Mikey Lion and The Sloth King, Sacha Robotti, naturally complement each other in the studio once again with the release of ‘Do Or Die’ on Desert Hearts Records. A squelchy acid line formulated into a menacing loop serves as the track’s centerpiece, with added vocal clips and a hefty low end adding further power to the finished product. Sacha knew exactly what to do when Mikey passed over the framework for this dancefloor weapon. We get to hear more about their collaboration process in our interview with Mikey Lion and Sacha Robotti.
‘Do Or Die’ is the second single leaked off Mikey Lion’s forthcoming debut album, For The Love, following a pleasant, melodic house hit, ‘Above The Clouds‘. Throughout the album Mikey Lion intends to offer a sonic depiction of the Desert Hearts saga, spurred by his DMT experience in 2012, marked by questioning and connectivity, the highs and lows of pursuing your passion, and a portrait of an artist searching for something more.
‘Do Or Die’ more reflects Mikey’s existential crisis over the past year, how his break-out year came to a halt and he found himself asking, “what is a DJ without gigs, what is a festival community without a festival?” While ‘Above The Clouds’ can reflect how the Desert Hearts community pulled together during the pandemic, confirming DH’s message of “House Techno Love” is unaffected by the storm as if existing above the clouds. The full album arrives in April.
For now, enjoy our interview with Mikey Lion and Sacha Robotti where we hear stories of their friendship, the timeless tracks they will always play, the beginning of Desert Hearts Festival and key music production tips.
I know you guys have a strong history together. How did you guys initially meet?
Mikey Lion: I believe we met at Dirtybird Campout 2015. I was a huge fan of Robosonic at the time and when I heard they had gone different ways and Sacha Robotti had just moved to Los Angeles, I knew he was probably looking for new people to connect with. Desert Hearts Records was just starting to bloom and it wasn’t long before Sacha and I released our first EP on the label called “Ol’ Dirty Hearts”.
Sacha Robotti: The first Campout! He played after me if I remember correctly. I think I also went to his house on NYE a few months later in San Diego to an after. We didn’t connect “properly” until we were both living in LA!
Can you share a favorite memory or two from the time you have shared together?
Mikey Lion: I’ve always loved working in the studio with Sacha. It’s always a really fun and relaxed vibe. For whatever reason, our two styles of music production have always meshed really well together and the tunes we’ve made have been some of my favorites. Sacha is a big, loveable & goofy guy and those are the types of people I need in my life.
Sacha Robotti: My favorite musical memory with Mikey is playing b2b at Dirtybird Campout 2018. I loved that set, I feel we touched a few souls.
One of my favorite personal memories is meeting at Bozeman Hot Springs during both our road trips through the USA last year. It was great to connect after lockdown life and outside of our conventional habitats. We took a swim with the Mermaid of Bozeman.
How was the collaboration process for ‘Do Or Die’?
Mikey Lion: I had a couple of patches I’d made on my OB-6 Synthesizer but I couldn’t quite nail the bassline. Sacha came over and gave it a try and I think within the first 15 minutes we had something that we really liked. We let the bassline ride and kept tweaking it throughout the track and the whole process was really quick.
Sacha Robotti: We made the track in his studio a year and a half ago, the process was quite quick. It started with the beat, the bassline came out of an OB6, and we recorded him for the vocals. The lyrics are fitting for 2021!
Mikey, how was the very first Desert Hearts party? What are some things about music and life that you have learned since then?
The first Desert Hearts party was a little 200 person renegade party out in the middle of the Mojave Desert and it was nearly a disaster. The generator broke, the sound guy went MIA the day of the party, and a bone-chilling cold-front came through the desert leaving us with 20 degree nights. We finally got the sound system running at 6am on Saturday and the party was off to the races. That first Sunday sunrise party is something I’ll never forget.
Since then I’ve learned that we can’t always just wing things and hope for the best. That was our strategy for the first couple of years and we’ve dodged a couple of bullets over the years that in hindsight should never have come close had we been on top of things early on. We couldn’t live the hippy lifestyle forever in this industry doing things without contracts or legal counsel. We’ve buttoned things up quite a bit since those first parties!
Can you recall any tracks you still play since the beginning of Desert Hearts?
I still play a lot of tracks from that era as they bring back so many good memories. A few of my favorites are Marshall Jefferson – Mushrooms (Justin Martin Remix), Super Flu – Yours Opa, Marek Hemmann – Gemini, and Danny Daze – Fall Away From Love
How about you Sacha, what are some of your favorite classic house or techno records?
Among my favorites are “Destination Unknown” by Green Velvet, “The Bells” by Jeff Mills, “Rollin’ & Scratchin’” by Daft Punk.
You just held a music production course for IO Music Academy, can you share a couple key points from the lessons?
Yes, I love to teach and exchange ideas with people, I learn so much from that. The key points I would take away from that class would be to have fun without overthinking what you’re doing, while you’re getting into the flow. This is how I unlock my own creativity, this is how magic happens when you just become a channel.
What is next for you?
I started working on my debut solo album! I’m super excited about that. Expect the unexpected.
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