At the forefront of a relatively underground movement for over two decades, few artists have had a history matching that of veteran-producer Mike Simonetti’s. But it’s this 20- year backstory that reveals the interminable role he’s played in the world of dance music. His first introduction came in 1988, at the tender age of 17, when he landed a job handing out flyers at the legendary NYC nightclub Mars. He was just a kid at the time, but it left an impression on him that would manifest itself years later. His record collecting habit got him his first few gigs as a club promoter in the early 90s, and it was then he got his first taste of DJing—hitting the lawless basements and warehouses of New York City. He quickly made a name for himself in the local club scene as a resident at the legendary parties Rubulad and Motherfucker. It was during this time that his tiny record label Troubleman Unlimited started gaining momentum as well, and by the end of its ten-year run would yield seminal releases by The Walkmen, Zola Jesus, Titus Andronicus, Prurient, Unwound, Glass Candy, Chromatics and many more.
Nearly a decade after its inception, Simonetti put Troubleman to rest and teamed up with Johnny Jewel to launch the dance music label Italians Do It Better. Its first release —a hard-hitting synthpop compilation called After Dark—was a game changer. Eventually, Mike released his first EP of original material, Capricorn Rising, after a slew of re-edits and remixes. The EP laid the groundwork for what was to come, yielding a range of influences from techno, krautrock and ambient music to soundtracks.
While Simonetti was in the middle of writing his debut solo work, he was asked to remix tracks from the West Coast twosome Silver Hands. Immediately taken by the incredible range of lead-vocalist Elizabeth Wight, he reached out to collaborate. The result of the bi-coastal email exchange would eventually become Pale Blue.
Most recently, Simonetti has decided to split from Italians Do It Better to focus on Pale Blue, as well as a totally new venture: the freshly minted label 2MR (Two Mikes Records). A collaboration between Simonetti and Captured Tracks founder Mike Sniper (whose own band Blank Dogs was released on Troubleman in 2008), 2MR is an opportunity for Simonetti to start from a blank slate and release music he believes in. The first release on 2MR will be The Past We Leave Behind, a double album from Pale Blue.
The Past encompasses a myriad of sonic elements from rhythmic, melodic techno and atmospheric ambient productions, to embracing his background in noise, drone, and even experimental dream pop. With Wight’s vocals as the focal point, the record is saturated with a lush melodic warmth that’s so often missing in the electronic world.
While Simonetti, Wight and Jana Hunter remain at its core, Pale Blue’s philosophy is to keep everything open to collaboration. Musically, it’s a response to modern dance music and its constant fluctuations. It intentionally bears no obvious singles or club hits. It doesn’t aim to pigeonhole itself into a genre or new vistas in music, but instead to a unifying sound.
The dj, producer and label head returns to Plano B next Friday October 23rd for the next Heineken Starlight night, appearing along acts such as White Haus, João Dinis and MC Angelo B.