[INTERVIEW] Mimi Page: More Than Just a Pretty Voice

Photo: Silas Funk

by E.P Pirt, Jr.

A few weeks back we posted a “List’n Up” article entitled The 23 Best Vocalists in Electronic MusicAfter publishing it, we reached out to the manager of every artist that we listed in hopes that they’d be excited about it and maybe even be interested in sharing the article. Not surprisingly, we didn’t get a response from most of them. Most of the ones that did respond did so in typical music industry fashion; short and….well, short. Something along the lines of, “Cool, thanks guys!”. I guess we aren’t exactly Rolling Stone.

BUT, a very short list of artists personally responded with thanks and praise. Of that short list, two stuck out as being the most stoked. One was frequent GRiZ collaborator Leo Napier, who has the voice of a goddam bulletproof sex tiger. He also happened to earn the #4 spot on our list. The other was Mimi Page, who earned the #1 ranking. I was slightly hesitant to put her at #1 because she isn’t all that active in the genre these days, aside from a few other worldly tracks with Bassnectar. But ultimately, a lot of the names on our list aren’t that active in EDM, but had still contributed in spectacular fashion, in one way or another. After pondering this while listening to “Butterfly” for the 349th time, I just couldn’t, in good conscience, place anyone above her. Her modestly cinematic, soaring voice is just too beautiful.

I was certain that I’d made the right pick after she personally reached out to me to tell me that she wasn’t just excited to be ranked #1, but more importantly, how thankful she was for the kind words. She even quoted a line from our part about her, explaining how well it “captured her spirit and artistry”. Her humility, excitement, and gratitude surrounding the article was moving and inspiring. So it was only natural that we interviewed her.

We hope you enjoy this glimpse inside one of our favorite artist’s heart, mind, and soul, where we chat about her diverse musical projects & talents, the pain behind her solo work, her relationship with Bassnectar, our crazy society, her unforgettable Red Rocks performance, and more.

ELCO: What have you been up to lately, both professionally and in your free time?

Mimi Page: It’s been a great week! A documentary I scored called “The Trade” just released on Amazon a few days ago. I’m also currently scoring two video games, one is a psychological thriller called “The Lighthouse”, the second is a mystical open world RPG called “Bevontule”. I’m also working on my third solo album. My free time has been dedicated to a mentorship program at my former high school, where I’m helping kids learn how to engineer, produce themselves and compose music to picture.

ELCO: Wow, sounds like you’re pretty busy! I’ve heard a lot of your tracks from “The Trade” when listening to you on Spotify. What is the premise of the doc?

MP: The Trade is an autobiographical memoir about a former CZW (death match wrestilng) star named Sick Nick Mondo. He became a celebrity in this underground culture but quit once he realized young kids were trying to emulate his moves and were hurting themselves. He moved to Japan and went into hiding and became a filmmaker. In order to repent for the legacy of violence he created he made this film in hopes to inspire others to stop hurting themselves. It also dives deep into the psychology of why these guys are so violent, and most of them come from abusive backgrounds and don’t have art or other outlets to channel their creativity. It’s a very moving story.

ELCO: Sounds like it. Also a bit surprising to hear given the peaceful and soothing nature of your songs in it.

MP: That’s what I thought at first too when the director approached me. He wanted the score to be emotional and empathetic to what was going on with these people rather than promote the aggression with an aggressive soundtrack.

ELCO: Then it seems like you were the perfect fit! That plot sounds similar to that movie “The Wrestler“, with Mickey Rourke. Did you see that?

Mimi Page: I did! Totally! This film is kind of like a real life fight club. If you saw the movie “Fight Club”…

ELCO: Who hasn’t? BUT – you just broke the first rule….

MP: Haha! And the second rule.

ELCO: Yep, haha. How do you like working with kids at your former HS teaching them what you love?

MP: It’s a really beautiful experience. I love working with children. They’re our future, and regardless if any of them become professional musicians after high school, the tools of creativity and self expression are so pivotal in just living and enduring life in this very beautiful yet crazy world.

ELCO: Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s more important now than ever. Kudos!

MP: Thank you! I encourage anyone who rants on Facebook / Twitter / anywhere else to stand up and be of service in any way they can in their communities.

ELCO: Excellent point. So what is it about your music that caters to video games? How does the production differ from a solo album, or say, a Bassnectar collaboration?

MP: Creating music for video games is so fun, and unlike any other medium I’ve created music for. It’s very interactive, and the music gets to change based on movement within the environment. I feel very lucky because the studios I’ve worked with have given me so much creative freedom. They also encourage me to use my voice as an instrument so I’m singing in a lot of these games as well. Writing music for a solo album is much more reflective and personal…it’s a whole other set of tools. It’s more like a diary entry and is usually very painful for me, not fun. Collaborating with other artists is entirely different as well, where we tap into both of our visions and lives and create a hybrid of both.

ELCO: That’s great insight. So creating a solo album is never fun? Does that make it hard to continue doing? Where’s the reward if you’re not enjoying it?

MP: It does make it hard to continue, which is why I take such long breaks in between all my solo releases. What motivates me are the reactions I get from my listeners, and the majority express that my music helps bring them peace and healing. Even the darker songs, there is an honesty and intimacy that comes with expressing the most sensitive sides of yourself and that really resonates with people.

ELCO: I’ve definitely noticed that sentiment from your fans. But you must’ve enjoyed something about it before you realized those people were out there, right?

MP: I don’t know if “enjoy” would be the word I’d use. It’s a necessity. I HAVE to do it. I’ve been writing songs since I was 5 years old, and started because it was the way I dealt with pain. I had some traumatic things happen to me in my childhood which resulted in me going to my piano for solace. I’ve done this my entire life. There’s beauty in it, but when writing music about my life it’s never been fun, just a form of therapy. I think that’s why I resonated so much with the film “The Trade” and the music came so effortlessly, because I found myself being so grateful I had a piano I could pour my soul into…so many people don’t have art as a creative outlet.

ELCO: I understand what you mean now. So the piano came first and then singing? Or was it simultaneous?

MP: Yes! Oddly enough, I didn’t start singing until I was 15 years old. I was composing instrumental music the entire time, and wrote poetry on the side. I never thought I could sing, I didn’t have a big belt and wasn’t aware of any other artists who sounded like me. It wasn’t until I discovered artists like Tori Amos and Enya that I realized there could possibly be a place for me. Then I started experimenting with recording my voice over my instrumental compositions and realized they didn’t sound half bad.

ELCO: Imagine that! And here you are being named the #1 vocalist on such an influential publication! 😉

[List’n Up] The 23 Best Vocalists in Electronic Music

MP: Haha! To be honest, I’m shocked that’s what’s taken off for me. I never ever in a million years thought I would be a singer, in any regard. I only wanted to share my music with the world, but I think my voice has been a hidden gift that’s opened so many doors for me, especially as a composer.

ELCO: Definitely. That’s how life works sometimes. You mentioned Tori Amos and Enya. Are there any other singers you’d name as influences?

MP: Totally, so many. Bjork, Lisa Gerrard, Fiona Apple, Ani DiFranco, Dido, Liz Frasier.

ELCO: Old school! Well, relatively.

MP: Haha, I guess so! Sadly I am writing so much these days I have no idea what’s going on in modern day. I only listen to Deuter and meditation music, as that helps keep my own writing flowing. I have trouble listening to music while I’m creating.

ELCO: Yea I guess not that old school. Those are just some names I’ve known for a while, so that makes me feel old I guess. So I’d like to talk about your work in the electronic world for a bit. I feel like anything you work with Bassnectar on is instant gold. Why haven’t you been doing more in EDM?

MPAw thank you! Well, I spent 4 years collaborating non stop with tons of artists, basically 2010-2014. I think I’ve done close to 40 collaborations. I’ve worked with a lot of really amazing, lesser known artists. Mr. Projectile, Skytree, Goldrush; all incredible electronic artists. There’s a few reasons why I phased myself out of it, but I love working with Lorin and will always collaborate with him. We are kindred spirits when it comes to creating together.

ELCO: How did you and Lorin meet and decide to work together?

MP: Lorin started playing a remix of mine called “A Bad Place” which was a collaboration I did with a band called Shotgun Radio back in 2011. Minnesota remixed it and that’s how Lorin heard it. He then reached out to me and asked if I wanted to write an original song for his album Vava Voom, and that’s when we created Butterfly.

ELCO: That’s amazing! So what’s the creative process like working with Lorin. Does he have a song already started or in mind, or do you both meet and begin with a clean slate?

MP: We’ve worked both ways! “Butterfly” was a clean slate. We went back and forth brainstorming concepts and how we wanted the song to feel. I created the piano hook, which became the spine of the song, and we built everything else around the piano. He’d send me a beat and bass, I’d send some ethereal pads and vocals. Then we’d collaborate on lyrical ideas. With “Breathless” and “Was Will Be”, he already had the instrumental ideas formed but needed a concept and a vocal so I took his instruments and created my topline.

ELCO: So cool. It’s really impressive to hear how much you’ve contributed to those. So much more than just lending your voice.

MP: Thank you!

ELCO: Was your live performance at Red Rocks with Bassnectar as special for you as it was for all of us in the crowd?

Photo: aLive Media

MP: My God, yes! Those gorgeous red rocks bathed in light with all those beautiful faces…it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced.  I usually have tremendous stage fright, but the second I touched my piano and heard it echo throughout the canyon, I felt an overwhelming wave of love and serenity. Time stopped for me and I felt like I shared a very sacred moment with both Lorin and everyone there that night. I’m so grateful for it, it will live in my heart forever.

ELCO: I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like from your vantage point. So, I didn’t want to dwell on this too much, but things these days can get pretty grim and depressing. How do you think we get back on track as a society?

MP: This is such an important question, and I’m so happy you asked me! These times definitely feel grim and depressing, but the only way we get through them is to connect with each other and continue this conversation no matter how hard it is. In my honest opinion, I don’t think we’ve ever been on track as a society, which is a good thing. We haven’t lost anything, and we aren’t going backwards. We’re actually going forwards but it’s an ugly nasty process. Healing works this way and it’s usually the darkest before the dawn. The internet has helped expose a lot of darkness that’s laid dormant for a very long time. It’s never not been there, it’s always been there. The only thing that’s really happening is our awakening, both individually and collectively. We can only change what we’re aware of, and now we know too much to turn away. The mainstream media is losing it’s control over how we are getting our information, and we are now able to report our truth and injustices from all around the world without being censored. This is a very empowering time for those of us who want to create a better world  but we need to become as brave and fearless as we can in order to do this. Living in a mental state of fear and negativity does nothing but perpetuate the same darkness and keep us enslaved to it. Be strong, find your light, and shine it in any way you can. 

My immediate advice right now: Love and nurture yourself as much as you can. Resting is not laziness. If you feel stressed, just stop. Lay down, play a video game, read a book, get a massage, walk in nature, adopt a pet, listen to music that touches your soul. Find your own peace inside this chaos. You can only give to the world when you learn to give to yourself first. If you’ve found your peace and you have enough to share, help someone or something else. Volunteer at an animal shelter, feed the homeless, help mentor children and troubled youth. Be the person you needed when you were younger and help make someone’s life a little bit easier. No matter how small the effort, it makes a huge difference. 

ELCO: So well said. Very inspiring and insightful. Well, last question, but perhaps the most important one…WHEN DO WE GET TO SEE YOU BACK IN COLORADO??

MPI have a bit of a ways to go, but my dream is to come back to Red Rocks with an orchestra and perform both my original songs and my film and video game scores live. The second that dream becomes a reality, I’ll let you know!

ELCO: Well sign us up to help you achieve that dream in any way that we can. We’ll be front row!

Interviewed by E.P Pirt, Jr.

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Hi! We started ELCO back in 2012 and have had a blast every step of the way. Music, especially electronic, is our passion, and spreading the good vibes across this beautiful state that we live in is our goal. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please email us through our Contact page. Thanks!