words: Brittany Long
Recently I sat down to put Australian record producer and musician Mike Perry ,aka Paces through his paces with a Q and A. Covering everything from his newest release, hit track Vertigo with Yorke, to his dream collaborations, where his music journey all started and where he finds the inspiration for his music.
Mike Perry has an impressive discography under his belt having remixed for artists like Tkay Maidza, Kilter and Safia to name a few. Having also released his own music with his 2016 release of debut studio album Vacation getting lots of positive reviews. But it’s his newest track Vertigo feat. Sydney artist Yorke that has truly got us spinning!
So Congratulations on launching your new single Vertigo! Let’s start with the inspiration behind vertigo, specifically with the song itself; where did the name and the song come from?
The lyrical side of the song came from Yorke, so that’s where the name came from too. It’s about falling for someone so hard that you feel like your world’s been turned upside down.
How did the collaboration with Yorke come about?
Yorke and I both live in the Byron Bay region and we’d been trying to do a song together for a while but hadn’t found the right one. Then one day she sent me a rough vocal-only version of Vertigo and it really jumped out at me. I was so excited about it I wrote most of the music on a flight from Sydney to the Gold Coast. Next I met up with Yorke to record the final vocals and then spent a few weeks at home finishing everything off.
What sort of unique elements did Yorke bring to your song and your vision?
Definitely the “ooOOH” in the chorus. It’s such a catchy hook. That part originated as a hiccup and she turned it into a song!
Tell me about the initial inspiration for Vertigo. Has the initial vision you had for your song remained throughout the writing process or has it changed/ been shaped?
Yeah it’s remained right on track actually. Sometimes a song will evolve wildly throughout the process but this one all came togetehr so fast, there was no time for it to drift!
Let’s go right back to the start. I always love hearing about the inspiration behind the journey for an artist. Can you tell me what that’s been like for you? Was your passion for music developed as a kid or?Yeah definitely. I used to play guitar as a kid. I was into playing pop-punk stuff like Blink 182. Now that I think of it, those pop-punk influences have probably informed a lot of my melodic choices. Then later I discovered hip hop, bought some turntables and learnt to scratch. That was my first step toward being a music producer really.
Tell me the inspiration behind your stage name ‘Paces’.
Long story short – the name that I wanted was taken, so I just spent a day going through words in an online dictionary until I found one that I liked the sound of, and that nobody was using.
What sort of music did you listen to growing up? Has the type of music you listened to influence what you yourself play now?
Yeah definitely. All the pop-punk and hip hop that I listened to as a kid has influenced the type of music I make now. When you strip it back it’s really just pop music with hip hop drums!
Which musicians inspire you?
Oh man so many. The biggest one at the moment would have to be Charli XCX. She’s constantly ahead of the curve and pushing things forward. Extremely inspiring in so many ways.
Was there a certain point you decided you could make your music a career?
Yeah I was Djing about 3 or 4 nights per week and working as a graphic artist. I wasn’t doing a great job of either because I was so tired all the time. When the day arrived that I could just survive off the music money I quit my day job and dedicated all my time into music. Best decision ever!
What’s the songwriting process like for you? Is it usually the lyrics or the music that comes first?
For me the music comes first. Then I’ll often do a songwriting session with a singer who’ll come up with most of the vocal side. I usually have some input there but it’s mostly about the other person at that stage. Then I take the two halves and spend some time tweaking them until I’ve found the best version of the song. Often that means changing the instrumental quite a lot and trying different versions until something makes you go “f**k yeah!!”
Alongside producing your own music you’ve also remixed for some of the greats like Tkay Maidza and Safia. What’s this like for you?
Remixing is great fun! You’re usually working with an existing vocal rather than working from scratch, so half the battle is done and you can just get stuck into the musical side. It’s always fun to try and find the right balance between the original song and your own style.
How does your approach remixing for other artists influence writing your own music?
It doesn’t really. More like the other way around. My musical habits just flow over into the remix subconsciously really.
Favourite/ most memorable remix that you’ve done and with whom?
My remix of LDRU – Keeping Score was one of my favourites because I ended up performing it on Like A Version with Guy Sebastian. I’m really thankful for that experience and it still seems to connect with so many people.
How have things changed for you since the release of your debut studio album Vacation in 2016?
I’ve learned more music theory and songwriting tricks. I’ve become a dad. My shows have grown in size. I feel like my music has evolved quite a lot since then, but essentially it’s still left-of-centre pop music.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with but haven’t yet?
Heaps! So many people! I’d love to collaborate with Terror Jr or Charli XCX.
Why do you believe people resonate with your music?
I honestly don’t know because it varies from person to person. I hope it’s because it makes them feel good. That’s usually what I’m aiming for.
How would you describe your sound?
Pop with weird sounds.
Are there any measures you take to try and prevent creative inhibition?
It’s good to put limitations on yourself. For example one day you might try writing a track without any drums. That sort of thing gets you thinking outside of the box and often what you come up with is really useful.
Whats next for Paces? Can fans expect a tour in the near future?
Yeah for sure I have a bunch of shows coming up. I also have a bunch of new music lined up too!
What do you want an attendee to leave with from one your shows? Obviously you have quite a large production I believe.
I just want people at my shows to feel like we’re all in it together for an hour. Not feeling self conscious, not worried about work or money etc. Just one big house party.
Top five items for your rider?
Framed photo of a happy dog
If you could play onstage or tour with anyone dead or alive who would you choose and why?
The XX. They’ve been a huge influence on me and I’ll love their music forever.
If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing?
I guess I could always go back to being a graphic artist, but I think I’d also be happy being either a tattoo artist or a personal trainer.
An Achievement you’re most proud of?
Making a living in an extremely difficult industry, and being able to provide for my family while living a life in music.
Favourite activity to do in your free time?
Surfing, running, going to the gym, even just listening to a podcast while I cook dinner.
Tell me something no one knows about you.
I’m left handed.
Get to know Paces with Fan favourites:
Ice-cream: Vegan Magnums
Book: The Story Of The Streets – Mike Skinner
CD vs Vinyl: Vinyl of course!!
Artist: Charli XCX
Biggest inspiration: learning new things about music keeps me inspired.
Dream place to tour: I really want to tour America!
Best dance floor groove number: Childish Gambino – Redbone (4B remix)
A Tattoo you’d like to get: no ragrets
Quote to live by: if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got (or something along those lines)
Disney Film: The Incredibles 1 & 2