SAN FRANCISCO – Growing up in the suburbs of San Francisco, Mikey Maramag loved listening to punk music – so much so that he started performing in local punk bands while he was still in high school.
“I actually used to listen to a lot of punk bands back in high school, and I used to be in hardcore punk bands and play metal and stuff,” Maramag said in an interview with Freeline Media. “That was my first thing in music. I started playing drums in seventh grade, and I taught myself to play guitar. I was about 12 at the time.”
He even started touring around northern California’s punk nightclub scene.
“We did shows in Sacramento,” he said. “It was very underground. In every show, there were only 30 people in the audience, and we’d go out every weekend and perform, and at the time, it was the most raw type of music possible.”
But Maramag had other influences besides punk – including folk and electronic music. What he found particularly appealing about both is that these two styles of music allowed an individual composer and performer to create songs on their own, without the need for a backup band.
“I used to listen to lots of folk music and singer/songwriter stuff, and I really just enjoyed how one person could shape the entire vision of a project, and I apply that to what I do now,” he said.
Today, Maramag is following that tradition. He writes his own music, records the songs himself playing all the instruments, and does solo tours – which have included performances in Orlando and other Florida cities in recent years.
His upcoming EP, “Boracay Planet,” will feature remixes from the likes of American bass music virtuoso Grenier (aka DJ G) and Atlanta’s foremost proprietor of rave music, Distal. The EP will be released on Oct. 16, and then Maramag plans to launch a three week tour of the U.S. to promote it.
One of the reasons he got involved in solo recording and performing, he said, is because of those punk bands he cut his musical teeth on. It seems one too many creative differences popped up over time, he said.
“When I was in punk bands, I found myself trying to direct everything, and became the main dictator,” Maramag said. “I found it was easier to actually execute everything on a computer, producing it on your own. That’s been the biggest transition for me, instead of having to rely on others to do it. It’s a very different approach.”
He calls his style a dreamy form of “folktronica” — deeply textured, hypnotic songs that pay homage to psychedelic pop, employing layers of electronic texture drape over organic sounds and ghostly vocals.
That term folktronica “could mean a number of things to anyone, but to me it signifies something really ambient, and lost in this world,” he said.
After high school, Maramag attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, but dropped out after the death of his father.
“My dad passed away right before I graduated, and it messed me up quite a bit, so I dropped out and I used music to clear my head out,” he said. “In college I got exposed to new types of music, and I switched to electronic and electronic-type production.”
He began composing his own songs, and used the opportunities provided by the Internet to record and distribute his work.
“I started recording when I was in high school,” he said. “I got a 4-track recorder, and I used to just record three-part guitars and then add the vocals. I moved up to a 16-track digital more recently. I do all of the production work myself in my bedroom, with keyboards and acoustic and electric guitars, and whenever I can get on percussion and drums, I put it in the recordings as well. It’s very fun to experiment a lot. I have tons of songs, but only a few become ones that I want to use on the (recording) project. The others get lost along the way.”
The fact that music can be distributed to a worldwide audience today through the Internet, he said, offers enormous opportunities for artists like himself.
“I definitely think the Internet has allowed for more creative expression and widespread distribution of music,” he said. “You have some negatives with it, too — like anyone can do it. But all in all I think it’s a good thing, and it breathes life back into artists who thought they could only do it with a major record label.”
When his EP is released in the fall, “I’m going out to do a three week tour of the U.S., and then Europe in 2013,” he said. “I try to play shows a lot, more than I used to.”
But as his music gets more sophisticated, Maramag also knows he’s going to have to go back to what he did with those college and high school punk bands – find backup performers to go on tour with him.
“Right now it’s just me performing, but with the new EP, there’s so much stuff on there, it will be almost impossible to be just me on stage,” he said.
He also hopes to bring his music back to the Sunshine State.
“I’ve played Miami, Bartow and Orlando, and I would really love to come back to Florida,” Maramag said.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.