We catch up with the Swedish-born Bristol D&B head as he prepares to finally release his long-awaited debut album
London-bred, Bristol-based Mikal has been peppering us with his
crisp, rolling bass since emerging on Nu Urban in 2007
his slick skills on the likes of Shogun, Disfigured Dubz, Warm
Communications and Utopia along the way, it was Goldie's hugely
influential Metalheadz camp that really took him in and made him
their own. The recently MBE-knighted bossman himself heralded Mikal
as his "silent assassin" and teased us with the prospect of a Mikal
artist album as long ago as 2010.
album took a little (read: a lot) longer than anyone expected, but on
5 February the prospect finally becomes a reality with Wilderness.
And it's a decidedly dark reality, littered with molten lava drum
arrangements, sheet-metal bass and stark sound designs that, rather
than suggesting you get off your arse and shake it all about,
physically pick you up and hurl you into the heart of the dance.
While Wilderness takes time to explore more styles than Mikal is usually
known for - see for instance Segunda, his zouk bass collaboration with Buraka Som Sistema's
RIOT, his James Brown homage JB's Groove or the grumpy, distorted halftime grizzles of Fear The Unknown -
the full set is weaved in such a way there's a natural flow and
connection between each cut.
the statement of intent we knew Mikal would eventually deliver.
Here's how it all came together...
words: long time coming!
has been! This has been the plan right from the moment I signed with
Metalheadz. I think it's what Goldie wants for all artists who sign
with the label. It's what I love about being on Metalheadz: the lack
of pressure. I've been able to spend years doing this.
I send things over, if Goldie feels something he won't hold back.
I've had calls from him at crazy times like 3am or 7am! He's always
got great feedback: if it's lacking or has too much of something then
he'll say so, and he's steered me towards a lot of music I've never
heard before to get ideas about melodies or parts or arrangements to
develop particular parts on a track."
hear you develop your tracks in a unique way: the drums and bass are
often the final elements of the writing process, right?
"Yeah, that's right. I'm a lot more inspired by the atmospheres and moods of
the track than the beats and bass. Not all of the time, but I often
start with a pad or a melodic sample or synth line. It's focused
around the melody - that sets the whole tone for everything that
follows. I have been told I reverse-build by people before but it all
depends on the track."
guessing this wasn't the case with JB's Groove...
about Segunda with RIOT... we're guessing that wasn't written with
the atmosphere first, either!
"No, it wasn't. I love his zouk bass style. Did you know he produced
drum & bass long before he started Buraka Som Sistema? It's
really interesting working with him: our beats are a bit faster than
usual drum & bass at 180. Madly, we've never actually met, even
though we've done two tracks together now. But he's actually coming
over to the UK soon so we'll be working on a full EP eventually."
We'll definitely look
forward to hearing that!
not get ahead of ourselves, though... right now, the full focus is on
Wilderness. It's a pleasure to finally release it, I hope you enjoy