BY WENDY HUNG
Miguel Migs has been called “a true house music legend.” Fans around the world know him as one of the pioneers in the arena of nascent house, next to the likes of Dimitri from Paris and Bob Sinclar. Known for his sexy, chill and deep vibes, Miguel Migs has produced hundreds of remixes. Just as his intoxicating beats that provoke fans to dance, move and be inspired; in person, Migs’ intimate stories of childhood, discovery in underground electronic music scene, and soulful worldly travels connect listeners to an untouched realm of collected cool.
“I was always really drawn to: music, culture and traveling.” Migs candidly shares, “My parents were hippies, so there was always great music in the household. Zeppelin, Hendrix, the Stones, Jimmy Cliff, Muddy Waters…a lot of great music was always playing in the house.” From a young age, Migs was always interested in playing those records. With parents who were passionate music lovers, he frequently saw live shows, such as: The Who, and many more. Growing up in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz, he was a troubled kid who wasn’t too keen on attending school but devoted much enthralled energy to playing in local reggae bands in the garage. Although he was broke, living out of his band, leading a life centering around writing and playing music; he had a blast.
In 1990s, he came to San Francisco and began to sneak his way into underground warehouse music scene. Captivated by the communal aspect of what he witnessed: gay, straight, black, white and all types of people were dancing, titillated in moments with the music; Migs was immediately intrigued in the power of electronic and dance beats – a natural ability of bringing together all walks of life. In an effort to further absorb an experiment with electronic music, he bought a keyboard and suddenly began forming a full-time gig. “I never really went to school for formal education in engineering or music, so my music came from my interest and solely from a creative passion.”
Migs’ rise in the music industry evolved in a natural progression. Record labels started to pick up on his tracks, meanwhile, he was suddenly being booked for parties and events. He had consistently dedicated so much energy and interest into an unwavering passion, music became his full-time job despite that it wasn’t part of the intention. “I always knew I was going to be a part of the industry, one way or another. The main thing is, you have to really put yourself into something and really have the passion for it. This shows in what you do with your craft.” Migs continues, “Whether you’re an artist or a musician, it really has to come from the right place, so that’ll shine through in your work.” For a notable musician who never wanted to be an ultra successful professional, or a world-traveling DJ; he rose to the top simply because he’s more excited to release music for fans to feel inspired, which in turn, enlivens him to work harder and continue riding on the enjoyment of creativity.
According to Migs, for any artist, musician, chef, or painter, the best work derives from a place that is pure. An artist must do what he or she feels, if not, the element of spark an artist needs to thrive in a career will always be missing. “Of course you can explore, try new things. Some things may work, you might fall a few times, but that’s just a part of life of anyone who’s devoted their lives to the arts.” Migs emphasizes the process of enjoyment, “if I can turn a few people on to the music that I create, that’s a satisfying thing.” From merely a few people sitting in a lounge to thousands who are sunken in his soulful creations, Migs’ true stem of inspiration will always remain in how his music transcends in people’s moments and lives.
As an artist who is perpetually stimulated by every element of life, he credits inspiration for being open to embrace them. Keeping an open mind, upholding an appreciation for different tastes is also an enormous part of his success in music and as a person. Migs is a firm believer that, there is a place for everything. The fact that he personally prefers a certain style of music barely signifies there isn’t a place for it. He hopes that people can make their own decisions and be their own person, rather than following the sheep and digest what they are fed. To each its own.
Part of the thrilling life of a successful DJ is the nomadic component to traveling around the world, which Migs equates to opening a sense in pallets of life. For someone who has never traveled but adores multicultural cuisines: Italian, Japanese, or Indian, traveling is similar to an equal part of enjoyment with akin senses. Migs sees various elements that a traveler experiences on the road, from cultures to languages, as a way to step outside of comfort zones, which is healthy for the mind. “Humans are all creatures of habits, so it’s easy to get comfortable. But you’ve got to step outside of that, there’s so much to explore and be inspired by.” There aren’t many parts of the world Migs hasn’t stepped foot in. Outside of wowing away fans from South America to Asia, he ensures each travel experience is heightened with discovery for local flavors and a sincere interest in understanding different cultures.
Around the world and back, Thailand and Bali appear to be some of his favorite destinations. “The warmth of the people, partly due to the religion (Bali is mostly Hindu and Thailand is composed of mostly Buddhists,)” Migs recalls, “they’re so warm, welcoming and friendly. You can’t help but feel comfortable to be in that mind frame. We’re so used to the hustle and bustle pace in this business, it’s nice to be in an environment where people are genuinely happy. They bow just out of the kindness of their spirituality, even though they might be struggling like crazy just to make ends meet.” The way that locals in these cultures somehow find joy in life, continues to impress this traveling artist who has already seen so much of the world.
With last year’s release, Outside the Skyline (Om Records) and most recent from this week, Defected Presents House Masters – Miguel Migs (Defected Records,) Migs maintains to manifest in a career that he may still considers to be underground, while many infers to it as, precisely legendary. In life, he hopes to open a bar or restaurant someday, pulling a wide range of creative elements that he enjoys: lighting, sound, ambiance…etc. In music, he feels as though he has barely tapped into what he ultimately wants to do. His ideas persist to be ingrained, shooting at him from every angle. Like all true living artists, he complains there aren’t enough hours in a day. He aspires to release a whole live band project, or an infusion of funk, soul, disco and dub, suffused into dance and electronic music styles.
In this moment, he’s overpowered with inspiration, he craves to be in the studio and musically create away. “At the end of the day, I’m not making music to please everybody. I’m doing it because I enjoy it.” Plain and simple. Because to him, that’s what truly matters.