Interview with New Astralwerks Signing Mike Mago

Mike Mago discussed life during quarantine, producing remixes for Avicii and Halsey, and new track, "On Repeat"

Dutch house DJ/producer Mike Mago is an artist who has great expertise in merging underground house music with mainstream sounds. Music fans worldwide first took notice of Mike Mago after he released his collaborative single with Dragonette titled “Outlines” in 2014. That track later became Gold-certified in three countries, garnered 12 million views on YouTube, and also has 25 million Spotify plays. Mike Mago has also released remixes for the likes of Bastille, Ellie Goulding, and the late Avicii.

Lately, he had been producing his latest single, “On Repeat”, with UK vocalist/songwriter Kelli-Leigh. The track combines Kelli-Leigh’s soulful vocals with Mago’s lively, energetic beats and it is a great track for any occasion. Concurrently, “On Repeat” is also Mike Mago’s first track since signing onto the Astralwerks label. “On Repeat” is officially released today and readers can definitely stream the track here. However, here is One EDM’s exclusive interview with Mike Mago, a future superstar in the Dutch house music industry.

Kenny Ngo: How are you doing in this quarantine?

Mike Mago: I’m not too bad actually. Obviously it’s tougher times on the gig side of things, but my studio work is never finished and I’m making good miles when it comes to making songs. Also, I just renovated my house for 3 months, so a lot of the situation passed me by. Though I must say I’m also slow to say negative things about my situation due to corona as so many more have it worse. My thoughts are with those people.

Have you done or watched anything exciting for the past month?

I renovated my newly bought house and did everything myself. Electrical, plumbing, ceiling, floor, walls, and so on. I took that as a challenge and I am pretty proud of my work. I’m also happy that I’m a producer and not an electrician or plumber as it is pretty tough doing that for a living. I know now.

How was it like producing “On Repeat” with Kelli-Leigh?

It was really cool! I have been a fan of Kelli-Leigh’s voice for ages and really felt her lyrics when I first heard her acapella demo for ‘On Repeat.’ I tried to match the lyrical concept of the song with something musically that has a repetitive drive but still sounds adventurous – hence the loop that varies in timing. It was truly one of those processes that just seemed to work from the get-go. Plus her enthusiasm is contagious so if was fun all around.

Is there a background or meaning behind “On Repeat”?

I feel the song is about not getting someone out of your head and thinking of that person on repeat, plus all the emotion that go with that. I wanted to create a lead sound that would have the same effect. Something that is repetitive and hard to get out of your head.

Are there any significant features of the track that the listeners should look out for?

In my mind definitely! The lead is a loop of a percussive sound I created with a synth. I sampled that sound, looped it and then played with the length of the loop, creating a kind of bouncing ball effect.  That was an idea I had from the start to match the concept of the song itself (as its on repeat / repetitive). I was really happy that idea worked out as many of my initial ideas normally don’t make the final version.

In March, you released your remix of Halsey’s “You Should Be Sad”. Did Halsey share her opinions with you in regards to the remix?

I was truly honored to make that remix! Halsey’s vocals are amazing and the lyrics intrigued me as they are very negative at face value. I don’t hear many songs about being sad. Truthfully, I really took a lot of time thinking about the entry point of the process of this remix. I wanted to create something tension-building and energetic and I was happy with the result.

Speaking of remixes, you remixed the late, legendary Avicii’s tracks, “The Nights”  and “Broken Arrows”. How did you feel about remixing those tracks?

In retrospect it was pretty special. Especially since Avicii asked me for the “Broken Arrows” remix because he really loved the earlier remix I did (“The Nights”). The best compliment you can get on a remix is that the artist wants another one for another release and especially from a legend like him.

Are you going to produce and release more music this year?

Yes sir!! Really happy to have signed more tracks with Astralwerks. They will come out within the next couple of months. It’s a new adventure with this label that I really look forward to. The sound of the additional tracks match this first release.

If the quarantine did not happen, which festivals and/or shows did you look forward to performing?

I had some really cool ones that got cancelled that I haven’t played before, like SW4 in the UK and World Dome in Germany. Honestly, I was really looking forward to those new experiences as I always love that feeling you get when you play some place new. Obviously I’m pretty sad the other festivals like Tomorrowland and the Ibiza gigs didn’t go through.

If everything gets better again, what is the first thing that you would like to do?

Go to the gym as I am getting thick.

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Ken Ngo

Ken is a passionate sports and music fan with soccer being his #1 sport and European (particularly French and Dutch) house music being his #1 genre. His favorite producers are Martin Solveig, Sebastian Ingrosso, Madeon, Tiesto, Martin Garrix, and Armin Van Buuren.

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