I met up with Mikhail Roga on a nice and sunny Monday in December at a café in Melbourne CBD. We sat down in the shaded outdoor area, he ordered a lemongrass and ginger ice tea and I got a green juice from ‘Emma and Tom’s’. Both of us were a bit tired from last weekend’s adventures but happy to be out in the refreshing sunshine. After a bit of catch up chatting I jumped into what we were here for, to talk about his new music project ‘AKTA’ and the track ‘Say What’.
What made you start to produce music?
“I got a cracked version of FL Studio when I was a teenager, but I wasn’t really producing back then; it was more just like experimenting with software. I felt that it was a good way to test out different sounds on the computer. I used to listen to a lot of trance so I started out doing some weird arpeggios and pads, it was very experimental. Then I stopped for a while, travelled and did other things. It’s only been a few years ago that I actually bought FL Studios and started to figure out what production is and the technical aspects of it. It’s still about experimenting though; to sit down in the studio and whatever comes to the head I just let it come out. Whether it’s hip hop or house, it’s just whatever, very organic and not strategic.”
Did you play any instrument when you were younger, was that why you wanted to make your own music?
“I learned classical piano when I was a kid but stopped because it wasn’t getting anywhere and I didn’t feel connected with the instrument; it felt more like a discipline with all the theory. But my family is musical so music has always been around. My music interest has become more serious lately when I’ve been in the studio. It takes up so much of my being and it really feels like a connection to something greater when I’m making music.”
What kind of elements do you use in your music?
“I sample a lot of vinyl and I like to crate dig a bit, but a lot of it are synths and some components are samples from the Internet like free packs you can get online and bass drum emulators.”
When you create a new track, do you have a specific plan or routine?
“If I’m building a new track from scratch myself then I start with the kick and bass and then add some hi-hats and all those elements that give the track some kind of funk. But If I find a sample that I really like then I work with the sample first and add on the kick and the hi-hats after that.”
So in this track “Say What” – what did you start with there?
“I started with a sample that I got from a vinyl, recorded it and chopped it up into the parts that looped the best. The idea to work with a sample was inspired from a track called ‘San Salvador’ made by David Moleon that I like because it’s so catchy. I was watching a guy who took a Daft Punk sample and showed how they created it; I tried that kind of chopping in my track. Then I wrote the bassline for it and I really tried to focus on not having it on and off in half steps, because I wanted it bouncy in a kind of offbeat style.”
How would you describe your music?
“It’s really hard to describe my music. It’s like the weather you know, you can call it ‘rain’ or you can say it’s a ‘drizzle’, but it’s still the same water in the air. Without getting to philosophical; I guess it’s just dance music. I’m also working on a rap project and that’s like a whole new world to me. Looking into poetry and how to incorporate that into songs is fascinating and it’s really opening my mind into expressing myself.”
Where does the name AKTA come from? In Swedish it means “watch out” – so I’m curious to know if this is something you knew or whether it’s from something completely else!
“Wow, that’s really cool! I didn’t know that. It started off with thinking about the different moods we have and I thought of life being a drama and that we’re all actors on a stage. We have different roles that we play in life and different phases. It reminds me of not to ‘act up’ and be ourselves and be genuine, which is actually really hard.”
What are your music plans in the near future?
“The plans for the future are to create more magic, and if people like my sound I’m going to work towards catering for that; how to pleasure the ears and make people dance to it. I’m not taking this too seriously; again it’s always an experiment and an expression. Also to try and get more gigs, I’d like to get a residency, and build up some more releases and work with other people.“
The first time we met was at an outdoor event that you organised – are you still organising parties?
“Yeah we run some events outdoors, but we haven’t been as successful as we would like. We want to develop our company and our group, but it’s not clicking at the moment. I definitely want to do more parties though and I’m really impressed by the crews that are organising events right now in Melbourne and it seems to be going really good.”
Anything else you would like to add about your track?
“Listen to it and when you have an opportunity; get up and dance, have fun and enjoy it whatever you are doing. That’s what I want people to do, to enjoy themselves.”
Listen to AKTA’s track ‘Say What’ below!
UNRELEASED SERIES will feature music producers who will share an unsigned track exclusively at Whono’s Music. This first round will be a Melbourne edition with 6 local producers, 2 each month from January to March. Each blog post will contain an interview with the producer to get an insight into their musical world and who they are.