Interview: Mitch Oliver
We sat down with our graduate Michel Olivier Saucier to talk about his artistic project (Mitch Oliver), his upcoming releases and his audio training at Musitechnic.
As an alternative to the video, you can also find the transcript of the interview below.
Musitechnic: Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your professional/creative background?
Mitch: My name is Michel Olivier Saucier, basically I’m a full-time producer and DJ of electronic music and I’m from Montreal, born and raised in Montreal.
My background is chartered accountant so it’s a bit far from music, that being said music has always been a passion for me so I wanted to keep it in my life and then one thing leading to another, I’ve been a Djing since 2011, a little bit in my spare time, as a hobby at first with the university and everything. I continued to play but never in a really professional way then from 2016 I started to play a little more seriously in underground clubs in Montreal, so having touched a little more on that in 2016-2017, I wanted to leave my profession to go to Musitechnic especially to go and learn the audio field.
Mostly to be able to produce my own music; it was like a must in my industry to be able to not only Dj but also create your own tracks, so that’s kind of what drew me to go to a school and do it in a more serious way than just learning it on my own with YouTube videos or something.
Musitechnic: Why did you choose Musitechnic ?
Mitch: Yeah, good question, honestly I knew very little about it, I kind of looked up the different options and then I decided pretty quickly just because I had references or people I met who told me about Musitechnic too. So that definitely helped me feel confident about it. So former students and other artists who had gone through that kind of curriculum testimonials are what drew me to it for sure.
Musitechnic: How would you sum up your experience at Musitechnic ? Were there any particular things that stood out for you?
Mitch: I think having to really learn the A to Z, kind of the basics, even though sometimes it got a little bit heavy academically at the beginning you know, it was really beneficial in the long run. Of course, at the beginning it’s hard to tell yourself that it’s going to be beneficial in the long term when you start to see very “dry” stuff. But for sure, the relationships have paid off, there are certain professors with whom I have been able to develop good relationships and get a lot of feedback and a kind of career follow-up that has helped me a lot.
So, I really enjoyed it and it’s sure that just having the chance to meet other people who are tripping on the same field as you and that there are other people in audio of all ages and all backgrounds, I found it really interesting even if they weren’t necessarily in the same style as me, even if they weren’t necessarily doing the same kind of career.
And you know, it’s sure that we touched a little bit on everything, it’s sure that I was more interested in everything that was a little bit more musical composition and mix. But I’m happy to have done the rest of the course to have a good base in audio to be able to feel competent enough so that when I sit down at the table with audio people I don’t feel uneducated there.
Musitechnic: Can you tell us about your project “The Aurora Series” and what it means to you?
Mitch: The goal that the project be timeless, for sure, it was a bit of a response to everything that was livestreamed during the pandemic I found it a bit difficult to watch the artists make their video roughly installed in their living room with a small webcam or with a system a bit less professional and it still takes a solid equipment to make good videos. So I said to myself that if I wanted to make a livestream, which is not just good for that moment during the pandemic, but that would also present me as an artist, that would introduce my sound and my universe and that will remain timeless whether it’s relevant during the pandemic because we can’t play in front of people but that will remain good in 5 years if I present it to someone, well, it’s still Mitch Oliver, it’s still me as an artist. So that was really the aim. Then to make sure that it’s not only a video set but it’s also like a dive into my universe, a little bit at the beginning to give an idea of who I am other than just a Dj set there.
Musitechnic: Your song “Alleghanys” was very well received by the public. Can you tell us about your creative process during the production of this project ? Did you encounter any particular challenges ?
Mitch: The creative process of Alleghanys is a bit of a two-step process in that I thought about the mood of the track or like the emotion that I wanted to have while ski touring. I’ve done alpine touring, I was skiing in the spring the past year, just before the beginning of the pandemic; then I was thinking about emotions, I was thinking about a mood that I really wanted to go to and then I remember writing it down on my phone, just writing down key words of energies that I wanted to have, etc… Then that was one of the first times I did that by the way. Usually I’m more of a person who sits behind my computer and lets me go in the direction that it takes me in relation to whatever loop starts and then we let it go.
And it’s because I ended up not really following the plan, I ended up deviating from what I had written. That was the actual challenge I would say to myself: “Ah, I had a good idea from the point of view of the mood with keywords” then the challenge was like I had good ideas but there finally the music goes into another direction and I feel like it is a better one, then I must respect the creativity and forget a little the plan. I’m someone who likes to make plans in life, having had a background as an athlete too, I’m someone who likes to give feedback with established steps and it was really to break that, so it was a really good challenge from that point of view.
Musitechnic: How did the choice to go to Musitechnic enrich these projects (Alleghanys, Aurora series)? Would you recommend Musitechnic for a career in audio?
Mitch: Well, indirectly in the audio quality in general, I know that it’s a broad answer but, you know, whether it’s mixing voice, voice over or even a little bit of audio for video even though it wasn’t really in my intentions nor in my career desire since I knew very well what I wanted to do when I integrated the training, and was already a bit older, having a slightly different career path… but it definitely helped me for the Aurora series anyway because I was the one who took care of all that part.
Then, I think, to just understand audio better in general I know it’s a bit of a… not cliché, but a bit of a very “basic” answer but it really allows me to be able to talk to the right people all the time and then understand what I’m doing or what they’re doing to be able to convey well what I want them to do for me or vice versa when I work with a team.
Musitechnic: What would be your advice for someone who is starting out (and wants to become professional in audio/music)?
Mitch: I think one of the tricks is to be confident in your abilities even if you don’t feel fully leggit at first. In the sense that even someone who has 15 years of experience sitting down with someone who has one year of experience, both can learn even in the same room, because there’s so much to see in audio that you learn every day.
I remember the teachers in school often telling us how much they learned every year since they were kids. So I think that you shouldn’t be afraid of your abilities and to say to yourself that even if I’m just starting out, I’ll bring something to the table all the time, and always to be ready to learn from different people, and to accept this relationship in the back of your mind, for sure. And not to be afraid to learn the basics even if it might seem boring at first.
You know, for sure the technology today makes us do almost everything without understanding what we’re doing. You could write hits without knowing what you’re doing at all but I think that understanding allows you to get better that’s 100% sure. Just to be able to open a program and know what each term means instead of like “Oh I’m playing around with some knobs” and then I was like “Oh that sounds great”. Yeah, well okay, but why? It’s interesting to know that, I think you have to have that kind of patience and the desire to discover it, it pays off in the long run for sure.
Musitechnic: Other projects already planned for the future?
Mitch: My goal is to do as many gigs as possible, that’s for sure. My real passion is to communicate with people and to play in front of them, so it’s certain that the Aurora series is a series that I love, but if I could transform it into playing in front of people, I would. I have my VISA in the United States which is ready and I started to play there just before the pandemic, so I’m going to go back there, in fact, I went back two or three times during the pandemic. My goal is to go back a lot this summer and fall to tour the U.S. through both coasts. Otherwise musically I’m releasing an EP on July 23rd on a Montreal based electronic deep house or organic house label, so it’s coming out on July 23rd, 3 tracks. Then at the same time I’m releasing my Aurora 4 in July as well before the release of the EP. I can’t wait to release it and I’ll tell you that the Aurora series I’m still questioning a little bit if I’ll do several others or if I’ll try to do another project, maybe different from this one. My real passion is to connect with people in person more than in front of a screen, so I loved the project but I’ll tell you that I can’t wait to go and share what I’ve created in front of a real crowd.
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