We had a quick sit down with superproducer Mike Thompson of Hexproof Productions. Mike opens up about his experience working with emerging and established artists internationally, and unpacks the knowledge he’s picked up throughout his musical journey.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?
I grew up in Mansfield, MA, a suburb just outside of Boston.
WHEN DID THE IDEA TO BE AN ARTIST/PRODUCER BEGIN?
I started as a composer and arranger and was hired to write string arrangements for an album by my current production partner, Black and Blue. We ended up producing that album together, and we’ve been running with it ever since!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PROJECT YOU’VE WORKED ON TO DATE?
I can’t say I have a favourite. Every project is unique in its way, and I learn equally from each of them. However, that first album I made with Sam taught me more than any single project since, and it’s an experience I think back on often.
CAN YOU ROUGHLY OUTLINE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS – FROM THE BEGINNING OF AN IDEA FOR A PROJECT OR A COLLABORATION TO THE POINT OF COMPLETION?
If I’m writing a song or co-writing in the room with someone, I typically start with a melodic or harmonic idea, program some drums, and get a sketch going. From there, it’s all in detail and making sure that everything works to move the song forward. These days, though, I spend a lot of time producing for Hexproof Productions, my production team with Sam Nickson, and we often make songs that have been written already. The artist or writer sends us a demo, we flesh out a production sketch for the track, track and produce vocals, and then get to the detail and refinement.
HOW IS THE REALITY OF BEING AN INDEPENDENT ARTIST/PRODUCER COMPARED TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF IT?
Some aspects are easier to handle than I expected, and some are harder. I never anticipated how much time I would spend administrating the business, sending stems back and forth, listening to and approving mixes, etc. But overall, it’s been a very positive experience for me and a part of my life that I’m exceptionally grateful for.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES AND DIFFICULTIES YOU FACE WHEN STARTING NEW PROJECTS?
Unlike some other composers and producers, I’m very comfortable with a blank page or session. Where I find my biggest struggle is finding my groove once I’ve started. There’s always an “ah-ha” moment, and that’s where the real work begins.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY CALM WHEN A PROJECT IS NOT GOING AS PLANNED?
There’s always a solution to any problem. It might not be an ideal solution, but it’s a solution. I try to keep that in mind whenever it looks like there’s no fix.
DO YOU HAVE ANY INSIGHTS, TIPS OR ADVICE FOR SOMEONE STARTING LOOKING TO START THEIR MUSIC CAREER AND LOOKING TO GET INTO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
Make lots of music, and spend time with people you admire. Be kind, and don’t get caught up in the lifestyle of the industry.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
I’m most proud of being able to help artists express their artistic vision. It’s the best feeling, and it’s always the same.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?
I try to relax and step away from music. I might watch movies, travel, or spend time with interesting people, people far more interesting than myself.
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE AWAY AFTER LISTENING TO YOUR WORK?
I hope people can find something that resonates with them in my music, regardless of what it is. I hope that at least one thing speaks to a listener.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOUR WORK?