Beautiful dream pop melodies, synths and topical influences are what better describes Millionyoung’s songs. There is a natural sense of cool that permeates Millionyoung’s songs as he stands at the forefront of the chillwave sound.
Mike Diaz is the man behind this Miami made musical project and we had the opportunity to exchange some words before his shows at The Redbury Hotel on September 30th and October 1st, both hosted by City Gazettes.
Diaz gave us a brief tour through the history of his band, including the good moments and the not-so-good good moments, and gave us deeper insight into how he managed to establish himself as one of Miami’s most respected artists.
You have been writing songs and playing as Millionyoung for over 7 years. How did everything start? When did you feel the need to start your music career?
I started playing music with friends in high school, but just for fun. In college, I started playing shows at places like PS-14 and Vagabond from time to time. Then I was struck by a car during my bike commute to work one day and ended up losing mobility in my right arm for a few months. As a result, I lost my day job and the only thing I could really do for money was DJ and play shows (one handed). Then I started uploading my music online and it was picked up by some blogs. That lead to getting offers to play out of town with bands I love, like Washed Out, Small Black, and Pictureplane. And I just haven’t looked back since.
It's not easy for an independent artist to not give up and continue doing what you love for so long. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
It definitely hasn't been easy. I've done my fair share of ridiculous 20+ hour drives to make it to shows, sleeping in a van or in the airport, and dealing with people who have tried to take advantage of me.
It's been a crazy ride these years, but I've learned a lot, and wouldn't change any of it. This journey has lead me to meet my favorite people, visit cool places, and make a lot of people dance and forget about their worries along the way.
Your sound has evolved and changed a lot over the years. You have played with different musicians, performed as a solo artist, and most recently, you put a full band together. What triggered your decision to switch from performing as a solo artist to collaborating with a band in less than a year?
I see Millionyoung as a constantly changing and growing project and sometimes that calls for a more intimate solo set up. Other times, it calls for something bigger and expansive with more of a band culture that provides instrument variety and volume multitude. I don't like the idea that it has to be one or the other all the time.
I'm excited to be working with a new band that allows my fuller, organic arrangements come to life in a fresh way. Kris Alvarez, and Sebs Hidalgo (of Sigh Kicks) and Daniella Chamorro (of Palette Town) make up the live band now, and the chemistry and energy couldn't be better. It's some of the most fun I've ever had playing music.
You are about to release a new album. Can you tell me a little about it?
The new album is called Rare Form. It's made up of a collection of songs I've written over the past couple of years. A lot has happened in that time, so there's sort of a loose narrative involved, which is something I haven't really explored in the past. It will be coming out in early 2017.
Sound wise, I think it's not too wild a departure from my previous work, but there's definitely some surprises. I've mostly been listening to Deep House, Vaporwave, and 70s Salsa for inspiration, so there's some new and interesting elements going on, meshed with what I already do.
You are pretty much a veteran in the local music scene. So, what do you think about Miami's Music scene as of late?
I'm really excited about the music scene lately. One of the coolest things right now is the rise of some incredibly talented women both on the electronic side with Poorgrrrl and Virgo, and female led rock and roll groups like Kill Mama, Long Shore Drift, and Cloud Solo. I believe JoJo from one of my favorite Miami bands, Bluejay, is working on some solo material as well, and I'm very excited for that. Every great music scene needs girls in the mix to really thrive.
I have a remix of a Virgo track that will be releasing soon, and plans to collaborate more with these great new bands.
You will soon be playing at a City Gazettes event. What can you tell about your live performances to someone who hasn't seen one of your shows before?
For the City Gazettes event I will be performing solo for the first time in awhile.
The solo sets give me the opportunity to be more experimental and improvisational. People seem to think if you have a lot of electronics you can't improvise, but I've found the opposite to be true. I'll be doing re-imagined versions of older songs, and a few new ones that will be out on the new record. People can expect a spacey set you can dance to without spilling your drink!
Make sure to keep your eyes open and your ears peeled for the release of his upcoming album in early 2017 via Mishu Muisc. Millionyoung is managed & booked by Gummdrops.