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InDepth InterView: Michael Mott - Part 1: Inside Look At GONE: THE REMIXES & ITHACA COLLEGE AT 54 BELOW

One of the most idiosyncratic and undeniably gifted composers and lyricists to emerge this century, Michael Mott has taken the theatre world by storm with his absolutely spectacular collection of compositions titled WHERE THE SKY ENDS: THE SONGS OF MICHAEL MOTT and now Mott discusses the finer points of his newest release, GONE: THE REMIXES, extensively as part of a fresh multi-part series analyzing his theatre and pop work, old and new. In today's discussion, Mott and I analyze his brand new collection of pop remixes for the WHERE THE SKY ENDS standout "Gone", featuring a spine-tingling track that exclusively premiered on this site earlier this week, "Gone (Adam Zucker French 75 Mix)", which is available here. Mott generously explains the groundwork of the pop-based roots for the tune, largely inspired by the recognizable hits of chart-topper Jason Mraz, as well as sheds some light on his desire to create a remix EP reminiscent of superstar Mariah Carey and her iconic and ubiquitous remix albums of the 1990s and 2000s. Additionally, Mott goes inside the process itself and offers the full 411 on what made these exceptional remixes a reality as well as the accomplished producers he collaborated with to create them. All of that, a preview of Mott's upcoming 54 Below event ITHACA COLLEGE AT 54 BELOW and much, much more in this first part of a continuing conversation with one of Broadway's best and brightest new talents.

Michael Mott's GONE: THE REMIXES is available now on iTunes here. More information on Michael Mott is available at the Broadway Records official site here and at his official site here. Tickets and general information on ITHACA COLLEGE AT 54 BELOW is available here.

Gone

PC: First WHERE THE SKY ENDS, then the dance remixes EP and now an entire EP album of remixes for "Gone"...

MM: Yes! I know. I haven't said anything about it to anyone - even though I've been working on it for over two months. What I've been doing is working on a bunch of new remixes for my song "Gone". So, I've been working with a ton of Top 40 pop and dance remixers - a ton. So, I have a 6-track "Gone" single that is released this week. We've been working on it for about two or three months now and I am really happy with how they all come out. So, basically, on the remix album there is the WHERE THE SKY ENDS album version of "Gone" and then three 8-to-10-minute dance remixes that are really freaking cool - I am so proud of how they came out; they are all completely different from each other. Then, there is a radio edit of one of them and then a stripped-down, electronic/acoustic ballad version of one of them - I think that is actually my favorite one, though I really love them all.

PC: How exciting.

MM: I know! I am so excited. Let me tell you how it happened: your review was so amazing and all the other theatre world reviews were so amazing for WHERE THE SKY ENDS - I am so proud of WHERE THE SKY ENDS; I could not have asked for a better first album. But, I write a lot of pop music and I really wanted to put something out in the pop world and start making my footprint in that world, too. So, Julian Marsh, who did the "Gone" remix that is on my dance remix EP said to me, "We need to release a bunch of 'Gone' remixes." And, so, I said, "I have no idea how to do that!" And, so, he said, "Let me hook you up." And, he ended up hooking me up with a woman named Barbara Sobel from Sobel Promotions and she hooked me up with some amazing producers - and, I mean, she works with Avicii and Calvin Harris...

PC: The biggest names in dance music.

MM: Exactly! Exactly. We were actually in talks with him to remix a song, but it didn't work out. So, she got together a group of the most amazing producers to remix "Gone" - obviously, they have all charted a bunch of times and they all are really accomplished. So, one of them lives in Venezuela and one lives in LA - they are from all over. So, they came up with some really unique and interesting mixes and then I gave them my feedback and they changed some things and we collaborated to make the tracks what they are. It's really for the pop and dance world, but pretty much my entire fan base right now is in the theatre world, so I would really love for the theatre world to be the first to know that this is happening, but this is really aimed at the pop and dance world most of all. Plus, it's about hearing "Gone" done five completely different ways than it was done on my album. I tried to make it a little bit more mainstream, too.

PC: And "Gone" itself uses many pop songs as a take-off point and pays homage to a number of them, as well, correct?

MM: Yes, it does. Exactly. Lyrically, the song is strung together by titles of other pop songs. Mostly Jason Mraz, but it does integrate a lot of other pop songs, as well.

PC: Of course, the remix album was ubiquitous when we were growing up in the 1990s.

MM: It was - and that's why I wanted to do this. I mean, every single I ever heard almost had dance remixes, too. Growing up as a massive Mariah Carey fan, she would release a single and then go back in the studio and re-record four or five different versions of the song for the remixes - each and every one having a new vocal. So, you could hear four or five differently sung versions of the same song because of all the remixes. I remember thinking, "God, that is so interesting - to hear the artist reinterpreting their song in different ways and having it take on new life and new meaning." It's just fascinating to me. So, who says you can't do that in the theatre world?

PC: Nobody. And, you are doing it!

MM: [Laughs.] I am! I am. Plus, we have the amazing Ben Fankhauser - from NEWSIES and everything else - singing on it.

PC: Did Ben re-record his vocals for these remixes, as well?

MM: Yes, he did.

PC: Did you tweak any of the background vocals or lyrics?

MM: Well, we changed the melody a tiny, tiny bit and we added a choir - we had a whole choir come in and record some new stuff. The original album version is such a slow ballad that the vocal performance was very intimate, whereas the remix versions are much more dance-y and up-tempo - much bigger, too. Plus, I had Ben sing his own harmonies with himself for the tracks, too. It's a little bit bigger and a little bit more energized, I think.

PC: Do you re-use any of the original album orchestral tracks?

MM: No. It is all new - everything on these remixes is new. All new chords, all new vocals, all new background choir - it's all brand new. It's real, true dance/pop music. I am so happy with how it all came out.

PC: Yet, it is on Broadway Records, of course.

MM: Of course! It is on Broadway Records and I appreciate Van Dean so much for him agreeing to let me do all this craziness that I want to do. I mean, he never, ever says "What?!" He always says, "Sure!" I was like, "Listen, I have this idea...," and I told him about it and he immediately said, "Sure!" And, I'm like, "Really?!" and, he's like, "Sure! Do it!"

PC: The best four-letter word is sure.

MM: [Laughs.] It definitely is.

PC: Have you already started planning a follow-up remix album for another song?

MM: Well, I have already been asked by Barbara Sobel what the next single should be - but, the thing is, I don't want to oversaturate the market with too many of these things. So, there is interest in something else already, but we'll see - first, we'll see how "Gone" is received.

PC: What can you tell me specifically about the track that we world premiered this week, "Gone (Adam Zucker French 75 Mix)"?

MM: The track that you are premiering is by Adam Zucker, who also did the "Don't Stop Dancin'" remix on my remix EP. I have been working with him on a bunch of new pop music, too - he has been letting me use his studio and is producing a bunch of pop music with me. He's amazing and I love him. I think his remix of "Gone" is so interesting and so different - I just love it. It's very, very modern - it's something that could really be on the radio today, I think, but it's a ballad.

PC: Does French 75 refer to the famous cocktail?

MM: Yes! The drink - with lots of champagne! And this remix is definitely perfect for the club, too.

PC: Is there a more specific meaning behind that moniker?

MM: Well, Adam said that it is his favorite drink and he was inspired by another song that was a French 75 mix, too, when he was working on this remix.

PC: Did you have any specific model you based any of the remixes on?

MM: No. Basically, they are all my melody and lyrics that were then sent to all of these remixers and they put their own spin on them and then sent me ideas and we collaborated back and forth. It's a completely different way to work for me - and it's a completely different way to interpret a song. It's so creatively stimulating and satisfying for me because it lets me stretch totally different muscles.

PC: A challenge worth taking on, no doubt.

MM: Definitely. I mean, listen, all I want to do is create - I want to write music and put it out there in the world and collaborate with great people and make it all as interesting and dynamically engaging as possible. To be able to do all these crazy things... I mean, last year, if you told me that I was going to be working with a super popular dance remixer in Venezuela I would have said you were nuts. But, the fact that this is all happening now is so, so cool.

PC: Will we be able to hear this music in the actual club?

MM: Yes! Sobel Promotions is sending the "Gone" remixes out to 400,000 different clubs this week. So, that's why they are going to be available on iTunes at the same time - so, you know, if somebody in Germany hears one of them out at the club, they can go on iTunes and buy it instantly. We will see how they are received.

PC: This is certainly a very unique venture, especially as an extension of a musical theatre project.

MM: It is. But, honestly, I am just doing this because I love it - there is really no risk in doing something like this; the cost to do this was so low that it was basically just about being an artistic expression and a creative gesture. So, we will so how it goes over.

PC: And, given the extensive length of the tracks and sheer number of them, it's more or less an entire album experience in and of itself.

MM: It really is - I mean, the EP is 35 minutes! [Laughs.]

PC: Longer than some full-length albums, as a matter of fact!

MM: It really is - I know! So, I am referring to it officially as a "Gone" remix single, but it is really a whole album.

PC: It's a perfect workout length, as well - which is a very befitting selling feature for a dance remix EP.

MM: It really is - I spent a lot of time sequencing this, too; you know, it starts with the album version and then it goes dance mix, dance mix, dance mix, dance mix, then it ends with this electronic ballad. It's the perfect 35-minute workout, I think. Honestly, I listen to all of my music and figure out all of the changes and stuff as I am working out, so it ended up turning into the perfect workout play-list. It starts with the album version - a great warm-up - and then it's intense extended dance music and then it ends with the ballad version, which is a great cool-down.

PC: And it's a perfect companion piece to your other dance EP, as well.

MM: Yes - exactly. Exactly.

PC: What were some of your personal favorite remixes growing up?

MM: Oh, I absolutely love Mariah's "Heartbreaker/If You Should Ever Be Lonely". Just incredible. I am also in love with one of the "My All" remixes - it's a 9-minute gospel club mix!

PC: That certainly sounds epic.

MM: It is! I love that one so much.

PC: Besides GONE: THE REMIXES, you also have a 54 Below concert coming up promoting your alma mater, ITHACA COLLEGE AT 54 BELOW, on March 9.

MM: Yes, I am headlining the Ithaca College night at 54 Below. I am doing an 8-song set with a full band.

PC: Who will be performing?

MM: Ben Fankhauser will be singing "Gone", of course; Joe Reid from IF/THEN will also be in it, as will Lindsay Rider, who is another Ithaca grad who is in New York and in theatre - all three are Ithaca college alums who are now living in New York. All of them will be singing my stuff. Then, in between them, we have some of the current graduating seniors singing my songs from WHERE THE SKY ENDS, too.

PC: Will you be music director?

MM: Yes, I will be MD. I will also be hosting and talking. I think I am going to be singing one song, too.

PC: What will you be singing? Something from the album?

MM: I don't know - I haven't quite decided. We'll see. I think I might sing something new, but I am not sure yet.

Stay tuned for all about Michael Mott's upcoming evening of new music coming to 54 Below in April - titled THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS HOW - for the second part of this candid conversation in a few short weeks!

Photo Credits: Broadway Records, Walter McBride, etc.


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