There are those individuals who are early adopters, then there are those who are innovators. Mike Henderson aka ENDO falls into the latter category. A ubiquitous figure in electronic dance music for going on two decades, ENDO is a musician, a DJ, a teacher, an inventor, and a visionary. Through his relentless effort of always pushing the boundaries to innovate, ENDO has unleashed his patented brand of harmonic mixing at events across the globe: Pacha, Marquee, and Cielo in New York, Sound in Los Angeles, Guvernment and Coda in Toronto, Stereo in Montreal, Spybar in Chicago, Heart in Miami, Sands in Ibiza, Club Vertigo in Costa Rica, and BPM Festival in Mexico. He has played alongside John Digweed, DJ Craze, Roc Raida, Victor Calderone, Danny Tenaglia, Carl Cox, Chus & Ceballos, Eric Prydz, to name just a few, and perhaps given them a much-sought-after technical tip or two in the process. Deemed as the “Sensei” (Master) of our industry, ENDO isn’t just a one-dimensional performing DJ, but have also dedicated his career to helping other artists step their game up through numerous courses, tutorials, and hands-on training from beginner to some of the world’s elite.

We had the chance to chat with him ahead of EIF to give you a little insight on what he has been up to, his thoughts on Guam and much more. Enjoy the read and don’t forget your tickets to EIF Guam 2018, it’s one you don’t want to miss!

Hafa Adai Endo, we are very excited to have you play at this year’s EIF in Guam! Have you ever been to the island before?
This is actually my first time going to Guam, and first time playing Electric Island Festival so I’m really excited as well! It’s always been my dream to play in Micronesia, and ironically enough I remember a week before getting booked for the festival I was actually writing down my 10 year, 5 year and 1 year goals. One of my 10-year goals was to do a tour in Micronesia. Three days after writing this down on paper, I got an e-mail about playing the festival. It just goes to show that the mind is a powerful thing and you can manifest anything your heart desires. Nothing is impossible.  

That’s really interesting that you would consider touring Micronesia as part of your DJ Goals. What do you know about Guam?
Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t know that Guam was actually a part of the United States! It’s going to be nice being in paradise but also having perfect cell service and the ability to go to a US Post Office to mail myself all of the goodies and souvenirs I get on the island! I heard that the weather there is consistently nice (between 75 and 85 degrees). I also heard that a lot of the population there works in the military and there are lots of military bases there. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about the Guamanians and Chamorros, and also how beautiful the island is.

Will you be spending any extra days on island or just in-and-out for the gig?
We’ll be spending 5 days on Guam, assuming I don’t change my flight last minute (which I’m known to do from time to time in tropical places…)

Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to on your trip to Guam?
I’m really looking forward to exploring the island as much as possible and hope to absorb as much of the islands culture as possible. I’m also bringing my girlfriend Michelle with me as well. We’re both huge animal lovers and I heard about the Sea Turtles there. I would love to do some snorkeling and scuba diving while I’m there and meet some of the creatures in the sea! I’ve also heard about some submarine tours and underwater aquariums there. I’ve also heard the beaches are amazing and there are some great sightseeing spots so I hope to check out Ritidian Point, Ypao Beach Park or any other amazing beaches or hidden gems the island has to offer. I’ve heard there are some amazing waterfalls, off-road jungle and river tours, and good fishing there as well. Lets see how much awesome stuff we can fit in to our trip! I’m also a huge foodee and lover of seafood and BBQ so I hope to try as much local food as possible as well. I’ve heard Chamorro Village is a great place to try local street food so I’m looking forward to exploring!

When did you first get into DJ’ing and music production? What inspired you to get started and how did you eventually become the Traktor master that you’re known for today?
I first got into DJing in 1999 after my first rave in an airplane hangar at Woodstock ’99 in New York. The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Moby and Sandra Collins all played and it is still to this day one of the best parties and best experiences of my life. I bought turntables the day I got home, and have been fully immersed in DJing and Electronic music 24/7 ever since that day.

The place where I really learned Traktor oddly enough was in a camper in my ex girlfriend’s backyard. I was living at her parents at the time and they didn’t allow me to sleep in the house, so I had to sleep in this camper in the back yard. When everyone would go to bed I used to stay up all night almost every night reading manuals, organizing & preparing my music and mastering the software. Then when everyone would go to work at 8am, I would go inside and hook everything up to my turntables & final scratch setup and practice until I couldn’t stay awake anymore. I did this almost every night. I was obsessed.

My passion for DJing and Music lead me to enroll at Berklee College of Music as an Electronic Music Production and Music Synthesis major. My final project at Berklee was to make an instructional DVD on Traktor DJ Studio 3. After chasing Native Instruments relentlessly for a year, they hired me as a product specialist. My first two trainings at Native Instruments were with Grandmaster Flash and Dubfire, and from there I went on to training most of my heroes in the DJ world. I learned quickly how each DJ has their own special “systems” of DJing and it was kind of my job to learn their systems, then figure out ways to enhance their systems using Traktor. Still to this day I am constantly learning new things so I feel blessed to get to work with such talented artists.

What can you tell us about your 2018 thus far between touring, djing and juggling the variety of things you got going on mainly with Midi Monsters and AGNT?
One of my major projects this year was creating the first ever DJ course for Berklee Online, called “Learn To DJ with Traktor”. Berklee Online is the sister School of Berklee College of Music. The course is a twelve-week course that literally covers everything you would ever want to know about DJing and Traktor. It’s basically my whole life’s work in one course. It’s more than just a class though; it’s a fully interactive learning experience. Every week there are quizzes, discussions, live chats, homeworks which I give weekly feedback on, and all of these fun widgets and exercises along the way that literally cover all aspects of digital DJing, going from the history of DJing to the future of DJing. The results have been beyond inspiring, and everyone who finishes the class I can proudly say are DJ and Traktor masters of the universe!

Link to the Class – https://online.berklee.edu/courses/learn-to-dj-with-traktor

Another major project I’ve been involved with is AGNT, which is a DJ Booking platform that connects organizers to artists and streamlines the whole process of discovering and booking DJs; almost like the UBER of Booking DJs. After learning a lot of lessons from AGNT version 1, I am excited to announce that AGNT version 2 is coming very soon and it will be nothing short of amazing. On top of that I’m constantly working on new Traktor mappings for my company MIDI Monsters.

I’m also working on my first ever “DJ Album” called “KEYS”. To celebrate 20 years of DJing I’m putting out a series of mixes that are entirely in one key and showcase the best songs in my collection in each key. The mixes are not only great harmonic journeys but they can also be used as a tool for musicians or producers since the key never changes so you can write songs to the mixes or come up with ideas in the studio, and musicians can jam out for hours in any key. I’m really interested to see what everyone’s reactions will be to these mixes.

What’s your take on the whole Analog vs. Digital aka the never-ending debacle lol. But seriously, we want your opinion on this matter coming from both perspectives if you can share some insights on this.

This is actually something I’ve really been trying to educate the next generation of DJs and music enthusiasts on. I feel that the digital music revolution has really affected the music world in a not so good way. Sound quality has gone down significantly in the clubs and on a consumer level as well. “Back in the day” Vinyl was the standard in the clubs, and we listened to CDs in our car stereos, which were lossless quality audio (which is the best quality you can get). Nowadays MP3s are the standard with streaming audio, and most DJs I know play MP3s; even the big DJs. Mainly because MP3s are cheaper and take up less space. I feel that this is completely unacceptable.

A lot of DJs argue that “MP3s sound just as good as Wav’s or AIFF.” While MP3s might be ok to play around the house, and sound ok on your $5 iPhone ear buds, the real difference is the FEELING. MP3s were made as a file format that gives you decent audio quality and saves your disk space. The idea was to remove parts of the frequency spectrum that you can’t hear. What wasn’t taken into consideration is the frequencies that you FEEL.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of tests at home with the SubPac. The SubPac M2X is basically a wearable subwoofer. It’s like a backpack that you plug your music into, which allows you to feel the bass of the music throughout your whole body. I use this every time I go shopping for music since it is the ultimate quality control filter. When you compare an MP3 to an AIFF or Wav file on the SubPac the difference is mind blowing. Lossless (AIFF or Wav) files on the SubPac feel amazing. You feel this smooth, warm bass throughout your entire body. When you listen to an MP3 on the SubPac it feels terrible. The bass cuts in and out, and is sometimes distorted. This feeling that you’re getting in your body is translated into the Subwoofers on big sound systems. Basically by playing an MP3 as a DJ you are completely robbing your audience of the best possible musical experience they can get from that track. You’re also basically disrespecting the producer of the song because you’re removing so much sonic goodness (low and high frequencies) from the track when you downsize to MP3. I feel that every DJ should do the MP3 vs. Lossless test on a SubPac. I guarantee those who do would never want to play an MP3 again.

For those who aren’t DJs and are just music lovers, my feeling is that eventually the music world is going to move into lossless audio. When this happens, our ears will then be conditioned to listen to lossless audio and we won’t even be able to tolerate listening to MP3s anymore. Remember all of those old 128 kbps you downloaded from Napster back in the day that sound like garbage to you now? I predict that the same thing will happen to the rest of your MP3 collection eventually. Long story short, those who care about their music sounding and feeling good for a long time will buy lossless.

Guam in recent years has seen a spike in interest for djing/music production and creative arts/fashion. What tactical advice or strategy can you give up & coming artists and creatives living on the island that to help them push through to the next level? What has been the most common theme you noticed from some of the most successful artists you have been able to rub shoulders with?

I feel that the people who really make waves in the music industry are people who do something different then everybody else and push boundaries musically. Becoming an artist is all about finding and championing “your” sound. Don’t just go and copy what your favorite producer is doing. Make what’s in your heart and soul, and don’t give a shit if people don’t like it. Stay true to yourself and your sound. For DJs, don’t go playing the top 100 Beatport tracks. Be obsessive about finding and seeking new music and artists that nobody knows. Don’t play what’s hot, play what you think SHOULD be hot. Of course balance out your set with some tracks that you know will make people dance and get the crowd going, but also play what you love. It is a DJs responsibility to expose people and educate people on cool new music. Be a leader, not a follower. Also, be consistent. Consistently put out new mixes. Consistently play out. Consistently promote yourself and stay active on social media. Also, be a professional. Show good DJ etiquette, and don’t be that sloppy drunk guy spit talking in everyone’s face at the club. Networking is also important. This is a social industry, so whether you’re social or not at least make an effort to go out and make new contacts. Also it’s good to focus on your branding as well. Make a nice looking press pack with good press shots, logos and anything else that might impress potential clients. Be humble, make and play dope music, don’t be annoying, and work hard and good things will come. Success also doesn’t come overnight so be prepared to pay your dues.

What can the people of Guam and out-of-island visitors expect from your set at EIF?
Lots of funky tech house and techno with some BIG BASS! This is my first time playing EIF so I don’t even know what to expect, but I can promise you that it will be a journey, I will give your body and the Subwoofers a workout and plan to send chills up and down your spine, over and over again.

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