Mike L is a talented UK based producer and DMC finalist turntablist whose recent album On a Columbo Tip was released to universal praise, and his background in live performance has enabled him to take a live version of his album to stage. Oh Drat caught up with the man himself to talk about his set up, how he makes the switch from studio to stage, and tips he has for aspiring artists…
Mike L: Today I’ve been setting up my equipment again, I was working quite heavily on one particular track for a video and now I’m rearranging things to get more done.
OD: So, is your live set all tracks from your recent album?
ML: So far it is, yeah…
My live stuff isn’t like a routine where I try and show how quick I can do stuff or whatever
OD: Okay, and what’s your process for taking things from studio to stage?
ML: Erm… good question! My live stuff isn’t like a routine where I try and show how quick I can do stuff or whatever, so the songs are kinda made bit by bit, layer by layer and I just have to try and work out how I’m going to do that in a live format. The first thing I do is reimport all the sampled elements back into the MPC – as I’m putting a track together I’ll start off with hundreds of sounds in the MPC and as I go on some of the sounds will get discarded so I prune all that stuff out and make sure that everything’s EQ’d and compressed nicely so that the song sounds ‘together’…
OD: So you mention that you think about things slightly differently to when you’re doing your turntablism routines, is there any crossover?
ML: I suppose there’s a crossover in the sense that… well I think with a lot of live MPC stuff you sort of get the impression that it’s about the skills and not the song, and what I’m keen to do is keep the integrity of the songs there, not just using some of the sounds and then going crazy for the sake of it. I have to spend a lot of time scratching my head figuring out how to make four or five things happen at the same time as opposed to layering.
OD: Do you have a defacto preset for where you place the sounds on your pads?
ML: There’s definitely common features in most of my programs when it comes to playing live, when I’m making the track the sounds can be anywhere, just where ever the next free pad is! When it comes to playing live I’ll usually have kicks and snares on the right side of the middle, hats on the left, and other sounds get sort of pieced around them.