This week on THE BIRDHOUSE, I am happy to welcome, my friends and one of my favorite crews in the game, PillowTalk to the show. This week we got Mikey “Lil’T” Tello, in for the guest mix, throwing tracks and answering the birdhouse questionnaire. PillowTalk is a four part electronic music band that was formed in 2011. Their music mixes R&B, bogies, and disco with house and indie music, to create something truly special on the dancefloor. Consisting of Sammy D, Mikey Tello, Ryan Williams and Shane Duryea, The group got their start in our hometown of San Francisco. I’ve known these guys for a long time and I am more then happy to get them on the show. PillowTalk’s production skills speak for themself and have garnered them releases on imprints such as Crew Love, Visionquest, Wolf + Lamb, Kompakt and more. in 2017 the guys launched their own label, PillowTalk Music, in order to bring their specific brand of house and funk to the masses. Make sure to catch PillowTalk this year at Dirtybird Campout West Coast and check out their guest mix below mixed by Mikey “Lil T” Tello.
How did your music career get started in earnest?
Mikey: I started djing when I was 12 and also started tinkering with writing music at the age of 15, taking piano and electronic music classes and collecting gear here and there. My first gig was as an MC and back up DJ for a 5 piece hip hop group in the 90’s. After, completing my Audio Engineering program at Expressions in Emeryville, CA I started working and releasing music for OM Records in the early 2000’s. This is when I met, Sammy D, he and I we would DJ together and were also neighbors in the Western Edition. Shane Duryea was also a neighborhood DJ at local bars, clubs and underground parties and we would also go to Burning Man in the hay days. We have all been friends for over 20 years. Ryan Williams and Sammy started writing songs in Ryan’s kitchen around his baby grand piano and recording the ideas on voice memos during these legendary SF afterparties on the second level at his brother Davi WIlliams house. When I moved back from LA after a brief SF break I moved into Sammy and Ryan’s studio space and slept on the couch for a year and we refined some of the early ideas and created what is now, PillowTalk.
Where are you from and does it have an influence on your music?
Mikey: We are all from different places around the US. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up a very strong latin and african american community which gave me my deep roots in Salsa, Disco, Soul, R&B, Funk, Freestyle, 90’s Hip Hop and Gangsta Rap.
How many times did you want to quit trying to make this your career?
Mikey: TBH, I always knew that this is what I wanted to do at a very early age and never turned back. My parents tried to get me to stop but I was hooked on the music and the energy of playing and rocking out in front of crowds of any size. They said get a degree in music and you can do whatever you want, so I did.
What was one piece of equipment that helped define your sound early on?
PillowTalk: I’m sure we will all agree.... KORG SV1 Stage Piano (Soft, Far From Home, Come Back, etc)
When you were getting started, which artists did you try to emulate (both musically and careerwise)?
Mikey: I have always been influenced by, Little Louie Vega and Kenny Dope Gonzalez, Masters At Work for their diverse and unique sound. They embody everything I’ve strived to be in an artist back then and to this day.
When you have a tough week or a rough tour, how do you get yourself back on track?
PillowTalk: Touring has been the most rewarding and taxing part of our career, managing and dealing with, “partying” on the road has its toll on us physically and spiritually. Good sleep, lots of hydration, brief detoxes, exercise, long studio jams and relaxing at home with our loved ones and friends always brings us back on track.
Where and when are you at your most content/happiest?
PillowTalk: At home with friends, family, my city and our studio.
Do you have any secret hobbies or hidden talents?
Mikey: I love to teach, music production and djing to kids and adults. Secret hobby... life coach of sorts.
Favorite and least favorite colors?
Mikey: Favorite Color (Royal Purple), Least Favorite (Anything Neon)
Favorite and least favorite words?
Mikey: Favorite (Love), Least Favorite (Hate)
Mikey: Honey Badger, he dont give a F@#K!!!!
Favorite board game?
Mikey: Shoots and Ladders
Favorite guilty pleasure food?
Mikey: NY Pizza
Favorite guilty pleasure song?
Mikey: Kanye West - Fade (Explicit)
German or Detroit techno?
Festival, club or illegal warehouse?
Mikey: Festival (Croatia preferably)
Biggie or Tupac?
Mikey: Biggie - See Track... PillowTalk - Big Pillows (PillowTalk's Juicy Edit)
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Mikey: Star Wars
Exercise or Netflix?