Mikos Da Gawd
Classmate of Mr. Carmack and roommate of The Whooligan, Miles Douglas, better known as Mikos Da Gawd, keeps good company. Born and raised in San Francisco, Mikos has quickly made a name for himself in the Bay Area beat scene. With a healthy dose of hip hop and slick flips, his Soundcloud is a treasure trove of tasty treats and Los Angeles-based label Soulection took notice, recently tapping the 25-year-old for the sixth release under their White Label Series. We spoke with the Golden Gate’s Gawd about growing up in SF and what making music means to him.
Do415: So first things first, a little background. You’re from San Francisco.
Mikos Da Gawd: Yup. Born and raised. Grew up on Jamestown Avenue right by Candlestick Park.
Do: And you went to SF’s own Ruth Asawa School of the Arts?
MDG: Yup! Me and Carmack. I’ve known him since he was 14.
Do: Wow, you guys go way back. Were you always interested in music or did that start at SOTA?
MDG: I started writing raps when I was in elementary school. I was obsessed with hip hop. Kept writing them, then when it came time to apply to SOTA, I turned those in as poems and they accepted me into the Creative Writing program. I had started making beats the year earlier without having any musical knowledge or anything, just messing around, and I just kept doing beats. I was in a rap group called Get Live Crew with Watsky, who I still produce for, and then after high school a couple of us from that group along with The Whooligan started 40Love. I rapped on the first two albums we put out, but then I decided to just focus on DJing.
Do: You rap?! Do you ever think about rapping again?
MDG: I rap all the time, ask anybody who makes beats with me haha. But nah, I love rapping, I’d just rather focus on one thing and with the DJing, it gets to be a little much. I once saw this Chris Rock interview where he said that he does stand-up and acting separately, a couple years for one and a couple years for the other. That stayed with me.
Do: Is there a DJ or producer who you look up to, either musically or career-wise?
MDG: Timbaland and J Dilla will always be my favorites for beats and production. And with DJing, honestly just coming up watching my big bro The Whooligan murder his sets was a big inspiration for me. He taught me how to DJ. We met when I was 17 or so when he was working at Amoeba on Haight Street. We would chop it up about records, mainly Slum Village. And now he’s my roommate and our living room is full of records haha.
Do: What’s your work process like? Are you making beats every day?
MDG: Definitely, it’s all I want to do right now. My work process is pretty random and I like to keep it that way so I don’t do the same thing. I’ll either start banging on the piano or on a synthesizer, or chopping up some drums, or creating some sort of mashup in Ableton Live. I really just like getting hands-on in Ableton. It’s a crazy program that everyone is using right now and it’s a lot of fun. If I’m inspired to work on something then I know I’ll be able to truly create a feeling out of it. I like to rely on that feeling of inspiration, that initial rush.
Do: Can you imagine doing anything else besides making music?
MDG: Being a leader in Soka Gakkai International, the Buddhist organization that I’m a part of. Working with youth. Feeding the hungry. Anything that’s the opposite of being an egomaniacal entertainer lol. I don’t know, I see my little brother getting into environmental work and I feel like I should do the same. But music is important to me and my family and it makes them very happy to see me doing it full time.
Do: So we have to ask, where’d the name Mikos Da Gawd come from?
MDG: Mikos is my middle name and what my close friends call me. Julio (The Whooligan) and I used to call each other “gawd” and stuff for years. I had him as Whooligan Da Gawd in my phone even. When I did one of my first nights with him, he threw “Da Gawd” next to my name on the flyer and it just stuck.
Do: Being a native San Franciscan, you have a unique perspective on the current state of affairs in the City. Thoughts?
MDG: I think all the money around is great and I have to recognize the good fortune I have to still be here. But culturally, it is suffering, and the culture is what made myself and everyone I grew up with so prideful of where we’re from. There are people getting pushed out, but that’s not a San Francisco thing, that’s a capitalism thing. If we’re going to fight it, we must get to the root of the problem.
Do: So what’s next for you? Long-term goals as a DJ and producer?
MDG: I would like to become a mainstay in the Top 40 hip hop production landscape while maintaining artistic integrity. And to travel the world rocking parties. I just want to be constantly surrounded by good music.
Surround yourself with good music courtesy of Mikos Da Gawd this Friday at Sloane SF.
*Interview by Kate Horton*
With The Purple Onion set for a series of work-in-progress screenings at the Cinequest Film Festival on March 9th, 11th and 15th, our own Allan Abelido got together with director Matt Szymanowski to talk about what it takes to make a home-grown, Bay Area labor of love into something that takes on a life of its own.
Do415: What was the ultimate goal you had for this film?
Matt Szymanowski: I wanted to tell a story about how people need each other, and how the relationships we foster give us strength, which in turn help us reach our own bliss. But because that sounds like some heavy-handed after school special I wanted to cloak that idea and fuse it with something a little darker. I used the characters of a struggling and tragic comedian and his estranged mother who mysteriously shows up after an unexplained absence, and then I made them have sex. Well, kind of. You have to see it to get it.
Do: What would make it a success to you/is it a success now?
M: People are fascinating: They’re filled with latent desires, tiny fixations, dreams, contradictions all that often manifest in strange ways. In our film, Johnny the comedian, stuck in an existential malaise, filled with loneliness, regret and longing, begins down a path to deviance and perversion, ultimately leading to his humanity. That was one of our goals to convey. And if someone can relate to our film on any of these levels, I think it’s a success.
Do: What made you chose an Asian American to have a the lead role?
M: I’m sharing a story credit with my lead actor, Edwin Li, a Chinese American. The process of writing started when Edwin and I met while I was working at Punchline comedy club. He was performing on stage and his comedy just hit me. The idea of this alter ego character of ours began to grow as we got to know each other. We would talk about tragic and funny scenes and situations that someone could experience. We shot a few skits where Edwin played the lead. And when the idea came to actually make a feature film, it felt natural to have him play in it. We had built up to that point together, so it would have been disingenuous to cast anyone else. And he just happens to be Asian American.
Do: So you met at The Punchline, but your film is named after The Purple Onion, an iconic SF venue that unfortunately is now a part of the city’s past. How did that come to be?
M: Since Edwin and I first began thinking about this film, we had The Purple Onion in mind as a location for the final scene, partly because its legacy, partly because of how catchy and absurd the name is. But as we were finishing the script, the club was bought out and forced to close it’s doors after about 60 years of business. We were really bummed. We even thought of scrapping the whole project at that point. We had already invested months of time and energy into the idea. We decided we would make our film like an homage to the club, which at that point we were going to explicitly refer to in the film. Then, as we were editing we ended up cutting out those few moments since they didn’t add enough to the story. Later I read somewhere that the club was named after a whorehouse the founder had heard of in Paris or maybe visited. I thought that seemed random.
Do: What would you want the audience to takeaway from your film?
M: I want the audience to say this to themselves after watching the film: “That was strange. A little twisted. I feel kind of funny. But I’m better now. And I want more.”
Do: Has the making of this film changed you in anyway?
M: Oh yes. This was a very great experience. I looked inward, deep within myself, and when I came out I was in debt.
Do: Why are these screenings so important?
M: Cinequest has allowed us to do test screenings of our unfinished film. When you work on something for so long sometimes you need to come up for a breather and see how everyone else is doing. That’s what this screening is about. It’s a way to check in with everyone. We’ll gauge audiences reaction by having them fill out short questionnaires and give us their two cents in mini video interviews after the screenings. We’ll see what works and what doesn’t. And what we hear may end up influencing how the film turns out.
For more info and to purchase tickets to the screenings, check out The Purple Onion on Do415
Every music scene needs a shepherd and Bay Area collective HGMNY is quickly separating itself from the flock. Bringing such acts as Mr. Carmack, Djemba Djemba, King Henry and rising star Saint Pepsi to San Francisco in the last three months alone, HGMNY is proving to be a sure bet on delivering a good time. On the eve of the collective’s latest show with bass music heavyweights Lindsay Lowend and DJ Hoodboi, both making their San Francisco debuts, we spoke with co-founder Amir Raad about the roots, rhyme and reason of the Bay Area’s newest noisemakers.
Do415: First things first: What is HGMNY?
Amir Raad: HGMNY (pronounced he·ge·mo·ny) is a music-based collective that was formed in the pits of Santa Cruz in 2009. Our aim is to bring together great people and the music we love to enhance our social and auditory lives. We support innovative artists and the term “genre” is just some French word we don’t adhere to, but we generally bring acts that are developing music with new perspectives in hip hop, R&B and bass music as a whole.
Do: How did HGMNY start?
AR: We started HGMNY when I was in school at UC Santa Cruz. My friends and I were dabbling in the “DJ” world and had gotten really into electronic music after attending our first festival together, the Raindance Campout. It was the fall of 2009 and my birthday was coming up and I wanted to throw a fat party with loud, quality music. One problem with Santa Cruz is the city has a very strict noise ordinance and amplified music or anything deemed “noisy” is considered an infraction. So if you threw a house party and the cops came to break it up, usually right before midnight just when things are gettin’ sexy, they have the power to write a ticket for every tenant. This noise ordinance really sucked and still sucks, so we had to escape it by throwing what is known as a “renegade.”
Do: What’s a “renegade?”
AR: It’s basically a party thrown without a permit. The idea was to take over a public space and throw a legit party for us and our friends. We rented a sound system and a generator and went up to the Santa Cruz Mountains to party from midnight ‘til 7 in the morning. Although it was technically illegal, we felt strongly that we weren’t causing harm to anyone else and if you’re going to pass a noise ordinance, well there’s no one to complain about noise in the middle of nowhere. And the renegade was sort of political and a fun form of direct action- that’s how the name HGMNY came to be, actually, after Gramsci’s theory of Cultural Hegemony. So the first HGMNY party literally went down in the middle of a road haha. Everyone had such an amazing time that we decided to do it again. And then again and again, about 5 more times before we graduated.
Do: How did you make the transition to legal parties, or indoors, as it were?
AR: We started to really make a name for ourselves when we brought Matty G out to one of our forest renegades. From there we started playing house parties, when they didn’t get broken up because of the sound ordinance that had driven us to the forest in the first place. But a lot of the DJs you see on our current roster are the same peeps who played in the forest and at house parties. And then eventually we all moved up to the Bay Area and began DJing here, and that led to a monthly residency playing the backroom at F8 | 1192 Folsom. Soon the owners and GM Rafael Fierro offered us the opportunity to throw a party of our own and that’s when it really clicked. Throwing those parties in the forest required a lot of planning and preparation, and throwing a party in a club is no different, except for money being on the line and more paperwork haha, but it’s in the same vein of having to coordinate a bunch of things to make sure the party is successful. So HGMNY started as a group of friends that loved similar styles of music and were down to party. Shoutout to the homies who have made this shit successful through the years and are part of the HGMNY Crew- Monique Biega, Daniel Fried, Michael Gushanksy, Dylan Macturk, Levi Williams, Parker Catalano, Anthony Schwartz, Max Siekierski and Angeline King.
Do: Where do you see HGMNY going?
AR: The plan is to keep pushing the boundaries and bringing artists we love to the Bay. Hopefully one day we can create a following where we’re able to book that dude with 200 Soundcloud followers and the show would sellout because people trust what we bring to the table. That’s my dream. I would also love to do some more hip hop shit. My roots are in hip hop. My older brothers introduced me to the Fugees, Blackstar, The Roots and a lot of other music when I was in 6th grade, although the first tape I ever bought was in 3rd grade and it was Chumbawamba, that one with the “I get knocked down” song on it haa. But yeah, I’ve always loved music, and hip hop is where my heart rests for sure, so I’d love to bring more of that to SF.
Do: What’s next for HGMNY this year? Who would you love to book in 2014?
AR: Well we got some crazy shit in the works. This Saturday we’re featuring the SF debuts of Lindsay Lowend and DJ Hoodboi. March 8th- we have a show in celebration of International Women’s Day featuring all female lineup, with Astronautica, Sosupersam, Kittens and a bunch of amazing local acts. And March 29th we got something special as well but we can’t announce it just yet. As for the rest of the year, we’ve got some big ideas in store… But really, if we could book Ginuwine with an Aaliyah hologram, I would be in heaven.
Interview by ladymisskate
When it comes to freshness in the music industry, no one does it better than Red Bull Music Academy. They’ve worked with some of the most forward-thinking artists in the industry and they’ll be showing SF some love when they roll through this weekend for RBMA Bass Camp! They’ve got a trio of great events going on, including a screening of their incredible film about music, What difference does it make? You can RSVP here for free entry, and check out their full slate of events for some other dope stuff, like a chance to win free tickets to see Erykah Badu drop a DJ set at 1015 Folsom!
Lonely Girl gets the most lonely on Valentine’s Day. Seeing all those couples around makes her extra sad that her only past time is going to bars alone. Nothing stops her from doing this even on holidays such as this one. But every once in a while, in a fair blue moon, you find a couple that brings you more joy then the bitterness of being utterly alone. That couple reminds you why people fall in love and why love even exists. Why it’s a beautiful thing to share our lives with someone that we care so much about. Even though Lonely Girl is a firm believer that the one we can truly give all our love to is ourselves, every once in a while a couple like this comes along and she, herself questions that idealism. Sure enough, that random blue moon struck Lonely Girl and there they were. The perfect couple, a couple you can be a 3rd wheel with and still feel good about yourself. And that couple that came along happened to be some of the greatest bartenders in San Francisco. How they met? Purely a freak accident, but the greatest sign that fate exists. I’ll stop talking about myself in the third person and get to the real story.
Recently an article came out in The Bold Italic about bartender couples and their stories. I couldn’t wait to share this article with this couple I speak so highly of. Of course their respond was as expected,
“Our story is so much better.”
My respond, “I agree.” And somehow I was able to convince them to write a little something something about themselves.
Lonely Girl presents, the greatest San Francisco love story of all time. You will laugh, you will cry. You’re welcome:
“What makes two people fall in love? Similar interests? Must love dogs? World of war craft? Serendipitous moments? All these things can be the catalyst of a great love story. This Valentines day think of your current love or the loves of your past and think about what drew you two together, and more importantly what kept you together. We want to share our romantic success story. San Francisco is an amazing city, although it can be very hard to find love. Such a diverse dating pool makes for many misconnections, and hurt feelings. People are disposable these days, everyone is a text or craigslist response away. On to the next one… it’s a downward spiral and everyone is doing it. How did we find each other? I guess you can call it serendipity. Two people, similar interests, both coming off failed relationships. We were very lucky to find each other, paths crossed, no regretful nights or forced meetings by mutual friends to thank. Just two random people in the middle of their busy San Francisco lives - and we caught each others eye. We didn’t meet in a bar the way many unsuccessful relationships begin. And we didn’t meet online like many others. Real life, real people, just like it used to happen. We love this about us. Being in love in this city is great, always an adventure.
Shortly after we started our courtship we found out each other’s occupation. Bartender Couple!!!! We never thought we would date another bartender but it was too late and too good to stop. Early on in our relationship, very much in love, very much in our honey moon phase things began to change. After a long night at the bar we would both meet in our nocturnal abilities and swap stories. Each night we got a little more comfortable and talked a little more shit. People look at bartending as a glamorous lifestyle. Free sex, after hours parties, and all the booze you can pour down your gullet… We disagree. We quickly learned that we were the perfect support system for such professions. Only another bartender can relate to the ridiculous shit we endure every shift. Imagine this: you go to work, the guy on the other end of the phone you are closing a sales deal with is hammered and won’t agree terms you had discussed. You then go to get some printer paper, and the office supply guy makes a comment about how good your lips would look around his dick, or you go back to your cubicle and your co-worker decides to blow a fireball to show off his flair bartending skill that he learned off a groupon deal. You try to find some peace and quiet and your receptionist pukes on your feet as you pass. Insanity!!! This only in our first hour on the job and we have 7 more to go. Ok maybe that’s a bit dramatic but we aren’t that far off.
We have it pretty good, but if there is one thing about bartending we didn’t know is how much it would make us hate. San Francisco is a peter pan playground for the well to do and overly entitled. We don’t care who you are, what you invented, who you know, and please take off your fucking Google glasses when you are talking to us.
Every once in a while when we share a night off we like being on the other side of the bar. We like to spread the love around town, so chances are if we didn’t serve you then you definitely served us. We all see each other, week after week. When we sit at your bar its not an open invitation to stroke yourselves publicly. We are glad you can make any drink ever known to man - and you have a really cool bartending tattoo, but can you please just make our fucking drinks? We dont want to hear it, we just want to drink, eat, and be merry. The who’s who of San Francisco nightlife/mixology/popularity contest does not concern us. We are here to hustle, make money and maybe a few friends in the process.
We don’t want to seem ungrateful, we love our jobs, we love what we do, and most importantly we love each other. We share similar values and morals and as we like to say…. “The couple that hates together, stays together…”
PS. Here is a drink to help you swallow that bitter pill.
1.5 oz St. George Dry Rye Gin
.75 Green Chartreuse
.75 Punt e Mes
2 dashes of orange bitters
Add Ingredients to a mixing glass
Stir and strain into coupe
Garnish with 2 brandied cherries
Enjoy with your lover