Delighted to have one of LA’s brightest, up and coming House talents in the WWD hotseat this week. Some of you may already be familiar with Mike Brillstein, aka Thee Mike B, he’s worked with a tonne of top names, producing, remixing and releasing records with the likes of Stretch Armstrong, Diplo, Sinden, Switch and Jesse Rose. Not to mention he’s got renowned party starting skills. The LA man kicked off new project Brillstein this week with his debut EP on Play It Down. We caught up with him to get the low-down on the release, a report on the LA underground and lots more. Enjoy!
WWD: Brillstein, when did you first encounter electronic music?
The first electronic music I was into was probably Herbie Hancock “Rockit.” Then Mars 103.1, LA’s first dance station.
WWD: What were the raves like in LA when you were growing up? How do you look back on those times?
I started going to Raves when I was 16 or 17 in SoCal. Which was when I started buying House and Techno records.
It would take longer for parties to get busted back then simply because we didn’t have the web or even cell phones. There were many steps… You had to get the flyer, wait for saturday, call the number, get the directions to the map point. Then, once there, buy a ticket and then they would finally give you directions to a place that was usually about another hour away.
Nothing can be truly underground for long considering the speed at which information moves these days.
WWD: What’s the scene like in LA nowadays for genuine house music? Were do you go out dancing yourself?
Real House is alive and well in LA with DJ’s like the legend Doc Martin and his Sublevel parties. DJ Harvey has Sarcastic. A Club Called Rhonda plays hosts to great DJs new and old. There’s actually a lot of spots. I get my dance on at them all the time.
WWD: Does it differ much from Europe then? Am I correct in thinking that a lot of the clubs close pretty early?
The wherehouses go late, but might get busted by the cops. Definitely not like Europe at all. But every once in a while there’s something great.
WWD: And is there one club that you’d recommend to a visitor to the city?
The Do-Over is one of the best parties in the world. Rhonda as well. And anything promoted by MFG.
WWD: And what’s LA like in general? What makes it such a special place in your eyes?
Los Angeles has always been my home and it is my favorite place on earth. Great weather, swimming pools, views… We got it all. Lots of Cheeseburgers, Tacos and sushi.
WWD: So have you ever considered leaving? Does it inspire you like it always has?
I’ve lived in a few other cities and travelled all over. There’s no place like home.
WWD: I noticed that Back2Bed features some really cool artwork. So how did Todd James end up designing it?
I know Todd from my New York days. I’ve always been a fan. His work for The Source Magazine and the Beastie Boys is iconic. to me. He’s just an incredible artist with a unique style as well being a really good dude. Todd was my first choice and I was honored he said yes.
WWD: How do you reckon the artwork captures the release as a whole?
I think he nailed it. It’s perfect. It’s an acurate visual representation of the music for sure. Fun, weird, a little bit silly but very dope!
WWD: Do you think it’s something that’s unfortunately overlooked in this digital age?
Yeah. It’s hard to not have that visual dimension too music anymore. I listen to albums digitally for months and when I finally see the cover art months later in a store or something, sometimes it’s like “that’s not what I imagined that looked like at all.”
WWD: You seem to be a pretty diverse producer – how does that effect the house music that you make?
Positively I hope… I respect House Music more than most genres so I try to never “offend it”
WWD: So can you talk us through your new EP, Back2Bed?
It was initially just 5 tracks I had brought to Jesse Rose as demos to get his notes on. He gave me some great pointers and said he felt like they all worked together nicely… Then he asked if I’d like to have them be a release for PID. Obviously, I was down and very excited for that.
Track A1, Ode 2 Da Nude, was made about 24 hours before the final mixes were due, and we all agreed it fit. So it ended being added, hence, these 6 tracks.
Jesse Rose came up with the title. I tend to be a bit nocturnal, but Jesse is an office hours kind of guy. So we would get on the phone in the daytime and whenever he would ask what I was doing I would say I was going back to sleep… When he proposed BACK TO BED as a title for the project it just made sense. Todd James really killed it graphically with that as a theme.
WWD: You also seem to value the collaborative process too. Can you talk us through a typical day when working with Jesse? What’s that like?
It’s different every time. We’ll go over sounds for a while and then drums and then just kick around ideas until something starts to take shape. I think we have a good balance. Jesse makes it happen. His output is commendable. And all such quality! Working with him has been really cool.
WWD: Is there one DJ/producer who provides you with inspiration when making music? How do you get into the zone when you’re doing your thing?
Too many to mention. But some big ones are Norman Cook, Jon Spencer, Daft Punk, Armand Van Helden, Switch… Definitely too many to mention. I listen to music almost constantly. Even while I sleep. Girls and houseguests hate it.
I have different zones for different things.
And what else have you coming up that you’d like to shout about?
More music for Play It Down, collaborations with Jesse, Oliver $ and more. More stuff my other projects Pools and Fifteenth. I have a new project with Omar Doom called Rainbow Death. Even some solo stuff as Mike B. I was just in the studio with Oliver $ and Tom Trago and it was sounding nice. I just put the finishing touches on remixes for Mighty Mi, TrinidadSenolia and Ranacat.
The Back To Bed mini-album is out now on Beatport today and will be available May 13 on all other digital outlets, and at the end of the month on a very limited exclusive vinyl run.