Mike Dean is a taciturn man, letting his music talk about the songs he’s made for himself — like his 2021 album “4:22” — and others, including Beyoncé, Kanye West the Weeknd — who is currently opening the “After Hours Til the Dawn” stadium tour for them — and his just-released compilation “See You Next Year.”
Oh, and the occasional social media post, like the Wednesday night skit involving the apparent de-listing of his Kid Cudi moonshot festival in Cleveland next month. Dean wrote: “Looks like I won’t be playing Moon Landing this year. Someone canceled me. Haha. Thanks. That’s it. #immature,” later adding “#nocomment 🖕”. He also responded to a fan’s Twitter question about cancellation culture with “lol.” No one can cancel me like this! Just some baby baby shit. “
The incident appears to be related to Cudi’s recent spat with his former friend and collaborator West, with whom Dean has worked closely, if at times controversial, for more than a decade. But as expected, Dean didn’t comment on the situation, as he caught up with Variety in Tampa earlier this week as he prepares for his opening gig on the Weeknd tour, dubbed the “improv synthesizer”. “.
“My stuff, I think, is a good mix for The Weeknd,” said Dean, who played songs from his albums “4:20” and “4:22” in the Philadelphia Tour opener as well as Other tracks that are more hymn. “It’s the perfect synth to make people feel good about the show. Plus new improvisations that I’m playing on stage and I’m recording all of them and looking through it I think content to publish.”
Referring to the opening slot and tour as “Week 101” (“a deep dive into his music and all its styles”), Dean said he’s looking forward to developing his musical relationships with his touring performers. Between touring, the upcoming HBO show “Idol” and the Weeknd music he’s produced, Dean says it’s probably the closest he’s ever had to another artist. “I do think we really connected on this tour.”
When Dean isn’t improvising on stage, he’s recording new music on his new tour bus, a “very cool” vehicle that “allows me to record, mix and Master whatever I want. Having said that, I’m looking forward to going back to my studio and getting a newer, bigger bus that I can fully outfit, rent out to other producers and record at my own location .”
Before our call, Dean was busy filming scenes for “Idol,” the Weeknd’s new HBO show still in production with “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson and co-star Lily-Rose Depp. “I really can’t talk about it,” Dean said with a smile.
“But I’m in the trailer and you can see me hitting my bong. So I’m definitely smoking marijuana on the show. That’s all I can say.”
He also declined to discuss Beyoncé’s work on “Renaissance,” or the six tracks he’s worked on as a producer, programmer, synth player or drummer, including the quivering “Summer Renaissance,” which inserts Donna Summer’s “I Feel” Love”. “
Dean did manage to call Bey the “queen of rhythm” before saying he couldn’t say more.
All he can talk about is the variety album “See You Next Year” that was removed from the shelves today. Dean produced the album with music discovery site Pigeons & Planes and creative agency/label Big.Ass.Kids (via Warner/ADA). The album features up-and-coming singers and rappers such as Brevin Kim, Baird, Fana Hues, Dreamer Isioma, Ekkstacy, Terry Presume, Redveil, Wallice, Ben Reilly, Sash and Teezo Touchdown, among other producers.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call what I’m doing with these artists ‘directing’ or ‘curating,'” Dean said. “I know the guys at Pigeons & Planes — they’ve been covering my stuff for years and editing. I wasn’t going to do the track or executive produce, but it became a thing.”
That event includes the new Dean instrumental “Business Class,” as well as fresh pieces like “Oz” with Sash and “Loner” with Terry Presume.
“Sash is a real singer,” Dean said. “I believe he has the potential to grow as an artist and I will continue to work with him on some upcoming records. However, I love all the artists on the package.”
Dean compares “See You Next Year” and a possible follow-up to XXL Magazine’s annual “Freshman Class” list, which lists the top 10 up-and-coming rappers. “If you make that XXL thing into something more than rap, add R&B or pop, that’s it. It’s good, it’s wider.”
He enticingly adds, “I’m already working on my own upcoming compilation of well-known artists and friends — pretty much everyone I’ve ever produced. I’m trying to put it together now.”
Of course, he adds with a laugh: “No — I can’t say who’s going to be on my album.”