From bedroom productions to sprawling live sets, the modern musical landscape thrives on authentic narratives and unparalleled talent. It is a domain where only the most versatile and resourceful manage to strike the perfect chord, consistently. Amidst this backdrop stands Michaela Colet, who also goes by as Mikee – a formidable force whose drum beats and technical prowess have reverberated throughout some of the most significant projects in recent times. Hailing from a rich lineage of sound and rhythm, Mikee’s journey is a testament to hard work, perseverance, and an unwavering commitment to her craft.
Her expertise was showcased vividly when she took on the role of recording the house band for the 2021 ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards. Broadcasted on ABC, this event echoed Mikee’s knack for precision as she captured live performances in Berklee NYC using the acclaimed Pro Tools coupled with a Solid State Logic console. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. When Cynthia Erivo, the Broadway and film sensation, set out to release her album “Ch. 1 Vs. 1,” it was Mikee’s finesse that echoed throughout. With a track like “I Might Be In Love With You” garnering a whopping 2.9 million streams on Spotify, her role was indispensable. Beyond just recording, Mikee’s meticulous management of stems ensured that the album’s tracks collectively amassed over 11 million streams.
In her role as an Engineer and Production Specialist for Cynthia Erivo’s album, “Ch. 1 Vs. 1,” she played a crucial part in the production, where she took on the task of producing playback tracks and in-ear monitor feeds for the live band performers. Using Pro Tools and Elastic Audio conforming, she skillfully crafted the necessary audio elements to support the live performances. This involved creating seamless playback tracks that synchronized with the live band and providing the performers with accurate and reliable in-ear monitor feeds. The production of Cynthia Erivo’s Ch. 1 Vs. 1 involved notable appearances and performances. Mikee’s contributions contributed to live performances at prestigious venues such as the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic. Her dedication and skills played a vital role in ensuring the success of Will Wells Productions’ work on Cynthia Erivo’s Ch. 1 Vs. 1, allowing the album to be showcased on various national TV appearances and major performances.
The album’s music was featured on esteemed television programs such as the PBS 4th of July Special, Stephen Colbert, The Kelly Clarkson Show, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show. These appearances provided a wide-reaching platform for Cynthia Erivo’s music, exposing it to a broad audience and further contributing to its success. Mikee’s technical expertise and attention to detail in the production process helped create a seamless and impactful presentation of Cynthia Erivo’s music during these televised performances. Overall, Mikee’s extraordinary accomplishments as an Engineer and Production Specialist for Will Wells demonstrate her immense talent, technical expertise, and dedication to delivering exceptional audio productions.
However, Mikee isn’t just confined to the production booth. Her rhythmic prowess has seen her tour North America, lending her drumming skills to acts like Lindsey Lomis on the Joshua Bassett US Headline Tour: The Complicated Tour 2023, as well as Genevieve Stokes on the Charlie Burg US Headline Tour: Infinitely Tall Tour 2022. She has energized massive crowds, notably during the Faster Horses Festival 2022, and has backed performances of talents like Anilee List, who showcased her skills in the renowned American Idol.
A hallmark of true mastery is recognition by peers. As a Production Specialist for the Anti Social Producers Club, Mikee’s collaborations have been with the industry’s crème de la crème, including global icons such as Beyoncé, Kanye West, Shawn Mendes, Bon Iver, Anderson Paak, and John Legend.
In an exclusive interview with Michaela Colet, what stands out is her unwavering commitment to excellence and growth. Her collaborations with industry stalwarts like Will Wells, Joshua Bassett, Lindsey Lomis, and Genevieve Stokes are not just professional engagements but strong endorsements of her unmatched talent and capability.
In a world where music shapes cultures and forms connections, Mikee remains a beacon of expertise, dedication, and rhythmic brilliance, proving time and again that behind every great song, there’s a dedicated heart beating in rhythm.
We’re excited to have you here, Mikee! Can you tell us about your collaboration with Will Wells and how it has shaped your career?
I worked with Will Wells in 2021 on two significant projects: the ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards broadcast on ABC and Cynthia Erivo’s debut album Ch. 1 Vs. 1, serving as his sole Production Specialist. He’s a renowned producer, songwriter, musician, band leader, and recording engineer. I learned a lot from working with him and enjoyed the entire process.
For the ESPN project, I traveled to New York to work with Will. We spent several full days at the studio, and I recorded the house band for the awards ceremony – this was a band that he collaborated with frequently across different projects as well. Recording the band involved capturing their live performances as they played Will’s compositions, working with arrangements and experimenting with other factors to make everything fit perfectly to different parts of the awards show. I also prepared these music cues for the ESPN producers during pre-production. During the live performance at the event, I set up and tore down equipment on stage and was present for anything that needed to be done on-site.
With Cynthia Erivo’s debut album Ch. 1 Vs. 1, I worked on preparing the live performances. I produced playback tracks and in-ear monitor feeds for the live band, and this was showcased at performances, most notably at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic. Cynthia and her band appeared on national television as well, on programs like PBS 4th of July Special, Stephen Colbert, The Kelly Clarkson Show, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show. It was surreal to have contributed to something of that magnitude.
I saw the amount of time and dedication required to bring an idea into reality. Although I experienced what it was like for just the months I worked with Will, this period changed my entire perspective on the path to creating music at a high level of quality. There was so much attention to detail, clear communication, thorough planning, organization, and mindfulness.
Most importantly I saw the value of good leadership, putting thought into everyone’s health and well-being and taking care of the people we work with beyond just the work setting. I learned about operating well under stress, staying calm, and being graceful. The way Will responded to unexpected and highly stressful situations taught me a lot about what it meant to be a leader and a member of a team. I was grateful to have experienced it and seen it firsthand. A few years down the line now, I still ask Will for advice in challenging situations as I navigate through my career.
How have your professional relationships with Joshua Bassett and Lindsey Lomis influenced your approach to music?
Playing drums on The Complicated Tour in early 2023 with Joshua and Lindsey helped me really feel a performance as a lead musician from the audience’s perspective. Their fans are so attentive to the music and so expressive, reacting to all the little parts of a performance. I often noticed the crowd from the stage as we performed, and in some ways, it was almost like I got to see a show too. It was cool to internalize what the shows meant to them and to notice what they reacted to musically. We played at some historical venues like the Fillmore in San Francisco, The Wiltern in Los Angeles, and Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.
I learned very quickly that in venues that ranged in capacity from over 1,500 to around 4,000, there was a lot more room to fill both sonically and spatially. I think I had played with some more subtlety before these shows, and I’ve learned to be certain in every thought, movement, and project, ensuring they resonate as far and wide as possible, especially when the music calls for it.
This tour significantly influenced my approach, taking me outside of myself and allowing me to view myself from the outside as just one part of something much bigger. Playing as a lead musician in this type of live setting, experiencing it with so many people every night on a tour, and seeing how people react to different types of music have helped me build a sense of what I’d like to do in music production as well.
What have been some of the key takeaways from your work with established industry professionals like Genevieve Stokes?
Going on tour with Genevieve was really special. Her music is so beautifully crafted and emotionally intricate. Playing drums for vulnerable and lyrically led music can be such an introspective experience – I get the chance to listen to the words, react to them, and support them in a sensitive way on an instrument that usually just makes a lot of noise.
Our tour was really compact as there were only three of us traveling together across the country. We got to play at some really iconic venues with a lot of character, like El Rey in Los Angeles, Kilby Court in Salt Lake City, and 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis. We spent all our time together, talked so much, and really got to know each other. This helped a lot when it came to performing and supporting Genevieve and her music as a drummer.
It’s still one of my favorite experiences I’ve ever had through music. I guess the main takeaways for me were to remember that music is based on emotion and life experience over all things, to listen well to the people I was traveling with both as people and as musicians, and to show up every day and do my best to be a consistent and stable presence.
Can you share a story or an instance where these collaborations led to a particularly successful or meaningful outcome?
In 2021, I worked as a Production Specialist for a unique collective of New York-based producers called the Anti Social Producers Club. The roster of artists that this collective had worked with included Beyoncé, Shawn Mendes, Bon Iver, Anderson Paak, and John Legend. It was one of the most special groups of people I’d had the fortune to work with, and I was able to contribute my skills in engineering, music production, and management. It was through this collective that I met some very important mentors who I’m still in touch with, leading to many of the projects I’ve been involved in years later.
How do you approach collaborations with such high-profile artists, and how does it differ from working with less established musicians?
To be honest, I approach everything in more or less the same way across the entire range of experiences I’ve had so far. In terms of preparing for it, performing, or carrying out the production part of the process, there has been a different setup each time, so there’s a lot to learn about the music and the workflow at the beginning. I enjoy this a lot, and it ends up expanding my perspective and staying with me long after the project.
Higher-profile situations expose me to a lot of valuable learning that I’m not able to arrive at on my own, and DIY settings are also very fulfilling in the way that I’m sometimes involved in more of the work and get to spend a lot more time with the artist. For instance, I get to set up the playback and lead that part of the show as well while playing drums. It’s rewarding to take what works in one area and apply it to another; each environment certainly benefits from practices borrowed from the other.
What lessons or insights have you learned from these industry professionals that you apply to your own music or production work?
There’s been such a big range of professionals I’ve met and types of work I’ve been involved in. It’s cool to synthesize these contrasting experiences into a constantly evolving mindset that follows me into different settings.
For instance, going back to my time working with Will Wells, I noticed that Will had a really admirable technical approach to creativity, having been so disciplined and well-practiced that when it was time to compose or produce something quickly, he was very prepared. He was able to pull from a methodical approach that he had built up so well, which is something I’d like to cultivate as I move through my creative endeavors.
During my tour with Genevieve, I saw so much value placed on freedom of expression. I was inspired by how open she was to different ways of playing the music, and that type of fluidity leads to such a creative way of thinking about the instrument, especially in some of the more intimate venues where every single sound matters. Being sensitive and listening to people was a big part of playing her music.
Playing on tour at venues like The Fillmore, The Wiltern, and Hammerstein Ballroom, on the other hand, created a completely different approach to playing drums, bringing the dynamic range to a much more energetic area and experiencing the crowd as a whole.
I’m developing my own consistent internal method for preparing for a set, whether as a musician or a production specialist. Then, I continue to learn about the various modes I can transition into based on the situation at hand, ensuring I bring what’s most appropriate and beneficial to both the music and the environment. It’s exciting!
Can you discuss a challenging moment in one of your collaborations and how you navigated it?
In the summer of 2022, I served as a Production Specialist and drummer for two separate festivals, one taking place in Michigan and the other in Montreal, both happening within the same one-week range. It was definitely a challenge to stay on top of everything and manage all the details, communicate with a wide range of people, and also carry out a series of different tasks! There was a three-month preparatory period for both festivals happening at the same time, and I learned a lot about how to manage a long-term timeline.
The first was the Faster Horses Country Music festival held at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. The turnout was huge, with 40,000 people showing up daily. I served as both drummer and production manager (head of production and backline) for the artist CHARLEY T. This involved both playing drums and managing technical aspects during the preparation period and the festival itself, traveling with the band to Michigan and then back to Boston, where I was based at the time.
Once I was back in Boston, I got ready to leave again after just a few days for the second festival of the week. It was the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival held at Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal, another huge festival with 120,000 attendees. I served as production manager on this one as well, working as head of backline and production for the artist Brandon Harris. This entailed creating a complete technical rider, including an input list, stage plot, and backline and equipment list. I communicated with the festival organizers and sound engineers virtually over the three-month preparation period to make sure these technical aspects were properly coordinated and traveled with the artist and crew to set up and lead the production on-site.
The challenge was to manage my time and make sure I was still on top of all the details while communicating clearly with everyone involved. The preparation process for each festival was a big commitment that resulted in such rewarding progress for the entire band and crew, so the stakes felt quite high once we got ready to travel to each festival for the performance. This set of collaborations was so fulfilling, and I would absolutely do it again.
In what ways have these endorsements and affiliations affected your reputation and opportunities within the music industry?
I’m learning the value of strong relationships and genuine connections. The music industry is quite small, and I’ve noticed that with more and more new people I meet, it’s becoming easier to find a mutual friend. Showing up in one environment can often lead to great relationships, which then branch out into other special opportunities. Many of the projects I’ve been lucky to be involved in have resulted from word of mouth from friends who I work with in different areas, which has been very encouraging and inspiring.