Michael Woods is one of the hottest figures in dance music today. A classically trained producer, he consistently charts of Beatport, runs his own label (Diffused), and is a resident DJ at Ministry of Sound. I had a chance to catch up with him in Vancouver, Canada and we discussed his highlights of 2012, his tireless work ethic and what to expect in the new year.
Into the AM: First off, thanks for talking with us! What has your schedule been like lately?
Michael Woods: It’s been pretty hectic, flying from one city to the next, I recently went down to South America to play Creamfields in both Santiago Chile and Buenos Aires Argentina, which was amazing. Amongst all this traveling, the real challenge is trying to find time to get in to the studio but I always do ... somehow.
ITAM: As 2012 comes to a close, what would you say were your highlights of the year?
Michael Woods: There were so many highlights this year, so its hard to choose, but some of the best shows I’ve had were at EDC Las Vegas and New York, Creamfields UK and South America, which were all pretty dope, and Escape From Wonderland, which was a huge Halloween party put on by the Insomniac guys.
I remember getting on stage and intentionally not looking up while I got myself ready, but when I finally did look up there had to be at least 10,000 people standing in front of me - all in fancy dress! It was epic!
ITAM: As EDM continues to grow at a rapid pace, what do you think of its evolution over the past few years?
Michael Woods: This is nothing I haven’t seen before, this exact thing happened back in 1999, but instead of EDM it was trance music and it was in Europe. It's great that EDM is really in the spotlight right now, especially in North America, and I really do hope it stays there because the very nature of the music seems to bring on a kind of euphoric energy wherever it's played.
ITAM: How would you describe your sound at the moment?
Michael Woods: Its hard to describe but I’m trying to find a balance between something that sounds quite musical, yet has punch, something that sounds modern, fresh and is at the forefront of what is technically possible to produce.
There’s a whole bunch of amazing hardware and software that is now available, which makes making music so much more interesting as the possibilities are seemingly endless.
ITAM: You run your own label, Diffused Music, how did that come about?
Michael Woods: It came about because I was sick and tired of having to give up control of the music I was making, which is what normally happens when you sign to a major label. I wanted to be in absolute control and decide how and when things would happen. It also meant I could release lots of the unsigned music which was being sent to me from other producers that I play out regularly.
ITAM: What’s your advice to up-and-coming artists who are just starting in the industry?
Michael Woods: My advice is: If you really want to make it in the music industry, you have to be totally dedicated to your art, you have to be really hungry to succeed and you have to believe in yourself, even when the future may not look so promising.
When I first started out, I practically lived in my then-small studio and sometimes would be awake for 3 days straight working on music. But at the time, I really didn’t mind because I loved what I did so much.
ITAM: What does your release schedule look like for 2013? Anything exciting we can look forward to?
Michael Woods: I’m taking most of January off of touring to work in the studio, so I will have lots of new fresh-sounding material to get out there throughout the whole of next year.
As of right now, I’m currently sitting on 3 tracks which are ready for release and I hope to get them out January, February and March of 2013. Plus, I’ll be doing a lot of the big festivals this year and hope to jump on a few collaborations.
ITAM: What inspires you to make a new record?
Michael Woods: There’s no better feeling than playing a great record at a show or in a club and watching the reactions on people’s faces, watching their hands go up in the air and feeling the whole mood of the club go through the roof. That exact feeling is at the forefront of my mind every time I sit down in front of my computer to make a new record.
ITAM: What do you use to create your tracks?
Michael Woods: Logic Pro
ITAM: In the studio, how do you know when a track is complete?
Michael Woods: Sometimes it feels like tracks are never complete, as there are always ways to improve them. But as long as the main preconceived elements are in there as I want them, the track is properly arranged and the tones are sonically sound then 99 times out of 100 - its good to go.
ITAM: What’s your set-up for your live gigs?
Michael Woods: Its pretty basic: USB sticks, 4 CDJ 2000s and 900 Nexus mixer.
ITAM: Of all the venues you’ve had the opportunity of playing in, which one would be your personal favorite and why?
Michael Woods: One of my favorite clubs has to be Mansion in Miami – the production there is insane. It’s like something out of Cirque Du Soleil. Sometimes it’s hard to DJ there, as the incredible visuals can be a little distracting though [laughs].
ITAM: How did the relationship with Deadmau5 and Mau5trap begin?
Michael Woods: Our relationship started through our management, as we are managed by the same people. I was given the opportunity to remix two of his tracks, “Strobe” and “I Said”, both of which went on to do really well in the clubs. Because of that, I was invited to go on his UK tour with him and to have a release on Mau5trap.
ITAM: Tell us about your Ministry of Sound residency.
Michael Woods: I’ve been a resident at Ministry of Sound in London for two years now and I’m about to sign up for my third year. Its been an amazing ride as I consider Ministry of Sound to be one of the best clubs in the world and the club has gone from strength to strength, having some of the best DJ’s in the world perform there.
It also helps that the club is less than 20 minutes from my house [laughs].
ITAM: What are 5 things you can’t live without?
Michael Woods: My Laptop, my iPhone(s), my car, pizza and Netflix
ITAM: Drink of choice.
Michael Woods: Patron tequila
ITAM: What is the most personally gratifying moment of your professional career?
Michael Woods: When I found out that a track I produced for Example had gone straight in at Number 1 in the main UK charts and remained there for 2 weeks. It went on to sell 1.5 million copies worldwide.
ITAM: Last words to share with our readers:
Michael Woods: Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years and thanks to everyone who has ever bought or danced to one of my productions. It’s been a real rollercoaster ride and I can’t wait to see what happens next!