It’s 3pm and a bright Atlanta sun shines through to the soft white furnishings of Mike Kalombo’s office. Relaxed and with banterous humour in between, we talk about Mike’s passion for music, how he found his way into producing material for a wealth of stars and how he pulled a crazy stunt to work with Jermaine Dupri at So So Def.
MV: Now you’ve told us that you’ve worked with Usher, Mariah Carey and far too many more for you to remember, but just how did you get to that point?
“Well that’s a story and a then some!” he says casually taking a sip of water, I can tell this is going to be interesting. “It started back in 2007/8, I decided to start using YouTube to put myself out there. I was just making video’s, practicing my art and seeing what people thought. I gradually started building up a fan base, it was completely unintentional for that to happen. I’d enjoy getting the feedback, not all of it was positive – you know ‘haters gon’ hate’ and all that – but you supersede your haters! The thing with haters is that sometimes they will address certain things that no one else will and those things I worked on to be better in my art. Anyway labels were hitting me up but I didn’t feel quite ready to make that move at the time, I was just simply having fun and perfecting what I do. All the while my fan base was growing and growing, I had over 200K subscribers at the time on YouTube it was crazy. So one day, completely on a whim, I thought ‘you know what? there is one person I would love to work with at this time, their work ethic is much like my own,’ so I turned my camera on and did a one minute plea. I basically just said to whoever was watching that I wanted to work with Jermaine Dupri and that everyone should tweet him and let him know I wanna work with him. Now, I didn’t really know what I had done – in truth I didn’t think nothing big would come of it but my mad, passionate fans literally BLEW UP his Twitter and Facebook accounts! Within 8 hours JD sent me a message and within 2 weeks I was in Atlanta and we started working together. JD still speaks about that now in interviews, he just couldn’t believe that I was just a producer but had the loyal fan base of an artist!”
Wow that’s madness, hmmm I wonder who I can hit up on twitter to work with next (my mind on overdrive…) sorry back to the interview! So what was the first project you worked on with JD?
“We just basically went into the studio and started working together with other artists out there, there wasn’t a real first project it was just get straight down to being creative. We worked on a music publishing project called One Song, the concept being how just one song can pretty much change your life. You only need to have that one hit and it can open so many other doors for you. The moral in that being never take anything you create lightly as you never know just what it can do for you. I was the first signee to the company, a face that people could relate to and be like ‘Mike, oh yeah, he was that YouTube star now working with Jermaine Dupri‘ it gave purpose, it makes things seem achievable.
Now I’m working on a show with Lifetime TV called The Rap Game. I work behind the scenes as a mentor to young kids who are bright young stars on the internet. These kids have built up huge followings but we’re there to show them what the industry is really like and that it isn’t just about how many ‘likes’ you have -that’s not enough to be established in this industry. You have to have development to become a real superstar. It’s an 8 part show, I feature in 3 or 4 of them but my main episode was number 2 in which I was teaching, I loved that. We’ve wrapped up season 1 now so hopefully there’ll be a second.”
Awesome, I’ll look out for the show on UK TV. Finally tell me about Golden Keyz
“Golden Keyz! that’s my baby, it’s a plug in which is being used by my favorite producers right now. I play some piano loops, producers can get it, sample it, chop it up and incorporate it into their music! You can be as creative with it as you like, give it a go!”
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Missed Part One? Find it here