Interviews

A Chat with Rising Star Saxophonist Mike Casey who is releasing SURPRISE! THE REMIXES Pt 1

The New York based melody architect, story-telling songwriter, producer, and sonic alchemist Mike Casey is presenting his next record “SURPRISE! THE REMIXES Pt 1” .

Mike Casey is a multi-talented force whose soul stirring saxophone sound, inventive use of phrasing reaches out with love and embraces your musical desires one note at a time. Being a former DJ, a longtime hip hop enthusiast, and graduate of Berklee’s Valencia Spain program in Contemporary Performance & Music Production, Mike has been working with hip hop producers from around the world to re-imagine tracks from his first two critically acclaimed eclectic jazz albums (2017’s The Sound of Surprise: Live at The Side Door and 2018’s Stay Surprising: Live at The Side Door, all 14 songs recorded live from the same 2016 show) in a variety of hip hop styles.

SURPRISE! THE REMIXES Part 1, has four remixes of Casey´s work done by big names like Wyldephyre, Apple Juice Kid, Burbank and Stan Forebee.

Wyldephyre who opens the release, in known for two different facets. First, as a producer, whose goal is to create electronic-infused hip-hop music; and second, as a live band musician, who aims  to seamlessly find the balance between live jazz and electronic music. In this regard, Wyldephyre has a modern approach on how electronic music and jazz music can work together synonymously to create a unique sound which appeals to and can be felt by fans of either genre

The second remix of the EP is by the Melbourne based beatmaker / multi-instrumentalist Stan Forebee who as reached over 20 million streams worldwide. Being around for almost 15 years now, Stan who was formerly known as Beatsofreen has worked with a variety of record labels around the globe. His debut album Jazz Sessions  received major attention in 2013. Most of his recent work has been released under the flags of Chillhop Music.

The third remix is by the Chicago born and raised artist, Burbank who is delivering a great rework of Mike´s original track “Cold Blooded Blues”. This song is a peaceful combination of Chill-Hop, Lo-fi Hip-Hop and Jazz,  where this US producer with almost half a million streams on Spotify shows his masterful skills in the remixing art.

Brilliantly closing this remix EP we find Apple Juice Kid, who has produced for a variety of high profile hip hop artists like Wale, Camp Lo, Styles P, and Mos Def. AJK (Stephen Levitin). This outstanding producer has released several Jazz remix albums including the critically acclaimed Miles Davis Remixed, an EP release on Ultra records, VP Records and productions with Grammy nominated singers Nnenna Freelon, Yahzarah and Carolyn Malachi.

We had a chat with Mike Casey.  Check out what he had to say to us about SURPRISE! THE REMIXES Pt 1 as well as his future projects and other details.

Hi Mike, in which lapse of your life did you discover your passion for Jazz?

My parents are big jazz fans and had it playing around the house often. But the first time I really fell in love with it was during an in-school assembly performance – the visiting jazz band had me dancing and that sparked my interest. Later, when I started on saxophone, I began improvising immediately.

Taking a look trough your sound, Jazz is clearly your main genre but in this specific release the Hip Hop influence is prominent. Why Hip Hop?

Aside from DJing for nearly 5 years when I was younger, I have been an avid hip hop fan since I was 10. I wanted to stretch my recent works and see how it would go – to challenge myself – and also show another side of my artistic interests. Though I did not remix any of the songs, I worked closely with all the remixers as they crafted the remixes, executive produced the project, as well as the mixing/mastering engineers.

Which has been your criteria for selecting the release´s remixers and how was this process done?  

Aside from Wyldephyre (who was my flatmate and close friend while at Berklee Valencia), every remixer was discovered via the internet at one time or another. I started listening to Apple Juice Kid when I was in middle school via his \”Miles Remixed\” hip hop jazz project, so it\’s a dream come true to have him involved.

What inspires you outside of music? What do you turn to when the creative well runs a little low?

The beach, visiting art museums and watching standup comedy. Especially standup comedy…It\’s one of the last super organic art forms – in that it has not been super institutionalized by higher education. There are not really \”rules\”. I am totally fascinated by this raw energy and organic artistic exploration. Not that I don\’t approach my own music as organically as possible…but I have attended 3+ music schools and have been studying it formally (as well as organically) for 17 years. My understanding is that comedians learn entirely organically, no formal training. To watch another artist in another field like standup comedy kill it from a much more organic (non formally trained) overall process is  fascinating, exhilarating and awe-inspiring.

Getting into a more personal side, what is Mike´s regular day like?

No two days are the same when you freelance full time in music! All I can say is I generally wake up between 930am-11am and go to bed between 2am-4am 🙂

Which music genres do you regularly enjoy listening to the most? 

Aside from jazz and lo-fi hip hop (the two obvious starting points for this project), I have been enjoying a lot of flamenco lately. Paco De Lucia, Jorge Pardo, etc. This past year at Berklee Valencia had me studying rhythms from India, to Uruguay, to Peru, to Cuba…so had a lot of music from around the world in my ear!

What can we expect from you in the near future?

In 2020 I will release my 4th album, returning to \”acoustic\” jazz with my trio yet more \”fusion\” oriented than my first 2 live albums (though they did include some fusion). Grammy nominated pianist Benito Gonzalez joins us on three tracks! I\’m super excited to share it with the world.

\\\\\\\\\\\\’Mike Casey– Surprise! The Remixes, Pt. 1´\\\\\\\\\\ is out now. 

Buy Link here.

More about Mike Casey here.

Hip Hop jazz Apple Juice Kid Burbank Marco Uson Mike Casey Stan Forebee Wyldephyre
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