mike-hawkins

Interview: Hot Steppa Mike Hawkins Talks His Own Imprint, DJ Mag's Top 100

Mike Hawkins leads an ablazen trail through the increasingly populated electronic forest. Releases such as “Jump!,” “SRSLY Cool,” and “This Is How We Roll” light the path to success for the DJ/producer/label-head from Denmark. His latest single, “Hot Steppa,” is a massive collaboration with Henry Fong and Toby Green that blends ska style, brass sections, and dancehall hues with a raging electro beat, and is sure to set dance floors aflame.

Find out what sparks Mike Hawkins’ musical creativity and the next step for Mike in our exclusive interview:

VIBE: We're loving the new track "Hot Steppa." How'd you link up with Henry and Toby, and who contributed what to the track?
Mike Hawkins: Thanks! It's a really special track for us that came about spontaneously and it's been amazing to see the support from all the top artists like Hardwell, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Nicky Romero, W&W, Knife Party and so on before the track [had] even been released! I've been working a lot with both Henry and Toby individually, but never all three of us together so it felt natural to combine forces.

With Henry being from the States, and Toby and I from different cities in Denmark, “Hot Steppa” would have never happened if it wasn't for the internet - Henry, Toby and I [via Skype convo] were messing around playing ideas for each other and it just clicked. Henry sent over this dope reggae chord idea he had, which instantly had me humming away. That humming ended up being the top-line and trumpet parts and while I was working on the break and incorporating the rock influences. It inspired Henry & Toby to come back with some sick ideas and amazing work on the drop. It's one of those productions that just kind of happened, it wasn't forced in any way.

Who are your biggest musical influences and how have they shaped your sound today?
It's really hard to say because I am so passionate about all types of music, music is my life. In the early days I was really into rock; I listened to everything from SOAD, Linkin Park and Rammstein to the really grungy and punky stuff. I was also into the emo scene growing up which has had a profound influence on the direction of my sound and music productions. I didn't get into electronic music at first, until I found acts kind of bridging the gap for me a bit - it started with Infected Mushroom and The Prodigy, then Chemical Brothers and Moby.

I then got into trance because of the chords and the vibe, but quickly took those influences and started putting my own take on all of it. I think my biggest struggle as a musician at times is that I sometimes feel I'm coming up with some pretty amazing chord progressions and cinematic pieces that span a million chord changes and thinking to myself, these chords, this vibe is way to dark, outside the traditional boundaries of dance music, how the hell am I gonna cook this down to a track that will work in the club. But in the end I've found that some of my biggest tracks are exactly those, something different, outside the box, not being confined to the traditional "EDM" sounds if you will.

How did you get involved in dance music?
I always wanted to make music. I was certain I was gonna be in a rock band when I was younger, but I could never see myself playing only one instrument. I was all over the place. I wanted to play drums, I wanted to play guitar, piano, I even picked up singing at one point - I got myself a copy of ACID sound forge one day when I was 13 and started doing mashups of Eminem and System of a Down and thought it sounded pretty cool. A friend then gave me a copy of Fruity Loops one day and I was instantly hooked. I love the creative freedom of being able to use all different kinds of instruments to create a composition exactly as it's laid out in my head.

Most memorable moment(s) in your DJ career thus far?
First meeting the Bingo Players back in 2009 was definitely something I will never forget. Fellow producer and friend, Pablo Oliveros, and I [snuck backstage] at their gig. I think Maarten and Paul were kind of annoyed with us at first, and for good reason - we were essentially just two kids bursting into their van trying to seem interesting. The thing was though, after a few minutes of talking we just clicked and it ended up being a very long, fun and memorable night. Fast forward a couple years Pablo, Henry and I released our biggest track to date, "Jump!," on their Hysteria label and it went on to hit the #5 spot on the Beatport top 100 chart! The Bingo Players have been great friends and mentors in many ways. You don't often come across such wonderful, warm hearted people in this industry. Other than that, being at ADE every year is something that is really special for me. But I have to say the memories I remember best are always those unexpected moments like the first time I got an e-mail from Tiësto letting me know he was supporting my work and loved what I was putting out.

Tell us more about your Megaton Records imprint.
I've really been dedicating a lot of time to growing my label, Megaton Records. [Originally, it] just served as a place to put out my music. I also wanted to give [lesser known and] talented artists an opportunity to spread their music. It's been a long, tough road and a lot of hard work but it's so gratifying to see the label grow as fast as it has with all the tracks consistently charting in the top 100 and the huge support across the scene. We just released a remix from one of the biggest names in electronic music, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. To celebrate the amazing success we've had during our first year, we threw our first label showcase during Amsterdam Dance Event with Blasterjaxx, Mightyfools, myself, the rest of the Megaton crew on the bill. We have a busy release schedule coming up with tracks from myself, Tony Romera, and some other really big names that I can't announce just yet! I am really excited about the direction in which the label is going and very optimistic right now as I'm beginning to have a very talented team of respected A&R, managers, publicists and publishers around me, and it means I have more time to focus on music.

What can we expect from you in the next six months?
After “Hot Steppa,” I have a track coming out on Size - another big moment in my career as I really look up to the the Size Records crew. I also have two vocal tracks I'm working on that will be released on Warner Music, in addition to more tracks on Megaton. I am going to be part of the bill for a big tour in Europe that hasn't been announced yet to commence next year, and I recently signed with Circle Talent Agency for my North American bookings. At the moment I am finalizing my visa and will definitely being touring the U.S. in 2014!

Thoughts on the DJ Mag Top 100 Contest?
Everyone seems to have an opinion… it's hard to say though. I guess the best way I can sum it up would be this: I think the [contest] is largely misleading in many ways, but it does give a realistic pointer of who is doing well and who are the most popular acts at the moment. I honestly don't really care about the DJ Mag Top 100 Contest, but at the same time, I'd obviously love to be in the top 10 as I'm sure many others would. I don't think the whole idea of a "list" makes any sense though, it's about music in the end.

[DJ Mag’s idea of the “best” in the world, doesn’t necessarily reflect my own opinion]. You can't compare apples and oranges; [Armin, Tiesto, Skrillex, and Avicii] are largely different and they are all #1's in their own rights.

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Madame Tussauds for VIBE

Exclusive: Aaliyah's Madame Tussauds Wax Figure Channels "Try Again" Era

Today (Aug. 21), the newest addition to Madame Tussauds family of icons makes its big debut. After much demand, a wax figure of Aaliyah, or “Babygirl” to long standing fans and music industry peers is now open to the public at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas. The figure, which many fans will agree is long overdue, comes nearly 18 years after her tragic passing.

According to Adam Morey, Studios Manager at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, discussions around the making of an Aaliyah figure began over a year and a half ago. Morey has played a role in establishing the set designs to accompany several of the other celebrity figures at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, but wanted to make sure this one was more about inspiration than flair. “This set, rather than being a recreation of any one particular Aaliyah moment, was instead designed with a message to her fans in mind,” he says. “It’s a message that hopefully reflects her everlasting legacy.”

The new statue plucks Aaliyah straight from a frame in her 2000 “Try Again” music video, where she dons her signature leather pants and metallic bra, belt and choker set (which is still a Halloween costume staple to this day).

“It was clear right away it would be the ‘Try Again’ look for our Aaliyah figure,” he says via email statement. “The look has the sexy, edgy, timeless vibe we try to imbue in the Las Vegas attraction within all our creative choices. Mining popular culture as only Madame Tussauds can, our desire to honor Aaliyah and the look in this way was only confirmed as we see today’s Hollywood stars like KeKe Palmer, Kim Kardashian, Zendaya, also paying homage by recreating their own favorite moments of the Princess of R&B.”

Aside from Morey, one of the critical voices in ensuring the accuracy of this endeavor was that of Aaliyah’s brother, Rashad Haughton, who Morey says granted “unprecedented access” and helped guide the creative decisions for the figure.

“I was involved in the process from the inception of the project,” Haughton says via email statement. “The team at Madame Tussauds welcomed a collaborative effort in choosing the pose and look of my sister's figure. They made sure my mother and I were comfortable and supported through an amazing but understandably emotional process.”

Morey and the sculptors, painters and stylists in the museum’s Acton Studios in London, worked to make sure that all of the Haughton family’s requests for Aaliyah’s likeness were honored, right on down to her tattoos. “One thing we made sure to include was all of my sister's tattoos,” Haughton says. “They are all quite hidden because my sister chose strategic places for them due to her on-camera film work. We know how devout and knowledgeable her fans are and the great artists at Madame Tussauds have no limitations to their abilities when it comes to detail.”

Now, whenever guests make their way to the museum to see the statue, they’ll know it was crafted in love and in reverence of her legacy.

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One Killed In Shooting Involving Rapper Tee Grizzley

Tee Grizzley was involved in a shooting in Detroit that left one dead.

According to reports, his aunt/manager Jobina Brown was killed when the rapper's SUV was shot at. While it's currently unclear if the Scriptures MC was the target, he and the driver of the vehicle were unharmed.

Per TMZ, "The SUV had stopped and Tee Grizzley was getting out of the front passenger seat as the shooter approached on foot and pulled the trigger ... hitting Jobina in her left side. The driver of the SUV told cops he heard Jobina scream right before 3 to 4 shots were fired." The rapper reportedly stayed at the scene while the driver called police.

Ms. Brown was rushed to the hospital, however, could not be saved. She was 41 years old.

This is a developing story.

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Funk Flex Opens Up About JAY-Z, Jermaine Dupri And The NFL

Funk Flex is breaking his silence on the recent controversy involving JAY-Z and his recent involvement with the NFL.

Last week, it was announced that the Jigga Man would be partnering with the league to consult for halftime performance as its Live Music Entertainment Strategist. He also plans on helping them with social initiatives, and he recently became a part-owner of a team. This partnership raised eyebrows, as Jay was a vocal supporter of Colin Kaepernick, who has been allegedly blackballed for standing up (or kneeling) for social justice.

Even more surprising, reports swirled that Jermaine Dupri was offered the deal, but was told by Jay not to accept it. In an Instagram post, Funk Flex wrote that the Atlanta producer was certainly offered the deal.

"I just got off the phone with Jermaine Dupri!" the photo read. "He confirmed that when he was working with the NFL last year, he did get a call from JAY-Z asking him 'How deep are you in with the NFL?' expressing 'That might not be a good idea.'"

"My opinion is probably not what the people I have relationships want to hear but it’s bothering me so I need to discuss," he wrote in the caption. He started off by discussing his issues with Kaepernick accepting a settlement deal, because he hasn't been as "aggressive" on a social justice front (this point, however, could certainly be debunked, as Kaepernick recently announced a new social justice initiative in a new interview).

Later, Flex addresses Jay.

"We are never past kneeling," he continues, referencing Jay's comments about moving past the action towards a solution. "...Jayz In our world is our “Michael Jordan” decided by the people who respect/cherish his accomplishments. Watching that Commissioner’s body language and feeling his desperation to open the Season with the 'STRONGEST AFRICAN AMERICAN POSSIBLE WITH CREDIBILITY' was obvious!"

"If Jayz saw what we all saw in the press conference and feels working from the inside while being paid and receiving a 'stake' in a team is the answer and can spearhead social justice from the inside he is our HERO for life!!!!" he wrote. "BUT if he and the air personalities/social media influencers that Rocknation manages or wants to be managed by them have spun the 'believe in Jayz... give him a chance' campaign to line pockets... this will be remembered and NOT swept under the rug in a few months!"

Let us know your thoughts.

 

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This subject matter has been weighing on me for a sec... I’ve spoken to Jermaine, Fat Joe, Nessa, Pio and TT.... My opinion is probably not what the people I have relationships want to hear but it’s bothering me so I need to discuss... Colin has taken an incredible unselfish stand for bringing light to social injustice that will never be duplicated... and even though his settlement was under 10million for him and Eric (Which covered mostly lawyer fees) I’m not 1,000 percently ok that Colin excepted the deal because it feels that since the deal Colin hasn’t been as aggressive as he once was... I know I’ve been 1,000 percent better with Rocnation as of late so I hope I can be honest and continue our positive relationship... We are never past kneeling... the “fear of the Kneeling” is what pushed the NFL to get more aggressive with unlawful tactics (hence is why they settled with Colin) To dismiss his efforts in front of the NFL Commissioner (the one who spearheaded the Colin corruption was an extreme slap in the face!) Jayz In our world is our “Michael Jordan” decided by the people who respect/cherish his accomplishments. Watching that Commissioner’s body language and feeling his desperation to open the Season with the “STRONGEST AFRICAN AMERICAN POSSIBLE WITH CREDIBILITY” was obvious! If Jayz saw what we all saw in the press conference and feels working from the inside while being paid and receiving a “stake” in a team is the answer and can spearhead social justice from the inside he is our HERO for life!!!! BUT if he and the air personalities/social media influencers that Rocknation manages or wants to be managed by them have spun the “believe in Jayz... give him a chance” campaign to line pockets... this will be remembered and NOT swept under the rug in a few months! TRUST! Time will tell!#JustMyOpinion

A post shared by FunkFlex (@funkflex) on Aug 19, 2019 at 2:00am PDT

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