Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Mike Shammo

Photo courtesy of Mike Shammo.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

He’s more than just another Mike from Milwaukee.

Independent alternative singer-songwriter. multi-instrumentalist and producer Mike Shammo has just released his new single “Another Point Of View” from his three-song upcoming EP.

The track focuses on the idea that people should open their mind more and actually learn from one another, rather than to just stick to their point of view only.

With eclectic influences that range from Tame Impala and Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, Shammo wears many musical hats with pride, as he regularly crafts a mix of fresh and nostalgic tunes.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to speak with Shammo about his new music and more.

Music Bugle – What would you say is the biggest challenge in being an independent artist right now?

Mike Shammo – I would say that the biggest challenge these days in being an independent artist is the fact that it’s not only about the music anymore. You need to be an influencer and a social media personality as well. The sheer amount of music being released is crazy. I read that roughly 60,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify daily. That’s insane! So much new music is at the listener’s fingertips now, you need to give people a reason to check your music out. Labels take care of that fan-building for you in a lot of ways with their marketing channels, but building a brand independently is a career within itself. As an indie artist, you need to wear a lot of different hats. That can be the cause of burnout for a lot of musicians out there. It’s a lot of work, but it’s necessary if you want to get to the next level.

Music Bugle – How would you describe Milwaukee, Wisconsin to someone who has never been there before?

Mike Shammo – Milwaukee is kind of a hidden gem, in my opinion. If Wisconsin wasn’t such a cold state most of the time, I think Milwaukee’s population would be at least twice as large. It’s a comfortable city. It’s not hectic like Chicago or New York City. There are some cool sub-sectors of the city that provide a different vibe. There’s the club scene, the more lowkey bar and brewery scene on the Lower East Side, the hipster artsy scene in the Upper East Side, also the classy Third Ward area. It also technically hosts the largest running music festival in the world! Summerfest is 11 days long and it’s right in the heart of downtown. I think most people would be surprised upon visiting this city for the first time. There’s more to do than you would think.

Music Bugle – What was it like making your new EP?

Mike Shammo – Writing this EP was kind of a big moment for me. It is my first musical offering in over two years. I really took a lot of time to improve my songwriting craft. I learned how to produce, mix and master. I also learned how to play piano and guitar. The whole EP was written, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by myself. The last song has a saxophone solo that I hired someone for. It was a lot of work and getting it to sound just right was painstaking. However, I wrote the songs from a place of authenticity and vulnerability and I hope that rings true for anyone who listens to it.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Mike Shammo – Honestly, the pandemic has been tough socially. For everyone. There is just not as much to do, but music-wise, I feel like the pandemic advanced my career in a major way. You could have taken quarantine as a time of relaxation and borderline laziness, or you could have dove deeper into your passions and went to work on the things you really wanted in your life. I chose the latter and I spend most of my days improving my craft, practicing vocals, instruments, watching tutorials, learning about the industry, etc.. I took advantage. I always like trying to turn negative situations into positive ones, somehow. 

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?

Mike Shammo – I don’t need much. Time away from a screen, a good walk around my neighborhood on a sunny day is perfect. I am super into my health and wellness, so I’ll be at the gym lifting or playing basketball five-six days a week. There’s so many benefits to working out, it’s hard to even count.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Mike Shammo – I listen to a lot of stuff. From Jimi Hendrix and the psych-rock of the 60s, to the 80s R&B/funk of Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston to today’s modern musicians like The Weeknd, Jon Bellion, Bruno Mars, Tame Impala, etc.. I’m also always looking for new artists, new sounds, new kinds of music that I’ve never heard. I think as an artist, it’s good to always be listening to different artists and different kinds of music. It keeps you inspired, fresh and prevents your music from sounding too similar.

Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?

Mike Shammo – I have a quote tattooed on my bicep in Arabic that reads, “Don’t ever let anyone destroy your dreams.” I got that a couple weeks after I decided I wanted to seriously pursue this music thing. The tattoo has been my anchor in reminding me of why I decided to do this and the fact that no one knows what’s best for you but yourself. I think there’s a lot of closed-mindedness that floats around the general ether. Anyone who claims to know anything for an absolute fact is kind of edging on the side of arrogance, in my opinion. That’s why all of science is technically all theory. Accepting the fact that we truly don’t know much at all about this life is liberating. It’s also scary, but it’s the reason why I don’t let anyone’s opinions pierce my armor. They could say one thing one day and then retract the statement the next. I’m deaf to the compliments and the criticism. I only listen to myself. Your life is the only thing you truly own, so do with it what you want!

Music Bugle – What does today’s music industry need more of?

Mike Shammo – I think the music industry needs to be more transparent. Labels, PR Companies and the corporate music industry. Artists put their life and soul into their music. Regardless of whether it’s good enough to be sold, the amount of scamming going on is just horrendous. The fake streams, the shady PR campaigns that don’t get you anywhere, the record deals that make you trade away almost 100 percent ownership of your music, etc.. It’s just not fair and it’s wrong. I understand that music is a product and a business at the end of the day, but without the music, these companies and labels would have nothing.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?

Mike Shammo – I believe that I have honed a style of being able to really create any kind of music I want in any genre and still have it sound like me. That is something I have always dreamed of and something I’ve been working on for a long time. I am inspired by so many different styles of music that I felt it would be a disservice to my artistic self not to try and live within all of those styles. Not a lot of artists have this liberty, but the artists that I look up to – especially Prince, for example – were able to live in so many different genres at will, that their music became a style of its own.

Music Bugle – What do you hope for from the rest of 2021?

Mike Shammo – For the rest of the year, I plan to continue to promote this release, release some more singles and grow my catalog. I also will never stop learning and improving my craft. That is something I am committed to forever, so I’ll be reading more books, watching more tutorials, improving my musical and vocal chops and just continuing to become the artist that I have always dreamed of becoming. 

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