San Francisco has long been thought of as one of the cities at the forefront of the world’s music scene. In the 1960s, the Bay Area exploded with the music that fed the counterculture movement. Bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother and The Holding Company were thriving in the community and their music was spreading across the country like wildfire. Today, the music-friendly culture of the city has proven a fertile breeding ground for a totally different style of music – electronic.
The active club scene in the city has propelled the careers of several world class DJs, including Miguel Migs (aka Pedalpusher). Migs started his musical journey just south of San Francisco in the surf town of Santa Cruz as the lead guitarist and songwriter for local dub/reggae band Zion Sounds.
When Zion Sounds dissolved in the late ’80s, Migs turned his focus to electronic music. “The fact that you can be one guy in a studio with a keyboard and some equipment and be able to make music that moves dance floors across the globe is fascinating to me,” said Migs in a recent interview with The Marquee. “I have the freedom to incorporate all sorts of different elements and styles rather than only drums, guitar and bass.”
The influence of being in a band during his teenage years still shows up prominently in his sound today. “I incorporate a lot of live instrumentation into my music. I combine the best of both worlds. I always bring in live percussion, live guitars, live bass and live horns and have fun with combining all those different elements into a track,” Migs said.
The result is a very deep, organic sound that throbs with sensuality and churns dance floors around the world into a sweaty cauldron of bodies. Migs has had the opportunity to tour the world promoting his music and is thrilled with the response everywhere he goes. “It is kinda cool to know that this kind of music is so big, not in the commercial sense necessarily, but it has such a strong global following,” Migs said. “There are people that buy my CDs in Moscow, South Africa, Japan, Australia and Iceland and it is an amazing feeling when I am playing to a crowd in a city I have never heard of and people are singing along with the songs. It is pretty intense.”
Currently, Migs is touring in support of his recently released artist album “Those Things” that he put out in March on his own Salted Music label. The album, which he says is “electronic music inspired by old soul, funk, reggae and hip-hop,” features several vocalists from different genres contributing to the tracks. The world of funk is represented by Fred Ross of Sly and The Family Stone, and Migs returned to his reggae roots, getting to work with Junior Reid of Black Uhuru.
“I have been a fan of Junior Reid’s work since I was a kid and I was at one of his shows when I noticed a good friend of mine was playing bass in his band. I called my friend the next day and asked if Junior was in town because I wanted to see if he would be interested in working with me on a song for my album,” said Migs. “My friend put us in touch, we talked, and I played Junior some of my music. He liked it and agreed to come into the studio with me to record. We started fresh with a track I had put together and he just started free-styling in the studio. I kind of pieced together his vocals from the various takes and free-styling ideas. It was a bit of an editing nightmare but it came out well in the end.”
Longtime Migs collaborator Lisa Shaw also contributed to several tracks on Those Things and will be joining Migs on the road this spring. “She is such a phenomenal singer and performer that she brings a lot to the set,” Migs explained. “The gigs will be mostly DJ oriented but I am bringing Lisa [Shaw] and Tim Fuller along to add a live element to the event that satisfies the audiences’ desire to see some sort of performance.”
While he is publicly focusing on the DJ angle right now, Migs disclosed that he also is in the midst of putting a live band together that he hopes to have ready for some appearances this summer. “We are going to play most of the songs on the album with the new band,” Migs said. “Most of the tracks have a lot of live instrumentation anyway so it isn’t that hard to i magine those songs being performed by a live band.”
With his DJ tour, the live band and his record label, Migs keeps himself extremely busy and yet still finds time to remix songs for very noteworthy artists from Macy Gray to Lionel Ritchie to Britney Spears. He is prolifically creative and one of the most organic electronic music artists to come out of a city that is ripe with talent.
Check Out Miguel Migs If You Like:
- Mark Farina
- Blue Six