HMWL introduces DJ and production wizard Mike Frade from New York City. Along with megastar partner Victor Calderone they form Brooklyn-based Waveform Recordings, one of the hottest independent recording labels impacting the underground scene worldwide. Mike is also the mastermind behind the immensely popular Waveform Recordings sample pack series dominating Beatport’s ‘Sounds to Sample’ charts. Mike takes some time out of his busy schedule to talk to HMWL about his take on all things electronica, his DJ career and, drops some exciting news. He also shares TWO exclusive unreleased promos with the HMWL readers.
Nicole Moudaber- Break It (Victor Calderone & Mike Frade Remix)
[audio:http://www.hmwl.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Break-It.mp3|titles=Nicole Moudaber- Break It (Victor Calderone & Mike Frade Remix)]
HMWL: What first drew you into the DJ scene?
Mike Frade: The answer to that is…. just the music. I fell in love with the music very early on. I spent my summers in Portugal (every summer) for about 17 years in a row, so that’s basically how I fell in love with the music. My sister took me to a club at a very young age (at around 11) and this record “Follow Me” came on and I just fell in love with the music from then on. It was strictly the music. I wasn’t someone who totally fell in love with the art of blend mixing and I definitely think that the digital age kind of killed that art a little bit and its really more and more about the music which is actually a good thing to me because its always been about the music.
HMWL: How did you get started in music production?
Mike Frade: When I was young (around 5 years old) I got a piano from my parents. Literally the next day I was playing every song on the radio. All the Michael Jackson records. Within a couple of years I wanted to write my own music. I got tired of playing other people’s music and I wanted to write my own music. I started in Hip hop like a lot of guys my age. Once I hit the clubs in Portugal, it turned from making Hip hop beats to house music. I was doing it with a Korg Triton and an NPC and writing some beats at a really young age.
HMWL: Who would you credit as your biggest musical influence?
Mike Frade: There are two answers to that. I guess current artists guys like Martin Buttrich, Tiefschwartz and, Trentemøller. Those are definitely guys (at the moment) that I find extremely inspiring. When it comes to the older guys definitely DJ Muggs, who was a producer for Cypress Hills. You know Soul Assasins… I love that kind of obscure kind of artsy Hip-hop. Also, I am a Wu-Tang child like everybody else of my generation… guys like RZA. I was definitely always one of those guys who was more into the beats than the vocals. It always was about the beats.
HMWL: Which DAW and software do you use to make tracks?
Mike Frade: I use both Logic and Ableton. I used to be more of a Logic guy but, now I am swinging towards Ableton. Ableton is becoming more of a centerpiece. It’s inspiring software to use. It’s very inviting to create and for manipulating sounds. When it comes to MIDI Logic is excellent. It’s definitely the stronger tool. There’s something about Ableton that is drawing me to it more and more.
HMWL: What are the most important elements (for you) when making a track?
Mike Frade: Definitely the bass line and the hook, something to really catch the ear. I have always found that to be important in music. I feel like that is what a record needs.
HMWL: Which piece of equipment is at the core of your music studio?
Mike Frade: I would definitely say the DAWs are obviously very important. There are a lot of plug-ins that are also very important. FXpansion DCAM:Synthsquad is one. I love the sound of it. XILS-labs 3 is really good. They have a synth called PolyKB which I seriously love. UAD and Vengeance plug-ins are good. It’s all about in the box for me. I am not an analog guy. I am 100% in the box.
HMWL: Which one of your tracks do you feel put you “on the map” and why?
Mike Frade: The Homegrown EP I did with Victor is definitely something that got a lot of support. A lot of guys such as Loco Dice, Marco Carola, Santos and Carlo Lio gave us big support. It was definitely an important EP. In all honesty I would say the sample packs have really given me more of an industry buzz than any of my tracks up until this point. A lot of guys have been using them although, I don’t want to out anybody or give any names. I don’t want to tell anybody’s secret but, I think some respect has been earned on my part.
HMWL: How did your partnership with Victor Calderone come about?
Mike Frade: Basically it was New Years 2008 at Pacha and I heard a record that I recognized and quickly realized it was my own record. I made my way to the booth to introduce myself to Victor and from then on we hit it off. I asked for his name on AIM chat and he was very open and gave me his screen name and we started talking and then he invited me out to Brooklyn and that was it. We just connected. I think he and I connect musically and non-musically. It ended up being a really great relationship.
HMWL: How did you get started with Waveform Recordings?
Mike Frade: We were in the studio having a late night session and we just decided to do the label and have our own outlet. It’s a better way to release music. More and more guys are coming up with their own labels, the world of the independent label is really what’s booming. Using the label as a marketing tool and promoting your own music are just a few of many factors involved on why it was a good idea.
Victor and I had been working together for about a year or two already. We were getting some ideas and our own rhythm going. We just came up with the idea to start a music production company together. We all know the world of the record label today is pretty strange and unique. It’s almost an impossible moneymaker. Some of the biggest labels in the world are losing money. We just kind of said lets try to have a business plan and see if we can really make this an industry where business can still be done. Basically that was the idea. We noticed more and more that fans and artists are becoming one and the same. We just thought we should deliver a product to both of them. The Internet has put the music industry in an awkward place. I think all innovation comes from necessity.
HMWL: What are some of your biggest challenges as a label owner?
Mike Frade: Finding good music from unknown artists. I am on the hunt for finding people who aren’t known at all. It has been a bit of a hurdle. There’s so much music. It’s incredible. Going through it all takes so much time. Finding really good music from unknown guys can be tough.
HMWL: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest downsides of the digital age in music production and DJing?
Mike Frade: My answer is common amongst a lot of guys in the music industry because making music is so easy and so accessible that the quality has been downgraded and devalued. It’s all about quantity, quantity, quantity and having a 1000 tracks out there as opposed to just a couple of good ones. That can also be a double edge sword because you also get a lot of great talent out of that. There are pros and cons. The most negative thing is that it makes it so easy to make music that you get a lot of bad music out there.
HMWL: What does the future hold for Waveform Recordings?
Mike Frade: More music, a lot more focus on the label side. More sample packs. My solo EP is coming and also a lot more EPs . In 2012 we are going to start having Waveform parties. Our first official party is actually this October 22, 2011 at Pacha. I will be playing along with Nicole Moudaber and of course Victor is our headliner. Another big surprise in store is that we will be having the Victor Calderone artist album, coming soon! It’s a project that he is working on heavily. It should be coming hopefully within the next 3 to 4 months…. a Victor Calderone artist album on Waveform. Hopefully, it will be very big. Its going to be a very different side of Victor that people have not seen before.
HMWL: As an artist, where do you see yourself next year?
Mike Frade: I will be DJing a whole lot more; definitely without a doubt. Releasing a lot of my solo productions on EP. I have a solo EP coming out on Waveform soon. Its going to be all about Djing and making my own productions. The sample packs… I love making them and I am still going to make them here and there but, now I am starting to outsource them a little bit so I can have more time to make my own tracks and make tracks with Victor more and free up my schedule.
Mike Frade- Cooper (89th Street Pimp Remix)
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HMWL: Any event, place or city you haven’t DJ’d that you want to play at (and why)?
Mike Frade: I have only played in New York so the truth is the world is the real answer. To be more specific, the entire continent of Europe is to me the driving force and always been the driving force of house music. I’d really love to get to play there and all over Europe. I have been there plenty of times and I love it. Countries like Germany, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France… everywhere!
As for festivals, Time Warp is a big one. As a spectator looking in from another continent, Time Warp seems to be the place to be.
(Special thanks to Waveform Recordings for the interview and promo tracks. Additional thanks to Kling Klong Records and Local Music)