Hailing from Vinica in Macedonia, Mihail P is re-forging a vision of classic techno in his own mould
Hailing from Vinica, a small town in East Macedonia Mihail P (Mihail Petrovski) is part of a new generation of artists re-forging a vision of classical techno in their own mould. A student of Architecture and Design in his mid twenties, he grew up with sounds of Vangelis, Kraftwerk, Jean Michael Jarre, Pink Floyd emanating from the home stereo – which has no doubt played a part in shaping the resonance of his musical taste.
After discovering the sounds of UK and Detroit Techno courtesy of Timeline Radio and the Estimuloshow, over the last couple of years he’s struck solid links and friendships with Paul Rimbaud from Distant Worlds, Domenic Cappello and Verdant boss Andy Green who have all played a part in giving him a platform to develop his sound. In turn, exposing him to ever increasing circles and genres of music that he likes to immerse himself in. Between his studies and making music, Mihail likes to draw, especially using black and white ink – having found his way with the technique from quite a young age – it’s a hobby he also likes to indulge as much as he can.
Alongside the drawing, he does a lot of graphic design as a freelancer. As he puts it: “I’m a sucker for a good conceptual design, and am really into beautifully crafter records with sleeve art”. We reached out to Mihail to find out a more about his background and his take on making magnetic sounds:
What’s the electronic music scene like in Macedonia?
“When I was growing up, the older heads used to put on great parties in my town. They’d book DJs from different parts of Macedonia that would come and play and it was really an eye opening experience. Nowadays, most of the electronic music events happen in our capital, which is logical of course. But I’d like to see younger people start spreading this sound in as many places as possible.”
Who’s doing good things in your country right now?
“Well, there’s plenty techno artists who are doing great things here. People like Mosaik Kollektif, Herzel, Stojche, Samoil Radinski are doing so much for the scene and are our ambassadors really. Stojche currently resides in Berlin where he often plays at Tresor. Mosaik are releasing on labels worldwide and their music is played by the likes of Carl Craig and Joe from Roundaboud Music. Herzel is constantly asked to play live for labels like Uncanny Valleys and Hivern Discs. Unfortunately, there aren’t many record labels running here nowadays. Argumento was run by Stojche and Sound Diffusion (Aleksandar Vidinovski and Darko Packi) but they’re sadly now de-funct. You’ll find digital labels like Logos Recordings where my music has featured and is run by Samoil Radinski, he really gives 100% to spread the sound of Detroit and good music in general. PMG Recordings is also another label that deserves a mention – that’s been around since the 90s, releasing a fusion of many genres, from electronic, techno, trance, electro to progressive rock and post punk.”
How did you get introduced to the underground side of things then?
“It was mostly through discovering online radio shows. Those people are the true heroes, digging deep to find the right tunes and present it to listeners for a whole new experience in sound. Andy Green from Verdant also helped me define and understand the real meaning of the word ‘deep’. The word is used and abused these days but I guess it’s all subjective- it’s all about what resonates with you.”
Who are your heroes/biggest musical influences?
“I don’t like to say heroes, because of the old saying, ‘never meet your heroes’ is often proven too right. I call it inspiration and don’t dwell further on it than that. But as for my biggest influences, I’d definitely put artists such as B12, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Autechre, Dan Curtin, The Black Dog, Terrace, Insync & Mysteron, Kenny Larkin, early Carl Craig productions etc. The past couple of years, labels like Regelbau, Analogue Attic, and a constant source of inspiration is CK’s radio shows. The old styles and sounds are coming back right now and people like C.K., Roza Terenzi and many more are digging deep to present tunes from the past we missed the first time around. Big kudos for that!”
And when it comes to your design work?
“Well, I am studying Architecture and Design. So, many of the subjects I took in university were art subjects, that’s where I really developed my interests on this front. Learning about the Bauhaus movement, Arts & Crafts, Piet Mondrian school: all these famous movements inspired me to start doing graphic design. First off, I started with simple off with poster designs for local artists and performers, then I went to do freelancing on different online sites, it’s how I made money and how I started buying records. These days, I am very much into abstract design. Think Autechre releases from 2015 on Warp Records, the whole series. Super inspirational! I was very much and still am under the influence of Kandinsky. He was the pioneer of the abstract genre. Piet Mondrian also from the De Stijl movement, who used primary colours and lines to create forms of art which are still very impressive today. Gerhard Richter, Jean-Michel Basquiat too. I should also give special mention to the work of Gridpattern aka David Watson who did the artwork for my latest split release on Magnonic Signals with Spin Fidelity.”
What inspired you to start making music?
“I’ve always wanted to create and make things, even when I was a toddler! When all the other kids would play with toys that had been bought or given to them as presents, I was much more into making my own toys. I’d also design castles from cardboard and let my imagination go wild. So, when I discovered electronic music, I wondered how to go about doing it – create such an atmosphere in the track. I really love the ambience of early UK Techno, the atmosphere presented and how it all works together. It’s always a personal journey for me, regardless of what the artist had in mind while producing, you always find your own interpretation: mind music for sure.”
How did you go about it?
“I managed to get an old version of Ableton and a couple of VSTs as well as an old version of Traktor, they were definitely my two best buddies at the time. I’d spend hours trying to figure out what’s what, can I do this or that. I had zero help, so I had to figure it all on my own which is the best way to learn anything really, not just in music but life in general. It’s also a tip for starters, don’t follow trends or what’s in right now, do your own thing and stick to it. Don’t follow any formulas and never repeat yourself. Always try to be inventive and find your own technique, not techniques that are proven to work. It should be a journey best taken alone.”
What equipment do you have now?
“I’m still completely computer based. An old friend once said: Technology is limiting, creativity is boundless. That’s what kept me going and still does it for me after all these years. It’s not what you have, it’s how you use it and getting the results you want. Some people still can’t believe I do it all on a Personal Computer. I know machines are more flexible and hands on, but I actually enjoy spending hours doodling inside Ableton. My next goal is definitely putting some hardware together and working on playing live.”
Do you have a particular approach you take with writing then?
“I always tend to try something different. Atmosphere is very important to me, it’s probably the thing which I base most of my music on. I get easily inspired by a tiny fraction of a sample, a string or a simple chord: I start building from there. Inspiration is everything when it comes to writing music. When I feel like I have captured the right atmosphere, it just flows from there. When I think I’ve finished a tune, I let it sleep for a while and come back after a week or two, sometimes a month. If it still sounds good, it’s a great sign then and it’s ready to take on to the world… haha! As my musical listening and tastes change, so does my mood and I forget about tunes I make, even if they’re great ones. I guess there’s a time and place for every track to be listened to and appreciated, for all that it is.”
Where do you see the line between house and techno?
“It’s a blurry line for sure. I like to experiment with records, and play them at the wrong speed, so most of the time many house records can sound techno when played fast enough and vice versa. But I like to see house and techno as a whole. Both genres have implemented elements from each other, which can only be a good thing. I very much like tunes that are crossing the line between house and techno, it’s the perfect combination and such tunes can be really helpful in everyone’s set.” your most influential records?
What would you say are your most influential records?
Link – The First Link EP – Evolution
“This EP for me is what I like to call essential music. It has everything you look for in a good techno record. It has the soul, the emotion, the passion and crisp production. It sounds ethereal, taking influences from Detroit. The whole record has a real melancholic vibe, most present in the Amenity track (at least for me). It’s been a great influence on me over the years, and probably the record that taught me that you can create very emotional pads if you put your heart into it.
Various – Likethemes – Likemind Records
“This Various Artist EP is something of a holy grail to me. All four tracks represent a moment in time in my life when I was content, so I like to remind myself of that fulfilment when I’m listening to this record. They are all super emotional, and it’s a record that needs to be listened to from start to finish. Some of my most cherished memories are held in these four tracks. Also, when I first heard Redcell ‘The Silicon Garden’, I think that sealed the deal that I wanted to be a producer. The atmosphere is so special in every track, each one taking you on a proper journey. Can’t big up this EP enough because no words can really explain how I feel about this record.
69 – Lite Music – Planet E
“This is another very influential record, Carl Craig was untouchable back then. He was able to create such a mysterious vibe, which was pretty much very present in all his early works. Probably what drew me to this in the first place was the atmosphere. Tracks like ‘Desire’ and ‘Microlovr’ have that eerie ambience going on, you can’t get enough. ‘Microlovr’ is definitely among my top 5 tunes ever. Also, what I picked up from this record is that techno is not only electronic music made by machines, but that it can also be funky and very human.”
Various – Artificial Intelligence (I & II) – Warp Records
“These two compilations tingled my interest to a whole new world of sound. As the curators of the series said, ‘at the time, we wanted to present music that was not only intended for the club but also for home listening. Are you sitting comfortably in your chair?’ Electronic music doesn’t always have to be aimed at the dance floor and this is proof of that. Music that’s as much for the mind as it is for the feet. It’s still as influential as the first day I heard it. I tend to go back to it a lot when I lack inspiration, and want to restore my creative flow. It’s a mix of many genres, where every listener can find something to their liking, that’s why it acclaimed such a big success at the time.”
Code 6 – Untitled – Experimental
“Code 6 aka Joey Beltram released this record in 1993, the year I was born. Of course, I got to know this release many years after it was initially released through digging but since then I’ve never stopped listening to this record. Recently re-issued on Midnight Drive (big up to them for doing the re-issue), it’s a record that every electronic lover should have in their collection. All four tracks stand out on their own, every track showcasing the talent that Joey Beltram has. It’s been a cornerstone of inspiration for me, and in honour of that I dedicated a track on my upcoming Distant Worlds EP to it (the hint is in the track title). Also, this is where I first acquired the taste for using breaks.”
How did you link up with Seventh Sign for your first EP?
“I owe it all to Andy Green from Verdant. He’s a close friend with Domenic Cappello, the owner of Seventh Sign. Dom and Andy got talking and he told Andy that he was looking for a young producer that would fit his label. Andy suggested me and then before I knew it – Domenic (and Graham) got in touch. I was over the moon, they showed a genuine interest in my music and wanted to release an EP. The tunes that ended up on the record are actually some of my first things I wrote and finished. At that time, most of my stuff was just sketches and ideas. But Domenic gave me the proper motivation to sit down and try to finish things. ‘Semblance’ was the first piece of work I properly finished. They liked that one and kept it. Later on, I wrote ‘Theta Wave’ which they also liked, and then the last one was ‘Sonder’ which, in the words of Domenic, was the best thing I’d done at that time. They invited Gnork to do a remix which really blew me away as I’m a big fan of his work. As debuts go, it had a great reception from people right across the board and it really opened many doors for me for, which I’m forever grateful for.”
And what have you got coming up next?
“I have another solo EP coming in the summer on Distant Worlds, this time a more laid back affair, which is a sound I have grown closer and closer to thanks to Paul. Then I have a remix coming out on a new label from the UK, a great debut release I must add! Really looking forward to this one and then there’s another Various Artist EP on Magnonic Signals. That’s about it for now…”