Interview: Mile High Sounds

Located on the bustling street of Jalan Telawi 5 above 7-Eleven, Mile High Sounds (MHS) is looking like the latest hub for movers and shakers in the Malaysian dance music scene. As the only certified training centre in Asia for Ableton. MHS was founded this year to help DJs and producers master the art of noise, and excel in their professions. Blastique, Dean Richards and Asran Zakry are giving all kinds of talent a chance to learn about the industry, and be whizzes at making and playing music too. JUICE sat down with the boys to find out how hard they’ve been working at pushing the tempo skywards.

Spearheaded by director and certified trainer of Ableton Live, Reuben Samuels aka Blastique, and assisted by events coordinator Dean Richards Reardon and operations manager Asran Zakry aka Zak, MHS equips you with the right knowledge and skills to build a career in music. It’s a one-stop centre to learn everything you need to know to get your foot in and succeed in the industry, from music production to event conceptualisation to sound design to DJing. If you’re a DJ or producer that’s just starting out and feeling your way around, and want to know what it takes to make it professionally, this is where you check in. If you’ve been at it for a while and want to take your career to the next level, here’s where you get schooled. If you’ve always dreamt of being in the same superstar trajectory as Sasha or Paul van Dyk, MHS can show you how to go about getting there.

Blastique, who was also a finalist of the 1st JUICE DJ Quest in 2003, took matters into his own hands when he started MHS by doing in-flight post-production, audio work and music composition. He was subsequently offered the chance to fly to Chicago when music software company Ableton invited him to be a certified trainer in the Windy City. “I got inspired by this centre where it was held,” explains Blastique of the spark that ignited the idea to build on MHS. “It had 3 separate studio rooms and was also multifunctional in terms of hosting beat-making workshops, DJ courses and Ableton. Asia didn’t have an Ableton centre so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to build on the growing use of it in Asia and provide people here with the training that everyone else in the world was getting.”

The seed for MHS was already implanted; what Blastique needed now was likeminded partners to help bring it into fruition. Thanks to their similar tastes in music, he thought no further than to bring Zak and Dean onboard for this ambitious project. Blastique met Zak in London while studying in Middlesex University while the former got to know Dean while the 2 were doing stints at the now-defunct Raw in Soho KL-Dean now helms a residency at the weekly Spinology at Sultan Lounge. Being on the same page when it came to the direction of MHS was an added advantage.

As the main man and Ableton expert at MHS, Blastique oversees the students with Zak. The pair 1st offer consultations to find out exactly what students want to achieve before they proceed to recommend their services. “We guide them and help them make the right decisions as to what they will need in the future, and having to use that to further their careers and their goals, whether it is marketing themselves or producing the right material,” elaborates Blastique. Dean’s role, on the other hand, is to handle A&R and manage acts under the MHS stable by putting them through training before gigs as well as deal with clients. Classes have been running for 3 months now and some of the students that have “graduated” are already putting their newly acquired skills to practice. “MHS enables them to have a different platform to showcase their abilities,” adds Dean.

What is Ableton? It may be a new DJ training tool in Malaysia, but it’s proven to be effective. “You’re making your own music. And we don’t only teach you how to make your own music; we show you how to mash up tracks too,” says Blastique, who also helms Barsonic’s monthly Supersonic nights. “You can be a DJ and take the next step into production or by making it on your own.” Deck veterans like Blink, XU and Biggie have been checking in at MHS, and so has VNRP of We Are Mutants, who is using the centre as a stepping stone to further his musical genius.

Look forward to more Ableton demonstrations coming up in the near future, with MHS securing guest spots for students at events and clubs for a real taste of what it’s like to play to a live audience. The team is also busy working on gigs that will bring international DJs to Malaysia. “In a nutshell, you can say we do education, which is training with Ableton. We also handle production jobs, and offer consultations for people who want to hold events and whatnot,” finishes Zak. At the rate MHS is going, expect to see some great things.

Student open day at Mile High Sounds on Sunday, 19 September from 12pm-6pm. Free workshop and consultation for aspiring DJs and producers. Get more wisdom at milehighsounds.com.

Image Euseng Seto