This week we catch up with our old friends Michael & Levan. The Georgia based brothers are not only part of the infamous Michael & Levan and Stiven Rivic production team but they are also the owners and founders of Mistique Music. The Mistique imprint has long been a staple of the progressive house underground and the brothers productions (in conjunction with Stiven Rivic) are really starting to get noticed on the global scene. The trio has appeared on some of the most note worthy imprints around including Perspectives, Mesmeric, Movement and Stripped all in the last 12 months. Their sound too has been a lot more broad which is why so many new labels are starting to take notice. A much deeper and more hypnotic sound has been showcased of late and has earned them support from Hernan Cattaneo and Microtrauma. They’ve recently created a new label imprint: Kunai Records which will primarily focus on new Michael & Levan and Stiven Rivic material. Kunai is set to launch in September and features a remix from Polefolder.
1. How old are you and how long have you been producing / DJing?
Michael & Levan: Hello Mitch. Michael is 30 and Levan 28 years old. We have been producing since 2002, Djing from 2004. Producing took much time as we learned everything on our own. After 5 years of producing we had our first release on Snake Sedrick’s Tilth Music.
2. What are your earliest memories of music, what did you listen to growing up? How did you get involved in electronic music and what made you decide to pursue it seriously?
Michael & Levan: We cant forget the year of 1996 when we first time heard Robert Miles. It changed our vision in music. After we found ATB, Schiller, Thrilseekers and many more Trance producers. Later in 2002 year at Tbilisi at first electronic music festival called “Shadowcat” we heard Progressive House. And till now we are involved into that sound.
3. So where are you guys living now? are you still in Georgia? and if so is there much of an electronic music scene there? Do you get a chance to DJ or go out to events there?
Michael & Levan: Yes We still live in Tbilisi. With music was much better 3-4 years ago here. Monthly events with International Djs. For now once a year there is a pass festival here of electronic music. As Georgia is more Minimal and Techno addicted country we don’t play often here.
4. Over the last year you guys have really broadened your sound, the big atmospheric progressive sound that you became so loved for is still there of course but you are also producing much deeper more hypnotic records as well. Was it a natural progressive in your productions or is it something you have consciously set out to do? and where do you see the Michael & Levan and Stiven Rivic sound going?
Michael & Levan: Is bit hard to answer straight this question but we can say that we never plan what we want to produce, everything comes with producing. Yes we experiment also and maybe that changed our sound a bit to moredeeper and hypnotic sound as you mentioned. We cant say how It will go but we are sure that atmospheric sound will always be in our tracks.
5. Your music has also reached a much wider selection of labels recently like: Sound Avenue, Movement, Mesmeric, OLD SQL, Clinique, Bonzai and Green Martian. It’s brought Michael & Levan and Stiven Rivic to many more electronic music fans. How has the reaction been to all this new material? What are you guys currently working on right now and are there any new labels we can expect to see you on?
Michael & Levan: Reactions were really great. We have many new fans and listeners. For now we are focused on original work for our new label Kunai Records. Latest work is a remix on Adam-P for Suffused’s label. The remix is not typical M&L and SR sound but it still contains atmospheric sounds
6. You created Mistique Music in2009, over the last 4 years you’ve had over 350 releases and also had 3 other very successful sub-divisions. Mistique Music has become the benchmark for not only the old school progressive house sound but also a great outlet for up and coming producers to showcase their skills along with industry favourites like Kay-D, LoQuai, Domased Electronica and of course yourselves. Did you ever imagine that you could have built such and incredible label when you first started and what does the future hold for Mistique?
Michael & Levan: For Mistique Music all the thanks go to Stiven. He was the one who wanted to open our own label. He was the one who found great new upcoming artists. We really enjoy working with labels and artists. That in a way helped Mistique to grow over the years a lot. Also many thanks to all the musicians who works with us and many thanks to you Mitch, Mistique and Mistique Artists have always big support from You.
Future looks very simple. We are still in search for good upcoming artists whom we can help to grow as we did before.
7. You have a new label coming soon, can you please tell us a bit about that? What sort of sound can your fans expect and can you tell us any artists that are involved?
Michael & Levan: On 9 of September will be first release of our new label – Kunai Records. The idea of the label is to release only Michael & Levan and Stiven Rivic’s original tracks including remixes from “bigger” names in electronic music. You will be able to hear typical Michael & Levan and Stiven Rivic’s sound. In first release remixer artist is Pole Folder. More artists are coming…
8. How often do you get international DJ bookings? Are there any recent events you played that you could tell us about?
Michael & Levan: Around 1-2 times in a year. Last event we had on December at Yekaterinburg/Russia. Thanks to “Welcome Music Promo Group” for that chance. That is awesome city for Progressive music with awesome people who really enjoys music. Would like to play there more and more.
9. Many of our readers are probably curious about your current studio setup, what does it look like right now? and has it changed much in the last 2-3 years?
Michael & Levan: Studio is not really changed, only PC, We got more stronger. We use Dynaudio BM5a monitors. Sound Card from EMU 0204. Keyboard EMU Xboard 25. That’s all from hardware. For producing we use FL Studio 11 plus various VST Plugins. For mastering we use Wavelab 6 or Cubase. Mixing for radios with Ableton.
10. What artist or track would you love to remix?
Michael & Levan: There is no one exactly we would like to remix. We always enjoy remixing good music with great atmosphere.
10. We mentioned earlier that your production sound has become really broad, there seems to be influences from Trance, Progressive, Deep House and even Tech House. Where do you get your studio inspiration from? What producers consistently inspire you? Who are some of your favourites?
Michael & Levan: As I said before we never plan what we will produce, Everything comes itself. But we get much inspiration from Kliment. His sound is something special for us.
11. What do you like to do for fun outside of the music? and do you guys have regular jobs? What is a typical day like for Michael & Levan?
Michael & Levan: Michael loves to rest at home and spend time with his family. He works in Pawn Shop, it takes much time and power from him.
Levan works only on label and music. He loves to drive on long distances, is much fun for him.
12. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? How big of an influence are other styles of music when it comes to composing your own tracks? Could you give any examples?
Michael & Levan: We really respect classic rock. Crazy guitars . We think no influence we got from other genres
13. Michael & Levan Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)
Food: Chinese, Georgian
Drink: Almost everything
TV Show: N/A
Video Game: N/A
Album: Global Underground: Pako & Frederic – Atlantic Breakers
Track / Song: Kliment – Airfa
Producer / Band: Kliment
Record Label: Many
DJ: Really respect John Digweed
14. If the final DJ set of your career was next week what would be your last record be?
Michael & Levan: Magnetic Brothers – Blowing Heart
Release Promo would like to send a huge thanks to Michael & Levan for taking the time to do this interview and also to Stiven Rivic for help setting it up.