Author: Anjelica Morales
"I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kentucky's extremely passionate, young, up and coming artist Mike Bandanna. His enthusiasm is obvious in the way he articulates himself and his music is as equally driven as he is. Check out what he had to say below:
"I’m from Louisville, Kentucky. Home to acts like Static Major the legend, Bryson Tiller, and Jack Harlow from the top of my head. I started doing music here and there since like middle school. Writing raps and recording them on my phone or with friends, just little shit. Around late high school I was hella busy with sports and school that I didn’t do too much music, but I would always freestyle still with the homies. Then I ended up tearing my acl playing sports, so I had a bunch of free time on my hands. Plus when you’re in bed most of the days, you leave a lot of room to think. So I just started writing songs again. By a year later I just bought a mic and told myself I could forreal just do it, then been in it ever since. Some big moments that kept me going, were making my first song that people fucked with, and doing my first show and people telling me I should keep going. I guess to be honest I don’t remember why I started. I just remember enjoying the feeling of making full songs and being like “yeah this shit hard”. And performing the song and seeing people boppin’ to it or paying close attention. It always gave me something to work towards.
My biggest inspirations to date that got me into music…honestly, it’s a bunch a little things. Like Kayne West was the first full rap album I listened to all the way through. Him, and Lil Wayne pretty much got me into paying attention to rap music and what people were doing and saying with it. Then time passed and I began listening to many different artist and I came across old Outkast and Andre 3000. His wordplay and story portrayal challenged the way I looked at music and the world around me, which showed me how you can not only inspire different emotions, but you can help others create new ideas as well. When it comes to how my music ended up being portrayed, and how I chose to tell my story, a lot of that was inspired by the Weeknd. His music always felt like it was part of a book, where he was the main character, and he was letting you in on his mind and his life. The way I approach the way I want people to sort of, position themselves into my music, is kind of like how he makes you feel you are going through his life with him. From my experience, I feel that is one of the best ways to reach people. Not talking at them but like walking next to them through this world created by the music. Other influences of mine that make me want to take chances and be vulnerable with music, are Isaiah Rashad, Young Thug, Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott, and The Neighbourhood. Future is dope too haha. Honestly I just love music that can create it’s own world and tell you it’s own story. Many artist around me inspire the feeling I try to create at shows as well. Like the band GRLwood (https://open.spotify.com/track/3bYMqXCu78Q5Muffd0rjc0?si=LNIG0SmIQ-S08_aDwb8oDw), they’re like screampop if that makes sense. Every show they have they get bodies moving. That’s the energy I want to bring.
My music has many ways to describe it I feel haha. Mainly because I try to create different feelings and styles with each song and project. Really, I think my music is best described by the emotions and ideas I try to make. Like a mix of melancholy and gusto. Wavy mixed with grit. Raw and uncut mixed with chill. Heavy drum and bass, with a mix of melodies and synths. Some songs are vocal heavy, like a lot of vocal layers and ranges, and some songs it’s more instrumental focused with intermittent rapping. Like Viiibe (https://open.spotify.com/track/7LMG7FM4G8uaCLrlof5BO7?si=45NebPrKTBWEjqY2G1LDhA) has a really layered chorus, barely any instrumental breaks, but the background harmony playing as the melody makes it feel like a chill bop. But the chorus and verse are gritty with energy that you feel the raw cut of it as well. The content ranges from ideas of trying to be better than I am, but also content with falling short. Then you get a song like Know Yourself (https://open.spotify.com/track/4VdWu79ZeTqtTUK1lKYPXd?si=_su0WvAGS0S3xus-NUx--g) and it has an instrumental bridge where I don’t rap or anything at all. Especially the stuff I have on soundcloud, it’s a heavy range. Honestly one word I would use to describe my music is raw. No matter what song it is, soft, heavy, chill, energetic, whatever you hear it’s gonna sound raw. That’s pretty much what I try my best to convey with my music. Because life is raw. Everyone has their own story, but especially in art, that story is altered or changed by the artist perception. We give people the world, our world, through our lens. A lens that we also created. We do and try so many different things to hide, alter, or make more clear the raw fabric of the world, and in doing so create these glasses we use to see the world, simply so we can handle it. My message is, in a way, to connect to people through holding up a mirror to the lens I created for myself. By putting my world out there for the people, then showing them how I view it, so they can see the flaws and inconsistencies I see in myself. It’s a revealing and yet freeing thing when you can see someone openly address the flaws in themselves, publicly to the world. Some people relate, and some people start to question themselves. I only hope, through being as raw as I can, that I can show people the world isn’t black and white and there is so much fucking in between. We as people all live in this duality in life and straddle the in-between of every decision we make. And the only important thing is to question what that means to you and make it make sense. Figure out why you see the world the way you do and if it matches up to the world around you, or if your lens is just hiding the rawness from you.
2018 was a big year for me. I ended 2017 dropping a project, While I Wait (https://open.spotify.com/album/4FE6cRW142ubiD7Yxa3cYA?si=c8JnxbE0TKe8GkTu1-d5ZQ). Off the project, and the work me and my team did, we were able to make strides. One of the biggest steps I’m proud of is adding a bassist to the live performances. Since I first started doing shows, I’ve done every show with a live drummer, Hudson. He is literally my best friend and was my roommate and has been like a brother to me before we really started the music shit. He was in another band and had like two drum sets and a hand drum. When we lived together he would play his drum and I would just rap to it. Then we both looked at each other like “Yo, this sounds dope, we really should just do this shit” haha. So Hudson and I started doing shows together from the beginning. And just this year we added on CJ at bass, and our show quality skyrocketed. Not only that, CJ came around right before we went on tour, so at that point we really felt like we were on to something. We literally started doing shows in Lexington, KY. And this year we got to tour to Philly, Denver and Cincinnati, all paid. Denver was dope as fuck. I also helped start a fashion brand, Bvmmy, with my homies and that has been doing great. We released our first line, had a photoshoot, and had a big fashion show with other brands and live music and dance. All the current designs and new releases are one Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/bvmmyinc/). With the music we also started to turn a profit for shows, and I appreciate every person who comes out to shows and supports, or books us for a show. So it’s amazing to be in a position to consistently get paid for shows and making music, so much that we get to travel! For next year definitely, expect more music! A new project on the way, way more dark and raw. More videos, one for the new single streetlights, and two more cuts from the project. Bvmmy is having new clothes dropping as well. We’re planning to do more pop up shows and fashion shows. And we’re already planning another tour. Stops to be announced but definitely, many more than last.
(Music to me) is a mix of an escape from reality, but also a hyper reality. Music to me is the culmination of the human experience to express, interpret, and understand the world we experience. The sounds, the structure, the words, the meanings. All pieced together in many forms to show the world a reflection of itself and ask the audience to take it and make something of it. Music takes us away from the moments were in, and takes us to a different place, a different feeling, a different sensation. A song can bring back the memories of people who passed, loved lost or gained, regrets made or hopes found. Music can make us angry, sad, happy, excited, motivated, or carefree. We can sometimes take it for granted, but music builds tension in movies, moods in commercials, and climatic build in video games. Music is communication.
One of the biggest moments in my life that inspired my music and what I make is when two of my homies were shot and one died. The night in itself was so eventful that I made it the opening song of my first project, Two Feet (https://soundcloud.com/mike-bandanna/sets/two-feet-mixtape-1). I got into a drunk argument at friend’s girl’s house, and they kicked me out. So I went to my homies because I was up at 3am drunk and knew I couldn’t go home. I was shitfaced and angry and the moment I sat down and caught a breath, he told me he about my friends getting robbed and shot and I just broke down. It made feel like life was so pointless and short because it can be taken in a second. Que the existential crisis hahah. After that it made me want to really change and focus on creating meaning in everything, I say so I can at least say I put something into the world that I’m proud of. That moment, and the support I get, I’d say keeps me going in this shit."
Familiarize yourself with this young man's amazing work below!