I had the honor of interviewing musician and filmmaker Mikal, check out all his awesome stuff!

Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us some about you and your movies
M: For those who aren’t familiar with me, my name is Mikal. I am a musician, a filmmaker, and I run a Halloween event called The Masquerade Of The Red Death.

Musically, I just released a song called ‘The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call’, which is enjoying success on college and independent radio. It’s #1 on a few stations’ charts, and is also charting well on many others. Hopefully it keeps climbing! I released the single with a 4 song EP to radio only, and will soon be releasing it publicly, but, you can buy the single right now.

In the film category, I’ve only became involved with making films over the past couple of years, but I’ve so far filmed 2 feature length documentaries, which are both in the editing process right now, hopefully being released over the next 6 months. The first one is “EXTRAS: The Movie”, a doc on the Michigan film industry, focusing specifically on people who work as extras in high-budget films in Michigan, like Superman vs. Batman, Transformers, etc. The other is called “CARNIVAL: The Movie”. It follows a family owned carnival throughout their season in a reality-style format, to give a better look into what goes into running a carnival.”

Me: Very awesome!, tell us about The Masquerade Of The Red Death
M: The Masquerade Of The Red Death is a Halloween event that I designed around Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Mask Of The Red Death. My birthday is a few days after Halloween, so I’ve always had Halloween themed birthday parties, starting when I was a little kid. A few years ago, I decided to try and turn my annual party into a huge public event. I was watching the 1964 film adaptation of Poe’s story, and realized that it would translate to a perfect live event. The original story takes place at a masquerade ball, so I decided that I was going to place my guests directly in the story. The guests witness the story taking place around them throughout the night. I’ve done it twice as a single event, but am now working on turning it into a touring event, sort of like The Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Me: Like a murder mystery dinner theater?
M: Not really like a dinner theater, but maybe a little bit like a murder mystery. Although, it’s not a murder mystery. Just imagine – It’s the 12th century, the medieval period, and there is a deadly plague (The Red Death) sweeping the countryside. As a friend of the prince, you are invited to stay in his castle during the plague, with the purpose of avoiding a grizzly, untimely death at the hands of the plague. At the 6 month point, the prince decides to hold a masquerade to raise the spirits of his guests. This event, The Masquerade Of The Red Death, is that masquerade that the prince is holding for his guests. Everybody shows up in appropriate masquerade wear, and avoids wearing the color red, at the request of the prince. You don’t show up and watch, you are actually part of the story. There’s a live orchestra and tons of other forms of entertainment that you’d find at a masquerade ball, such as dancers, musicians, mind readers, hypnotists, magicians, etc. The guests roam the 7 rooms of the castle to partake in whichever entertainment they please. Until, of course… The Red Death arrives.

(Side note – There are videos that you can see from one of the events at http://MasqueradeOfTheRedDeath.com, just click the video link)

Me: Sounds very awesome!, and those interested in attending, can find out more at the website?
M: Yep! There’s plenty of info on the event at MasqueradeOfTheRedDeath.com.

Me: Very awesome!, so you mentioned ‘The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call’ is #1 on a few stations, and a 4 song EP will soon be releasing publicly. Can you tell us more about that?, and for those that aren’t familiar with you, can you describe your music for us?
M: My new single “The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call” went to college and indie radio a few weeks back. I had it delivered as an EP with a few other unreleased tracks, so they could choose to play the other songs if they want, as well. It’s doing pretty well so far. It’s been added to rotation by a lot of stations, is charting on several, and has hit the #1 spot on a few stations in Massachusetts and Indiana. I’m hoping to keep it climbing the charts by asking people to request the song from the stations who have it. I’ve even listed all of the stations (more than 250!) on my website, to make it easy for everyone. The goal with college stations is to get your song high enough on the charts that when they report to CMJ (College Music Journal, they do charting for indie music), you end up on the main CMJ and Billboard charts as well. 

The single “4 A.M…” is already available on iTunes, Amazon, etc., and the official video is online, but I will soon be releasing the song as part of an EP, along with the other tracks that are on the radio-only EP. The other songs are “Star”, which will be the next video and single that I release, “Jane, Jane” – a brand new remix of a song that I released a few years ago, and an acoustic version of the lead single, The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call. The title of the EP will be “Soundtrack From A Happy Ending, Part 1”.

For those who haven’t heard my music, I usually describe it as indie rock or modern rock. My writing is influenced by acts like The Foo Fighters, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne, Fall Out Boy, etc. But, when I ask others to compare my music to others, they either say a bunch of completely different acts from what I think, or they say that it doesn’t really sound completely like any other specific artist. That’s my favorite description when it’s coming from other people.

(Here’s the video to 4 A.M., if you haven’t heard the song: https://vimeo.com/128567066)

Me: Are bands like The Foo Fighters, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne, Fall Out Boy, your inspiration?, who else inspires you?
M: They are a few of them, but, naming my biggest influences and current favorites would make you wonder why my music sounds anything at all like it does. I’m a huge fan of Rob Zombie, Portishead, Devin Townsend, Butch Walker… the list goes on, and I’m pretty sure that I don’t sound like I’m even in the same genre as any of those. 

Me: Very interesting!, have you ever considered making those genres?
M: I suppose I could, but, no, I don’t really try to make music in any particular genre. I just write what I want to write, and hope that it turns out somewhat unique.

Me: I see, that’s awesome!, so what about concerts or touring?
M: I mainly play colleges, universities, etc. I don’t do a lot of local bar shows or anything like that, because those usually end up costing you more money than you make. I’m currently working on setting up shows in support of the new music, and will hopefully have a show schedule posted soon!

Me: Definitely looking forward to that!, and more about your music can be found at your website or via twitter?
M: Yep! Most info can be found on the website at http://mikal.us, but I post all the latest updates on facebook at http://facebook.com/mikalmusic, and twitter at http://twitter.com/mikalg

Me: Definitely worth checking out!, and in addition to those 2, you’re also a filmmaker and actor?
M: Filmmaker, yes. Actor, not really! I have been an extra in some movies, and am “acting” in a friend’s film right now, but I wouldn’t call myself an actor. I prefer to be behind the camera when it comes to filmmaking. I began getting involved in film making about 3 years ago, after being influenced by being on large budget sets as an extra, and seeing a few specific films that made me want to try doing it myself. So far, I’ve filmed two feature length documentaries, and a few of my own music videos. I figured documentary style film making was an easy way to get started and start learning what I’m doing, before tackling any fictional narrative style films.

Me: Awesome!, can you tell us about those 2 documentaries?
M: The first of the two documentaries is called ‘EXTRAS: The Movie’. It’s about the film industry in Michigan, but focuses a lot on the people who work as extras within the Michigan film industry. Most of the time, extras are ignored, and even tossed in a figurative garbage pile by wannabe actors seeking to elevate themselves above others. However, without extras, every movie would look like a Twilight Zone episode – Not a living soul to be found in the world, other than your principle actors. I decided to flip the table and turn the extras into the main attraction, and shove the principle actors in the background for this documentary. Although, it focuses on the extras, the film does interview those on the business and political side of the Michigan film industry as well, following the ups and downs of the business in Michigan.

The second documentary is called ‘CARNIVAL: The Movie’. I’ve always been fascinated with the beauty of carnivals – the lights, the rides, the delicious, non-healthy foods, etc. I started out wanting to showcase just that aspect, but quickly learned that the most interesting aspects are two fold. One, the sheer amount of work that goes into constructing these small cities and taking them back down again every single week in a different city is astounding. Two, the interaction between the public, who loves going to carnivals, and the workers who run them, is very complex. The very people who pay to enjoy the attractions will turn around and speak negatively about those who are providing them with that enjoyment as soon as the carnival leaves town, and, from what I’ve witnessed, the real problems at carnivals are mostly caused by a small number of patrons, not the employees. I’ve personally witnessed people trying to steal prizes from game booths, people trying to start fights with workers, and in one instance, a woman throwing a half-full beer can at a 16 year old game operator as she walked by. It’s going to be an interesting film, that’s for sure. It may even ignite a demand for a reality series on a carnival.”

Me: Very awesome!, what inspired them?, and where can people find them?
M: EXTRAS: The Movie was inspired by my love of film, my experiences as an extra, and the tumultuous ride that the Michigan film industry has been through over the past few years. 

CARNIVAL: The Movie was inspired by, well, as I said in the last answer, my love of the beauty of carnivals – The lights, the rides, the food, and the anticipation and fun that come along with them when you head out for the night with your friends to visit the local carnival that’s only in town for 3 days each year. They can be like a friend that you only get to see once/year.

They can be found at http://extrasthemovie.com and carnivalthemovie.com. You can also visit my main film site, http://mikalfilms.com!

Me: Some awesome music and movies to check out!, and the red death event sounds awesome!, what else would your fans be interested in knowing?
M: Everybody should make sure to check out the official studio & lyric video to ‘The 4 A.M. Wake Up Call’ on https://vimeo.com/mikal, or http://mikal.us! You can get the song on iTunes and Amazon
Also – 

Me: Definitely alot to check out!, so one final question, what all can we expect from you in the future?
M: After the next 2 single releases and the EP release, I’ll also be releasing an acoustic EP. With film, the two docs will be coming out in early 2016, and I’ll be working on some horror films after that. Also, I’m working on turning The Masquerade Of The Red Death into a touring production, so, watch for that!

Me: We’ll definitely have to do a follow-up interview next year about your acoustic EP and your horror films!, thank you so much for this interview!
M: That would be great! Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you, Bryan. Good luck with your new film.