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Friday 02nd, April 2004
M.I.K.E. (aka Push) Interview

Welcome to another edition of Trance.nu on the road :) This time we went to the studio of M.I.K.E. near Antwerp. It's the first spring day in Holland with a beautiful sun shining in the sky. We jump into the car and drive to Belgium. M.I.K.E.'s real name is Mike Dierickx, one of the biggest stars in the world when it comes to producing. His career is long and divers with many aliases and monikers for all the music he created, but one of the most important and wellknown guises is ofcourse Push. With his worldwide breakthrough Universal Nation he gained recognition worldwide. Follow-ups like Strange World and The Legacy also topped the charts worldwide. But also under other names like Plastic Boy, Virtua Trancer, M.I.K.E., Return Of The Native, Ultravibe (with Airwave) he kept delivering music in a wide range of genres. Also he started his own label Scanner Records and together with Armada runs the Club Elite label. But now it's time for the new Push album Electric Eclipse, the second Push album, to be released on Banshee Worx. Time for a talk with the man himself. We arrive at Scanner Records in a small town in Belgium, where we are welcomed by the man himself and a few members of the Banshee Crew. We go to the studio to do the interview. The studio is a totally dark room with isolated material on the walls, neon lights on the wall and massive equipment everywhere. A true contrast to the beautiful weather outside. When Mike put out the lights it looks like we are in the cockpit of a big aircraft. A perfect surrounding to talk with the man himself about Push, electronic music, DJ'ing and life...

Trance.nu: Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. We are here in your studio now In Belgium, which will be empty the coming week, because you are going on a holiday. Where are you going?
Mike: Iím going away for a week to Le 3 Vallez, in France, to snowboard and to clear the mind

Trance.nu: A well-deserved holiday, taking into consideration the busy schedule of the last months. To start with the coming Push album, what can we expect?
Mike: The new album is called Electric Eclipse and it was supposed to be released one year back already. It features tracks like Electric Eclipse, the new single, Journey Of Life, Universal Nation 2003. Some people might get the feeling: isn't that a bit old, because some tracks are already more then a year old? But it got delayed, because of all the stuff that happened with Lightning Records. But finally the release is here now...

Trance.nu: What can we expect of the sound of the album?
Mike: The people that love the Push feeling and the Push sound, will get what they expect. But when I produced the album 1,5 till 2 years ago I really had the feeling that I was giving a new sound and dimension to the Push moniker and you can hear that when u compare it to the older tracks. But ofcourse it's not good that the album had to wait one year for release. But the real trancelovers, that really understand the trancesound, will go for it.

Trance.nu: What are you favourite Push productions on the new album?
Mike: Blue Midnight, a really sexy trancesong and Imagine is my favourite track, it's quite electro-influenced, because I have a lot of electro influences from my youth and influenced a big part of my career. And the new Strange World that's been put on the album, which isn't a recycled version, but more a chill-out mix. When you hear the full album, you can really hear a story. U should listen it from begin till end to understand it..

Trance.nu: Will you keep focusing on Push after this project, or will you focus on different project after the album-release?
Mike: That's a difficult question. Some people are pro, others are contra, when talking about the Push sound. Personally I think, If i would do something with Push next year, it should be an absolute surprise. But I will focus myself more now on the M.I.K.E. alias, because that has been signed at Armada and because my DJ Profile under the name M.I.K.E. is going skyhigh at the moment. Push is just one of my many monikers.

Trance.nu: Which projects can we expect in the near future?
Mike: I just started again with the project Absolute, which I started three years ago. I wrote the Antwerp Is Burning Theme under this alias. I'm gonna try to release a Plastic Boy album at the end of the year, a best of... with new remixes. And my priority will be the M.I.K.E. project.

Trance.nu: Will you co-operate with any other artists? The name John "00" FLemming has been announced and maybey Airwave? Or are there any other producers/artists/singers you would like to co-operate with?
Mike: Yeah there will be some exciting and surprisingly different collaborations. I can't reveal that much yet. But well, everybody will know that I'm working close with Armin at the moment and we also started to know each other better on a personal note. And that's going pretty good, so we will definatly do something together in the future again. And I think a collaboration with Marco V is also possible, cause there's a good contact between us. And the others... has to be a secret..

Trance.nu: We are looking forward to that. You are running the labels Club Elite, together with Armada, and your own label Scanner Records. What are the differences between the labels, music-wise?
Mike: I started Scanner Records three years ago with the idea to do what I really like, without connection to the trancesound or progressive sound and bring out my techy/electro sound. And also to give me and others the change to create and produce "electric" music in it's widest form. Club Elite is administrated by Armada, but it's actually totally my project. I do the A&R stuff together with Maykel Piron and we try to deliver great progressive music, but with electronic influences.

Trance.nu: So that's the most important reason to start Club Elite, next to Scanner Records?
Mike: Yep, to give the dancescene some new elan, there's alot of pure trance and pure progressive labels. But we are trying to find a way between trance/progressive with an electro feel. Good electric music!

Trance.nu: Alot of people think you are a pioneer in trance music. Still you are in the top of the dancescene. What's important to stay at the top as a tranceproducer?
Mike: I have the status of trance-producer, but personally I don't like that title, because I also run so many other projects. I notice that when I start to do some other types of music (electro/techno) people start commenting, because they don't know my diversity as a producer. As a trance-producer I show my more emotional side of Mike, and when I go more for the techno/electro or Solar Factor style I make it something harder. MIKE stands for a wide variety of styles, like accessible "Plastic Boy" trance till the deeper stuff. Every M.I.K.E. has it's sound.

Trance.nu: We are sitting here in your studio, which is rammed with equipment. Which tools are your essentials for creating music?
Mike: It's not only the equipment, but you need your heart, mind and hands to do it. I got so many tools in my studio, because I create so many styles of music. Dance, rock and also busy with hiphop a little. I have no real favourite piece of gear, the heart of my studio is my MacIntosh. A piece of hardware that I use in almost every song is de TR 909, the Virus and the Nordlead. That's the most common used hardware in my studio.

Trance.nu:You don't only produce under the name Push, but also do live-acts under the name Push and you DJ under the name M.I.K.E. What are the differences?
Mike: I am spinning under the name M.I.K.E., because people always link the name M.I.K.E. to Push. And I don't want that, Push is just another project, just like all those others. I won't do Push live-acts anymore in the future or the event should be very unique. I will focus more on M.I.K.E. and with that alias I want to live something like a Best Of... but then really live!

Trance.nu: Do you prefer live-acts or spinnin' vinyls?
Mike: I like both actually. When your DJ'ing you make atmosphere with someone else's ideas and emotions. Because that's what music is: emotions. But when you do a live-act, under the name M.I.K.E. soon, then that's totally your own work. I think that adds an extra dimension to your performance, because it's totally your own music. I love DJ'ing as well, but I think that some DJ's forget what's all behind those artists, that create the track.

Trance.nu: Next to trance you produce alot of different styles, like progressive, tribal and stuff. What's up with the R&B project?
Mike: It's not only R&B, but also features some 2-step, electro even some trancy influences. It's a project that I've been doing for a quite a while now named Diabokua. It's signed by Sony now. I read on the forums: "What's Mike doing, is he going to do different stuff?" And yes, I want to do different stuff, because you grow both in the music and in life and then it's time for new challenges. For those who don't understand or appreciate, stay with the stuff you DO like. Sometimes I think people are exaggerating a little with their comments. But I'm M.I.K.E. and I will keep doing what I like, so they gotta live with that.

Trance.nu: How are the reactions this far on the project?
Mike: Very good! It will be released in The Netherlands just before the summer at Sony. It won't be profiled as a M.I.K.E. project, but I produced it from the scratch. We also have a full album finished, which will hopefully be released just after summer in Europe. So far, so good, with airplays on all big radio-stations like Radio Brussel, Jim TV, MTV and we hope to get this exposure in Holland as well.

Trance.nu: You just finished your Push album and you are busy with your M.I.K.E. album scheduled for end of the year. Is the style of the album a little like: Turn Out The Lights, or what can we expect?
Mike: Totally nothing like Turn Out The Lights. M.I.K.E. stands for multiplicity. I'm already astonished by myself how it sounds, because I finished 4 tracks already. With vocals as well.. It's not that I will go to the poppy or vocal genre, that TiŽsto and Armin are doing at the moment, but I want to show the world that I can do other stuff then trance and progressive. So it's possible that u can find rock influences or maybey more electro, but certainly not commercial.

Trance.nu: There are also rumours about a Plastic Boy album, the other trance alias from you. Can you reveal anything about this?
Mike: Yeah, i'm announcing that for 6 months now already and if I find the time inbetween to do that, it will certainly be there. I hope to finish that one in October, November so a release in April 2005. I think it's gonna be something like a remix-album, with one CD the Best Of Plastic Boy and the other CD, not recycled, but "reverbished" versions. There is a big potential for Plastic Boy, it's a sort of cross-over project, but still has it's own sound. There will be new tracks featured as well. The new Plastic Boy track has just been finished.

Trance.nu: That leads us to this question, what can we expect of the new Plastic Boy release then?
Mike: It is finished, but I am not certain what i'm gonna do with it, maybey adding some vocals eventually. If I'm gonna make vocals it should fit the Plastic Boy sound, I don't want it to be a chart record. Around the summer there will be more news.

Trance.nu: If we look back in time we can see that alot of your tracks have been anthems for big parties, like "The Anthem" for Innercity or "Strange World" for Trance Energy. And now you produced the theme track for Antwerp Is Burning. How do you produce a theme song?
Mike: Antwerp is ofcourse my hometown and I knew the boys from AIB very well, I played on their three previous events as well. And they just asked me if I could write the anthem for the event. And I like to produce a track that can get a mass of people going crazy. Back then with Strange World on Trance Energy, ID-T was impressed by Strange World and asked me if they could use it as their TE anthem. I never really start producing with the idea to create an anthem, but I try to produce a track that will work well on big masses of people to go wild. That's the atmosphere I try to create.

Trance.nu: How do you start working on a track. Where do you get your inspiration?
Mike: Actually.. nothing. When I jump into the studio and start producing, I never know where it ends. The result can be techy or trancy. Ofcourse when I remix, then I have to consider all the aspects (beats, melodies). But when I produce myself, then I don't settle a real route. Ofcourse when I co-produce with like Armin, then we talk about how the "featuring" track on the album will sound like, but still then it can turn out totally different.

Trance.nu: You have a special connection with Japan. U made some remixes of and with Japanese producers. How did that begin?
Mike: Because of the co-operation between the record companies, three years ago with Lightning Records. That was the first time I was going to spin in Tokyo, which was awesome. Great people over there. Party-minded, beautiful country. Japan is the land of the rising sun.. so atmospheric. Also other DJ's lost their heart over there, like Ferry, Armin. So Japan really got his own specific style.

Trance.nu: What was your best performance ever and why?
Mike: I think that was Trance Energy 2001 and I Love Techno in Belgium, I think 2000. The atmosphere was great. It was my birthday while performing on Trance Energy in Utrecht, and just before we started with Push live and we started... the roof blew. We received so many cool reactions and also during the I Love Techno event there was a load of appreciation. That's why I make the music... the appreciation from the people. And I also got a strong feeling with Holland, 5 weeks ago I played in the Asta, had an amazing time as well.

Trance.nu: Are you going to focus more on your DJ career this year, because of the fact that you get offered more and more gigs lately?
Mike: Actually no.. Most people expect it from me and say, come on go to the top 25 of DJ'S, but I don't aim for that goal. I don't want to be a top-billing DJ, however some people say I have a big potential. But the top is not my aim, because I want to amuse myself during DJ'ing, but when you are in the top I think my fun during the DJ'ing will disappear and when I get that feeling I will focus more on producing. But all DJ gigs that I play now, I do them with alot of pleasure. But when I don't feel comfortable with that anymore, I step out of it, despite the most wanted place on the top 20 DJ Mag list or the big money involved. But if people vote for me, and I go up, because they appreciate me, I'm happy. But I'm not going to look for more exposure.

Trance.nu: You entered the DJ Mag top 100 instantly on spot number 50. Did you expect that?
Mike: Absolutely not, I thought around the 80-75 and I'm still not busy with it, although some people keep telling me that I can rise till 25. But if that happens I hope it will be of the combination music/DJ'ing that I do, because I have my own sound (proggy,trancy, electro, techy). Other DJ's do it more with other people's work and go to the top. I have more respect for TiŽsto, Paul van Dyk and Armin that work for it and all create their own music and work hard for it 24/7. If there was a DJ spotting number 1, that just played records like any other DJ, then I would not have a good feeling about that.

Trance.nu: How was your reaction on your #50 spot?
Mike: uuhh ... serious? *laughs*. A little surprise, 50 is still 50.. But when u think, there's like 10.000 DJ's in the world, then it definatly is still cool and it adds to your market value, absolutely. But for the rest I'm not so busy with it. If I rise next year, I'm happy, If I go down, I'm just as happy.

Trance.nu: You made a couple of mix-albums, like Battle Of The DJ's and soon you will mix a CD for Armada with Signum. Can you reveal something about the style and the tracks?
Mike: For Armada, it probably will be a CD without Signum, but an own mix-CD from me. And I will also do the compilation for Antwerp Is Burning. The concepts are different, we ofcourse got the Push album now and soon the M.I.K.E. album and two mix-cd's. It will be a perfect reflection of M.I.K.E.'s sound and how I spin and not really the music that I make. And that's where I want to split more into the future, between the producing and the DJ'ing, because these are two different professions. It's the same person, but still two very different things.

Trance.nu: What are your favourite records at the moment?
Mike: Too difficult, I got so many good records and that varies every week. Sorry, but can't answer this one.

Trance.nu: With such a busy DJ and producing life, is there anything else to do besides the music for M.I.K.E.?
Mike: Yes, snowboarding, I got a close circle of friends, that are very important to me. Those guys support me very hard. I also got a girlfriend that I spend time with. I try to fill in my time as good as possible, but ofcourse DJ'ing and music eats most of my time. But I can't complain, I'm a very happy person!

Trance.nu: And what about the future, will M.I.K.E. stay in the music business, or is there a time that you will do something different?
Mike: I think in the future the time will come that I will do something different. Why? Because I'm a creative person, constantly looking for new challenges, It started all very young, busy with samplers and now artistically I'm growing, I'm getting a little older so.. well maybey I'll see myself creating paintings in The Provence in France. *laughs* So you never know, I'm creative and I like to do stuff, which varies from paintings till working in the garden.

Trance.nu: What can we expect soon about productions from M.I.K.E.?
Mike: First on Armada now M.I.K.E. presents Fascinated - Totally Fascinated. It's a side-project that has almost nothing to do with the M.I.K.E. project, but it's still a "presents Fascinated" and once a year I will continue this project. It's more or less proggy eletric. And ofcourse the new M.I.K.E. track called Massive Motion, the new single from Push in september is called R.E.S.P.E.C.T. and for the rest I'm continuing to work on my most important projects. Feature projects with Armin, maybey Marco V, John "00" Flemming, let's not forget him. A new single we did together will be finished soon called "Dame Blanche".

Trance.nu: What about remixes for other artists?
Mike: No, I refuse quit alot of remixes lately, because I wanna concentrate on my own work and personality instead of pushing other people to the top. I think it was about time to think about myself.

Trance.nu Short Questions:
Best Track Ever: LSG - Hidden Sun Of Venus for the dance and for the pop everything from Depeche Mode.
Best/important own production: Very difficult, I think ofcourse the emotion in Universal Nation. Hard to describe, but I think it can change your mood while listening to that track.
Best own remix: Alot of people say Sinnead O'Connor - Troy, but I thought Moby - In This World was pretty good, which has never been commercially released, but only featured on special promo packages and some compilations.. It was kinda groovy trance. But Sinnead O'Connor - Troy was musicwise a very strong remix.
Best club: Ai Ai, difficult. Worldwide I love Godskitchen in Birmingham. Gallery in London is ace. Asta in The Hague, Holland is awesome. I love alot of clubs worldwide from Malta to Australia where I will go soon.
Best DJ: Me *laughs* Well, it's so difficult, because everybody has his own style. I have no real favourite DJ, but technically I think John "00" Flemming is awesome.

Trance.nu: Thanks for your time and good luck in the future!
Mike: Same to you guys.

After this interview Mike presents us some new tracks like the new Active Sight (even hotter then the first one), the new themetrack of Antwerp Is Burning, new releases on the Club Elite label. Also a fantastic new progtrancy mix of the new track Mike presents Fascinated - Fascinated. The remix is a relaxing deep trance track. Alltogether, we can say that the upcoming music from Mike is something to watch out for.

Special thanks to M.I.K.E., Marnik and the rest of the Banshee crew arranging everything for us.
Major thanks to Twan (Dancemania) for joining me and helping me out again!


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