Michael Barksdale is the Culture Prophet; a genre crossing and bending musician who has his start in crafting music dating back to when he was seven years old. Travelling through the years, he started up Culture Prophet, has been involved in many, many different projects, and he is finally putting out his debut LP, "Lies and Deceit" via King's Head Records. With all that in mind, I got the chance to ask some questions regarding himself and his music.
Hello and welcome to our site! Before we get into the big details regarding your debut LP, let's talk about yourself a little. I'd like to know when and how you got into music producing; was it just an interest as a child and did it blossom from there, or did it come later on in life?
Michael - "I started music when I was seven, my parents got my a guitar for Christmas. My father played guitar/bass so I had a little bit of help learning some things from him. All through middle school and high school I played in bands, usually playing guitar and singing. Sometime at the end of high school I got into recording electronic music.
I had a little tape driven four track, a drum machine, and an Alesis synth. Making music mostly in the industrial genre. I would continue doing all of these things all throughout my adult life, playing in bands (guitar, drums, singing, keys) as well as recording/producing electronic music."
And when did the idea for Culture Prophet first come about? And when did you see the name come to full fruition?
Michael - "2007 would be when Culture Prophet started. It was a recording project that mostly was supposed to be a joke where I was meshing together the idea of late 90s early 00s rap music with synth punk/new wave. When I started performing live with the project was when it fully took shape of what it would later become. The name was given to be by my girlfriend, We were watching the Dawn of the Dead remake when it first came out and I was jokingly complaining that I have liked zombie movies since I was a child and that the world was full of posers, she then said “What are you some kind of culture prophet?” I scrambled to find something to write it down so I wouldn't forget it. The name itself at that time was supposed to be a tongue in cheek idea about how rappers portray themselves as greater than they actually are, like gods or prophets."
Aside from Culture Prophet, are you or were you involved in any other bands or projects?
Michael - "I have been in and out of bands since middle school, too many to even start naming. The last couple of bands were: We are Now (synth punk), Our Western Sky (indie, emo), Orions Spur (doom, stoner), Exaggeration Eddie (hip hop), Exploding Clouds (shoegaze, electronic). Currently Culture Prophet is my main focus, after the next full length I will be coming out with some of my other projects."
How did those previous projects help in forming Culture Prophet?
Michael - "Most of what I was doing between 2002 and 2007 was electronic related. I recorded a lot of industrial type stuff and new wave/punk but I had never really tried to do anything with a rap feel. So the idea of mixing all of that together almost probably came to be because it was the only thing I hadn't tried to make."
And, now, let's get back to the present. "Lies and Deceit" will be releasing on May 5th, and I'd love to discuss that in more depth. You don't really seem to stick to any genre boundaries, jumping anywhere from house to industrial to electropop. How do you go about recording your songs and deciding what they'll sound like?
Michael - "Culture Prophet has always been genre jumping for sure which, as a project, was the initial idea. I usually get inspired by something, either a sound, song, movie, picture, could be anything. I will start writing a part, if the part keeps working as I write more parts, chorus etc. That’s when the song will really start to form its sound, which sometimes is something different than what was started with. The way that a song flows really decides what genre or sound its going to have."
How long have you been at work on this LP? And do you think this album will define Culture Prophet's sound for a while, or will your music be constantly evolving?
Michael - "The idea of this LP and the next LP formulated about a year ago. I already had a few of the songs written at that point. The sound will always stay changing, the next album is going to be pretty different than this one. These albums are related though in the subject matter of lyrics/feeling."
As I said earlier, you really cover a lot of different genres in this album. Do you think that some listeners might be turned off by the constant genre fusing? Or is that something you're not worried about at all?
Michael - "I think about that a lot actually. I’m not gonna say I'm worried about it but I do think about it. I know that most listeners don't want a constant genre changing album or project. I hope that people will listen with an open mind and also listen to these albums in their entirety before coming to a conclusion that they don't like the genre fusing."
You also had Miami-based DJ and producer Treznik come along in the second track, "Kill The Fire". How was working with Treznik and what did he bring to the song that made it invigorating?
Michael - "I’m a big fan of his tracks/production style, Treznik and I have a couple of collab tracks on the horizon soon to come. We work together well and fast. Treznik essentially wrote the whole song, I heard the beginning beat one day and I was like what is this? He said it was something he had been working on. I asked him if I could sing on it. Boom collab track! We changed a few things after the vocals went on but essentially he made the track."
I know that in the past you were able to go on a European tour. Will you be going on tour to support this album? Or, in the least, play a few live shows anywhere?
Michael - "We are planning a tour for August probably a small one first then maybe try to do a larger one later. For now most of the live shows are going to be DJ sets and hopefully later getting back to the live band shows. I’m planning on changing the formula of the live show, so far its been mainly just me and drummer with an occasional keyboard player. I want the new setup to be bigger with either more players or just more live instrumentation done by me. I’m not sure yet which is going to work better."
Aside from this album releasing and all else involved, do you have anything else scheduled in regards to Culture Prophet?
Michael - "We have an EP coming out about month after the album and then the sister album coming out before the tour in August. Mostly after that is going to be spent playing as many shows as possible."
And, lastly, I'd like to say thank you for your time and I wish you the best with "Lies and Deceit".
Michael - "Thank you!"
You can view the review for ''Lies and Deceit'' here.
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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