From the burbs of Edina, MN, a defying style of house music surfaced beyond the horizons the Midwest nightlife thanks to the likes of Mike Ryerse, who respectfully produces under the artist alias we all know to be the mastermind and face behind Ghost Channels. Since Mike first picked up a guitar at the age of 15, Mike has and continues to invest his time working on music, not only under the moniker, Ghost Channels but, Lazenlow as well. Lazenlow is a more recent side project he’s been actively focusing on as the lead guitarist while working alongside vocalist, Gillian Needham, drummer, Mo McNichols on the drums and Shon Troth on the slide guitar. This indie-alternative band has brought forth a fresh, new sound, debuting a promising new chapter for Mike Ryerse and his creative career as a producer and lead guitarist.
Ghost Channels has filtered through the blood, sweat and tears most artists endure after investing their entire efforts before getting a taste of what it’s like to tap into such success he’s achieved as an up and coming artist. Ghost Channels has evolved as a creator throughout trials and tribulations, growing into the profound producer his fans praise him to be. Over the course of eight years, Mike has acquired the support of reputable artists in the EDM industry including Dr, Fresch, Aaron Jackson, Ghastly and Jameston Thieves. As he continues to craft his captivating style of modern house music, anyone can feel his dedication and talent throughout each and every diversifying synth, layer and transition showcased during the multitudes of sets he’s performed as an up and coming DJ and producer.
What's the backstory behind your artist alias Ghost Channels?
I have grown from an amateur to decent guitarist since I was about 15 years old or so. I can hold a one handed melody on piano and can tinker around with other things as well. When I was 16 years old or so, I would make beats to play my guitar, mimicking styles of music similar to bands such as Radiohead. I used Fruity Loops and there is this setting where if you have a piano roll open and you wanted to see another piano roll at the same time you would turn on a ghost channel. From there, the name just stuck.
When did you first get involved with the production and/or mixing of EDM and why?
I've bounced around a few different genres and been in a few bands. I was always influenced by electronic music (Warp records etc) but I would say probably in 2010 or so I got really into Deadmau5 and Wolfgang Gartner. Every show I went to started to be a DJ then and it seemed like a great way to get my music out to people.
How many years have you been actively producing and mixing music under the artist alias Ghost Channels?
I have been making music since '05. However, I'd say Ghost Channels has been a project of mine in it's current form for about eight years now.
What genre of music would you classify and/or compare your style and sound to?
Varying degrees of house music. (I have dabbled in other styles under the moniker as well but for the most part, Ghost Channels is a house project.)
What attracts you to the style of genre of music you are known for producing and/or mixing?
I really enjoy dancing, head banging was never my thing so I just like cool sound design, catchy vocal snippets and danceable grooves.
What do you think separates your style of music from other artists producing the same and/or similar sub-genres of music as you?
House music is a pretty crowded field but I like to think I bring my own differentiating influences of house music than other house producers out here.
Do you have any genres of music you'd eventually like to mix or produce that you have yet to dabble in the production or mixing of? If so, what genres of music and why?
I bounce all over the place, and I use my other projects as an outlet for that.
Have you ever considered or would you consider producing music for other artists? If so, why or why not?
I have before, I love the challenge, it's good to stretch your muscles, try and learn new things along the way.
What DAWs and MIDIs do you personally enjoy working with? Do you have a preference if you had to choose between one or the other?
I still use FLStudio, I've used Ableton and Protools and I get why they are better but I just like what I like. I think it's less about what brushes you use, but more so about how you use them when you paint. These days, for Ghost Channels, I just like doing my own thing. My way of creating is just splattering shit down and having happy accidents happen, although this process may not be as convenient while working in a collaborative environment, haha.
How many years of overall experience do you have producing music?
I'd say a solid 10 years or so. However, no one told me anything for like six or seven years so I had to unlearn a bunch of stuff. I would say I've really honed my creative process in the last few years or so.
Do you produce and/or mix music under any other artist aliases?
Yep, I have this sort of alternative-indie project I’d like to compare to a style similar to Gorillaz, called Lazenlow, along with the talented vocalist, Gillian Needham, Mo McNichols on the drums and Shon Troth on the slide guitar. I play guitar as well for this project which really allows me to stretch out my indie muscles that I have fallen back in love with over the last few years.
What is one of your favorite tracks that never gets old no matter how many times you've heard it?
Well lots of Radiohead tracks will always be my main thing, but as far as EDM, probably Push & Rise by Wolfgang Gartner or Strobe by Deadmau5, or the entirety of Discovery by Daft Punk.
Have you worked with any labels, artist management agencies or promotion companies in the past or are currently working with any now?
Yeah, I've worked with plenty of labels for Ghost Channels. I usually have a pretty good bullshit detector so I have had nothing but positive experiences with that. The times have definitely changed and SoundCloud is dead so needless to say, things keep changing as us artists continue to adapt to these changes.
Do you have a favorite track you've released so far?
Hmm... "Out of Commission" will always be my most defining track in which I collaborated alongside Megan Hamilton, the featured vocalist on this track amongst other tracks that were released on my album, Haunted House. Although, like many artists, I believe this new stuff I'm working on right now (specifically this upcoming four-track EP I've been working on) is some of the best music I feel I've ever made yet.
What first initially inspired your realization that music was what you wanted to base your creative career around? How has this realization motivated you to establish a creative career in the music industry?
I was a visual artist when I was a kid so I always had a creative side. When I started really getting into music, i really enjoyed pulling apart music and figuring out how something was put together. That really lends itself to writing and production. So just my curiosity with music.
Do you have a favorite artist you've especially enjoyed performing and/or tagging with?
Well Megan Hamilton was my OG in making music or first few songs together was really what took me off the ground. We have fun tagging house sets and we have the same sensibilities when it comes to that.
As an up and coming artist actively working in the industry, what are some strengths you have personally experienced while establishing your creative career in the music industry that you have found valuable?
Well this is a loaded question I'd say, my strengths lie within what I do when I'm by myself in my bedroom, just grinding away.
Do you have a favorite show you've performed and/or headlined at?
I will never forget my first time playing Summer Set Music Festival. I opened at 2:00PM at the EDM Stage. All of my friends came out, stumbling over in a hungover stooper to support me amongst all of my other local fans. I prepared for this moment to a “T” with my set, mixing all of my originals only to see the crowd’s exhilarating reception to my set, especially on stage with crazy lights and a professional stage production was quite the phenomenal experience within itself.
Which artists have you especially enjoyed playing support for and why?
I always enjoyed playing and hanging with Dr. Fresch, he is just a very solid guy all around. Ghastly was cool, he was a very early supporter of my stuff.
Have you collaborated with other artists? If so, who?
Megan Hamilton as mentioned, Bloodtone, Mind Cntrl, Free Fall amongst a few others.
Are there any local and/or mainstream artists you want to collaborate with in the future? If so, who and why?
I do have some projects in the works such as a collaboration coming up here with Two Tails that should be released sometime this summer.
In what ways has the music scene in Minneapolis helped shape and mold your creative career?
The internet has made the whole world smaller so while the local scene has had some influence, the internet has shaped me far more.
How has the EDM scene influenced your creative career?
It’s taught me a lot about how to keep an audience engaged.
What concert venues have you especially enjoyed performing at and why?
I will always love The Loft and consider that basically my home base. I also used to love performing at Spades.
How has your style of music changed or progressed over the course of your creative career as an artist?
The aggression has dropped down a lot and my BPM gets slower every year, haha. I just really focus more on groove these days and let the wub battles happen for someone else.
Are there any concert venues or music festivals you have yet to perform at that you want to perform at in the future?
First Avenue will always be my brass ring. I’ve played at The 7th St. Entry quite a bit, amongst other large venues but that damn Mainroom will be mine someday.
What single night out has been the most memorable for you? As a performer and/or as an attendee?
Well my first festival was Bonnaroo back in '06 and seeing Radiohead there was incredibly transcending. I would also say seeing Kanye at the Xcel on the Life of Pablo tour was something I’ll never forget.
Do you have a specific destination you'd want to live and/or travel to in the future? If so, where and why?
I love Minneapolis more for family and friend reasons, then for music reasons but, if I were to go somewhere it would be to a larger city so NY, LA, CHI. Something along those lines. No plans though.
Where do you live now and what influenced your decision to live where you currently stay?
NE Minneapolis, more of a life decision than any sort of music related one.
What is one valuable lesson you've learned while coming up as an active artist in the music industry?
What three tips of advice do you have for local artists looking to pursue a successful creative career in the music industry?
1. Make music for yourself not what you think your audience wants.
2. Remember your worth.
3. Do not agree to shows before you know all the details.
Where do you see yourself in this industry 5 years from now?
Most likely focusing on Lazenlow. Ideally, I’d love to see Ghost Channels and Lazenlow on a festival lineup one day, considering we’re doing as well as we are right now.