Home Interviews Interview: Mike Rish

Interview: Mike Rish

28 min read

Australia's very own Mike Rish returns to Juicebox Music for his full feature with a multi-track EP titled "The Quest". With a handful of EPs and remixes in a short time span, along with the chart topping "Interlinked" LP on UGenius Music, Mike has firmly cemented his place as a high quality producer with a progressive vision. The Melbourne native made his first appearance on Juicebox Music with his deep, yet powerful remix of Simos Tagias' "Black Swan", which was widely lauded by fans and industry peers alike. Now as Mike returns to the label for his first original project, we catch up with him for an exclusive interview. Enjoy!

Hi Mike, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

My mood is pretty good today! I woke up to some news of Hernan featuring a song of mine in his latest resident podcast, so that was nice. The last piece of music I listened to was something Jamie Stevens sent to me. It’s out soon, but it has this chugging groove I absolutely love. Can’t wait for it to be released.

What are your plans for the coming week?

It’s been a little tricky to plan things, with the whole covid thing. So I don’t have a whole lot planned. I have some music to finish this week, so that is something I need to make sure I get done.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Maurizio – M4.5
Aril Brikha – Leaving Me
Pryda - Madderferrys
Pryda – Seadweller
Hardform – Dirty Souls
Peter Dildo – Take My Hand

There’s 6, but honestly I could write 10 pages of tracks that have been important to my musical development. It’s hard to explain why, but I think you realize certain things in particular tracks and they’re almost like light bulb moments and you try and implement those things into your own music.

Progressive music is well known for being hugely popular in Australia and it has been for over two decades. Who from your home country inspired you the most when you first discovered the music and how has the scene changed there over the years?

When I started listening to prog, it was roughly 2002 and predominantly all Australian artists. Luke Chable was writing bomb after bomb and I spent most of my early days just trying to copy whatever he was making haha. I specifically remember spending a stupid amount of time trying to copy the bassline on “Trafik – Your Light (Luke Chable's Return Of The 3AM Drop)”. But I looked up to so many Australian artists then.. Jamie Stevens, Danny Bonnici, Phil K, Anthony Pappa, the Zero Tolerance guys etc etc, and now I know a lot of these guys personally, and they are still really involved in the scene and really help nurture younger producers. Jamie has become a good friend of mine and we send stuff to each other most days, so it’s amazing that I have someone like him to nerd out over music with. I think the scene has remained with one foot in the past and one foot in the present, from a creative aspect, which is good. I think most Prog Producers and DJs in Melbourne leave their egos at the door, because, at the bigger Progressive House nights, Anthony Pappa and Jamie Stevens could just be there in the crowd as punters haha, so there is definitely a level of respect for the guys who started and helped grow Prog in Australia.

Who are some up and coming Australian artists to look out for?

This one is always so hard to answer because there are so many! I think the Australian labels are all doing a superb job at showcasing local talent and it’s worth checking them out because they host predominantly Australian artists.

What are your favourite venues to play in Australia and why?

Revolver, Killing Time & Brown Alley. Revolver because, well it’s revolver! One of the countries most revered clubs. Killing Time because it’s one of the most unique venues in Australia. It feels like you’re playing at a really well organised house party, and the vibe is always 10/10. Brown Alley because it’s where a lot of the heavyweights play when they come to Melbourne. Hernan has played there, so has Guy J, Eric Prydz, Samuel L Session etc etc

You have a new EP ‘The Quest’ out this week on Praveen Achary’s Juicebox Music imprint, tell us a bit about how these three tracks came together for the release.

The Quest is a 3 track EP. Two of the tracks were written in 2020, and the other one was started in 2018 and finished this year. I was actually talking to Kasper Koman, and he told me to send some stuff to Juicebox because he thought my sound might fit the label. I sent Praveen 6 or 7 tracks, and we decided on doing a 3 track EP.

Where does your inspiration come from and was there anything that inspired the three tracks which make up your ‘The Quest’ EP?

I don’t really have those moments where I hear a melody or an idea in my head and have to get to the studio ASAP to get it all down. I usually just sit in my studio and play around with stuff until I can feel some kind of groove taking shape. That’s how this EP was done… Although, I’d say the only thing I focus on is making something unique and original. If it sounds like everything else on the beatport top 100, it’s not inspiring for me.

The title track is one of your most distinctive tracks to date I would say, walk us through the production process on that one.

Even though this is a very melodic track, melody is usually not the first thing I think of when I start writing. I usually focus most of my time on the groove… The groove is the most important thing to me… That unexplainable part of the song that makes you bob your head. Once I get the groove to a place I like, I think to myself “what kind of mood to I want to set with this track?”… With “The Quest” I wanted to make something that sounded a little nostalgic and even a little melancholic, but with this underlying feeling of hope. I think the melody in the breakdowns and sustained bass notes give that feeling.

What does your set-up look like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of these tracks?

I have a super functional studio setup. Everything has a purpose. I have two sets of monitors, (Genelec and IKmultimedia) some studio headphones (Sennheiser HD650) and Apogee Quartet audio interface, a Virus TI2 Polar, a Prophet Rev2 (8 Voice), and a couple of Allen And Heath K2 controllers. And, a bunch of software. I use Omnisphere a lot, but I also use the MiniMoog plugin from Arturia, as well as the U-He stuff and some older ones like Rob Papen Predator. But I also use a lot of the stock plugins from Ableton. I have a lot of the Waves stuff for processing and use the Brainworx stuff a lot too… In saying that, I’m not that precious about things… If I haven’t used it in the last 6 months I will usually sell it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my synths, but I see myself as a music maker rather than a synth or gear collector. I could get 99.99% of my work done while sitting on the couch with a laptop and a pair of headphones.

You had a remix on Juicebox prior to the release of this EP, what made the label a good home for your original material?

I like a lot of what the label has put out musically. There’s definitely an element of wanting to align with people and labels that share the same aesthetic you do when it comes to the music. I try and think about where I want my music to be, and I think it’s in great hands with Praveen and Greg at the wheel at Juicebox

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

It’s been pretty hard to road test music in the last year and a half, given the whole covid thing. I used to show my stuff to people all the time, but I’m a lot more selective these days because I know exactly how I want it to sound. Not everyone is going to like your music, and that’s ok. But, that doesn’t mean what you’ve made isn’t good just because one of your mates doesn’t like it. I share new music with probably 4 or 5 people, Jamie Stevens probably gets most of my music before anyone else because I know that he can listen to it objectively and give feedback / opinion even if it’s not something he would play in his own DJ sets.

What has the last year and a half been like for you? Have you focused more time on making music? And has the pandemic affected your creative spirit in any way?

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. The lockdowns and uncertainty has been a bit of a tricky one to manage. But, the lockdowns last year definitely gave me more time to work on music, which is positive. I also enjoyed spending more time with my girlfriend and our dog.

How do you see your sound evolving in the coming years?

That’s a hard one to speculate on… I don’t really aim for any sound in particular or have goals about how I want things to sound; I just want my music to sound unique. I’ve been super focused on my own kind of “mike rish sound”… I don’t want to sound like Guy J or Nick Warren, I want to sound like me.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

The original Blade Runner did a lot for me. That futuristic yet dystopian world is something that has stuck with me for years. The story is brilliant, but for me it’s about the aesthetic. The super advanced technology of the day, yet the massive disparity between the wealthy and the poor is not an uncommon story… but the way the movie shows Tyrell Corp as almost being in the heavens with rays of sunshine beaming in when Deckard meets Tyrell and Rachel the first time; Versus the opening sequence where Deckard is sitting at a noodle stand in a rainy and pretty miserable looking world with a big floating blimp advertising ways to literally get off the planet… it’s amazing. I write music because it’s fun but I also use it almost like therapy… It can be an escape from your world, where you can go and create your own world inside your head.

What is your favourite food?

Mum’s cheesecake. It’s so good!

Iphone or Android?


Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Going for walks with my girlfriend and our dog, calling my Mum and Dad and asking them how they are, getting a call from one of my friends. Family.

What does the remainder of 2021 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I have some remixes and two additional EP’s in the pipeline at the moment. It’s been an extremely productive year for me music wise.

'The Quest' is available now via Juicebox Music: https://bit.ly/2Wcx2Us

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