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Steetspace Interview

Friday, February 11, 2005

Interview with Mike Shinoda

May 2006
Mike Shinoda is a name you may or may not know. He's a vocalist and EmCee for LINKIN PARK, and has recently created a solo side project entitled, FORT MINOR . The album "The Rising Tied", features the exclusive tracks, "Where'd You Go" and "Remember The Name" which have been dominating the charts since its release. "The Rising Tied" was released by Machine Shop Recordings/Warner Bros in the fall of 2005. It was produced and mixed by Shinoda and Executive Produced by Jay-Z and features guest appearances by artists such as Common, John Legend &more!   TheStreetSpace.com got a chance to catch up with Mike to discuss the project, and yes – Linkin Park.

Aight Mike, let's talk about this solo project. It's called "Fort Minor" instead of solely using your name. Why's that?
I call the project Fort Minor instead of using my name because I wanted to focus on the music instead of me: I knew if I put this album out as "Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park," it would limit people's understanding of it.  The album has its own identity, and even though it's harder to promote a brand new name, I chose to go that route because I thought it was the right thing to do.  I didn't want to just piggyback on Linkin Park. On a separate note, the album title is "The Rising Tied," because it features a "tied" group of people who are all on the rise: Common,  Black Thought, Styles of Beyond, Holly Brook, and a bunch more.

So do you see another album in the future for "Fort Minor"?
Maybe. I make music based on whatever I'm excited about, so if I feel inspired to make more Fort Minor music, I will.  But with all the other projects I've got going on, I'm not sure…but if the label has any say, I'll be making another one, because I think they're pretty happy  "Where'd You Go" is blowing up right now.  We worked really hard to get this album off the ground.?

Definitely, but is there a reason why you chose to play nearly every instrument on the album?
I had a really specific vision for the sound of the record.  Most hip hop right now is keyboard-based, and I wanted to make an album that was built on real instruments. I played almost everything on there, not because I'm a control freak but because I had this thing in mind and I knew other people couldn't read my mind.  And even when it came to the singing, live strings, live choir, whatever—I wanted to write it.

Word, that's important because you're paving the way for a lot of young EmCee's out there. Who's paved the way for you and motivated you to get into the music industry?
 I grew up around the time when B.D.P., Public Enemy, N.W.A., and Ice-T came out—I think their lyrics were the ones I imitated the most back when I was like 13 and starting to rap.  Before that, the first records  I bought were Run DMC and Beastie Boys first albums.  I have a soft spot for that time in hip hop—when everything was fresh and new, and trying brand new ideas was more accepted.  People these days are living in a little hip hop bubble, thinking inside that box.  They're scared to go outside it, and that's sad.  Don't get me wrong, I love the guns and money thug rap, it's just that not everyone can do it.  And too much of it is outright boring.

The featured track "Where'd You Go", is topping the Billboard charts & TRL… and "Remember The Name" has been featured all over the NBA playoffs. Is there another song on the album you were hoping to break first?
Funny story. The funny thing is that the album came out last November.  It did really well outside the states, particularly in Asia and different parts of Europe.  But it started slow in the U.S. because we decided to build the foundation here.  We put out some things that were aimed at the underground so people knew where I'm coming from.  If you haven't heard the Green Lantern "We Major" mixtape, you GOTTA get it!

Anyway, a little over a month ago, we shot the video for "Where'd You Go," and hadn't even sent out the CD singles to radio to announce the single.  All of the sudden, a ton of stations start playing the shit out of it, strictly because the fans were requesting it and the programmers liked it.  We had to rush out those CDs the next day.  And four weeks later, we had a top ten single, which is a record.  The fans have kept the song building at billboard and we've been on-and-off #1 at TRL for the past few weeks.

What's it like working along-side Jay-Z, as far as the creative angle and decision-making goes?
Jay didn't write and lyrics or music on this album, so people always wonder what he did that was so important.  I was producing and mixing the album, and I asked him to be Executive Producer late in the project.  A lot of people wonder what an Executive Producer does. Here's how it worked in this case: when I'm working on something, I make a ton of tracks and listen to them non-stop.  At a certain point, I lose a little bit of my ability to be objective, and I'm not sure what needs to be better because I've heard it a hundred times.  So I  sent the tracks to Jay and (our Linkin Park guitarist) Brad Delson, and asked them to tell me which songs were ready for the album and which ones needed work.  We had a little meeting—you can see that on "The Rising Tied" special edition, which is in stores right now.  Jay was credited as Executive Producer, and Brad was my A&R.

Can you let us in on any artists you have plans to work with or would like to work with?
I just did a song for Lupe Fiasco's album, called "The Instrumental." It's really deep—I love his lyrics.  I'm also working on the new Styles of Beyond album, which will be coming out later this year—that one is going to be a must-have.  Those guys have stepped up their game so  much, and the album is going to be fucking outstanding.  As you can tell, I'm proud of them.  Lastly, our label, Machine Shop, is putting out Holly Brook's debut album the first week of June.  She's the girl that sings on "Where'd You Go".  Her album is definitely one to check for.

Fort Minor did some touring the beginning of this year. Do you have any future touring plans in mind?
No touring plans right now.  I'm working on the new Linkin Park album, and I'm sharing production duties with Rick Rubin.  Obviously, I'm working under his wing; the guy is a legend.  We're hoping to have the album in stores by the end of the year, and we'll be doing shows then. All other info will be on FortMinor.com and LinkinPark.com.

Yes, it's been made very clear that "Linkin Park" is NOT breaking up. Has the release of "The Rising Tied" allowed you to be more confident and set aside some of your creative preference in the production process of the new " Linkin Park" album?
I feel like I learned a ton by doing the Fort Minor album.  Just being completely in charge of putting together something like this was a lot of responsibility.  I had the choir, string group, live percussion, and a bunch of artists and sessions to juggle.  Not to mention that I had to keep my head on straight about the lyrics, vibe, and sound of the songs.  It taught me a lot.  Going into this new Linkin Park album has  been a great way to return to my foundation, and try to take our sound, which so many people know so well, and flip it in a way that makes you think, "It still sounds like Linkin Park, but it a brand new sound that  I haven't heard from anyone before."  Doing all that, and making it exciting and emotionally moving are the challenges.  It comes down to keeping your songs fresh and making music that you like to listen to.

Well you've expressed a lot of talent in many genres of the music industry, yet there are still a lot of people that don't know your name, or only know you as 'the Linkin Park  EmCee'…Does that bother you? And what can you say to pull in those people that have not heard your voice yet?
I don't mind being connected with Linkin Park.  It's a big part of who I am.  On the other hand, I do music under the Fort Minor name and my own name to let people know that I'm not one-dimensional, and to get back to roots in hip hop.  I think there is a way to balance the two, because they're both parts of me.  There are fans out there with Linkin Park, Fort Minor and/or my signature tattooed on their skin—I don't want to let those people down.  So I make music from the heart, whether it's sad, light, angry, or serious.  Hopefully as long as the songs are coming from an honest place, they'll always connect with people.

thanks to lptimes.com