Michael Sebastian, the man behind mesmerizing loop compositions, hails from the heart of South Africa but has made London his home. We had the pleasure of speaking with him to explore his remarkable journey from South Africa to the performing on the streets and stages of London.
"I create live dance music through looping guitar, vocals, synths, and drum machines," Michael explains. His infatuation with music began in his formative years, inspired by his junior school buddies who started a band and roped him in as their bass player. Together, they played at parties and clinched a few competition victories. It was during these early experiences that Michael realized the irresistible pull of music, setting the course for his life's path.
From abstract art-pop to magical looping
Michael's first track was the birth of his solo EP, characterized by angular abstract art-pop. However, Michael's sound was far from static. He began honing his craft busking on the streets of London, distilling his sonic essence by narrowing his choice of instruments and pushing their capabilities to the limits.
When we asked about the pivotal moment in his career, Michael didn't hesitate. "I think my most influential purchase was my first looper," he recalls. It was a modest, one-button Ditto looper that he bought without a specific purpose in mind. But as he experimented with it, joy and discovery flowed. It was the spark that ignited his journey, inspiring him to share his musical findings with the world.
A shift in digital instruments
As Michael's career advanced, he encountered ROLI products, an experience that left a profound mark. "I remember when my friend showed me his Seaboard, I was genuinely excited," he recounts. "It felt like a powerful shift in how digital instruments are created."
But what sets ROLI apart for Michael? The answer lies in MPE (Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression). It allows him to make full use of MPE Synths on his Ableton Push 3 during his electrifying live performances, infusing them with a unique, palpable expression.
Lighting up creativity
A key proponent of Michael's looper creations is the LUMI Keys Studio Edition. "First of all, I love anything that lights up," he admits. "I believe that instruments need to have an aesthetic appeal to entice you to play with them, and the LUMI Keys definitely have that."
But it's not just about looks. The LUMI Keys Studio Edition's portability has a transformative impact, enabling him to capture ideas quickly into his Push without the need for a laptop. And the MPE functionality? It's a game-changer that breathes life into digital sounds, turning them into living, breathing entities on stage.
Key creative tips
Michael’s years of looping have helped him to hone his skill, and he has three golden rules he’d like to share with others to aid in their music production.
Choose your sonic palette: "Try to choose your sounds and instruments before you start creating. These limitations will help you be more creative compositionally and help identify a sonic signature."
Focus on the listener: "Always know where the listener's focus is meant to be in a track. Make sure your music guides their journey."
Feel the music: "The most important thing is that you feel it. Everything else is secondary. Music is all about passion."
Before wrapping up, we couldn't resist asking what's next for Michael Sebastian. He's got an exciting gig in store for his fans. "I'm doing a massive headline show at EartH Hackney on the 20th of October," he reveals. "Come through for a live show that fuses dance, improvisation, and live music with really high vibes."
Michael’s journey from the streets of South Africa to the heart of London, his evolution as a musician, and his passionate embrace of innovative tools like ROLI's LUMI Keys Studio Edition are a testament to the transformative power of music. For Michael, music is not just a passion; it's a way of life. And in every note, in every loop, he invites us to join him on this extraordinary journey.
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