Amanda and I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful fellow fans, and people we would have likely never crossed paths with otherwise. Recently, another such moment occurred when Amanda texted me while I was camping in the middle of a forest in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington (shout out for wi-fi!), letting me know that Dom was a featured guitar player for a new song by someone named Michael Kratz out of Denmark. I diligently downloaded the song when I got home, and enjoyed the slight flashback to the 80s in the process. I blogged about it, and assumed that would be the end of the story, right?
A few weeks later, I got an email from Michael himself, thanking me for writing about it, and offering me the chance to get an early copy of another unreleased song that also features Dom.
First of all, I have to tell you that Michael is the real deal. He’s a very nice guy, with a fantastic career to boot. I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of him prior to August of this year, but like most other things in life—the more you know, the more you recognize you really don’t know. Secondly, Michael Kratz is a Duranie. Who knew?!? (turns out, a lot of Duran fans did. I’m just a bit late to the party, as usual!) I promptly asked Michael if he’d be willing to do a short Q&A for me since I know next to nothing about him, to which he agreed, and it wasn’t long after that I had new music and a Q&A in my inbox greeting me.
If I had to sum up Michael in one word, it would be “authentic”. He is genuine in every sense, including his approach to music, which he describes as “old school”. His sound gives a loud shout out to the 1980’s, and Michael embraces this.
“I think my sound is pretty old-school. After many years in the music business I figured out, that I must be honest to myself and my roots. I have released several albums with different bands, but it was difficult for me to relate to the way the music was produced.”
He likes to call his brand of music West Coast, and if you think back to bands like Toto, Michael McDonald, Richard Marx, Marc Jordan…and I’d even add a bit of Cutting Crew to that list…his music fits in very well in that lineup. Rather than try to be something he’s not, he found a producer, namely Kasper Viinburg (and his father Ole Viinburg) who understood and appreciated the sound he was trying to attain. I think any of us who have been around for the entire evolution of Duran Duran recognize how difficult it can be to find a producer that is equal parts of push and pull (pushing to reach new levels, pulling the authentic, real sound out).
Having grown up on the west coast, I certainly heard a lot of that music on the radio. If you take a look at my iTunes, you’ll see quite a bit of that in my library as evidence. It isn’t a stretch for me to listen to “What Did I…”. As I listen to the opening notes, I can’t help but think of Richard Marx, in the same way that I thought of Toto or Michael McDonald when I heard “Never Take Us Alive”. While sure, the sound isn’t necessarily pulse-pounding, state-of-the-art EDM, it is clear, authentic, and real, which I appreciate. Dom’s guitar gives the melody a modern edge without completely blowing the song out of the water. There’s something to be said in this day and age for music that holds true to the roots of the writer while seeking to be contemporary. “What Did I…” hits all of those notes. A little something more I picked up on after listening several times— Dom’s blues influence is evident. I challenge anyone to give this a listen, and then take “Please, Please” from Dom’s Blue to Brown for a spin. The similarities are there for the taking.
Overall, I’m thrilled to help out a fellow Duranie. There’s a part of me that finds a certain poetic justice in the fact that once again, it’s Duran Duran’s music that brings people together. I may have never heard of Michael had Dom never recorded with him. Yet here I am, writing about how like many of us, Michael recorded Sing Blue Silver from TV back in 1985, and he rewound and played “Save a Prayer” over and over again because he loved the song so much. Who hasn’t done that with their own favorite song or band member? Michael has also had the chance to see the band quite a bit over the years, although because he’s a musician in his own right, he’s missed opportunities. Michael cites a story that only seems familiar to me because my overall luck has been similar.
“Back in 2008 when DD played in Odense (DK), I was playing in a venue right next to the stage. I got to see the support act (Saybia) and 10 minutes before DD should enter the stage I had to leave for my own soundcheck. So while tuning my drums I could hear the band’s starter, The Valley, and I couldn’t go out to see them. That was a bad day!”
While we’re on common ground as far as being fans goes, I can’t say I’ve ever missed a DD concert because a gig of my own was happening at the same time! Then there’s meeting and recording with a fellow musician who just happens to tour with Duran Duran…
“I just wrote him [Dom Brown] an email one Sunday afternoon. I sent him some tracks and we talked about styles etc. and agreed to meet in October last year. My producer and I stayed with Dom at his studio for two days and we did two songs (“Never Take Us Alive” and “What Did I ..?”. He is very nice and it was very easy to work with him.”
Michael Kratz is one hard-working musician. “What Did I…” is due out tomorrow, so grab your copy! His new album, Live Your Life, which includes “What Did I…”, is due out October 26. In addition to Dom, Michael worked Steve Lukather of Toto, Michael Landau (Michael Jackson, Richard Marx), and David Garfield (George Benson). He describes the album as ranging from the classic pop/rock vibe heard in “What Did I…” to a more modern Brit-pop, which intrigues me. He also has re-recorded his first album, Cross that Line, which was just released, and then on November 30, he will release a double live-album that was recorded in February of 2017.
If being hard-working in the studio isn’t enough, Michael is also easy to connect with online. He’s no slouch to social media, and MANY Duranies have already found him on Facebook as well. (I dare say that I know of a guitar player that could learn a little something about self-promotion from him)
I want to thank Michael for pushing me to get back in touch with my own roots. Since first hearing his music, I find myself gravitating to my old Cutting Crew and Toto albums, which has been a refreshing change of pace. There’s something about the authenticity in the music that I’ve been enjoying, and it’s good to hear someone like Michael staying true to himself. The fact that he’s also a Duranie is a bonus! I look forward to staying in touch and keeping up-to-date with what he’s working on.
“What Did I…” and “Never Take Us Alive” are available on all digital platforms worldwide (“What Did I…” drops tomorrow!), and they’re also available as CD’s from Michael’s website http://www.michaelkratz.net.
If you want to connect with Michael Kratz (and I really think you should!), check him out:
Michael on Facebook
Michael on Twitter
Michael on Instagram