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Mind of Miguel Part 1 of 2

Posted by ThatsMyJamRadio on June 2, 2008

Miguel Migs creates some of the most soulful, lively and catchy house music this side of Chuck Love. So, why on earth did he let his latest full-length of original material, Those Things, get the remix treatment for Those Things Remixed? Find out the answer to that and get a few other fun facts in part one of this two-part interview.

THAT’S MY JAM: Well, the first thing that I wanted to ask you was — I picked up both of you’re your recent CDS, I’ve got Those Things and Those Things Remixed, so I’ve kind of been able to compare and contrast between the two. After listening to the tracks on Those Things, you know, that was some really good music and I was wondering what inspired you to remix any of it?

MIGUEL MIGS: Well basically, as far as getting the remixes done, it just gives it a different, sort of new perspective and a reinterpretation of the original music. And as far as making it for the DJs, and for people that are fans of the music and electronic music in general, remixing is a pretty common thing in this genre, but it just kind of felt like it made sense because we had so many good remixes done from the original album. Some of them were from singles and some of them were just unreleased mixes that I hadn’t put out, and I just decided that there was enough material to release the package, the Those Things Remixed album. You know, remixed albums aren’t usually very — I don’t know, they’re sort of difficult because they sort of feel more like a compilation than an album, but this just sort of felt like it had a nice consistency and flow to it overall, and it just sort of made sense and it felt like there was enough material to go ahead and move forward with the project.

OK. How did you kind of choose which remixes you wanted to put on there?
There weren’t any particular rules to it. I just kind of went with a certain flow that I felt made sense and a lot of the stuff is in the similar vein as the original album as far as the elements that are used: a lot of live instrumentation and non-typical electronic/dance music-driven [elements]. The stuff’s maybe a little more laid-back, organic and melody driven rather than just basically a banging, electronic-kind of teched out vibe. So, I figured they all sort of [fit] together in the scheme of the remix album to where I just felt that it was good enough to be able to [be] packaged and put it out because the listening experience to me was an important factor in putting out a project like that. I’d like to be able to put something on in the house and be able to listen to it at home all the way through, or in a bar or on a dance floor or whatever, and that’s usually the way I try to do projects in general. I just sort of like music that has a nice balance to it in that way, with electronic music, and this just seemed like it had that balance.

OK. And actually kind of going along with that, I was wondering: how do you think a record can kind of be both something that you would listen to at home and also something that a DJ would throw on at a club?
Well, that of course is very subjective and it’s all personal opinion. I mean, there’s so much out there and there’s so many different kinds of electronic music, and styles, and genres, and DJs, and fans and whatever. So, I mean it’s hard to say. I can only speak for myself personally as far as the stuff that I like, which is similar to the vibe I’m going for, which is more of that sort of melody-driven, sort of laid-back, kind of old-school soul and funk-oriented, with hints of dub and Afro and whatever. It’s definitely more musicality than the more harder, more bangin’ end of the electronic music spectrum, and then obviously it’s a lot less pop-y necessarily than the other side of the spectrum. So, it depends on the personal tastes of the buyer, or the fan, or the DJ, or whatever. So, in this case, I’m just sort of pushing the style that I’m personally attracted to.

OK, that makes sense. You kind of come at the music from two different angles, because you have the musicality background where you actually produce your own music as well as DJ. So, I guess with some of the DJing, you might actually do some remixing with some of the songs. And I was wondering: in general do you kind of consider remixing an infringement or a form of flattery?
Well, I’ve remixed all sorts of artists from pop artists to lots of interesting underground artists. I mean, there’s so [many] different kinds of music out there and, actually, that’s the fun, cool and sort of inspiring thing about doing remixing in my opinion is that you can take elements of a song and turn it into something completely different and sort of more of a dance floor-oriented, upbeat sort of track that’s able to be played in a club environment and move people on the dance floor. And you can do that [with] any kind of music that’s out there. I mean, I’m not sure if that answers your question, but that’s one of the attractive elements to me about being able to remix all different kinds of projects. I guess a good example of that would be something along the lines of the Verve Remixed projects, which I’m not sure if you’re familiar with them. They basically take a bunch of old Verve catalog music from Ella Fitzgerald to Billie Holiday to just, you know, amazing old-school artists. [Then] they have various people remix the stuff a, little bit more focused towards electronic-edged or dance floor or whatever. I actually did one of those a while back and remixed an Ella Fitzgerald track, and that’s a prime example of taking something that you wouldn’t necessarily, normally think would fit, but it completely does because you’re just able to take it, reinterpret it and paint your own picture with it. That’s a form of art within itself, so it can be an interesting way to go about music and projects, and remixing gives it a whole new flavor, you know? What one artist might vision with it or end up coming up with, a whole different idea than another artist would, of course, so it makes it interesting.

It’s so funny you mention that, though, because I have a friend who doesn’t really listen to dance music and he bought one of those CDs, I think it was the Ella Fitzgerald one. He absolutely loved it.
Oh, see, that’s where it’s interesting to me. That’s where it comes into play, the whole aspect of what you said. There are a lot of people I meet [on the road] and just through the years. A lot of people that generally don’t like dance music or are not really interested in electronic music, a lot of them don’t even really know a lot about it, so they’re not aware that there’s so many different styles. They just hear what they might think is “house music, that’s dance music,” and they automatically make a judgment based on a minimal amount of knowledge with the music. And then a lot of people get turned on to it by something like [the Verve Remixed projects] or they realize, “Wow, I really like this stuff,” or they really get turned on to a certain style that they realize they really enjoy and really love. So, through the years, it’s amazing how many people I meet that love all sorts of styles of music and come to really enjoy the style of music that I do. For instance, people that are maybe into hip-hop or more dub stuff, or even some people that are into rock stuff, because they can appreciate, understand and identify with the sort of musicality of it and that side of the creative content into where it is sort of listening, pleasure-oriented rather than just extremely repetitive and head-exploding, banging dance or something like that. There’s so many different styles and I find a lot of people are able to connect with the style that I do that are into and appreciate many other forms of music.

OK. I was curious as to what is your creative process, I guess not only when you make your own music, but also when you are trying to come up with a remix?
Well, it’s usually pretty spontaneous as far as writing my own. I just go into the studio and literally just build from scratch, and sometimes I’ll have something in mind that I want to do and it’ll turn out completely different. So, it’s just the way it goes, I think, with any kind of art form. You sort of go into it and sort of just create and get inspired by different ideas that you’ve [inaudible], and before you know it you have a rough structure of a song. And then, you know, add elements depending on what you’re feeling at that time with the song in the process. Then, usually, I’ll take it from there and end up writing, you know, maybe a melody, lyrics and arrangement to it, and then bring in a vocalist depending on the style I’m envisioning for it. That’s a basic way of dealing with that. As a far as remixing, it’s the same thing. I’ll sort of just take the parts that I’m given for whatever the project is, go in totally spontaneous, and start, you know, building maybe drums first, and then layer, you know, possibly melody and keyboards elements and baselines, and you basically just build on that. It’s a very spontaneous process.

Come back tomorrow for part two of “Mind of Miguel.”

Look for “The Musicality of Miguel Migs” in the premiere/June issue of the San Francisco edition of 944 magazine.

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