A: Ah nice!) in a music editing software called Dance eJay. It was basically just a sampler where you could mix and match drums and pre-made melodies but it taught me a lot about composition and arrangement. I quickly realized this wasn't very fulfilling so I moved on to using Reason which I am still using to this day.
You’ve taken some time out of music, that must have been a hard decision. What led you there?
Yeah, it wasn't an easy decision but it was absolutely the right thing to do. When you start not caring about making music it's time to stop or at least take a big step back. This is easier said than done when you have been producing music with a passion for approximately 15 years though.
I won't go into detail about all of the factors that made me lose that passion, let's just say that the music business isn't for everyone.. This was also around the time when I had the fortunate pleasure of becoming a father for the first time so my priorties shifted pretty quickly from then on. Music just wasn't as important to me which isn't necessarily a bad thing - I now had other passions and things I'd rather do than sit in front of a computer for countless hours every day.
This might come off as a bit self indulgent but I think it's important to sometimes self-reflect on why you are doing the things you are doing, whatever that is. The reason I started doing music was to make music for myself and to evoke "feelings" within myself through sound - it wasn't to impress anyone or to become successful. Those things are certainly perks, but should not be the things that drive you. The moment I started losing that core focus was the moment that I knew I had to stop if I wanted to stay true to myself.
I never really stopped making music though, I just went back to making it for myself in my own (slow) pace and on my own terms.
Who are some of your favourite composers?
I listen to a lot of ambient, orchestral and contemporary classical stuff these days - I'm getting old I know lol. Composers like Max Richter, Ludovico Einaudi, Gustavo Santaolalla and James Newton Howard are a few of my favorites. I still listen to dance music a lot but haven't really been following the scene that closely to be honest. Cosmic Gate and Megara vs. Dj Lee gets an honorable mention simply because they shaped me musically back in the day. There's just so much insanely awesome music from them throughout the years.
Can you tell me a bit about your creative process?
Oftentimes it just starts with me loading up a initialized synth where I fiddle around with the knobs and effects until I hit something that sounds interesting - I usually do this with basses and synths for my main melodies. When I finally get that interesting sound I will try to shape everything else around it. This usually ends up being just the kick and the bassline until I get tired of it and move along. Maybe 1 in 50 ideas actually end up becoming a full song, so I could probably learn a thing or two about being more effective in my creative process lol.
What was it like for you, revisiting Finally in this way?
As you already know, 'Finally' is one of those songs that I'm the most proud of and I only have great memories of working on it with you. Getting a chance to work with your amazing vocal again and to bring back the memories that surround it is an absolute pleasure and a privilege.
What is coming up next for Mikkas?
It's hard to say, I don't have any plan set out to be honest. I am taking it one day at a time not trying to force creativity and passion. I do have a zillion ideas that I'm working on so it's very possible that you'll be hearing something from me in a future not too far away ;)
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