The native Californian may be better known to date for Billboard and Beatport chart success achieved through his progressive house and electronic-based output, but early influences including Nine Inch Nails, Bush and Nirvana refuse to be silenced. It’s this love of hard rock and 90s grunge that is now seeing Justin Michael develop a new sound fusing big room electronica with rock influences, and one that is, for now, all his own. brandnite´s Q & A with Justin Michael
|Justin, you´ve been around the scene for a little while now, tell our readers in Europe a little about yourself and how you started as a DJ and producer.||Q|
As a teenager growing up in the Southern California beach cities of Los Angeles, I spent most of my high school years fascinated and indulged in the futuristic sounds of electronic dance music. All types – Trance, House, Jungle (Drum n Bass), Techno. I attended underground raves and warehouse parties, most of the time in abandoned warehouses and sometimes the occasional desolate full moon desert parties.
It all began at my first party when I was 15 years old. I immediately fell in love with the scene, vibe, culture and ofcourse the music. The music impacted me like nothing else. I knew at that point it was my calling and I was suppose to be on that stage, creating and sharing my own musical journey, and most importantly giving back to a culture I grew to live, love and breath.
Within a few years, I began DJing a lot. Almost 3x a week which turned into a 5 year residency in Downtown Los Angeles and then later moved to the entertainment capital of the world – Hollywood. I was also extremely fortunate to travel at a very young age. Being able to experience different cultures throughout the US and even as far as Taipei, Taiwan. It once again reconfirmed my passion and long term dream. You really start to notice what your passion is in life when you dont really care about any other possible career options.
I attended college at UCLA. I wasn’t the most social kid on campus nor the most concentrated student, All I wanted to do was to be in those clubs, performing, creating journeys, and sharing the music that i loved most.
The next step after college was to create and build a career. Not only did i know that one day I wanted to create the music that I played but also realistically in order to make it a career and travel the world performing. I had to start creating and producing my own music. About 8 years into my dj career I started building my studio and spending countless hours just learning and practicing my craft. Exploring different genre’s and trying to find my sound.
|Your biography says that you´ve been influenced by the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana in the 90s. How do these bands still influence your music today and how do you conect the rock kind of attitude with your electronic music productions?||Q|
|Electronic Music and Rock N’ Roll, thats my soul right there. After DJing 3x a week, I needed some other type of music to keep me sane. I would always listen to Rock when I would be driving to school or the infamous traffic congested freeways of LA. Also, I have to give credit to my brother. He would constantly Rock out to the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, & Red Hot Chilli Peppers to name a few. That was a major influence in my love for Rock N Roll! Thanks Bro!!Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, Muse, Coldpaly, Nirvana. These are a few of my favorite bands, I would have to say they inspired me just as much as that first rave i went to.||A|
|EDM scene nowadays is full of copycats – especially young producers try to reproduce the sound of their idols to make themselves beeing heard. What do you do to stay original and how do you prevent yourself from reproducing something that you heard and actually like?||Q|
|Its really difficult to not be influenced by something. I mean, ultimately thats what music is about. Its suppose to inspire. influence, and most importantly bring a feeling or emotion to your life. I think its perfectly fine to have influence and inspiration, but ultimately to take that and make it something and your own. Thats the hardest part. Thats where the artistry comes in. You have to stay true to your heart, soul, and what you feel. Don’t just create something because you think it will be popular and make you a huge star. I am sure many producers are victims of thhis, I would be lying if i said i havent myself.One thing I do now is I always ask myself this question when I am creating… Would I play this and if so, could i play it 1000x and still feel passionate about it?||A|
|Speaking of other artists: Is there a track out there where you think “Damn!” I would have loved to produce that tune!”||Q|
|Ohh yeah, there are plenty. Most recently I would have to say Tristan Garner’s “Machine Gun” blew me away.What an amazing track! I am extremely happy to be a part of extremely talented and creative XtraLife family now with my new single “The Way I Feel”.||A|
|How did your collaboration with Bruno Mars on the song “Her World Goes On” Happen?||Q|
I worked with Bruno for about 7 years. We became good friends and created a lot of house tracks together and dont laugh, but out of desperation for money we even composed some Brazillian Yoga Instructional Music together .. True Story!
With all that said, Bruno is an amazing artist. I am typically not fond of most modern pop music. I feel like its all manufactured and not very creative. Just like you said, everyone is copying eachother! The one thing about Bruno is that I can honestly say he is a natural true talent. He is probably one of the most talented people I have ever worked with. He can play guitar, bass, keys, drums, and ofcourse sing melodies like a king!I am very fortunate to have co-wrote “Her World Goes On” with him.
By the way, for the record – David Guetta had absolutely nothing do with this song nor the production of it. In 2010 the original leaked early and whoever did this decided it would be funny to put Guetta’s name on it. The file spread like a virus all over the internet and kids to this day still think its his song! It was a complete disaster!
|Besides other productions you are signed to AVB label “Armada Music”. Whats coming up next from Justin Michael?||Q|
|As I mentioned, my new single with Digital Freq entitled “The Way I Feel” was just released on Tristan Garners label – XtraLife which is a sub-label of the infamous Strictly Rhythm. Also, I am finishing about 6 new tracks in the studio. One of which is a really exciting collaboration with one of my good friends and inspirations – Mr. Jerome Isma-Ae.||A|
|If there’s one artist out there you could work with, who would you choose?||Q|
|I would love to work with Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails. That would be amazing. As far as other electronic producers/artist, without a blink of the eye – Eric Prydz!||A|