Mixtape No. 45: Mike Edge
Words: Rachel Plotkin
Collaborator Photos: Randy Ronquillo
Mike Edge doesn’t seem very on edge. In fact, when we meet on a weekday at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Edge is quite the opposite: pleasant, calm and collected, despite the screaming children and stressed out chaperones. His music mirrors his easy demeanor, and is reminiscent of relaxing summer days spent by a pool with friends and a beer. It’s fitting, then, that Edge chose to call his Kobalt-backed record label Long Weekend. Mike Edge’s eponymous EP mixes old with new, both in sound and appearance. In the video for “Been So Long,” Edge sprinkles shots of himself enjoying a beer in a Hawaiian shirt with retro images while the guitar riffs float along easily. But first impressions can be limiting. Although Edge’s personality and music seem mostly chilled out, there’s more there than meets the eye — or ears.
Edge began humbly as a teenager who couldn’t afford expensive music gear, so he began to build his own amps and keyboards from vintage parts. Edge began working as an audio engineer and a session musician in studios playing for other artists, developing the skills he would later use to develop the sound on his own EP. Today, Edge is a fully self-sufficient artist, doing everything on the EP himself. He pulls from the past for inspiration. “I grew up on grunge music,” he mentions while discussing his influences. He runs through an eclectic roster of other influences from classic rock bands such as The Beatles, 70’s disco, jazz, and Al Green, to ambient music like Brian Eno and Portishead. Even though Edge does everything himself, he’s a big fan of special guests on his tracks and his record features several collabs. Edge also prefers a raw sound to his music, expressing distaste for overproduced, glossy tracks.
As far as his artistic vision, the artist again looks behind him. He’s inspired by Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and 90s electronica, to name a few. Edge loves vintage clothing, which comes as no surprise after watching his videos. He mentions old South Beach as a huge source of inspiration, as well as the juxtaposed California landscape of beaches and desert. Although Edge leans on the past a lot, he does something that is uniquely current to today’s musical climate: everything on Edge’s EP is self-produced. His videos are art directed and produced by Edge’s own small team, where Edge is involved in every decision. In this, Mike Edge represents the future of music – production is moving the way of the artist, and gone are the days of boardroom Svengalis making decisions at big record labels. For Mike Edge, doing everything himself means control. After being in bands for so many years, Edge says he became burnt out on compromise and always taking others’ opinions into account. “When you have a band, you have to be diplomatic,” he says, revealing what attracted him to the self-production route. He admits to being a bit of a perfectionist, which can be a double-edged sword in the self-production world. Edge reveals he’s the type of guy to spend three days just on the drum track since he doesn’t have the overhead of costly studio time. This meticulous process also allows him to be more creative; since he spends less time worrying less about money, he has more to dedicate to creating better music.
As much as he loves the past, Mike Edge is looking toward the future. His label, Long Weekend, is currently working on a compilation EP. Edge will begin playing shows in September and has another EP coming out in the fall. Meanwhile, the songs continues to evoke the endless summer vibes of pool parties past and present.