Swiss producer Michael Elliot first caught my ear earlier this year with his stunning remix of Labtracks’ ‘Robotic Love’ on Macarize, which showcased his ability to combine progressive house, trance and nu disco influences to make incredible melody-laden music. Since then his productions have been supported by the likes of Roger Shah, Answer42 and Richard Durand and he’s about to release a rocking remix of Valentin’s ‘Decode’ on WeRecommend Records on Tuesday. So I caught up with Michael to talk top tracks, musical influences, his love for Macarize, his production style, dream remixers and what’s coming up next for the boy wonder…
Welcome Michael! As a relatively new face on the progressive house scene, can you please tell us a bit more about yourself and how/when/why you started making music?
Well first I wanted to say thank you for the interview! I’m 24 and I’m from Switzerland. My interest in dance music started when I was 7 years old – some older boys were outside running around with ghetto blasters and listening to some kind of happy hardcore. That was the perfect sound for a hyperactive kid like me – I spent hours trying to find this sound on the radio, but unfortunately couldn’t find anything like it and was really disappointed. My musical career started when I was 9 and took up the violin, but I was always more interested in the keyboard which my violin teacher had. A few years later, when trance was taking over Europe, my father was checking out some CD shops and bought me some stuff, including the official Street Parade 1999 compilation which was mixed by DJ Tatana. After that I knew I had to make music like this and I started going to record stores to buy vinyls. I took my first steps as a producer with a software program called E-Jay and Dancemaker, but after a few years of using this software it got boring and I wanted to create my own melodies, so I ended up using Reason – which I still use today.
How would you describe the Michael Elliot sound – and why the name Elliot as your artist name (Michael’s real surname is Lefebre)?
My sound is very melodic, happy but also meloncholic. It’s between trance, progressive house and indie dance/nu disco. I took the best elements of all these different styles I like and created my own sound. It always has to be more melodic and less minimal – but I’m really not the type to fit into genres.
With regards to my name – that’s actually a very weird story. The name Michael Elliot was created by a friend of mine. We always used to watch the TV show ‘Scrubs’ together and one of the characters is a female doctor called Elliot Reed, and in one show she has a boyfriend called Mike. Somehow they meet each other and say each other’s name – MIKE?? ELLIOT?? And after that scene my friend looked at me and said that would be a good name for you. So that’s the mystery behind the MICHAEL ELLIOT
You’ve already acknowledged your 80s influences, can you tell us more about who or what your biggest musical influences & inspirations are?
I was made in the 80s and I think it’s probably in my blood, but it’s not my main theme. A lot of my inspirations for my own songs come from old 70s, 80s and 90s pop songs. I look at the structures of songs and maybe take some inspiration from there – some example include Phil Collins, Kool & the Gang, Styx and Player. My biggest electronic influences are Chicane, DJ Tonka, Eric Prydz and Tiesto. In fact, Tiesto is the reason why I’m here and doing this interview with you Lucy. In 2002 the track ‘Lethal Industry’ came out and it just blew my mind. Then I discovered the ‘In Search Of Sunrise’ series and fell in love!
Do you prefer producing remixes or original tracks?
At the moment I would prefer to make more originals, but it’s good that I receive a lot of requests for remixes. I always try to make something different to the original, but I guess that’s what everybody says
What’s your favourite track that you’ve produced or remixed to date and why? Which one are you most proud of?
I love them all and they’re my babies. The one I like most is my bootleg of ‘De Nuit’. I loved the original but I think my musical interpretation of the track sounds pretty good. I can identify very well with the lyrics; everybody has had a summer love or a partner who left them, and the lyrics are about that memory of a beloved person. The chords and the bell sounds just came to me easily. A good track opens up images, memories and emotions – I think that’s the main point of music.
To date your tracks have received support from the likes of Roger Shah, Richard Durand and Answer42 – how does that feel?
It’s just amazing! I’m very thankful, because these guys are all like my mentors. I grew up listening to their stuff and it’s just an honour that they are supporting me. Thank you guys. If you give me your address, I will send you Swiss chocolate
Do you DJ as well?
Yes. I started with vinyls and changed 2 years ago to Traktor. But at the moment I’m more focused on producing.
Who would you most like to: a) remix, b) remix one of your tracks and c) collaborate with on an original track?
a) I would love to remix Lifelike’s Discopolis. This track is just so sexy. If you think it’s not sexy then just watch the official videoclip…
b) David Folkebrant. We have the same taste and I’m very curious about how it would sound. He was also one of my first supporters and we got to know each other about a year ago via Soundcloud.
c) Ellie Goulding. Her voice is just amazing. I saw her live in Switzerland and she’s a great performer. I like the way she combines electronic elements with acoustic/ classical ones.
What are your top 5 tracks right now and why?
1. Thomas Feijk – Hi (Original Mix) (Macarize)
This is the tune of 2011 for me. You can play it in a club because of the heavy bass and it has this lovely vocal sound which defines the whole track for me. The break is relaxing and not too long and then after a few seconds comes the heavy bass again. I would make it the same way – it’s just perfect.
2. Envotion – The Last Wave (Anjunadeep)
This is what I like about Envotion. They make progressive house but it’s completely incomparable to anyone else’s. The kick and snare could be from a rock song and the the synth lead is just inimitable. The title of the track and the sound just fit really well together.
3. Luca Lombardi – Nowhere People (Original Mix) (Neuroscience Deep)
I like the warm atmoshere of this track. It’s the perfect track to open a warm-up set to get the crowd in the right mood.
4. The Knocks – The Brightside (Lenno Remix) (A/M Octone)
It’s my good morning song. I turn it on and I’m happy! I’m a big fan of Lenno and I think he’ll be really big.
5. Pryda – 2Night
A classic Pryda track. This is my ‘workout’ song when I go for a run. I like how he created his own style and just continues with it. He’s already a legend.
Obviously you’re part of the Macarize family – what is that you love so much about the label?
I love Macarize. Kris is just a genius in how he sorts out tracks for his label. Macarize is not only a label, it’s a second family for me. If I had troubles he would try his best to help me, but he’s also very direct when he doesn’t like something. That’s what I like and need. I think we’re seeing the beginnings of a very big label in Macarize.
What are you working on at the moment and what’s coming up next for you?
I’ve just finished a remix for my Italian friend Vitodito of his track Fede. I also made an original for Macarize, but I’m not allowed to say any more right now
On 6th december my remix for Valentin’s ‘Decode’ is released and if you like 80s-influenced nu disco/indie dance then you should not miss this.
What are your ambitions for your music career and what do you hope to achieve with your music?
I love music and I’m on a journey to find myself right now and trying to pass on the love that I have for music to others. At the moment I’m trying to establish myself in the music world. I do it because I love it and it just feels natural to make music, not to make money or anything like that.
Thank you Michael! It’s been an honour to be a part of your musical journey and I can’t wait to hear what’s coming up next…