I love finding out about new artists. It’s like getting to open a different present every time someone new pops up. Some would say it feels like the first time you eat a new food. To me it’s a feeling of curiosity mixed with a cloudy atmosphere of ambiguity and as you realize who and what this person represents, the clouds start clearing. That’s the feeling I had when I was introduced to the beautiful eclectic sounds of a man by the name of Mike Degen. A musician who has the art of musical storytelling down to a science, Degen is working on an upcoming five track EP that transcends any kind of pop music in this day and age. He plays with musical arrangement like a puppet master, throwing in orchestral bursts, smooth jazzy vocals and primal drum rhythms to create dynamic combinations. Straight up, this guy is the truth.
If you’re someone who’s been disappointed in the type of music getting airtime nowadays, this is the musician for you. Degen’s technique in storytelling hits home on the first single of the EP ‘Voodoo Girl’. Accompanied by it’s own lively music video, ‘Voodoo Girl’ itself is a spiritual journey. First, violin strings coupled with African drum rhythms gear you up for a sort-of dark and uncomfortable beginning. The drums and violins encapsulate this ominous feel and we get a certain sense of danger. It’s antsy and spacious, but vocals and electric distorted guitars soon fill the void of ambiguity. The video follows along with the same vibe with a woman whom, previously chased throughout a city, goes through a spiritual rebirth with her pursuer. As the violins and the girl become one with one another, the girl’s transformation leads to an entirely new atmosphere of experimental jazz. The strings become horns and you’re uplifted immediately while horns fuming with soul bring us to a happier time of transformation and rebirth. When the violins come back, the whole vision disappears.
That’s just a small taste of what Degen can do though. The other two tracks on his EP previewed on his site are just as diverse in totally opposite ways. While ‘Go On’ is a funky and bluesy love ballad that has just about the sexiest bass line i’ve ever heard, it’s nothing like ‘Falling’s’ smooth R&B vocals. Think Anthony Hamilton or Christion when you want to compare it to something you know.
But here’s why I’m so impressed with Mike Degen. With only three tracks introduced off of the EP, it already seems to be one of the most diverse music projects I’ve heard in awhile. You’ve got a broad spectrum of Africana soul, jazz, experimental, classical, funk and modern pop music in a total of 13 minutes. The guy has been busy with other projects such as Neutrogena, Victoria Secret, and Dodge advertising campaigns, plus even working with the Chinese opera. You’ve never heard of the chinese opera being the key to musical success, but I think it might just be in this case. His experiences have led him to develop this bold musical style that can’t be done justice through words. Versatility at it’s best, I’m expecting a lot more from this cat Mike Degen.
Stream the video of ‘Voodoo Girl’ below and check out mikedegen.com to hear ‘Go On’ and ‘Falling’. I guarantee it this will be 13 minutes well spent.
The EP will be released in late February/early March.