The genre-bending phenom discusses his latest collaboration with Emmure, his anticipated debut album and how relishes his role as a ‘fuckin’ weirdo’.
If there is any common denominator to the methodology of Mike’s Dead, it’s to always keep ’em guessing.
The chameleon-like craftsman has been cultivating a wholly-convinced fanbase since surfacing strong in 2018. Sourcing elements of rock, industrial, pop and hip hop in way that celebrates his darker end of the stylistic spectrum, the young disruptor has been flouting convention from the jump – launching a varied musical assault dictated only by his overarching vision.
Earlier this year, Mike found an ally in his takeover, joining Hopeless Records and establishing a working kinship that gave him the continued freedom to create without restraint. Setting the bar for what would be a pivotal 2023, Mike dropped his label debut, “Puppets”, ushering in a new era for young phenom.
The equivalent to arriving at the front door of the party with a battering ram, “Puppets” underscores the kind of audacity that has become Mike’s signature. Combining his influences with authenticity, the artist/producer’s ability to meld contrasting styles to craft something all his own is a strength that bears with it infinite potential.
Following up his emphatic record label arrival, Mike recently delivered another glimpse into his psyche with the release of ‘Welcome to Hell” enlisting Frankie Palmeri of Emmure for a dose of added damnation. Executing arguably one of his most aggressive cuts to date, the track not only asserts the kind of range unique to Mike’s Dead, but also underscores the kind of wherewithal he has in wisely selecting who can assist in making his vision come to fruition.
With a debut full length still in the works, Mike’s grand scheme is still a working progress. While each single offers an indication of the kind of wallop on the way, the stylistic about face of each track is one that keeps fans on their toes and ensures Mike can continue to thrive as an artist that colors best outside the lines. .
Coupled with his latest drop, Mike spoke with Knotfest about how he relishes his role as a creative outlier and how his single “Welcome to Hell” is the intended to be a harbinger of the heft to come.
How did the collaboration with Frankie Palmeri from Emmure take shape? What was the process like in terms of sharing ideas, songwriting and finding common ground with what you both wanted the track to be?
Mike – The idea came up one day through my manager Clay, who works closely with Frankie’s manager Shawn. I’ve known about Emmure for awhile and I instantly loved the idea. Frankie & I live on opposite ends of the country so we never had the chance to actually get in the studio to write together, but everything still sounds incredibly cohesive. I’ve had “Welcome to Hell” sitting around for quite some time, waiting to get the right feature on it and Frankie crushed it. His low guttural screams layered with my high frys sound downright animalistic.
‘Welcome to Hell’ is pretty big stylistic departure from your “#1 Crush” cover and “Puppets” – Was this always intended to be released sequentially like that? It really serves well in showcasing your range.
Mike – Honestly, I wanted to follow up “Scream & Shout” with “Welcome To Hell,” then “Crush,” then “Puppets.” With Valentine’s Day being in February, we ended up focusing “#1 Crush” around it to give it more texture. I’ve had “Welcome to Hell” in my folder since 2020. I’ve played different versions of it out at different festivals. It used to have a rocktronic drop that was way more EDM focused, but we wanted to take it even bigger. This song is definitely my favorite out of all of those; it’s right in my range and really showcases the versatility I have as an artist.
Your style is tough to define. That seems like something you take pride in – defying category. Do you think being the odd man out in terms of genre makes you more of a threat?
Mike – Yeah, it’s kinda fun being a fuckin’ weirdo. At the end of the day the best way to define it is industrial metal/ industrial hip-hop, but there’s definitely songs that don’t fit in those categories. I have tracks like “Welcome To Hell” that are a bit more metalcore, and it’s fun to be able to branch out and have different takes. All the releases are cohesive with what Mike’s Dead is. You’ll always get Mike’s Dead… you just never know which part.
The escalation in your music seems to be ramping up. Especially with a song like ‘Welcome To Hell” – it seems like a cautionary statement. Is the music headlining in a harder, heavier direction?
Mike – Definitely. Everything is heavier. Everything is louder. Everything is darker. There will always be moments that pay homage to the lighter side of Mike’s Dead – like the pre chorus on “Welcome to Hell,” but overall the music is headed in a heavier lane. I think you need both to be successful or you end up pigeonholing yourself.
Trap metal. Nu-metal. Do you feel like being labeled in that way pigeonholes you?
Mike – Trap metal label for sure. I’m not really a trap metal artist; I have maybe a few trap metal songs like “Revenge”, but most of my stuff is more Nu-metal or Industrial. All the forthcoming stuff is reallly industrial. That’s more of my niche. I don’t think being labeled in a certain way affects things though. Everyone has an opinion nowadays. They’re either gunna like you or hate you.
Your upcoming tour schedule includes dates with Ice Nine Kills and Set It Off – not many artists can be that versatile. What about your sound do you think resonates across such a broad range of artists so that you work on almost any tour?
Mike – I think it comes down to authenticity. A majority of artists are just replicating the same old shit; making the same old formulaic songs… it’s all super stale. I think it takes years and years to really craft something unique that has a message to get it to a point where it’s undeniable. I hate to sound corny but music is an energy; and even if that music isn’t your taste, but the ENERGY is right… you start to understand it more.
This full length debut feels imminent. Without revealing too much, what can people expect when that debut studio album is finally announced?
Mike – We’re actually still keeping that at bay. I’ve probably produced the debut album at least 3 times now but with the evolving sound I end up bumping those songs to the upcoming EP’s. Everything moves down the ladder with the bigger songs I end up writing. That being said, the debut album (when we finally get there) is going to be top to bottom artistry. I want it to be something I can live & die by. Something that really makes a statement and sets the band & I up for a never ending future. You’ll get a taste of what I’m talking about as we keep rolling out these EP singles.
“Welcome to Hell” from Mike’s Dead featuring Emmure is now available via Hopeless Records – HERE
Mike’s Dead will begin a summer stretch of tour dates next month supporting both horrorcore veterans Ice Nine Kills in addition to dates with Set It Off. A list of dates and cities can be found below.
Get tickets – HERE