This month’s student spotlight introduces you to Mike’s Dead, a Los Angeles rapper and singer with an infectious brand of dark trap music.
Introducing Mike’s Dead
At ICON we pride ourselves in being more than just a music production school. We are an artist development program. So, it’s always inspiring to see students take their art outside of the box and put their own words and voices on display. This is why we have our songwriting courses, to help create well-rounded producers dive into the world of lyrics.
Mike’s Dead is one of our graduates that have done this incredibly well. Mixing rap verses with infectiously catchy melodic hooks, his sound strikes an intriguing balance of both the dark and the light. He also supplements many of his releases with full-length music videos.
Mike’s Dead brand and music are alive in a special way that leaves us wanting more. Fortunately, he has new collabs, videos, and a 3-date tour this summer. So, follow his socials to see what’s next!
Mike’s Dead Interview
In this short interview, Mike shares his creative direction as an artist. He talks about what inspires him, the path that led him to ICON Collective, and the vision of his project. Mike also talks about his music videos and his hustle to build a successful brand.
1. How did your time at ICON influence your creative direction as an artist?
ICON gave me the tools to be my own artist. Once you know how to produce and understand theory, music doesn’t seem to have limitations. When I started ICON, I was DJing and learning to produce electronic music, so I could further enhance my DJ career. Although I had loved the idea of being a singer one day, I never thought I’d actually sit down and do it.
After I finished ICON, I sat down and just created – day after day. I pushed myself to become a better producer and to find my sound. I finally saw an old dream slowly blossom into something unique and tangible. I’d never be where I am today if it wasn’t for ICON and a lot of hard work.
2. You’ve put out some epic music videos! Few independent artists are doing this. What do you think it takes to put a great video together?
For me, music videos are super important. There’s something different about the audiovisual impact that a music video can have on someone compared to just the song alone.
I direct/co-direct all my music videos, which makes it a lot more of a process. I usually write the treatment and then go back and forth with the videographer. Basically, planning and setting up the whole thing on my own.
As far as putting videos together, just see the music. Avoid basic ideas and things done already. Once you get a unique overall idea down, you can get into the cool specific shots to make it more grasping or artistic. Whether you’re working with a $200 budget or a $2000 budget, you can still make an awesome music video come to life with the right idea.
3. What would you say Mike’s Dead is all about? What inspires you?
From an overall standpoint, I’d say being the underdog and making an impact. Nothing has ever come simple for me. I didn’t wake up with a good singing voice. I didn’t sit down at the piano and figure things out quickly. Like most people, I’ve been through a lot so far in my life, and I think that comes out through most of my music.
I finished ICON about three years ago. I went through a long period of asking myself what I wanted to do and what I wanted to make. I also got to a point where I just stopped trying and let the music flow. That’s when I started to find my sound and my voice!
I’m inspired by hard work. I’m also inspired by success stories; stories of those that went through hell and never quit to come out on top. That’s the kinda stuff that gets me up early in the morning. Emotion and making an impact also inspire me. Music has helped me out of incredibly dark places and still does to this day. If I can make an impact on the way other artists have impacted me, then I’ve done my job.
4. What’s the vision for this project? What’s in store for the future of Mike’s Dead?
The vision is huge. I’m not the person who is ok with just living off of music or doing a tour here and there. I want to sell out Madison Square Garden. I want to tour the world. Moreover, I want to work with massive artists like Halsey, Blackbear, Brendon Urie, etc. I also want to move into modeling and potentially acting one day. I want to create a well-oiled machine that can’t be stopped. I’m coming up on one year since my project launched, and this whole next year is about taking what I have and tripling it.
The future looks bright for this project. This whole first year, I functioned without a manager or a label. I do everything myself, even down to the artwork and directing. This next year will be the time to meet with the right manager who can help grow the brand and network correctly. Beyond that, I’m sitting on close to 30 songs, shooting new music videos, and pushing the boundaries of what I want to do. I’m also playing some of my first out of state shows this summer. I’d love to get on my first national tour sometime in the fall!