By Nicholas Jason Lopez
A living, breathing definition of a “one-man band,” New Jersey-based musician Mike Oregano prides himself on his uniqueness, as he fuses elements of reggae, hip-hop and jazz together.
Also the owner, founder and president of Oregano Records since 2018, he has also helped build independent musicians and given them a platform to shine.
He recently released a lyric video for his song “Lion,” which features Stephen Marley, taken from his 2018 ‘Hustlin” EP.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Oregano about what he’s been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – What sparked your interest in playing music to begin with?
Mike Oregano – When I was a child, I used to listen to whatever CD’s my parents and my sisters had and that sparked an interest in many different styles of music and sound in general from a very young age. I remember listening to ‘Dookie’ from Green Day on repeat all the time and saying to my parents that I would be like them one day. When I was 13, I started playing guitar and right from my first lesson, I knew I would be a professional musician.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a musician to stand out these days?
Mike Oregano – When social media was just starting to become a thing, it made it so much easier for the musicians who utilized it to stand out. Nowadays, if you’re a musician and not on social media, then you aren’t “official.” It definitely is beneficial if used correctly. You can’t just post pictures and videos occasionally anymore. Now, it has to be a dedicated commitment to posting content with the right analytics.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Mike Oregano – The pandemic has had a very big impact on my professional career. When things started to get bad and everyone was panicking, I was in the middle of a tour. Within a matter of three days, my entire schedule for the remainder of the year had been either cancelled or put on hold. With all the gigs that I had to cancel, I lost out on thousands of dollars. Only a small portion of the gigs I had on the schedule are still happening and booking tours at the moment is really difficult. Many venues have either gone out of business, or just don’t have a budget left at the moment to hire entertainment.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Mike Oregano – “If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.” – Fred Durst.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Mike Oregano – I have actually taken full advantage of my time in quarantine. In March, my wife and I moved into our new house and I got my studio rooms set up. I’ve adapted my career and lifestyle to working remotely as well. I have produced a handful of music, written a multitude of reviews, built a repair shop and acquired clientele, started producing my own reality show and developed commercials for my different brands. I am always innovating and creating, so I had to scrap the gigs for the moment and work on my other goals.
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Mike Oregano – “Get ready, dude.” (Laughs)
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Mike Oregano – I am always listening to a wide variety of different music. I enjoy many different genres, but mainly end up rotating smooth jazz, reggae, hip-hop and rock.
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you live?
Mike Oregano – I live in Central New Jersey, about an hour from Manhattan, so it’s a pretty tough and fast-paced place to live. Everyone is always busy and always moving towards the next goal, so I am proud of the motivation it provides me.
Music Bugle – Where do you see yourself by this time, next year?
Mike Oregano – By this time next year, I see myself with over 20,000 followers on all platforms for all of my businesses and booking gigs in Canada, as well as Mexico for my tours.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Mike Oregano – Although the name is Oregano, I am not the great chef you might think I am, although, I like to think so. (Laughs)