Interview: M.I.K.E. Push

The legendary M.I.K.E. Push is an artist who has been responsible for some of the most memorable tracks of all time such as "Universal Nation" and "Sunrise at Palamos", and has an impressive discography which speaks for itself. Lately he's been on fire in the studio by creating amazing underground tracks such as the recently released Motive EP, and his upcoming tech-trance crusher "Astrolab", all under his new association with Markus Schulz' Coldharbour Recordings and the SMG Group. EDM Canada managed to engage in a conversation with M.I.K.E. Push that delved into his rich history with the trance genre, his rumoured EP collaboration with Tiesto, M.I.K.E.'s views on the current state of trance music, and much more. This is a must-read for every trance fan out there so I hope you enjoy it: 


Who is M.I.K.E. Push?

M.I.K.E. Push: I'm a Belgium producer recently residing in New York City. I've been around the trance scene for around 18 years, and I can almost easily say that I kinda invented it. A fan asked Marco V a couple of weeks ago of why he left trance and that Holland was the mother of trance music – Marco V responded that we kinda stole it from the Belgians. The Dutch made it big, but trance really did start in Belgium. It sounds maybe weird but it is true. There's not much standing over there anymore, there's me, Airwave, Fred Baker, and there's the cross over guys like Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike, Marco Bailey – but in terms of trance there isn't much standing over there anymore. Someone kinda took it from us and we're just a small group of producers still hanging out and saying that we're all about trance. But the Dutch marketed it better and grew it to another level I guess. If you listen to old interviews from 1994 with 808 State where they said that they were waiting for trance record imports from Belgium so we can steal their ideas and sample their sound. 808 State were like Underworld in the 1990s. The problem with Belgium is that we're not chauvinistic enough whereas the Dutch would support their heroes like Tiesto and make statues for Armin but in Belgium they don't really care. They are fine having a Tomorrowland but if they have something really great in their hands they don't know how to really value it. When I was 14 I went to the record stores buying Chicago house records but us Belgians started to infuse it with acid. People say acid house is from Chicago, bullshit, it started in Europe.


You said earlier that you “kinda invented trance music” – can you elaborate on that?

M.I.K.E. Push: I grew up with records like from the Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys - I was an 80s kid and grew up with all of these synth pop sounds that we had in Europe. I started to infuse it with the more underground kind of sounds from my TR-909, I started doing very melodic stuff, I lowered the BPM a little bit.... When I started releasing that music I was 17-18 and I gave it to a record company in Antwerp in Belgium – that sound didn't really exist elsewhere at that time. “Universal Nation” only became big 2 years after its release. All it took was a little “Push” to get it going. Tiesto then picked up that melodic stuff that I was producing back in the day and took it to another level – he was the biggest supporter of my early music.  I did not invent the word “trance” but I was right at the spot where I was giving it the sound. Maybe someone shouted “trance!”, and someone else said “what is it?”, and maybe I said it sounds like the music that I was creating.


Describe your style.

M.I.K.E. Push: Right now the names are together, we used to have separate M.I.K.E. releases which I had as recently as a few months ago on Coldharbour Recordings called the “Motive” EP. Push releases used to be more of my euphoric sound, which was a bit faster, a more crossover. The M.I.K.E Push sound is everything I did in the past combined together which includes the darker side of trance.


Are you still using other aliases, or are you just using one moving forward?

M.I.K.E. Push: As of January 1st, 2014, it's M.I.K.E Push which is all my music bundled together. One release can be more euphoric than the other.  I have a release coming up soon which is very techno-ish. I create what I feel like I want to bring to the masses. I don't want to bring what they want or what the market demands, I want to give them music that I feel at the time. By combining everything under one name and alias, I won’t be limiting myself to certain sounds or styles.


You were recently in Toronto for New Year's Eve? How was that experience?

M.I.K.E. Push: NYE was amazing with Ozmozis. I see that they're bringing back the more underground kind of feel in trance. You can tell they're bringing out the fans for the love of music instead of going there to see and be seen. They're bringing people together through music and I want to be a part of that.


You have just been signed to Markus Schulz' Coldharbour Recordings – how did that come about and how are you enjoying your new label home?

M.I.K.E. Push: I've known Markus for over 10 years since the days when Armin, Markus, and David Lewis started Armada Music. I was the first artist signed to Armada and David Lewis Productions and got to know him over the years. After some time, I went to another agency, floated around and worked with different people. I did my last album “World Citizen” in 2013 and I saw how much support Markus had been giving me.  A few months ago he heard a track in progress that I was working on, called me up and it took off from there. He said that he knew that I was established in New York, that SMG was expanding and that my music would fit perfectly to what my ideas about the music are. He then said that he would be happy if you would join us. I didn't hesitate and the following night I told him that I was in because I know they're about music and they want to do something different. That was a really easy move.


Tell me a bit about your first Coldharbour release, the Motive EP?

M.I.K.E. Push: I've already produced for Coldharbour 6 years ago. I used a different alias called “Deep Flexion” and did a few other releases with them in the past few years. Tim Grube, who works for Coldharbour, told me that Markus was working on the Buenos Aires compilation and asked me if I had any exclusive content that I could put on the CD. So I made “Before Dawn” which appeared on Buenos Aires '13. This was close to the time when Markus asked me to join SMG, and that's when I showed him some underground music that I was creating which became the Motive EP. It was a little slower and had some acid basslines with some melodies in the break. The next day he emailed me saying “signed” and said to bundle it all together as an exclusive release. I said fine because I'm an easy going person and felt comfortable working with them. Done deal. I will still do things for other labels in the future but not for Armada, I'm done with that.

Is the Motive EP indicative of the sound that you want to create in the future?

M.I.K.E. Push: Definitely. The Motive EP stayed in the Beatport top 20 for over 2 weeks which took us all by surprise because it has a very underground trance feel. The chart success showed that fans got the crossover appeal of the release which is something that I'm always trying to do. I want to give something because I want to, not something that is demanded at the time. It's great to see a track doing really well if its my perspective, and not because the market asks for it.


Trance in 2014 – got any early predictions on where the sound is progressing?

M.I.K.E. Push: From a perspective point of view, trance is slightly taking over again from what we call progressive house, which should be called pop house in my opinion. (laughs) I do play progressive house, but the real progressive house. Trance in North America is definitely on the rise but I don't think it's comparable to what A State of Trance is. The trance that is taking over has deeper roots in my opinion. Of course you need people like Armin Van Buuren and others bringing the faster sound like Aly & Fila and John O'Callaghan as they draw their own crowd. The trance that we stand for at SMG and other great talents throughout North America are bringing the slower side of trance where it kind of all started back in the day. I think that style is going to take over.


Back in the fall you and Tiesto were contemplating a full trance EP over Twitter, was that legit or were you just pulling a joke on everyone?

M.I.K.E. Push: It's genuine and we're working on it. That's all I can say. My management and Tiesto's management kind of agreed to not talk about it as I get over 10 questions a day over Twitter on it. So just know it's not a hoax.


What's in store for M.I.K.E Push for 2014? Got any new releases coming out?

M.I.K.E. Push: I got a new techno-ish track coming out soon. It's still melodic but it's darker but it works oh so well on the dance floor. Markus has been playing it in his sets and people have been going nuts over it. It's not going to be number 1 on Beatport but it's a long lasting track but it's a pure club track. I think it's a track that will have a lot of lasting value. The track is going to be tech-trance, but the real deal tech-trance as it has a real techno feeling like with Marco Bailey and Richie Hawtin type of stuff. It has a very underground feel and sometimes those underground tracks can last very long. I have a more commercial EP coming out, but that's more towards the summer. I’ll be working with Betsie Larkin because I'm an amazing fan of her voice. I'm starting something with Vice, who worked with Grube & Hovsepian. I’ll also have an on going collab with Aerofoil which I did a project with on my album. Then I’m really looking forward to a collab with Grube & Hovsepian, who are such great talents.

Special thanks to M.I.K.E. Push for this excellent interview. 

The 350th episode of Club Elite Sessions will be airing next Thursday on March 27th on Digitially Imported Radio. It will be a special 4 hour radio broadcast that will feature massive trance guest mixes from the likes of Myon & Shane 54, Simon Patterson, KhoMha, and Canada's own Arnej. It will be hosted by M.I.K.E. Push himself so it will no doubt be a show that you can't miss. When Thursday comes, click on DI.FM to tune in.