Photo 1 : Mike Magik at the grill in Shanghai with a face-full of smoke. Still smilin'.
Get familiar with Mike on his Instagram.
Hey what’s up SPITGAN fam, just want to say that it is truly a pleasure to be connecting and building with you guys once again! I think it has been close to a decade since our last collaboration!
SPITGAN : Yo appreciate it my G! Been a good sec. Maybe someday we will release our first collab on these pages to shock our readers... Introduce yourself a bit.
Mike Magik : Just to kick off, a little introduction about myself. I go by the Mike Magik, representing 143 Liverpool Street Familia out of Sydney, Supernaturalz Crew in Toronto, and Boyz in the Hood, Taiwan. I’m a B-Boy, and also an Emcee, hosting dance events and parties out here in Asia, with my main base of operations located in Shanghai, China. My current job is working as a consultant for a company looking to branch into street culture, which includes clothing, media and education. Due to Breaking being accepted by the IOC, it is now what many institutions are trying to capitalize on.
SPITGAN : When was the first day the Corona Virus really hit home for you?
MM : To be honest, I did not even know that the outbreak was even happening in China in January. I was coming back home from a Spain tour with my crew from Taiwan prior to Chinese New Year. I got back home from the airport at around 1AM, and at that time I did not see anything out of the ordinary. I guess it hit me the next morning when my Wechat blew up with messages from a close friend in Hong Kong asking if I was OK, and if the Shanghai airports were taking heightened measures to make sure that passengers coming in and out of China had any health issues. Even though Shanghai is two provinces away from Wuhan, with the amount of media coverage available from both the Chinese government as well as the international community, there was a sense of uncertainty. So even before they decided to lockdown several affected provinces I already had a feeling that this situation was not going away any time soon.
Photo 2 : Cheeky Mike Magik at a Japanese onsen, taking in the sunset.
SPITGAN : How do you feel about your country's response in general, and specifically to your industry?
MM : Despite how international media has been portraying the Chinese government on their handling of the situation, this is one of the few times I would say I am actually happy to be living in China. I know many people are going to have their own opinion of how information gets released out in this part of the world, and to be honest there are certain things that do not sit well with me, but that is not what we are here to talk about. I think that the Chinese government has done a tremendous job in getting the country to where it stands today (with regards to slowing down the spread of the virus). I guess that is the difference when you are living in a country where you do not have to worry about re-elections, constituents, and the other bullshxt that comes along with being a politician. Having said that, I also was not born yesterday, and I know to take whatever information I receive within China, with a grain of salt.
With regards to our industry in general, I have yet to hear, or see any statements about the government reaching out with any relief measures. However with the majority of the country’s resources being poured into helping the frontline/essential workers, and those who have been afflicted with the virus, I can understand that those of us work in the arts/culture business, let alone any other form of business, are not what the government is focusing on.
SPITGAN : What have you been doing during this global lockdown period?
MM : Shanghai never had a full scale lockdown similar to the one that occurred in Wuhan and its surrounding provinces. However, due to the fact that majority of the work force in Shanghai relies on the out of town population, Shanghai definitely felt like a ghost town for a long time. Since prior to the pandemic happening, I was working as a freelancer, so I had quite a lot of free time to begin with, but rather quickly my daily routine was definitely thrown into disarray. I was not able to go out to practice, let alone leave my home, and slowly that was driving my mind insane. Luckily a few of my homies from Sydney really helped keep my head above water. Shout outs go to my mentor Poe One, and my best friend Jo for consistently keeping contact with me. My mentor is a very spiritual person, and often advised me to meditate whenever I felt like my head was in the wrong space, and Jo would often take the time to set up calls so that I could have some semblance of having a social life.
As I slowly accepted the fact that my situation was not going to change any time soon, I gradually decided to get off my ass and just try to do things which I normally did not have the opportunity to when I had a busy work schedule. Nowadays I’m stepping up my workout game, going on a lot of bike rides to substitute for the lack of swimming, trying to maintain the health of my knees. In addition to that, I have been getting back into cooking which is somewhat another passion of mine, I look forward to the weekends when the weather is good, especially since I discovered that we have a grill at home.
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SPITGAN : What's the first thing you gonna do when you can move freely?
MM : When the time comes around and travel restrictions start to get lifted, I think the first thing, would be to take a week long sabbatical to somewhere tropical and re-up my tan. I was scheduled to go to Singapore for a massive dance event that capped off with a beach party... however that plan went belly up as the pandemic spread across South East Asia. I feel my skin tone has gone a couple of shades lighter, which I am not accustomed to. Other than that, I would just like to get together with the homies and have a dirty night out where we try to retrace our steps the morning after.
SPITGAN : Has the pandemic made you assess your business model? What changes will you be making?
MM : Even though the market for dance related events is still on the rise, and I have made a comfortable living off of hosting events and parties, I have always wanted to branch out into something stable. I did not want to be in my 50's and still trying to chase after that next gig to get my next paycheck. Neither did I want to feel salty about losing out on a gig to another person. I have always hated the negative feelings welling up inside of me whenever I see someone other than myself hosting a high profile event. I know it is a wack mentality to have, and it is something I have been working on, but that is something for another day.
I consider myself very lucky because prior to the pandemic, I was already in talks with a company on becoming a consultant, as they had interest in expanding their business into streetwear as well as dance education. They wanted my input as I have started to become more familiar with the China scene, and also my strong experience overseas. I had spent a couple of months with the company in late 2019 as a trial period, seeing how they ran the operation, and had decided only to play a part-time role. I still valued the flexibility and “freedom” that being a freelancer afforded. There were many times when I was offered a full time position, but I was not ready to get back into a 9-5 situation that I lived through during my time in Hong Kong.
After many high profile events were either being postponed or cancelled during the first two months of the new year, I really started to take things into perspective. After talking things out with several close friends, as well as meeting up with the company a few more times, with them offering me an even more attractive package, I came to terms that even though I had enjoyed living the “Hip Hop” life, it really doesn't mean a damn thing if I was remembered as the GOAT of event MCs. If at the end of it all I could not even provide myself with the basic necessities of life – roof over my head, food in my stomach, and some money put away for a rainy day; there are too many cautionary tales in our industry. I simply did not want to be another one.
It was then I decided to switch gears and take all my experience and integrate it with a more stable platform. This way I will be able to generate a stable revenue stream without worrying that I will have to take on gigs that were underpaying me simply because I needed the money. Now I will be able to support the actual events that I think have a positive effect on in the community as a whole.
Photo 3 : Mike Magik and Taiwanese crew in Spain.
SPITGAN : What positive changes do you envision happening to the industry or society in general? Or hope will happen?
MM : If I am to be brutally honest, I really don’t think that this pandemic is the global catastrophe that will unite the world, and which we will enjoy and unprecedented period of peace and technological advancement. However I see this pandemic as what the 80s did to Hip Hop culture, and I’m referring to China specifically here. What I mean is many of these Mickey Mouse studios and dancers, who are really in for just the money, get taken out of the equation, and leave the ones that are more well-versed in their craft to pass on knowledge. As the global lockdown still stands, I hope that events in China will give more opportunities to the local talent, which in turn will help them sharpen their skills and uplift the level of the scene as a whole.
SPITGAN : We are now all on our own 'islands'. What music is getting you through?
MM : I have been really getting into J-Pop or J-Rock, since I have been catching up on my anime the last few months. I find that a lot of the theme songs can really lift my spirits up when I feel down, or think that I am missing out on parties and stuff like that. I would normally love to chill to some Boom Bap, or RnB, but that makes me want to dress up and head to the club haha.
SPITGAN : As part of this article can you take 2 photos of yourself representing you during this time or your feelings towards the future?
MM : The two photos I have included pretty much describes what I have been doing over the last few months, as well as a summary of my feelings towards how I see the pandemic. The first (Photo 1) would be a picture my mother took of my when we had a barbeque at home. When the picture was taken there was a massive puff of smoke coming from the chicken and the wind decided to blow it straight into my eyes! I did not want to have to retake the picture again since I was busy minding the food, so I powered through it and gave her my best smile. I think it is important for us to sometimes keep smiling and moving forward and hope for the best in life, no matter what the situation is. When life gives you lemons, go out and buy other herb and spices and make the best damn chicken and share it with the ones you love.
The second picture (Photo 2) is one I took a while back during a trip in Japan. We were at semi-private onsen joint, and I simply could not resist taking a picture with a beautiful sunset in the background. It is a reminder for us that even as the sun sets for the day, we will eventually be able to see it again tomorrow. No matter how much you try to rush it, the sun will not be seen until it is time once again. I feel that it is relevant to all of us, especially during these trying times.
Photo 4 : Mike Magik getting it turnt in Korea somewheres.
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