Q&A with Michna, Playing Ghostly International 10th Anniversary Party at White Room on Saturday
Using multi-instrumentalist mad science to conjure his dubby tripped-out instrumental hip hop and electro beats, Michna's sound encompasses a world of its own and makes for decidedly original dancefloor fare. Crossfade caught up with Mr. Michna on the cusp of his Saturday night performance to chat about mail order scams, the Brooklyn brass scene (or lack thereof) and RC car racing. Read the full Q&A after the jump.
New Times: You spent some time in Miami back in the '90s working with the Secret Frequency Crew. What can you tell us about that project and what came after?
Michna: Secret Frequency Crew was originally a project name for the mail order business we ran. As you might remember, before the internet and before e-mail there used to be these ads in the paper that said "Put $1 in an envelope and receive $6 back." Well, it worked. The trick was that you had to mail out 200 envelopes each with $1 inside to start the chain. So this is what ended up happening: we mailed out 200 letters and 9 people sent us $1. Those 9 people mailed out 200 letters (18,00 letters) and 256 people sent us $1. Those 256 people mailed out 200 letters, (51,200 letters) and 3,090 people sent us $1.
Then the big one came. We think about 70% of those people continued on and roughly 2000 people mailed out 200 letters (400,000 letters). Over the next 7-9 months we received about 12,000 letters, each with $1 dollar in them. The mailman was totally blown away cause he was initially a non-believer. He always said "I'm gonna quit my job and do what you guys do!" He never did. So with all that money we built a studio and started collecting a lot of analog gear. We did try mailing out more letters but they were never as successful as the first chain we had going. Today this would never work for obvious reasons, the internet has made it an impossibility.
What inspires your music? How do you approach your own work as a producer?
Every time I hear new tunes that are good I get inspired. Currently one method I am employing is to be consistent with the instruments and effects processing I use. That way no matter what tempo song I produce, it features that grit and girth I take so long to achieve.
Who is Egg Foo Young (as opposed to Michna)?
They are the same. If you knew me from back in the day you probably know me as Egg Foo. But since I am now doing 7 albums and then retiring, I chose to go with my real name for that concept.
You worked on Bonde Do Role's debut LP for Domino/Mad Decent. How did that collaboration come about?
I had worked with Wes [Diplo] on a track for his Florida album, then later he asked me to contribute some beats for the Bonde album. The funny thing is I remember him saying "This is good, but can you sloppy it up a little?" So I shifted the kicks around (on the song "Quero Te Amar") and now it will probably sound off if you try to mix it with newish electro.
How did you first hook up with Ghostly and what has the ride been like so far?
Back in 2004, Secret Frequency Crew released "Forest of the Echo Downs," and it got some heavy play in the Ghostly offices. An A&R contacted me and I started mailing them cassette demos. Then I disappeared for a while to produce what would become Magic Monday. Then I mailed out more tapes. Finally a record deal was made! The ride has been great so far, traveling the world I get to really see how lucky I am to be working with a first-class record label.
You're currently based out of Brooklyn, which I guess most of us see as this sort of hipster indie renaissance with so many new artists coming out of there. What is the scene there like and how does it shape what you do as an artist?
Sounds like you've been reading too many blogs. Ha! Um, but yeah, there are a lot of new jacks out here. Straight from Kansas. Everyone's got a band. Not enough brass players.
What's your live M.O.? What can Miami expect during Saturday night's performance at White Room?
This Saturday I will be DJing a special electro set of modern and turn-of-the-century classics. Joints from Florida, Detroit, Berlin, UK, and the Netherlands. My M.O. has always been if people are going to spend their hard earned money to see you, then you give them a show. Whether it's live or DJing, you need to take some time and rehearse your shit, and make it pop off.
What does the future have in store for Adrian Michna?
Getting my line of furniture popping; tweeter/woofer art gallery installations; repaint the bathroom; start racing RC cars, for real this time; catalog my photos and make new scissor and glue collages; digitally archive all my VHS and Mini DV tapes; and finally get some content popping for my TV Show, EggTV. I'm also looking to get into the music industry, so I recently had some business cards made for that.