Media favours conformity over originality, says DJ

One of the biggest names in the country’s electronic music scene decries the ungratefulness and unruliness of his fellow countrymen

Three years ago Mike Sheridan’s debut electronica album ‘I Syv Sind’ (Of Two Minds) spent seven weeks in Denmark’s Top 40, and won a Danish Grammy for ‘Best Electronica Album’. His single ‘Med Små Skridt’ (With Small Steps) spent several months at number 1 on iTunes Denmark, his track ‘Too Close’ (ft Mads Langer), was featured on an episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries’, and in 2009 Sheridan played at Roskilde. And all of this happened before Mike Sheridan had his 18th birthday.

How old were you when you first started playing around with electronic music? How did it happen?

I’d just turned nine. I started  playing with music on the computer kind of accidentally. Then it quickly became a language of some sort, with blocks of sound. When I first heard electronic music I was 13, and it was an incredible soundscape. Generating sound kind of triggered me, like if you fall in love with someone and you just – you don’t doubt it at all. It’s just like: this is the thing I’m going to be doing.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up? Before you heard electronica?

I’ve grown up with classic rock, like Led Zeppelin and the Doors. The Beatles never interested me; I was more into Jimi Hendrix. The thing that fascinates me with rock music, and folk music, is the great musicianship that makes the music come alive. And that’s what’s difficult in the computer.

How does being so young affect the way you were perceived in the industry?

When you’re at a club with your parents, just 14 years old, you feel very young. Everyone is drunk and happy, and you’re just completely scared of everything, but still drawn to it. Now I don’t really think about it much. I think my oldest friend is 90 years old, and we can talk about music.

Do you think you were less likely to be taken seriously because you were so young?

Yeah, a lot of the Danish DJs were like: “Why is he getting paid the same as me?” It faded and you quickly found out those people were more busy doing nothing and bragging, so why waste time? I found my group of people who supported me and eventually all the hype disappeared. I’ve learned a lot from the DJs and promoters out there, and we respect each other. It took a bit of time, but it was worth it.

What are the best and worst parts of being a musician?

Worst thing in Denmark is that it’s extremely hard to find an audience. The media coverage (compared to England or Germany) destroys the possibility of making anything original popular in Denmark. It’s only commercial music, there’s no underground coverage, no classical coverage that gets young people interested. I’m getting so extremely bored with playing club gigs for Danish audiences because they’re so ungrateful. You’ve been to clubs in Copenhagen?

I haven’t yet.

No? Be afraid – take precautions! People are extremely drunk and people are extremely rude. They just want to get drunk and f**k each other’s girlfriends. It’s horrible. It’s a horrible environment to be in, the places where you can play this sort of music. I think it’s actually rubbish saying that I don’t enjoy it because I should be finding it extremely interesting. It’s just been the same for so long that I need a change. So I’ve chosen to play live gigs, cut down on everything else, and do something that I feel really matters.

What about the best part of being a musician?

The best part? It’s the best thing in the world.

What inspires you?

I made eleven tracks in three years that I thought were good enough to put on a record. I have to experience something over a long time, I have to go out, drink wine, meet people, travel – then suddenly all these things that are inspiring – that in itself is where the music and structures come from. I have a certain passage, a place on the new record that’s like: this is me on my way to Paris and this is me coming home from this and this is me seeing a skyscraper for the first time. There’s not a second that’s not thought out.

It’s been three years since the last album – how is this new album different?

The sound has changed because I’ve recorded every second instead of creating it with a computer. It’s the complete opposite working method to the last one. Sound-wise, it’s more real dynamics, it’s real. I’m looking forward to seeing what people think of it. I like to seeing how I can make people react. I don’t think it’s going be the easiest thing for people to hear and get the first time.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? How do you think your music is going to change? Do you think you’ll still be creating electronic music?

I don’t think much about in five years, in ten years, 20 years. I’ve been thinking about getting an old house, out on Amagerbro, in one of the old neighborhoods out there. A really busted place, and I’d like, cut the garden down and restore it a bit, build stuff, and cook food and just go up on the first floor and play on my weird instruments and record stuff. Being isolated in the middle of everything, a place where you can daydream…