Mike’s Dead wears his influences on his sleeve, both proudly and most definitely loudly. Rooted in his love for the early 2000s nü-metal and rap-rock phenomenon, with a penchant for modern production and a hyper-abrasive aesthetic, Mike has managed to create something that he self-describes as “controlled chaos.” His brand of musical chaos is a direct result of his incredible work ethic, putting in 10-12-hour days in the studio, seven days a week, carefully crafting each release to build a cohesive and definitive narrative.
Just like the music of his youth that inspired him to create his own project, Mike’s Dead can be categorized as dark, moody and, at times, aggressive. Even so, it’s energetic enough to produce full-blown party anthems for both the dance floor and the mosh pit.
We caught up with Mike as he was putting the finishing touches on his forthcoming album and gearing up for an onslaught of singles to carry us into the new year. Mike discusses everything from his childhood heroes and dream collaborations to his backstory as a kid from D.C. who moved to L.A. to pursue an audio engineering career and finding his sound through hard work and dedication.
What was the first live show you ever attended?
As a kid, what artists/band posters were on your bedroom wall?
Who is your biggest musical inspiration?
Growing up, I was a massive Linkin Park and Gorillaz fan. I think those two groups really shaped my sound; that heavy nü-metal mix from Linkin Park with the weird, experimental electronic side of Gorillaz.
How long have you been making music, and how did it start?
I moved to Los Angeles six years ago [to] go to school for production and audio engineering. I had been DJing since I was about 18, playing a bunch of shows in D.C. and on the East Coast. After I wrapped up school, I was making beats for rappers and working on some EDM stuff. My roommate at the time encouraged me to start writing my own vocals after hearing me walk around the house freestyling to beats he had been working on. After a few years of crafting my own sound and figuring out what type of beats I was naturally drawn to, I launched Mike’s Dead in June of 2018.
What is your dream collaboration?
Sheesh. Would love to work with Mike Shinoda. Would love to work with [Danger] Mouse. Would love to work with Ghostemane. Chris Motionless. Mick Gordon, the guy who produced the DOOM soundtrack. I could keep going. [Laughs.]
What does a typical day look like for Mike’s Dead?
I don’t do the typical artist routine of staying up all night and getting up at 2 p.m. I’m usually up at around 7/8 a.m. and jumping straight into work. Personally, I like to work on music first thing in the morning. It’s when I feel most creative.
So usually some writing or production work in the morning. Breakfast and then the gym around 12/1. Come back, crank out some emails and management work and then fall into the content side of things or getting ready for upcoming releases. I don’t usually stop working until about 7/8 p.m. when my brain gets a bit fried. It’s definitely a lot of work doing 10-12-hour days like that all the time, so I try to take the nights off and see some friends or just decompress and watch some Netflix.
What is the first song you would show to someone who has never heard Mike’s Dead?
What is your dream tour lineup?
I have a few. Playing with Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails or Korn would be mental. I’d love to do an international headlining run with Ghostemane. Maybe Ghost and Poppy. Any of the big guns in the industrial-metal sphere would really get me amped.
What can we expect in the future? Plans for an album, tour, etc.?
We’re working on a few tours and festivals right now, but with COVID, you never know. It’s been two years since I’ve been able to play a proper show, so I’m super excited to get back on the road and unveil all this unreleased music. I’ve got my first LP pretty much produced out and a ton of other singles wrapped up. 2022 is definitely going to be the biggest year for Mike’s Dead, and I can say that confidently. Don’t wanna give too much away!
If you could sum up Mike’s Dead in one sentence, what would it be?
Hellfire meets controlled chaos.
SONG RECOMMENDATION: “BEES”
This interview appeared in issue 399, available here.