Over the past few months rising producer/vocalist, Mitchel Logan has been dialing in his unique blend of lo-fi indie tunes out in Vermont. Fresh out of graduate school, Logan plans to release his newest single "Don't Really Need You" in October as a precursor to his first LP.
Lo-fi music has gained a massive audience over the past decade thanks to Youtube curators, established artists like Clairo and Jinsang, and an overall appreciation for chilled and relaxed beats. It's become an umbrella term used to label the never-ending slew of Soundcloud producers and rappers whose songs are filled with dusty samples and anime cover art. Lo-fi has seeped it's way into almost any genre you can think of; lo-fi indie, lo-fi hip hop, lo-fi house, etc, so how does anyone ascend the rest and stand out as a notable lo-fi artist? It's honestly as subjective as any other question about music or art, but aesthetics and emotions seem to play a huge role in acquiring notoriety within this niche music community.
The 26 year-old producer, Mitchel Logan has developed his own lane in the lo-fi game by combining his love for the acoustic guitar with a natural taste for mellow beats. Rather than surfing the web to find samples and other loops, Logan crafts his own melodies and vocals while telling stories about his life. Songs like "Vibes" and "Can Someone Tell Me" really showcase his talent as an independent musician.
Making use of social media sites like Instagram and Spotify, Logan has been able to target an audience of active listeners who share similar life interests. It's almost become a cliche at this point within the lo-fi scene, but anime remains to be a connecting thread between Logan and his fans/followers. Seeing that streaming is king nowadays, Logan has used most of the year to hanker down in the studio and finish writing/recording his first LP rather than attempting to do livestreams or practicing for a live set.
We had the opportunity to pick apart Mitchel's brain a few weeks ago.
Here's what he had to say:
Q: How long have you been making your own music?
A: So I've done writing and singing for at least a decade, but I didn't take it anywhere until much later. I actually just finished getting a masters degree in entomology. As you can see, I was pursuing other things at the time. I just started getting into the lo-fi pop and bedroom pop alternative r&b and what not. I just started producing stuff over the last year and that's when stuff really started taking off for me and it's been great.
Q: Have you mainly been using Soundcloud for your distribution?
A: Oh no, actually I’ve been focusing strictly on Spotify and I've been running with Apple music and other streaming services. I only use Soundcloud right now for private links to send demos and things that aren't currently released but are planned to drop.
Q: You've made a few collaborations over this year, have you found these people over Soundcloud or other social media sites?
A: All the collaborations I've done have come through Instagram. Instagram is definitely my main hub for social media. I kind of treat spotify as a social media platform as well and I use that in different ways to try and engage with my fans through artist pick and so forth.
Instagram is really where I get DMs and send DMs from various artists asking me to write something over their feed or doing some mixing on their beat and if I dig their style, I'm like yeah totally.
(Spenser) On our end since we’re a lo-fi collective based mainly on Soundcloud, we started adventuring into Instagram and it’s interesting to see that there's an active community on both platforms.
(Mitchel) I think as a whole right now the lo-fi community is growing. Just this year alone, I've seen some underground names get signed to big labels like Sarcastic Sound. I love that guy he just got signed to Columbia records, huge fan of Keshi he's signed to Island Records. Now you're getting all these independent and DIY artists just making waves in the industry and it’s crazy.
Q: I'm super stoked to see more up incoming independent labels such as Inner Ocean and Chill Select become curators. Speaking of people who are taking advantage of marketing, have had the chance to see to what regions play your music?
A: Yeah, so I do a lot of marketing through Instagram. I love Instagram as a marketing platform. That's how I find the people who I think will vibe and chill with what I do and I've been super fortunate to find out who my audience is based on not only sound, but life interests.
I've got to learn that I reach harder with people who are into anime, aesthetics and melancholy vibes. The stuff I get inspiration from when I'm making music. Then I kind of put two and two together. I love anime and aesthetic stuff. I'm making these chill beats and writing these melancholy vocals into my songs. So I was like, why don't I take my sound and try to push it to these people who would vibe with some stuff I do outside of music.
From that it’s been super helpful and awesome. Especially I think South East Asia is now starting to pop off for me. A lot of Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Japanese listeners have been increasing recently for me. It’s been really cool and a fun ride to see everything just take off as I've been pushing it out there for people.
(Spenser) Did you happen to think that Indonesia is the social media capital of the world?
(Mitchel laughs) I didn’t know that. It makes lots of sense now.
Q: Since you've gotten to connect with artists, have you come across unfamiliar genres?
A: Yes, so I didn’t know sad rap was a thing until recently. Now I've been noticing lots of people merging lo-fi with sad rap. Keshi has some kind of sad rap in his music and that's something I was unaware of. Now there's all these branched off genes and It's really cool to see them do this without a label. Chill is the overall word for what they're making and I'm all for that.
(Spenser): That's why I'm so stoked for the lo-fi community. We’re all pioneers adding our own inspiration to this umbrella topic of lo-fi.
(Mitchel) I love it. The thing about lo-fi is that it’s so huge. There're so many branches of it like sad, aesthetic rap, which I'm into. Then you got the vocal lo-fi which I thought was super dope.
(Spenser): We’ve been familiar with boom bap and Wu-Tang Clan-like cyphers. Hearing newer artists like ASAP Rocky and Yung Lean, it's more cloud rappy. There is a combination of the two now, that's more psychedelic if anything. Which is what we’re experimenting with, psychedelic lo-fi.
(Mitchel) That's awesome, see there's just so many things you can do with lo-fi. Lo-fi hip hop alone can take old physical records and add them into your sound.
Q: Do you prefer to use samples or do you usually write your own melodies with Midi?
A: I almost always make my own melodies and craft my own thing. I will take inspiration from outside sources. Maybe music from other composers like anime soundtracks. If I find something cool, I'll come up with my own melodies or expand from it. That or I'll just listen.
Q: Do you mainly just play the keys or do you also play guitar and other instruments?
A: So guitar is definitely my main instrument. I wish I could play the keys as well as I play guitar. That would make life so much better, but it's mostly acoustic and electric guitar, typically acoustic. John Mayer was a huge influence when I picked up guitar. I basically just played John Mayer songs religiously.
Q: Have you ever tried learning the song he made with Mac Miller?
A: No, I haven't. I know about it and have listened to it, but I never actually tried to play or learn that one.
Q: Since you create more melodies than sampling, you get to by pass that obstacle a lot of producers have to go through which is getting clearance for their samples. In that same way, do you consider yourself more of a producer and vocalist where you're creating your own songs or are you creating beats people would potentially buy from you?
A: I definitely see myself more as a producer for myself. Everything I produce, I intend to write over it and turn it into a release for myself. I'm not one of those guys making beats trying to make money off of it. Everything I make there's a purpose for it as a musical artist. I'm not a huge fan of the whole beat leasing thing, because then you get a lot of artists who are making their own music but the beat is the same, it just takes the whole art out of it.
(Spenser) That’s a separating belief for a lot of the people in the lo-fi community. There’s the people who are in it for the game, trying to make money and bust out as many songs as possible, but at that point they don't even really become songs they're just like tracks.
(Mitchel) Yeah that's the thing. I see so many lo-fi artists who are just busting out albums like it's nothing. With their SP404’s, they'll just drop a 12 track album then a couple weeks later drop another 12 track album. I'm like, “oh my god dude what is going on”. (laughs)
I make everything more of a whole song. I really listen to it and take breaks. For example the song I'm working on right now for an LP, I planned to drop but I was listening to it. Then I was like you know what, I don't like this melody anymore, I'm gonna change it. It’s one of those things where it’s a constant struggle to grab the attention of myself. (laughs)
Q: Speaking of your new work, what's background inspiration for this new single?
A: For my song “Don’t Really Need You”, I was listening to a lot of alternative and K indie at the time, getting into Soul Child. I was messing around on the acoustic guitar and I came up with the progression for that song then almost instantly I started coming up with the melody. If you get a solid core progression that you like, I find the melody just comes right away. You don't really have to think too hard about it.
Sometimes you're in a relationship with somebody, then you get to a point where things get stale. Maybe somethings wrong or if nothings wrong maybe you need a fight or something to trigger the passion or what if there has to be something wrong to make it okay. That was the whole idea of that song. So then I have lines in there oh you know I can go slam a door you can go break a plate or two. That kind of thing, spice it up. Maybe I’m just used to things breaking from a mistake, maybe people are so fragile nowadays that anything can just split somebody up. Sometimes I think you need a little dissonance.
Q: Are you planning to drop this pretty soon?
A: I’m planning on dropping this in October. I would really like to give it at least 6 weeks of head room to give it enough hype and put it out there for people. I'm super proud of this work. I got one of my hometown buddies to put saxophone which I think sounds amazing.
I got one of my other friends Static the Kid to put some hip hop drums in it. He's the guy that works with vinyl records, because he was like “yo this is a bop let me fuck with this”. I really am trying to do everything I can to give it the proper release I think it deserves.
Q: Is this single gonna be part of the LP you were talking about?
A: Yeah, that is the intention. It's gonna be part of that LP and I've got other songs that I’m working on that I love a lot too. It’s one of those things where it's smart to release singles because you can space them and it keeps your fans satisfied and appreciative. You’re also able to push it to editors and different people who could spread the word. The trick is to push this one as a single because I love it that much. Then when I’m dropping the LP, I can put some hype on another song that I think deserves some solo credit.
Q: Yeah for sure, do you already have a name for that LP?
A: I don’t right now, but I do have the image that I plan to use. The whole theme of that LP is gonna be based around experiences that I had while living in Hawaii. Past experiences with relationship stuff. Kinda sounds trite I know, but everybody goes through stuff like that. Everybody can relate. I really like to blur the lines between happy and sad. Sometimes I'll use songs with happy melodies, but then the lyrics are just about heartbreak.
(Charlie) For sure, I fuck with that, looking forward do you have anything that youre excited about other than this release in terms of being a producer or being a creative person in general?
A: I'm really looking forward to all the stuff that's in my head that I want to prepare for after this LP drop. I’ve been about it for a while. I really want my next set of releases to be more acoustic guitar based, more neo-soul lo-fi beats. Maybe a little jazz up in there. Spending more time with the acoustic guitar and less time on the computer.
Q: Do you have any advice to up incoming lo-fi producers or other types of artists?
A: Probably my best advice right now is honestly to believe in yourself and go for it because everybody that I ever talked to says you just gotta stay in the game. So many people just drop out and stop making music and it’s just because they feel like they aren't going anywhere but honestly just keep making music, keep reaching out, keep advertising yourself.
The people that really want it are gonna put in the effort. If you really want it, just don't give up. Do what you can to make yourself heard. You don't need to be Post Malone to be successful. You just need to find the people that are gonna like your stuff and that honestly isn't that hard to do because there's so many people out there.
(Spenser) Yeah and this time period is one of the best time periods in history for that.
(Mitchel) Oh for sure especially because of the whole quarantine thing, everyones been on their phones more than ever. It's so much easier now to get in front of people that otherwise wouldn't be looking at their phone, because they'd be busy doing other stuff. It's wild how a lot of live musicians are kind of butthurt that they can't go out and do their thing, but streaming is king right now. Now's the best time to be a bedroom producer.