We were thrilled to welcome legendary guitarist Mikey Demus to Metropolis Studios for an exclusive masterclass as part of our Freshers’ Week in September.
Hosted by Ace, our Head of Creative Industry Development (and also known as the guitarist in Skunk Anansie), Mikey spoke in great detail about his career, with plenty of advice and, of course, found time for some amazing solo performances.
Long before joining alternative/nu-metal/reggae outfit Skindred, Mikey was first inspired to pursue music when he saw Woodstock on the TV at the age of 12. That inspired him to relentlessly practise the guitar – playing along to the likes of Nirvana, Skunk Anansie and Reef. Revealing that his Dad had been a guitarist since before he could remember, Mikey shared with the students that even though he’s right-handed, he plays a left-handed guitar because that’s what his Dad had.
At the age of just 18, Mikey got the call to audition for Skindred through a connection with a band he often gigged with, and he has been with them ever since. When discussing the inner-workings of the award-winning group, he explained that Skindred love performing at festivals and that they select the ones they would like to do before working out their tour schedule around those dates. Sharing that they like to give fans of all ages the opportunity to see their show, he added that they play a lot of gigs outside of the big cities.
Questions were welcomed throughout the class and many students were particularly interested in his writing process. Saying that ideas often come to him when he’s not with his guitar, Mikey told the class that he hums them into an app on his phone, jokingly adding “so many of my ideas have a drone of a tour bus in the background!”
On the topic of gear, Mikey said that he was trying to scale down his live rig as it actually costs a lot to transport all of it. After chatting to fellow guitarist Ace about the “romanticism for having loads of pedals”, Mikey spoke about how he uses Ableton Live when performing on stage – sending MIDI to the gear so he doesn’t have to worry about ‘tap dancing’ whilst playing.
Much of the class was spent discussing recording. Bringing five or six guitars to a studio session, Mikey said that when they find something that works they stick with it, and often only use two guitars on an entire record to keep the sound consistent. Having used the same producer for the past three albums, he told the class that the band spend one or two weeks in pre-production so that they know exactly what to do when it comes to laying down the tracks.
Mikey wrapped up the masterclass in style with a final performance of Skindred track Warning, from the Union Black album. We’d like to thank Mikey for taking the time to come to Metropolis!
Acoustic performance by Skindred, from their 2016 masterclass at ACM Guildford
If you’d like to study at ACM and learn from incredible musicians like Mikey Demus, please call our Admissions Team on 01483 500 841 or visit www.acm.ac.uk/open-days/ to book a place on an ACM Open Day today.