Fresh off the release of the infectiously danceable Dangerous Behavior, I met with Dutch DJ/producer Mike Mago and British pop-prodigy Tiggi Hawke at the Armada Pop-Up office alongside one of Amsterdam’s idyllic canals—a stunning setting for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the captivating track, their careers, and their thoughts on success itself. Mago, clearly at ease with the surroundings of his home country, was coming off another interview when Hawke arrived, so she and I comfortably chatted in an off-the-cuff conversation that allowed her glowing personality and charm to shine.
Hawke comes from a background that began with training in classical music–but the songstress found that she could not get the expression or connection that she wanted out of that form of music–and she decided to look elsewhere, hopping over to Broadway and then pop music, in an effort to find an outlet for her writing and, more importantly, storytelling. The talented writer is also a skilled vocalist who is quickly developing her career as a pop singer.
Mago, on the other hand, started off collecting records and then through DJing–going around his hometown, pub to pub, asking if he could play, before graduating to clubs and eventually making the decision to start his own label–BMKLTSCH Records–and then, finally, trying his hand at producing. “Ultimately, I see myself as a DJ who is also producing,” said Mago. “I started out collecting records and I love putting them together. I love editing stuff. I love putting ideas together [in the studio]. But it all comes from a DJ perspective. When I’m behind the decks, there’s no tiredness. There’s just being completely in the moment, enjoying myself, expressing myself–you don’t get that from just producing.”
Yet, of course, both Mago and Hawke pointed out that without their time in the studio, they would not have the music they love to perform and wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate the results of all the work they’ve put in.
Music, for instance, like Dangerous Behavior.
The collaboration between Hawke and Mago was a “happy coincidence,” said Hawke. She wrote the demo in her Tileyard Music Studio in London, and from there through an ‘act of the music God,’ it hit Mago’s inbox thanks to Tracey Fox (management for Hawke and Dragonette). While Mago’s typical sound dwells in the land of 4×4 House tracks, it just so happened that he had been toying with other sounds in his word (re: happy coincidence in full force).
“Mike and I hadn’t really spoken personally about the track,” said Hawke. “What was amazing was that he came back with this first draft and it had the abandoned energy, the completely reckless side I was aiming for. He brought the energy straight away. There was never a time when we felt that it wasn’t quite mixing. It was a match made in heaven.”
And within two days, Mago sent Hawke the first draft–and while adjustments were made here and there, some key elements never changed. “Things never come back the first time where everyone isn’t like, ‘this is the worst’,” said Hawke. Mago continued, “But, for this one, everyone agreed upon the chorus. It just fit.” From there, the two came together in the studio for a session and tied up loose ends. The result? A masterpiece, perfect for top-down driving or, in the case of Mago’s VIP edit, dancing to all night long. “Shout out to Tracey,” said Hawke. “She’s a matchmaker. Cupid.”
And while the pair does not yet have a follow-up together, further collaborations are not out of the question. “Amsterdam to London, it’s a one hour flight,” said Hawke. “It takes me longer to get to work sometimes within London! Literally, on the plane, I was like, ‘dammit this is really close!’”
In the meantime, though, Mago has a ten-track EP coming out relatively soon. “It’s different,” said Mago. “I’m in a period where I am exploring a different type of sound. Dangerous Behavior was the beginning of that. It’s a great hook, but it’s not House tempo. I thought it was such a great track that, why not develop this [sound] some more. For me, it’s about developing creatively and being curious. But I also like making house tracks because it’s easy for me. I don’t need to think. I just make the beats. The other sound is more about developing and seeing how it goes.” And while he is toying with the idea of releasing the tracks under a new project name, it is clear that they will still hold semblance to Mago’s signature sound (so stay tuned!).
Hawke is also looking towards her next single (timeline: early next year) and for those U.K. readers–going on a mini-tour in November. Oh, and, of course: writing. “I’m really excited because if I perform too much and I don’t write, I get really worked up and then you lose balance,” said Hawke. “And if you tour too much, you get too exhausted and then you don’t really know if you’re coming or going, and you lose there as well. It’s really nice to have balance.”
Balance. Something that rang true through the interview conversation.
When asked how he defines success, Mago was clear. To him, success is all about balance. “Success is not having to worry too much about your income and those things. It’s not money. But it’s also not worrying about money. It’s about being fit, having a well-balanced lifestyle. And doing what you love.” The artist noted that after Outlines, he was touring a lot and had success when it came to his DJ profile, but, he was tired a lot of the time and couldn’t really enjoy it. “So, what is success if you are not really fit enough to enjoy it? Now I am making sure I have a healthy lifestyle, I’m fit enough, I’m living in the moment all the time. Okay, not all the time, but most of the time. So that when I have this success, I can enjoy being in the moment I’m in.”
“I agree with that,” stated Hawke. “You can grind away and have what is literally defined as successes, but if you’re not happy, and you’re not enjoying yourself, then how is that success? What’s so great for us is we get to do what we love for a job.”