Connor Skidmore (aka Mikronaut) and I connected on Soundcloud several years ago, then Facebook, and he signed one of my tracks for a compilation last year.
His music is techno, very polished, melodic and high energy. You can find his stuff on labels like Funk'n Deep and 2 of his own imprints.
All seemed to be on the up and up for the young producer & label owner and then I saw a status on Facebook that read,
"2 more remixes, 3 more EPs, and 1 more compilation, and then I'm out.
Thanks, everyone, for all of your support. It has made me realize that I still have a long way to go to become the artist I truly want to be. Until then, I'm locking myself in the studio and working day and night, you probably won't be hearing much from me, and you won't hear a trace of what I'm working on before it's ready. Thanks again! Mikronaut signing off."
So I figured I'd reach out to learn more about his planned hiatus, and studies abroad. That's right, Connor has produced a lot and isn't even 21 yet.
So Connor, congrats on what you’ve accomplished so far, to me you’ve got a lot under your belt, what do you want the world to know about IQ140 & Soul Storm and did I miss other notable accomplishments?
Thanks for inviting me to do this interview! I have a lot in store for both iq140 and SoulStorm. First, iq140 is the label I’ve been managing since the end of 2014, and I’m already very happy with where it is going. It has recently undergone some big changes. Originally we had a “sublabel” called iq140 Ltd. for more underground and experimental releases, but we recently decided to merge the two, so from now on releases on the label will go out every two or three weeks, and they will be much more of a mixed bag. I’m not trying to make this label into anything huge, so I intend always to release whatever I want, from whoever I want, no matter whether it’ll help the label to grow. That has been one of my biggest joys in running this label, discovering new talent who produce some really special music, but haven’t gotten any exposure because they’re music breaks the norm.
SoulStorm is a bit different in that it will only feature a very specific style of music, club-oriented melodic techno. I’m also using this name to brand my events, and I intend to evolve the name over the next few years (since I’m a college student, as time/money permits) to become a label, event platform, and booking agency. Releases for this label might even be as infrequent as 4-5 per year at this point, because I want to be sure every release is as close to being perfect as possible, both the music and the artwork. I am also very hyped for what’s in store for this label, as already we’re working on EPs with some of my favorite producers, and a lot of the tracks I’ve been sent are ridiculously huge.
You’re just getting back to the States from a semester abroad. Mostly in Italy, or where else did you stay?
Yeah, I spent three and a half months in Rome. At the time of writing I’ve only been back in the States for just over a month, but I already greatly miss Italy, and Rome feels like a second home to me. I did some traveling on the weekends as well, mostly within Italy, but also in London.
So you’re from Minnesota, what is the scene like there and what have you experienced?
The scene in the Twin Cities is great, full of many extremely talented and devoted DJs and producers. Techno legends like DVS1, Dustin Zahn, and Woody McBride have helped to shape the scene. I haven’t experienced a lot since I’m too young to get into the 21+ events, but the few events I’ve attended have been very special, very high energy and great vibes. My only regret with the scene here is that my production and mixing style is quite different from what most people are playing and producing here, but in a way it’s nice because it means that I’m surrounded by lots of diverse sources of inspiration. A couple of years ago I’d say I was striving for pretty much a straight festival/peak-time sound, something like the mainstage of Awakenings, and since hearing a wonderful techno radio show here which keeps things chill most weeks, I’ve been inspired to try to keep those underground, chill, and psychedelic vibes in everything I produce. You can hear that in most tracks I’ve released if you listen closely, but it’s most prominent in tunes like “Pandora’s Box,” “Acid Machine,” and “Delusion.”
I see you on the socials and you’re a devoted Drumcode fan, what was the party like that you went to, it was at Gashouder in Amsterdam right?
Oh, I wish it was the Gashouder, but I couldn’t make it out to that unfortunately because of a conflicting visit to Naples that weekend. I ended up going to Drumcode Halloween the next weekend, and it was incredible. That venue is honestly probably my favorite so far, and Boxia’s set in particular just blew my mind. I also loved being able to hear some of my favorite tunes played over a great sound system. When Marco Faraone played he dropped his tracks “Replace,” “Boost,” and “Over The Clouds” back to back, and hearing them in that context it was clear that every element of these tracks was built to work well in a club.
I’m sure this party was unreal. I’m curious, compared to what you’ve experienced in the states, what is the scene across the pond like?
There is a great scene in Italy, and I’d say techno is far better known there. The crowd felt a bit more rowdy than at a typical night in the Twin Cities. (Maybe that’s our Minnesota nice!) But my favorite thing about the scene in Rome was that it’s a big enough city that my favorite DJs came through pretty much every two weeks, and that’s something that never happens in Minnesota.
Did you have a chance to play any parties?
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to play there, though. I was working with a couple of buddies and promoters to put together a SoulStorm label night, but the scene is very competitive and I had limited funding, so it fell through.
And now on to the meaty stuff. I’ve heard your tracks and bought a few from IQ 140. You have a hard yet melodic sound and your tracks sound very clean and open. How did you develop your sound as it is right now?
. I’d say my sound started from a different angle than that of a lot of techno producers. I grew up listening to early works from Philip Glass, and I loved his melodic soundscapes that slowly evolved over the course of sometimes up to an hour. I also really enjoyed the music of Shpongle, a psychedelic duo that is still one of my favorite groups today. So when I began to produce music it was very eclectic and psychedelic.
And then I was introduced to deadmau5 and began to produce some progressive house. By the time I became serious about production I was still very much influenced by these sounds, and as a result I have a very hard time producing anything without melody. On the other side of things, when I discovered techno music it was through Adam Beyer’s Drumcode radio show, so naturally I fell in love with the heavy peak-time-style beats of his productions and label. I try to balance these two elements in all of my productions, and even have them in mind when I try to produce something softer or more minimal. Finally, as I mentioned before, particularly in the past year I’ve been taking influence for some more underground sounds. I see Drumcode techno and underground “true” techno as two fundamentally different genres.
The former has breaks and drops, just like forms of EDM and tech house. The latter is more about hypnotizing the listener rather than building and releasing the energy to keep things interesting, or it relies on the DJ to do that. I want my productions to have the hypnotic effect of the underground, but I still love breaks, builds, and drops too much to get rid of them.
What about the projects you have lined up, that’s not a small under taking. Can you share details and when can we expect them to be released?
As you mentioned, I don’t have a lot lined up anymore, but I do have three more things lined up. First, at the end of the month I’ll be releasing a remix of Disco Dirt’s “Colony” on bubblejam. The original is a track that I really love, and I’m sure you’ll hear it in my sets for months or years to come, because it’s very deep and almost has some tech trance vibes. I have one more remix coming out eventually, no date planned yet.
Finally, as my way of “going out with a bang,” I’ll be releasing an 8-track EP (four originals and four remixes from a few of my favorite artists) on the midwest-based label Kinetic Records. 3 of the 4 remixes are nearly finished, and all of them have exceeded my wildest expectations.
After that, I go into full studio mode. In the past couple of months of focusing on my sound and style I think I’ve already found the elements that I love to use most in my music. I don’t want to limit myself to using these elements in every track, so instead I’m working to make them as strong and unique as possible. That way, when these sounds inevitably show up in my productions they sound unique and interesting.
For these last tracks will you be bringing something different to the table or will you be putting your current mark on it? So the hiatus…what prompted it, why the break and what do you want to accomplish?
I’d say most of these tunes have that signature Mikronaut sound, however, bubblejam and Kinesis both have very diverse styles, so they’ve allowed me to experiment far more than many other labels would. I’m definitely branching out for my final EP, a couple of the tunes are quite different than anything I’ve tried before, and I think it’s a small taste of the major experimentation that’s going to take place during this hiatus.
Thanks Connor we look forward to what you have in store.
In the mean time check out Connor's Music Here[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/302564389" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
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