You could say Adrian Michna is a jack of all trades. And from behind-the-scenes production work to DJing to painting, the man known publicly as just Michna has kept plenty busy since releasing his solo artist album four years ago. This year, however, saw the release of his Moving Mountains EP—a quick four-track trip through some slinky, swervy electronica—on his home label, Ghostly International.
We recently caught up with him over a post-performance Miller High Life in New York City to chat about what he’s been up to following his latest release.
How do you keep up with new music?
I still follow DJ charts. When you look at charts from someone like Sasha, or someone who’s been around for so long, and look at what they are charting, maybe Radiohead or Caribou, but also a couple big dancefloor tracks, it really helps. I’ll look at what Sasha is charting, then look at someone who is clearly a young buck who just digests music and then compare the two. I’ve always tried to follow every kind of music.
I still follow labels as well—R&S Records, for one example. A lot of the music I like isn’t necessarily dancefloor stuff. Sometimes I’ll hear a different mix of something that makes me want to go back and find other remixes of the original.
It’s always nice having friends who get paid to listen to music. I have a friend who curates for hotels and stuff, who literally gets paid to listen to music, and I’ll ask him to tell me 10 good tracks to look out for.
Additionally, when you buy a tune, it’s surprising what you can find. You’ll click on an underground thing that you thought was vinyl-only, for example, and then you’ll see that other buyer also bought this… and so on. It’s just digging around.
What helps keep you inspired?
The process of hearing a new song and it reminding me of another song. One bassline in a newer song might remind me of Inner City’s “Good Life,” for one example, and then I’ll start thinking about what I can mix with it. And I think that’s what helps keeps you inspired—when you hear a new song and in your head, you file it away, then realize you can take it left or you can take it right later on.
Did you get into DJing or producing first?
I was a DJ first, I would say, but I was playing in bands as well. So for me, it was kind of like you’d write music, dark music, but then when you DJ, you’d keep it light and play ridiculous rave shit, like the Prodigy.
The first shit I got into was like, the Orb, the Prodigy, Orbital, Chemical Brothers, things like that. If someone comes out with a new breakbeat track, for example, I always think about how I could mix this with an old Chemical Brothers track or something, so that’s usually what I’ll do in my sets.
How organized is your collection, and is your vinyl collection still growing?
Yeah, definitely. There’s times when it gets really unorganized and I can get kind of mad. If I buy vinyl now, it’s either something that I was looking for years ago, like an old-school record—any genre, really—or I’ll buy a full-length LP, like Animal Collective, for example. But dance records, no—like once in a blue moon.
What’s really interesting about vinyl right now is all the records you grew up with, or rather the ones I grew up with, were $10-$15 then, and everything I grew up with is now a dollar. Which is just crazy because when you were a kid you didn’t have $12 or if you did, you wouldn’t want to spend it on one thing, and now you can find so much for just one dollar, even if it’s a classic hip-hop record.
Tell us a bit about your latest release, Moving Mountains, and what you’ve been up to.
I have about three albums that are unreleased. This was just me picking the tracks that made sense together. It was a lot of self-filtering. Those three albums are not finished—totally demo, sketch albums—so this was me honing in and finding the tracks that I wanted to finish. I was painting, but now that’s on hiatus. I was painting so I didn’t have to work with a mouse; there’s only so much of that I can take.
Sometimes you get lost in DJing and you’re just not producing. I was doing regular things, monthlies and so on, doing a lot of remixes, little things here and there, some behind-the-scenes stuff. I finally got a booking agent and I can tour with bands or with electronic acts. I used to go out more, living in New York. I go through phases; sometimes I’ll go out all the time or sometimes not at all. It’s a yes and no answer, depends on my mood.