Mike Van Goh is Painting Lyrical Masterpieces

Meet Mike Van Goh, a rising 21 year-old artist from Hartford, Connecticut who is putting in hours behind the easel, using his creative brushes to create vibrant lyrical images

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the words that create mental movies must be incredibly valuable words, especially if a single word or phrase can invoke brilliantly bright mental images. Mike Van Goh is a 21 year old artist from Connecticut, breathing life into the world one bar at a time. He grew up in Hartford, singing in his church choir, gaining exposure to music through his experience. Although the church choir wasn’t the place that Mike would fully flesh out his musical chops, it provided him with base knowledge of singing that served as solid base stones for his continued musical journey. It was in 2014 that he started recording music for the first time, during the summer break of his sophomore and junior year of high school on a cell phone. Mike discovered a recording app on his android that let him record and create a track, doing some simple mixing and off he went. He had come up with the moniker, Mike Van Goh, before he began recording seriously, wanting to have one outside of the normal realm he came up with it after making a joke about a drawing that he created. Outside of the church, Mike’s inspirations from music came from some of the most influential artists to come out in the 2010’s, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Young Thug and most of all, Mr. Astroworld Travis Scott. One thing these artists all have in common is their deep interests outside of music, especially fashion, fleshing themselves out as real people outside of the music. For Mike, their influence extended through the music and into the outside world as well, inspiring him to just be himself and not give a fuck what anyone thinks of that. Being from a scene without a defined sound or even nationally known sound also pushed Mike to be himself and just go with what feels right. “The scene is a mix, there’s dance music, trap, alternative, conscious, a bunch of reggaeton”, Mike explained, “There’s not a defined vibe but there’s a lot of different sounds here”.  Mike’s music takes inspiration from all of them, traversing around genres and creating music that speaks to him. It is a trait that has served him well as he continues to explore his own creativity and expand his toolkit in the booth.

Spontaneity isn’t a trait that comes to mind when thinking of Mike, he is someone who makes moves with purpose and reason, determined to make every step the right one. It should come as no shock then that Mike isn’t an artist who steps in the booth and freestyles his heart out. His process is anchored within writing out his lyrics, spending hour upon hour outside of the booth locked into a zone while working through his work bar by bar. In fact 95% of his catalog is written and scrutinized through. Interestingly, Mike attributes his focus on writing primarily to the efficiency of creating songs with written music. Putting songs together then smoothing and tweaking the inconsistencies is much easier when there is a defined path for the songs, no wasting time punching in and out while the studio time clock is ticking. There are some rare instances where Mike will step in the studio and let the freestyles flow, but that’s a more likely occurrence when he’s at home in his own studio that he recently set up. Although he did install the mic in the crib, Mike mainly uses it for fleshing out the songs on his own time, or that occasional 5% of the time freestyle when the words crop up in his idea-field. For the other 95% of his music, Mike has a few different studios he spreads his time around at, but more often than not he is recording at Howell Record Studios with his favorite engineer and owner of the studio, Dante Howell. “We have a really good connection”, Mike stated, “He’s my favorite engineer that I have ever had, he really understands who I am on the mic.”. it helps that Dante is an artist himself and is able to speak the language of an artist at a high level that Mike is looking for. If there’s one thing that he prides himself on, it is building a fanbase who is as rabid about the quality of his music as he is.

An independent artist lives and dies on the loyalty of his fanbase. It has been a process trying to build a fanbase from nothing, but for Mike he would rather be able to consistently build piece by piece and maintain them as he goes along. So far his game plan has included getting in sets working smaller show locations around the Connecticut area, which lends itself to such a strategy as there are plenty of small clubs and bars to perform at as well as parties to rock. There hasn’t been a ton of chances for Mike to get out there yet and spread his wings but as the world is opening back up, he has been working hard throughout the last year to ensure that he will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that will be present. Brand development has been a main focus of Mike’s, reaching out to artists around and doing promo work in order to get his name out there. He dropped a new EP, entitled The Stimulus Pack, containing a couple of tracks that have been hidden away in his vault for a while now. The project itself is a 4-track effort highlighted by the track “Blue Strips”. Overall the EP finds Mike stringing together consistent bars and minimalistic beats which allow Mike’s artistic ability to play out fully. The tape is a solid follow-up to his other effort in 2020, a 7-track project running around twenty minutes which currently stands as Mike’s first album on streaming platforms so far. There has been plenty of consistent single releases by Mr. Van Goh over the last year and it all plays into his end goal of creating an organic fanbase that will support him at the end of the day on the basis of his own high-quality brand of artistry.  

Music consumes Mike’s life, even when he steps away from the mic in an attempt to clear his mind and let his thoughts roam boundless. There is not much painting done by Van Goh, instead his free time is mainly spent hanging out with friends, chopping it up and listening to more music. Living in a place such as Connecticut, surrounded by forests and plenty of places to lose oneself in, it makes sense that Mike finds time to clear his mind by taking drives as well. When the car is parked, and he’s inside posted, the TV is turned on to either Marvel movies or video games, at least recently. Mike has become a fan of the films partially through the soundtracks behind the brilliant onscreen technical wizardry, which have become popular over the last couple of years. The Black Panther soundtrack, and the Queen & Slim soundtrack  are two in particular that stood out to Mike, especially the Black Panther soundtrack which Kendrick Lamar masterfully stitched together. For Mike, superhero movies allow for many moments in which instruments play key roles, be it the ascending and descending piano intervals indicating the impending action, or the heavy full band sections during the battles. It isn’t a shock that someone who prizes quality above all else in their music would find enjoyment from such precise and impassioned playing. The entire process behind transferring a superhero story from page to screen, the creativity and ability it takes to do so, is one that calls to Mike as well, as that process is an art in it of itself. One thing that is obvious is that Mike Van Goh is a hyperfocused individual, driven to reach his goals no matter what, even forgoing intoxicants in order to keep his mind clear something that is rare in todays culture. No doubt Mike Van Goh has plenty of pictures to leave seared into fans memories, only a few years into his journey, as he continues to work on living up to his namesake and until then you can find him working through many a starry night posted up behind a microphone turning his dream into a masterpiece. You can find him on all social medias and his music on all streaming platforms so don’t do yourself a disservice and wait until Mike Van Goh attains the status of Master and make yourself familiar with his growing catalog.

Jake Zinda

23 years old, from Wisconsin Hip-Hop Journalist @CMAG N.S.C.T.D.

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