A lot has changed since Mike DeCole last spoke with the MSR. The 41-year-old soulful crooner has worked internationally and released a six-track EP May, And Everything After in mid-2017.
DeCole was also contacted by a representative of The World Academy of Arts, Literature, and Media (WAALM), an organization based in Canada. “It was like, ‘Yo, we love your voice could you do a song for us?” recalled DeCole. That one song led to an entire project, instantly broadening his profile and fan base.
His current single “Let’s Lay Back” is available for streaming, but it has only been released overseas as DeCole says he is trying a new marketing approach. “I put too much time, effort, and my life into it to just put it out on YouTube and things like that,” he said.
He added that the single is doing well and generating the buzz and curiosity that he was hoping for. According to DeCole, the people in Europe desire soul music more than in the States because it’s less common there.
“I want people to really value what it is that I’m trying to do because it takes a lot of time. It’s not about the money. It is about the love, but it’s more about the appreciation,” said DeCole.
DeCole’s fans in the States can still experience DeCole’s artistry in his the forthcoming video for his latest single “A Perfect Dream,” inspired by recent high-profile shootings of Black males.
DeCole said that the barrage of press attention over the killings, combined with social media overload, became depressing. “[Just because] I don’t post about it and not on [social media] being all pro-Black doesn’t mean I don’t feel that way. But it was beginning to be way too much.
“Like, seriously, I was waking up depressed, and the fact that I got a son who just got a license,” he said, referencing the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Philando Castile.
For DeCole, it’s about ministering through music and being as transparent as possible. Traditionally, music has answered the call of addressing and expressing emotions and that is what DeCole aims to accomplish with “A Perfect Dream” and its accompanying visuals.
“Everybody is pursuing a dream, no matter what. It don’t even matter [if you’re] in this country [or] in any other country; everybody is fighting for a dream,” said DeCole. “So for me, it’s not even about the ‘American Dream’— it’s about the dream that you want to have for your kids or your family or whatever.”
In the interest of transparency, DeCole also wanted it to be noted that he originally canceled his interview after hitting a rough patch personally and professionally.
“Before we started doing this [interview], I canceled it because I was going through a lot of stuff mentally and a whole bunch of things like that. [Then] I thought to myself, ‘Why just have an interview when things are going good?’ To me, that’s not real. So why not, while I’m still in the struggle, let people know ‘Ok, this person struggles like everybody struggles, but it’s about how you come through it.”
DeCole confided that he was signed to an artist development deal with a European company that fell through around the time he was initially to meet with the MSR. As DeCole would tell it, now he’s “officially back to being an independent artist.” Around this same time, he began to question his music career and was doubtful whether consumers could actually appreciate his style of music.
“Sometimes you get to that point where you question a lot. You question your direction; you question if this is what you’re supposed to be doing. For me, it’s like OK, I’m getting older, you know, and all these different things. Should I try something else? But there’s nothing else I love [like music]” said DeCole.
Despite the setbacks and doubts, DeCole continues to press on. Aside from the music video, he’s also working on a short film named after his debut project So It Was Written.
The Minneapolis vocalist didn’t want to give away too much about the project but said the storyline follows a young man (DeCole) in his quest to court a young lady who is battling a terminal illness that he doesn’t know about. In the process of doing so, he learns that she is a bit old-fashioned and prefers hand-written letters over telephone calls.
The short film will feature visuals for what DeCole considers to be the four best songs on the EP: “This Must Be Love,” “Find a Way to Love,” “Coming Home Soon,” and “Bulletproof.” Once complete, he shared that he’s exploring the possibility of getting the short on Netflix via connections he’s made.
In the meantime, fans can look forward to new music as DeCole is putting the final touches on his new project set to be released later this year, entitled Simply Wonderful.
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Khymyle Mims is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.