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Artists to Watch 2013

Slovenia's Mike Vale rocks the remixes and eyes Miami with ambition

By Dan Carter
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As a crossroad to the widespread boundaries of European culture, Slovenia has come a long way since the days of the iron curtain. Mike Vale, the nation’s latest club-oriented export, has served dutifully in extending its eminence with his own studio delicacies. Surrounded by music from an early age and quickly established as a devout aural messenger for house music courtesy of early collaborative duties alongside national peer Umek for 1605 and Great Stuff, Vale’s leaps and bounds remain all the more convincing given the undeniable passion that he exhibits. Thrown forward by his debut chart-topping take on Prok & Fitch’s “Symphony,” Vale’s subsequent remixes for Deadmau5, Pleasurekraft, and Alex Kenji have established him as a resolute house advocate willing to push the limits. Beatport News caught the fast-rising DJ/producer fresh off the decks at London’s Ministry of Sound to trace his musical development and the road ahead for 2013.

Slovenia has been a notoriously underrated haven for incredible electronic music. What further hopes do you have for the country’s club scene, and what will it require to truly fulfill its potential?

There are so many young talents out there, and I truly believe that they can and will develop and gain recognition with consistent hard work and passion. It was difficult to break through the barrier, especially with such a small public appreciation of the nation and its DJs and producers. You have to work a lot harder but with persistence and great will it is sure to manifest a permanent move. The odds are against them, as the social climate in Slovenia these days means that people cannot spend that much money on going to parties or buying music. That sort of entertainment has become an expensive commodity. There are already strong signs of national support growing, but people need to start appreciating and support local artists instead of showing them respect only when they do something memorable abroad. I am trying to do my part, starting a DJing and production workshop at the SAE Institute (School of Audio Engineering) in Ljubljana this February, which is a great honor for me and a great opportunity to invest some support where it wasn’t previously available to me.

Do you believe that your appreciation for the history and culture of electronic music has altered the way you personally make music over the years?

I grew up with lots of assorted vinyl records being passed down from generations by my father and as a result I was exposed to music from across the musical spectrum as a kid. However, I was always more of a house and tech-house guy, and to this day I love old-school stuff. I am also something of a perfectionist when it comes to prying a track from my hands, so I will only send a track out when I am fully satisfied with the way it turns out. That comes from wanting not only to have a signature sound among a saturated industry, but knowing full well that quality is a hugely important differentiator on the club floor. With that in mind, my sound has definitely developed for the better but while staying true to what made me want to make music in the first place.

Given the somewhat varied sound and tracks we have heard from you over the years, how important is the concept of genre to you when it comes to making music, and would you agree that there is an over-reliance on these boundaries in the wider industry these days?

My heart belongs to house, tech house, and techno. To me, it isn’t just about a label on the music—it is an all-encompassing sound that matches my identity and attitude. These are genres that I feel the most and this is the sound that I make. I really believe that it is not so much about the label you put on a record, but the feelings and energy you can both take and give through them. Music is subjective, but at the end of the day, I feel being so specific in my approach has worked to my advantage.

As electronic music has become a more popular and international movement, have all the progressions it has made been positive, or have there been some that simply don’t fit your personal agenda?

I think the split between positive and negative points is pretty much 50/50. Electronic music is definitely stronger than ever before, and because of the huge audiences now available you have to be even better and stand out even more. Accessibility, however, has been a double-edged sword, as new DJs and producers are popping out of nowhere on a daily basis and looking for a shortcut to success. Almost anyone can now invest in a laptop and “borrow” plugins for producing, which is great in the right hands but at the same time has led to a scary lull in quality and a lot of half-hearted productions along the way.

What do you have in store for 2013, and what can we expect from you in the earlier parts in terms of releases and touring?

The first release of this year was a remix for Deadmau5 I did together with Jerome Robins, which just hit the tech-house Top 10. This will be followed by an original track for Toolroom Records. I have some crazy collaboration planned with The Cube Guys and NDKj, as well as another track with Umek, a remix for Robbie Rivera, and a new original called “Don’t Give A Damn” featuring Stella Mercury that will be released on Roger Sanchez’s Stealth Records at WMC in March. On top of all this, I will be touring throughout Finland, Korea, Ukraine, Canada, Netherlands, and the USA, so the year isn’t looking any quieter for me.