Michalis "MsM" Michael is a producer, mixer and recording engineer based in North London, UK. Though he may be best known for his early bedroom productions which helped "put grime on the map," there's much more to his story. More recently working in world class studios with pop stars such as Ed Sheeran, and teaching Mix With The Masters courses, Michalis is always moving forward.
Here's our chat with Michalis:
Can you tell us some of the recent projects you've worked on?
I recorded and mixed Skepta's - Ignorance Is Bliss album. That was fun as I don't get to record as much as I used to. We locked ourselves away for a few months for that. Erm.. I also mixed slowthai's debut album - Nothing Great about Britain, and a lot of mixes for songs he's put out since. I've done some mixes for Mahalia's album and EP, Young T & Bugsey's mixtape and also KSI's recent album. And the rest lol It's good to be busy. I try not to stop learning. That’s what keeps me going.
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on?
It started as djing, production and recording, then gradually transitioned to mixing. I’ll still record and get involved on projects from an exec production role but for now mixing definitely takes up the majority of my time.
How did you get started in your area of the business? Do you play any instruments?
A lot of my family are musicians. My dad played guitar for a living so I was learning that as a kid but was more interested in the guitar amps and tech etc. I took lessons but just didn't stick to it. I was always interested in the technology side of it more. This was the early 2000's and things were just moving ITB so I caught the wave of new technology as it happened. When studios started to become available at home... And here we are now.
Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?
While I can’t pick one isolated incident I feel a big part of engineering is finding your workflow and system. Anytime a situation has frustrated me I will try to find a way of avoiding it or being better prepared next time. From file prep to backups of files it's about refining the process. Half of the job is frustrations and overcoming it.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project?
Other than my Mac.... My monitors and monitoring chain are really the only things I rely on with every song. I use Amphion Two18's with Basetwo 25's, One 18's and Ns10's. That's my nearfield setup and for mains I have the Hedd Tower Mains. Conversion is a big thing for me too. I use the Crane Song Quantum stuff for my monitoring DA. That thing's special. For my headphone rig I use a Lynx Hilo and Chord Mojo as my headphone amps and a combination of phones. From the Audeze line I have my LCDX's and MX4's, and also some in ear iSine's which I love!
I recently got a SPL Hermes which lets me insert all my hardware in different orders and chains. I love that. It's made me appreciate certain boxes even more now. I've been using my Chandler Curve Bender and Anamod ATS1 a lot lately because of it.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire to get where you are in their own careers?
I can only speak for my own experiences but what I’ve seen is it’s all about persistence and real dedication combined. You really do need to live what you want to be. Complete dedication.
How long have you been working with headphones, and what inspired you to start including them in your workflow?
I had some standard headphones lying around and never got into them. Audeze lent me some LCD-X’s and that was it. I was hooked. I’ve started a headphone collection since then including the LCD-X's, MX4's and the iSINE in-ears. I love those. I like the idea of different perspectives and being able to hear different things quickly. Like different speaker / room combos that are easy to switch between. I tend to use them at the beginning and end of a mix. I find in the beginning it helps me with clicks pops breaths etc and at the end it’s the final check as it bounces. I like that. It kind of forces you to pay close attention for any last minute issues. It's a dangerous and expensive hobby though. The headphone rabbit hole.