With his weekly podcast of Diffused Music to his residency at LiFE nightclub in Las Vegas, Michael Woods‘ career never seems to stop evolving. Becoming a legend and an artist to look up to is nothing short of an understatement. Staying original, working hard and spreading the positives of becoming your own artist is what gets Michael recognition around the world which is why we knew having him play at Infinity NYE was a must!
Here’s what Michael had to say about the journey that got him where he is today.
As an internationally renowned DJ, I’m certain that you’ve traveled to many different places for events and performances. Which has been the most interesting?
Doing what I do for a living has enabled me to travel the world – probably many times over and I am truly thankful for that. The thing is even though I’ve played places from Montreal to Miami, Mumbai to Melbourne, Los Angeles to London, Seattle to Santiago, places which typically have very different cultures there’s one thing they all share in common, and that’s their love for great music. One of the most recent shows I performed at was Life In Color in Mexico City, which is essentially the biggest paint party in the World ñ seeing 30,000 people getting blasted by gigantic paint guns and absolutely loving it was a sight I’m not going to forget for a very long time ñ was a fantastic night!
Your stage name has changed over time. Is there any particular reason behind each change?
My first artist name was Warrior, which was inspired by the name of my first solo production, “Warrior” back in 1999. This was purely a production artist name in that I never actually DJ’d under this name. Then came various other artist names such as Accadia and similar to Warrior they were purely for production purposes only. The first name I actually DJ’d under was Out Of Office, and that came off the success of a record called “Hands Up”. This is when I decided to take the leap in to DJing so it was only natural to use that artist name. Then gradually over time I started to put records out under my own name, mainly because I had started my own record label, Diffused Music, which enabled me to release records under the name Michael Woods and remain in complete control of them.
Everyone that finds themselves falling in love with EDM has that one defining memory that told them, “This is what I want to experience for the rest of my life.” Was there any moment in particular that you found yourself within this music?
There was one moment I remember which inspired me to get in to music production, and that moment happened in London’s Bagleys nightclub right during a set by DJ Ariel. The club at the time was packed and Ariel played a track that got the entire club, in unison, to raise their hands in the air in anticipation for the drop and I’ll always remember what an incredible moment that was ñ and it was in this moment I thought to myself, I want to create something like this, something which can create this exact reaction ñ and that’s what I set out to do. I’ve always loved dance music, and having studied music classically at school the EDM world seemed like a natural place for me to start making my own music.
You founded the house music label Diffused Music. What inspired you to move beyond the turntables and computer to building a recording label within the last five years?
There are a few reasons I started my own record label, Diffused Music. Back around 2008 it started getting rather difficult to sign music to reputable record labels unless the record had some heat on it, in that the record was getting support from lots of DJs/radio. To get this heat I had to do a lot of the initial legwork all by myself, this is of course after having made the actual track! I had to get test pressings made up from pressing factories, artwork, mastering, get the record to all the right DJs, basically everything a record label would do to promoted a track. At this point I thought if I’m doing all this by myself why don’t I just create my own label and release the end product on that. The other reason was that is was the prefect way to release records under my own name yet not have to sign away any rights to another label, therefore I kept total control of my own music.
A producer’s first breakthrough song says a lot about them as an artist. What was your inspiration behind “Warrior,” a song that shares your original stage name? How have you evolved as an artist between that song and now?
I started producing music around 1999, and when I say producing I mean I set up some recording equipment in a garage and basically started to experiment, because at the time I didn’t fully know exactly what I was doing. I locked myself in there for 6 months pretty much and tried loads of different sounds, melodies, drums, vocals and 6 months later Warrior was the final product. In terms of how I’ve evolved since then I would say my production level has increased somewhat but the work ethic has pretty much remained the same, in that there’s a lot of experimentation going on, trying to find tricks and sounds that no one else has used before and the end goal is to have an amazing track that people love.
When listening to your recent release, “London Baby!”, I noticed a distinct difference in musical styling. Do you believe that EDM has begun changing as it becomes more popular throughout the world?
As I said previously my studio sessions comprise of a lot of experimentation and I don’t always know what the end product is going to be ñ in the case of London Baby! I experimented with some different methods to make really cool bass sounds – using a distorted kick through a limiter plugin. I thought it sounded pretty different and cool and just ran with it. I think, because there are so many DJ’s nowadays making so much music, music-lovers tend to move on to the next thing pretty quick simply due to the pure amount of music available to them. So as a result music is evolving at an increasing rate and I think DJ’s always have to think further ahead just to stay in the game. Wait until you hear the next release, that’s different again. I just like to show my range.
It’s apparent that your musical knowledge extends far beyond the electronic music scene. How do you believe that you can meld multiple musical styles into it? Is there one style that has influenced you most?
I love classical music, having studied it for many years at school/college this is probably one of the biggest influences I have when creating my own music and I love messing around with various melodies and unpredictable chord structures. Having said that there are many different musical genres that influence me ñ I try to draw on as many as possible to help me get the perfect sound I’m looking for.
What changes do you see for the electronic community and music as a whole? Do you believe that as EDM grows in popularity it will begin to affect the mainstream?
Right now is an interesting time for producers who have occupied the ëEDM’ space comfortably for the last few years. Things are changing fast and EDM as it is or was is clearly changing, just look at the way Vegas has changed it’s bookings in the last few months ñ it’s moving into Hip-Hop. The producers who don’t have the ability to adapt or move on will be brushed aside. If I understand the question correctly, EDM has been affecting the wider mainstream across the world for the last 20 years, not just the recent US explosion. So, dance music is already in the DNA of most people, whether they truly know it or not. Just look at my old mate Justin Bieber.
What can we look forward to from your music this upcoming year?
I’ve been working vigorously in the studio the latter part of this year and already have 3 new singles lined up for 2016, 2 of which have amazing vocals and 1 which is a collaboration with one of the biggest DJ’s on the planet ñ I won’t say more than that for now but I’m really looking forward to getting these records out in 2016 and can’t wait for people to hear them.
What advice could you give to aspiring musicians who want to contribute to the EDM scene?
My best advice for up and coming producers/DJ’s is to be really passionate about what you do, put in the time and never give up. I remember when I first started to make music professionally, sometimes I would spend up to 48+ hours at a time in that studio/garage, sometimes just listening to the same 4 bars over and over, trying to perfect it and get it just right. It was a lot of hard work and I made a lot of sacrifices but I’m reaping the rewards now, and I believe any aspiring producer/DJ can do the same if he/she puts in the hard work.