want to have Vespa scooters in our garage studio. To have a super
cool sounding nickname like aka Vitamin D, to be an accomplished
guitarist and bassist, get turned on to making electronic music
by a childhood friend, move to Chicago, and release music under
another super cool sounding name, High Caliber. Then we might form
another group with DJs Paul Anthony and Mark Almaria, call it The
Funk Monkeys, and have our first single, “Get a Move On”,
get signed to the prestigious 611 Records - and have it blow up.
Yeah, that'd be nice, wouldn't it? Then we could go on to release
even more amazing music on other labels (likes Dirty Fabric, Subliminal,
Moody Recordings, In-Stereo) and end up releasing our own artist
album, "Movement" which would mean we'd get international
attention including an interview on the immensely popular Raves.com/DJfix.com
I guess that would make us Mike Gillenwater.
Waayyy back when, what influenced your switch from being a
guitarist and bassist to electronic music?
I've always liked that sequenced drum sound; from KMFDM and Ministry,
to Daft Punk and Basement Jaxx. I was in several garage bands as
a kid but those never went anywhere, so I started buying cheap drum
machines, thinking I could make a whole track on just a drum machine,
[laughs], I had no idea what I was doing! Once I was in college
I began djing and learning to edit waves. I actually made my first
track by editing drum loops and disco samples together using cut,
copy and paste in Soundforge. I made two more tracks in that way
and one of them was actually signed to Nocturnal Records in the
UK. Once my group High Caliber was formed with my childhood friend,
Bryan Jones, we started using the MPC2000 and synths to make tracks
and we had much better results.
Do you still live in Chicago? What keeps you there (or wherever
I recently moved to the suburbs about 20 miles east of the city,
prior to that I lived downtown in the hustle and bustle since 2001.
So I'm not actually from Chicago, I was born in Boston, lived in
Washington D.C. for a few years, then moved to Fort Wayne Indiana
in 1987, so I pretty much grew up in Fort Wayne. I moved to Chicago
to attend college and met a lot of good friends. What keeps me here
all my good friends and the atmosphere that the city provides. I
can't imagine ever moving away from the area.
Describe your studio to us, like we were trying to paint an
image of it.
My studio is pretty funny looking, but I love it... It's in my
garage, so I had to get heat and a/c running in there first. The
whole room is padded with thermal and sound insulation, and the
floor has mismatched carpet that's cut into weird patterns to make
it fit the room. One side of the room has about 12,000 records on
racks, most of them are Paul Anthony's, he's the other half of my
group, The Funk Monkeys. The other wall is all my gear mounted on
3 tier stands and racks; next to that is my computer, and next to
the computer desk is a standard DJ set up with a 400 watt amp and
a 15 inch sub that will blow eardrums if I was stupid enough to
try such a thing. There's some floor space for people to hang out
and have some drinks while I work, and the back of the garage has
two scooters parked side by side. I don't know any other producer
that rides a Vespa literally into their studio. Most people laugh
when the see the place for the first time.
What is stored on your hard drive?
All my recordings; some good, some bad, some unfinished. Music
downloads, disco songs, other producers tracks and about 10,000
drum samples and loops. Some pictures, contracts, contacts, old
college papers, and some literature about dog training. Sorry, besides
the music there's nothing really juicy on my hard drive.
Which software/hardware did you use while recording Movement?
Akai MPC2000XL, Access Indigo 2, Novation A Station, Roland JP8080,
Fender Stratocaster, Eletrix Filter Factory, Mackie 1604VLZ-Pro,
and Adobe Audition. I know it sounds simple and out-dated, but if
you know how to use the gear you have, you can achieve the sound
How do you name your songs? And your album?
That is by far the hardest part of the process for me. If the song
has lyrics, then I'll just title it after the main hook, like "Grateful"
or "Want You Baby." If it's an instrumental, then it gets
a bit tricky...I have to just pick a name that the song reminds
me of. The 5th track on Movement is an instrumental, but it was
more of a mellow track and it felt like I was taking a break from
the more up-beat tracks, so I named it "Intermission."
I titled the album Movement because the song seemed to be getting
the best reactions, also because it's simple and easy to remember.
Tell us something you think hardly anyone knows about you.
I was in a junior-high jazz band with Bryan Jones, who is also
a house producer now. I played the bass and he was the drummer,
and we were the only two members of the 16 piece band that the director
gave solo parts to. Most jazz band solo's are given to a horn player,
but we were good at improvising and ended up winning the best soloist
awards at a state competition. I also have a twin who lives in South
America, not too many people know that about me.
What keeps you making music - why do you do what you do?
It's about all I'm good at, I have several hobbies but I don't
see myself making it into the PGA. I love to make music, if I'm
in a bad mood or feeling down, it helps take my mind off things.
If I'm happy and things are going well, I might be inspired to write
a song. It's almost a habit for me, but I will say that I occasionally
need a break. If you work too hard at anything, you'll get burned
out. So when that happens I just go to my parents house and spend
some time with old high school friends or take a vacation somewhere.
I'm a musician and I will always make music till the day I die (or
Where can people find you online?
Myspace.com, search the music section for "Mike Gillenwater".
Also the Nine Records website (www.ninerecords.com), and most download
sites like Beatport.com, Dancerecords.com, My website mikegillenwater.com
is coming soon.
Anything else you'd like to say?
Yes, I really appreciate you all taking the time to chat with me.
I enjoyed talking with you; I'm looking forward to future conversations.
Thank you - us too!!