Amsterdam-based indie dance trio Mike Rogers features three of the country’s rising electronic music artists: Mike Mago, TWR72, and Kita Menari mastermind Micha de Jonge. The project can trace its origins two decades ago, back to the early 2000s: Mago and TWR72 met while DJ’ing Dutch underground electro parties. That raw and energetic scene saw the pair playing a mix of electro pop, French touch and French house, fidget and techno.
Naturally, as the years passed by, the pair individually developed their own unique sound and approaches — but they realized that they had long held a similar dream: to start a live act inspired by the bands they grew up with, as well as Miike Snow, Foals, Editors, Van She, and Goose among others. Mago and TWR72 started Mike Rogers as a way to challenge themselves creative and professionally, while further developing as producers and DJs. The duo then recruited Kita Menari’s Micha de Jonge, who contributes his big, plaintive vocals to their hook-driven, rousingly anthemic, crowd-pleasing sound.
The trio’s full-debut Live Out Loud is slated for release this year. The album reportedly sees the Dutch trio crafting material that’s a slick mix of analog, digital and retro sounds with a decidedly modern feel. During the album’s creative process, they all agreed that it felt like second nature for them to be bold and make big musical gestures without sensationalism. Interestingly, that creative approach wound up informing the album’s central thematic concern. “Why do people always have to choose between black and white?” The Dutch electro pop trio asks. “You don’t have to choose between extremes. You can be modest in your opinions but still live out loud!”
“Go out there and live in the moment. You don’t always have to choose sides. The music represents this throughout,” the trio add. “All styles from opposite sides are mixed to create a perfect balance in the middle or leave the listener with an ambiguous feeling.
Last year, I wrote about album single “Can’t Stop,” an anthemic bit of post punk/dance punk built around angular guitar tack, de Jonge’s achingly plaintive delivery and a motorik groove paired with euphoria-inducing hooks. While sounding a bit like Radio 4, Interpol, and Editors, “Can’t Stop” as the trio explains is about a lonely man, who looks back at his life: As a young man, he tries to do everything right, but always feels as though he is failing since people don’t seem to understand him. Battling a personal struggle with his past, the lonely man protests against this feeling, with the hopes that he can get rid of those negative thoughts.
Written in 2021, the trio explain, “In our minds that year was a year where we had a lot of questions. Like, what is freedom, what should one fight for, how should one fight for something, how do we move forward as a society and also, how do we judge our past behaviour. We believe questions are the biggest inspirator. We’re trying to ask questions more than to send a message, although that’s also a bit of a vision we want to share.”
Live Out Loud‘s latest single, album title track “Live Out Loud” is a rousingly anthemic bop built around glistening synths, shimmering guitar lines that bring A Flock of Seagulls to mind and de Jonge’s earnest delivery paired with the Dutch trio’s unerring knack for enormous, rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy choruses.
“The song was written during a period where, we felt, far sides of the political spectrum were very present,” Mike Rogers explains. “We wanted to motivate the group known as the silent middle to stand up for their (slightly more nuanced) thoughts/visions/ideas. We also wanted to seek overlap in standing up for your idea and being outgoing whilst losing oneself in the moment. We all have to live out loud more. If you don’t live life fully, you don’t live life at all. You have to live it out loud to make sense of it, because otherwise ‘you’ll never know what it’s all about.’ And if you know what it’s all about, you have to fight for it.”
The trio adds “We encourage to ask questions out loud. To share your uncertainties out loud. To say, I don’t know, yet I care. To forgive out loud. To live out loud.”
Directed by Rens Polman, the accompanying video for “Live Out Loud” is a slick and trippy mix of A.I. that follows a series of characters escaping reality for a digitally processed world. “If you don’t live life fully you don’t live it,” the Dutch trio say. “You have to live it loud to make sense of it, because else ‘you’ll never know what it’s all about’. And if you know what it’s all about you have to fight for it. “‘Live Out Loud’ is about the current situation where social media and A.I. are increasingly taking over our lives. Reality is slowly being lost and we mainly experience happiness in the digital world. As a result of A.I. and social media, reality is becoming increasingly fused. However, we are experiencing it more and more as reality and getting further immersed in it. We are losing control over what it truly means to ‘really’ experience something. The digital world acts as a shot of dopamine. With the music video, we are demonstrating how people are literally being swallowed up by a fantasy world. A world that makes our brains happy. A world where we can experience everything we could possibly want. It is limitless. However, this is contrasted with the fact that we often forget about our own real lives. The life where we can truly experience things.”