We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Wright and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, why did you pursue a creative career?
Since I was an early teen, I had a love for listening and playing music. I started a band in high school and started touring the country at age 17. My main life goal was to be a professional guitarist and be in a successful band, and I thought that I had achieved this goal, I was a full-time touring musician for almost a decade, but things didn’t work out as I had hoped they would.
In my late 20’s I found myself dropped from the record label I was signed to, band-less, and without a clue as to what to do for a career. My identity had changed from professional musician to lost soul. I bounced around in jobs in retail sales, corporate telecom, and kitchen work, all while going back to school for an associate’s degree. This schedule allowed me no time or energy to even think about being a musician anymore. Eventually I found myself in a city utilities position, which provided a solid, reliable and respectable income, and I was able to finally start creating music and developing my playing and writing skills again.
Playing in bands, and being around recording studios since I was 17, I had a good idea of the recording and mixing process and always loved the creative process and environment. Due to the cost of recording equipment/ studio space, and lack of technical training, I never took the thoughts of doing that myself seriously, but I still had it in the back of my mind that later in life, I would love to open my own studio and record/produce bands.
Over the past 5-10 years, music recording software had become easier to use and more affordable, so little by little, I started to invest in gear and write and record my own music. I started to show friends the demos, and they were always surprised at how good they sounded, which gave me more confidence and increased my desire to spend more and more of my time doing it.
in 2018 my wife and I decided to relocate from Silicon Valley to the LA area. We loved the vibes, art, and optimism down here and made the move at the end of 2019. As it happened, the pandemic shut down everything, but it was a blessing in disguise for my music production career. I found myself working from home with nothing but free time on my hands, so I started a strict regimen of working on music every day and learning about home recording through online tutorials. After a few months, I decided to put my name out on a few message boards and FB groups, that I was willing to mix anyone’s first song for free, and almost immediately I was hit up by an old friend who needed a song mixed. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I learned as I went along, buying software while I went. I made a commitment to spend 2 nights a week working on music, no matter what.
Since that moment, two years later now, I am playing in two active bands, writing/producing music for 2 other projects, and have mixed multiple songs/releases for various indie artists. Making the commitment in my life to set aside time specifically each week to practice and be creative has given me huge artistic fulfillment. I am in my 40’s now and living my best creative, artistic life, without the stress and financial strain of being on the road.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art is creating music, specifically hard rock, punk, and underground metal. I’ve been hooked on these styles of music since I first heard the early grunge and skate punk bands of the 90’s. I am a mostly self-taught musician, who knows my skills and limitations. I prefer to go on first thoughts and instinct when writing/recording music. I love creating within limitations. It helps me to use my skills and get the best product out of what I have. I feel that I have a great ear for guitar tone and playing style, but I am always learning and striving to improve my skills.
I have learned a lot of tough life lessons and changed careers more than a few times. I’ve gone through a crisis of faith as well as an identity crisis. I was aimless at times, especially when I wasn’t putting any time into creating music. Making the decision to go back to school in my early 30’s, and pursue a career outside of music, is what finally gave me the free time and income to hone my musical skills and be incredibly fulfilled as a musician again. I had to completely remove my initial hopes of “making it” as a rock star in order to realize it’s never too late to be a great musician and create valid art
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of my goals since moving to LA is to show all of my out-of-town family and friends how beautiful and exciting the LA area is. Being from the NOHO area, I would first take them to have some good Mexican food at Salsa & Beer or Pablitos, coffee at The Ugly Mug, and ice cream and cookies at Sliders. Next, I would take them on a nice dog walk in the Verdugo Woodlands area of Glendale, around Toluca Lake, or Los Feliz. If they want something a little more upscale to eat with good cocktails, I would take them to L’antica Pizzeria da Michele in Hollywood, Cacao in Eagle Rock, or Home in Los Feliz. Depending on the vibe of the guests or how adventurous they are, we would go to Universal Studios, Venice Beach, or out to the Getty Villa in Malibu. To wrap up the night I would take them to a show on the Sunset strip or to have some late-night beers and pool/darts at the Brickyard Tavern in NOHO.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife definitely needs a shoutout in my story. Not only is she an amazing artist, graphic designer, and businesswoman, she has been extremely encouraging and motivating to me in my artistic and musical pursuits. She has pushed me to take steps when I have been unsure of where to go. She is an amazing life partner. I am also very encouraged to have such a great group of musicians to create music and bounce life-ideas off of. I feel very blessed.