Once the lead singer of Island Records’ group Gentlemen Hall, Cobi Mike is now venturing out in the world of music on his own. In an attempt to break free from the harsh qualities of the music industy and fully deliver his image of his music to the world, Cobi Mike has bravely debuted as a solo artist, releasing two singles “Walking Through Fire” and “First Snow” from his soon to be debut EP. MEB editor Emma had the chance to talk with him about adapting to his new era as a musician.
After a good run with your band Gentlemen Hall, can you go into detail on why you decided to part ways with the band?
There wasn’t one thing that made me decide to leave the group. It was many things spanned over years. Ultimately, the politics became more important than the art itself and that’s when it was time for me to move on. We ended up being surrounded by people that didn’t have our best interest at heart. It’s sad to say, but the music industry is full of people that don’t give a shit about music or artists. They are only there to leach off your hard work when things are good, then turn their back on you when things are tough. I put my whole life into that project and I don’t have any regrets. I did learn some hard lessons and found out how important it is to surround yourself with the right people that believe in what you’re doing.
Now that you have dropped your debut solo EP, how are you feeling about the changes you’ve made to your career and style as a musician?
Well I haven’t really dropped an EP yet. I recently released two singles, “Walking Through the Fire” and “First Snow”. I’m really excited to release the music video for “Walking Through the Fire” in the next few weeks. I think it’s the best music video I’ve ever done. Aside from that I’ll be releasing an EP very soon. I put my blood, sweat, and tears into the making of this music and there is nothing I hold more sacred. Change is one of my favorite topics to write about. It always brings on a transformation of the spirit, making us grow as human beings. That was a big part of the inspiration for this EP.
What was it like recording an EP on your own, compared to when you would make music in a full band?
Every band dynamic is different but I always love working with other musicians. Collaborating has helped me grow individually as an artist more than anything else. It gives you perspective on your weaknesses and strengths. However, I did find it refreshing to be able to call all the shots and go with my instincts on this EP. One thing you have to be wary of when working with other artists is second guessing yourself. Sometimes your instincts take you in the right direction and having another artist in the room may make you think twice. It’s all about capturing magic in the studio. If you feel its special, it probably is.
What was the most challenging part of creating your solo music?
Keeping up with my ideas. It’s hard to finish them all. It takes a lot of time and focus to complete even one song from top to bottom. And when I say finish a song, I don’t just mean chords, melody, and lyrics. I mean fleshing out the entire recording and production. I’ve written so many songs on my acoustic guitar, but it’s not real to me until it becomes tactile. It has to live on its own, separate from me having to play it in order to be complete. I have new ideas everyday but it may take a month to finish one. Sometimes longer.
When in the studio, what came out of you that most surprised you?
Whenever I’m writing and producing, I sometimes have moments when it feels like the music is creating itself and I’m just watching it come into existence. Those are the moments of magic that keep me in the studio everyday.
How would you compare your solo music to your previous work? Are you trying to stray or remain close to what you and your fans already know?
My current work is unfiltered and more raw in expression. Toward the end of the Gentlemen Hall days a song had to sound a certain way and fit into a mold in order to be Gentlemen Hall. Now I say whatever I want in my music. My voice isn’t filtered through a long list of people. I’m not concerned with what people would like to hear. I’m only interested in making music that excites me and makes me feel alive. I strive to break molds and try things I’ve never done. Greet myself in a thousand other forms.
Your use of vocals and heavy synth really capture a big sound from your tracks. What inspired this powerful style, along with the other elements you’ve brought to the table?
A lot of experimenting. Recording tons of ideas and then stripping them away. I think of songs and production as energy. I try to build tension and release by having stripped down motifs throw you into a wall of sound. I like big drums, big guitars, and quirky instruments that are rarely heard in popular music. Mixing world instruments like flutes, sitars, strings, percussion, with modern influences like synths and drum machines.
How have Gentlemen Hall fans been reacting to your solo work?
Gentlemen Hall fans are the most supportive people on the planet. I can’t say enough good things about them. They are truly amazing people. I just want say thank you to them for creating so many great memories and I look forward to making many more. It’s only the beginning.
What part of your EP were you most satisfied with when completed?
I don’t know if I’ll ever be satisfied with my work. The moments of satisfaction come and go as I’m working. Once it’s behind me, I break my attachment and it’s no longer mine.
Now that you’ve made your solo debut, what are your plans for the rest of 2015?
I’ll be touring throughout the rest of the year and finishing up a full length album.
Before we end this interview, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and supporters?
Huge thank you to the supporters of artists all around the world!
Cobi Mike’s SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/cobimike