Artist Feature 015: Michael Red

May. 4. 2016

Photo: Duncan Cairns-Brenner

Photo: Duncan Cairns-Brenner

This week we welcome west coast electronic producer Michael Red to the blog.  Michael has played a central role in the development of the Vancouver electronic scene over the past decade, from promoting and supporting to DJing and producing.  A founding member of the Lighta! sound crew, curator for New Forms festival, and acting captain of his Low Indigo imprint, Mr. Red continues to create, inspire, and serve as a cornerstone for the west coast underground community.    

Hello Michael, what is up?
Bit of wine. well past midnight at my place on the sunshine coast. have some silent season playing in the background.

Talk to us a little bit about your recent EP “9 of cats” on your label Low Indigo.
It’s very much an uncompromising authentic piece of me. it’s all relatively newer work i made on the sunshine coast and still within the current era i’m in (i’ve also been putting out music recently from older eras - stuff i made when i was fully based in east van). 9 of cats is more intimate and wide-screen, compared to other more upfront and beat-wise materials. it’s more subdued and subtle and definitely laced with heaps of intentions and deep feels (heh). i’m loving the response so far, which also has been more personal and revealing than other releases, a reflection of the work itself (feels right). multiple people have talked about an aspect of anxiety and intensity - which is wonderful food for reflection. Others have had real “moments” and unexplainable experiences through it - which of course i love.  A recent comment just today talked about a “state of suspension” which very much thrills me, and says to me that i have effectively translated an emotion and state that i often feel myself when creating. i think that is actually describing the same element that others receive as anxiety... which says to me that it’s possible i’m more comfortable in the ether/dreamtime than others who are more comfortable with two feet solidly on earth.

Talk to us about your definition of “space” and why this is important to you when creating music.
Space is a critical element to all i do, in several ways. there’s the space as in the space between notes - standard jazz theory. expressions or explorations of stretching that notion, specifically stretching out periods of anticipation to their outer reaches and holding down a vibe/current with the least amount of elements possible over the greatest period of time .. it’s a very common, maybe even unconscious, concept for me. rich and alive “ghost notes” is another thing i’m into heavy. ..emotional silences. ..then, of course, there’s space as in outer space which is a HEAVY part of probably all i do. i think about outer space, i occupy outer space through meditative and imaginative states, and parts of me (or all of me actually) are from outer space. earth lives in outer space. ….i guess a lot of music takes place in larger spaces too - very long and/or brash reverbs and delays communicating that.

Photo: Vasho Pekar

Photo: Vasho Pekar

What production aesthetics are intriguing to you at the moment?
straight up solo piano. it’s a massive massive world, and i’ve only begun to explore it. from various recordings that capture the piano and surrounding environments in different ways, to different filter cut-off points creating drastically different colours. i totally get why people dedicate their lives to just piano. i feel like i’m between two and five percent in of understanding it all, and that’s not even talking technical playing skills - i’m talking just the instrument itself. …i’ve started recorded my own pieces actually. maybe some day those will reach people. …honestly can’t think of anything else right now. i can only think of current trends that don’t interest me. …i guess i’m excited to see what’s next in the post-post-dubstep 130-ish bpm worlds when they are done being overly noisey and lo-fi. aesthetics of underground (and some pop) modern rnb have my interest too.

Take us back to the start for you, what originally inspired you to get into electronic music?
the zone. the meditative “trance” like nature of repeating and evolving arpeggios like orbital in the early 90’s. the sense of being lost or totally absorbed in a world of sound, and the types of life epiphanies and clear reasoning that can happen through listening. when i got into jungle (95) i got very into this feeling of being cleansed by the drums. loud intense amen work outs washing over me and making me new again. ..i’ve said it before, but music was not a choice. it just happened naturally. i grew up musical and very luckily surrounded by music obsessed friends with good taste.

Talk about how you have seen the Vancouver scene change over the years?
so much could be said. i’m hesitant to get into any history for fear of not including or forgetting characters who played key roles along the way. shouts out to the all the venues and artists who keep it real. real as in: not greedy, treating all parties fairly, walking your damn talk, and striving to make the production quality as high-calibre or real as possible. and an equally whole-hearted shout out to all the people who support and contribute as attendees and other ways too.

West coast producers you’re digging at the moment?
producers: spurz, jade statues, eli muro, self evident, derivatives, chapel sound, slope, tor
dj’s: mandai, dog or die, frumlater, kimmy k
i’m sure there’s a tonne more, i just can’t think of them right now.

This Saturday, you’ll be playing a 2 hour downtempo set at Cafe Deux Soleils in East Vancouver.  Care to shed some light on what you have in store for us?
i’ve made a lot of leftfield type beats over the years. a lot which i’ve never played out or played out very little, cuz either the clock ran out and i never got around to it or the music wasn’t appropriate to the situation. i’m very excited to get comfortable and create a vibe where this stuff is fitting to play, and also to let this stuff breath a little (not quick mix in and out for any dancefloor). in a nutshell, i’m just excited to share and radiate a bit. we will go to space and other places. i promise.

Parting words?
live long and prosper. love will conquer all.

Connect with Michael on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and his website

Check out more Michael Red originals below