Exclusive Interview By IndiePulse Magazine
Enigma Project is a new, Southern California-based band with a unique approach: To not only play original Blues, but also creating two separate Tribute bands re-imagining the music of guitarists Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower.
“We knew that while everyone does covers of blues, R&B, funk, rock and country, no one was doing strictly a Robin Trower tribute,” explains Kevin Michaels, Enigma Project’s drummer and de-facto band leader. “His music sounds easy, but actually has some very innovative parts.” Enigma Project also hosted a successful weekly Jam Session in the High Desert.
Michaels was recently interviewed by IndiePulse Music about the group’s plans for 2018, here’s how it went.
IPM: How did you come up with the name ‘Enigma Project’?
KM: After having auditioned last July July for a band called SIR REAL, a few of the guys (in SIR REAL) and I started discussing what the future of this band would be. The main issue we wanted to address was about not being pigeonholed sound-wise, because we liked playing Rock, Latin, R&B, Funk and some Jazz. One of us mentioned that we should pick a name that would represent our artistry without the industry pigeonholing us. At that point we came up with Enigma Project.
IPM: Let’s talk a little bit about your musical background?
KM: All my family, including grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles and aunts, were in the music business when I was growing up. I went to a party hosted by Emil Richards (who was a great Hollywood) percussionist. I saw some drums there, and attempted to play (I wasn’t very good). At this same party I met Joe Porcaro, whose late son Jeff was a famous drummer (in Toto). That was the start of me learning how to play drums, from one of the best.
My Uncle John was also touring with the Beach Boys as a trumpet player. John was responsible introduced my father to the Beach Boys, whom they hired to do sound engineering for them. My father’s job got me my first trip to Europe going to England and Holland in 1972, where I met the Beach Boys. These experiences also gave me insight into music production, a few guitar lessons from Carl Wilson and Blondie Chaplin, and a few drum lessons from Ricky Fataar. Carl actually asked me to play some percussion on a few tracks.
Recently I’ve been credited on one (Beach Boys) track, but not the other. I realized that music and big concerts is where I needed to be. Shortly after that I started doing Top 40 gigs in Southern California with several bands, and had numerous original bands in San Diego. I also got a credit on the Robert DeNiro movie, THE DEPARTED.
IPM: Seems that initially, Enigma Project is primarily hosting a Weekly Jam session, as opposed to booking regular club gigs. What’s the method to your madness?
KM: I was checking out venues and found Mattie’s Blues Cafe in Apple Valley. We started playing there last September and had a successful stint as the weekly House Band until the club got sold in late-December. This was really great for us because we didn’t have to pay for a studio, there was potential for the public to come to the venue and see us playing, and at the same time, we helped build the club’s client base – upwards of thirty-plus people per night, and up to 15-20 musicians show up regularly each week.
In the meantime we gained a reputation as one of the best bands up in the High Desert/ San Bernardino area.
IPM: Enigma Project currently plays both original Blues, and tributes two greats, Robin Trower and Jimi Hendrix. What goes into the decision process here?
KM: Our first priority was to perform tributes to Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower. No one is doing strictly a Robin Trower tribute. His music might soun easy, but it has some innovative parts that must be addressed. If you don’t play them properly, you’ll sound like an amateur band. I chose all of the tunes based on different feels, rhythms, and the uniqueness of each of the tunes.
IPM: Are there any Enigma Project recordings (CDs) in the works?
KM: We are planning on releasing a ten-song video of our versions of blues, funk, r&b, reggae, and rock songs that could also have certain jazz feels incorporated into them, a high-energy projection of our fluid, dynamic and diverse playing style as a band.
IPM: Any plans to tour in the near future?
KM: We’ve been contacting people to go on the festival circuit since July, and have found some wonderful blues festivals that we’re about to send out our EPK to.
IPM: Where can people find out more about Enigma Project?
KM: People can contact us through our Facebook page.