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INTERVIEW: Producer, Mike Summers

1. Vents is super-happy to be speaking today with respected and noted producer Mike Summers who is riding high right now with his latest bit of alchemy, “Face Off.” Welcome to our humble abode, Mike! Before getting too far down the pike, how has your 2021 been treating you?

Thank you for having me. And yeah, 2021 has been great… especially with the success of “Face Off.” I’ve been blessed to be involved with some amazing projects this past year.

 2. Major congratulations are in order for Tech N9ne’s latest hit “Face Off” which features none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and which you produced. Have you been surprised at how quickly “Face Off” has captured the public’s imagination?

I appreciate that. It was pretty surreal to have produced a song with The Rock on it. I knew it was going to get a lot of streams and attention the way it has with that kind of feature, but what I was most surprised about was it trending #1 on Tik Tok with the #FaceOffChallenge. That was a big deal to me because I haven’t been a part of anything that trended like that before. That was something totally new for me for sure!

3. What was it like collaborating with Tech N9ne in the studio for “Face Off?”

We actually made the track a few years back and it was intended for a different album, but we just never found the right artist to collaborate with on it. Tech and I threw around a bunch of different names that we thought would work, but never pursued anyone. I actually forgot about it after some time.

That particular track has all the quintessential “TECH N9NE” elements, which is a foundation I created for Tech back in 2004 with “Come Gangsta”… the classical elements, the operatic vocals, the dark, minor chords… it’s everything you’d hope for with a track produced by me for Tech. So it had to be the perfect feature that would work on a track like that. I never would have thought of The Rock, so when I found out that he jumped on it, I was blown away. And when I actually heard the verse, I just knew this was going to be massive for everyone. 

4. “Face Off” has gone viral on Tik Tok. How important is that platform and others for you as a producer in getting a wave going for a new song?

Tik Tok is super important. Hit songs are getting broken on that platform. I always think about what would work and not work on Tik Tok now when I’m working. It’s become a part of the process and I’m already seeing producers carving out what’s considered a “Tik Tok” sound when it comes to production… the tempo, the sound selection, concepts. It’s still new and who knows how long this wave will last, but it’s definitely changing the game.

5. What was the Secret Origin story for “Face Off?” How did it come into being and how did you have a hand in fashioning the brilliant tune we now all hear?

I did the track in 2019 during the sessions for ENTERFEAR. It was one of those tracks I just knew we would use because it was one of the few tracks we did on that album with that particular vibe. It was unique in that way. So when we didn’t use it on the album, I was surprised but I also knew we just needed to find the right artist to collaborate with on it. Tech and I don’t normally bring back older tracks. If it doesn’t make the album, we usually never use it for anything, so this was a rare situation. I never could have imagined The Rock would be a part of that song — but he killed it and it sounds right in the pocket with Iso, Joey, and Tech.

6. Have you been surprised by the warm reception afforded “Face Off” from fans and critics alike?

I had no idea how critics would respond to “Face Off” because it’s such an unexpected feature. I knew the song was dope, but people were either going to love it or hate it. So seeing it get this kind of reception has let me know we’re doing something right and that we’re thinking outside the box when it comes to ideas and concepts.

7. No less of a luminary and living legend than Elton John has waxed rhapsodic about your production skills; how do those sort of compliments make you feel?

That is one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received. Like for real. To be on the radar of someone as legendary as Elton John… I just don’t even have the words for it. It’s surreal to me! I’m completely honored. 

8. Are there any producers out there such as Rick Rubin, Dr. Dre or George Martin who have inspired and/or influenced your journey as a producer?

Rick Rubin and Dre for sure. I’ve tried to model myself after Rick Rubin for most of my career. The way he can create such legendary records in literally every genre is what makes him so legendary. DJ Quik was huge for me as well. Because of him, live instruments have always been a big part of my production style. 

Now I’m inspired by producers like Kenny Beats and Hit-Boy. And even what Tyler, the Creator has done with his sound. I’m mostly influenced by producers that create new lanes, and shape music for the future.

9. You’ve collaborated and produced tracks and albums for some of the biggest and brightest talent in the music industry: Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Mac Miller among many others. Do you tailor your skills as a producer to suit or compliment a particular talent?

I focus on what makes an artist who they are. There’s something about every artist that makes them unique and I try to bring that out and magnify that part of them. Sometimes that means doing more of what they’re already doing, but in a bigger or different way. Sometimes that means doing something totally different that they’ve always wanted to do but haven’t tried yet. I approach every artist I’m working with as if I’m a fan and think about what kind of album or song I would want to listen to from them… and then create exactly that.

10. Are there any acts you’ve yet to work with that you’d give your left eye teeth to produce for?

I’ve done a song with Kendrick, but I would love to do more with him. SZA is also a big one for me. Baby Keem, Anderson .Paak, Griselda, Maxo Kream. That’s a few artists on my radar right now that I want to get in the studio with. 

11. What led you onto the path of being the respected and sought after producer you are today?

I really think it’s been my ability to work in so many different genres. I’ve worked with everyone from Tech N9ne, Lil Wayne, T.I. to Cory Taylor, Jonathan Davis, and Serj from System of a Down. I’ve worked in almost every genre and brought something new every time. I always want it to be authentic and not forced, so if there’s something I don’t fully connect with, I fall back and play my part. It might be something as simple as arranging 808s in a death metal song… but if that’s all I’m doing, I’m doing it in a way that’s never been done before. 

12. What’s coming up after “Face Off?” Can you give fans any hints as to what your next projects will be?

Right now I’m producing and developing a group out of Hollywood, CA called Love Ghost. We just dropped a single with Rico Nasty called “Wolfsbane.” I’ve really been getting into the trap/rock scene more and finding artists that are going to pioneer that movement. I’m also doing movie scores more lately. I’ve scored a few indie films over the years, but now I’m finally getting some opportunities to grow in that space.

13. Final – SILLY! – Question: You’re given a choice between producing Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix or Elvis Presley. Which artist do you choose to work with and why?

Jimi Hendrix…hands down. The first music poster I ever had hung up in my room as a kid was of Jimi Hendrix. He’s just one of those artists that had such an unorthodox approach to music that it changed the game forever. That’s the kind of artists I’m inspired by.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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