MYX Headliner: Mike Shinoda Talks About All His Firsts
Mike Shinoda for MYX Philippines - about his first performance, first song written, his first job and more
📅 September 2019
📺 MYX Philippines
📖 3 min read
Probably at the piano recitals when I was a kid, maybe 6 or 7, probably around there, maybe even younger. The first time I actually did singing or anything like that was with a youth theater group. There was a youth group that was just a group to hang out with other kids, and one of the things the group did was a musical performance. We did West Side Story and all this theatre stuff. And honestly, I didn’t love it, it wasn’t my favorite thing but I did it, it was fun to do with my friends. We’d rehearse shows, and obviously there’s a director and a little band of, like, four people playing this stuff live and we were doing the reading lines and singing songs.
First song written
First song I wrote was on piano. It was probably inspired half by videogames and half by movies about medieval stuff because I was way into Dungeons & Dragons and stuff like that. I actually should say, I wasn’t way into it but I would draw my own characters and I had a friend who put together little games, he knew more about how to do Dungeons & Dragons, those levels and whatever. But it was really loose, we weren’t using Dungeons & Dragons kits or whatever, and he would make up the stories and I would draw the characters. And I wrote this piece of music that was probably inspired by that kind of a thing and I entered it into this little contest that my piano teacher was having. I was probably 11 or 12 or something and I won first place. And other people in the contest were like 16-17 years old so I felt like I was pretty cocky. [laughs]
How much was the prize?
50 dollars or something so I bought a bunch of art supplies. Actually, I probably bought a video game. To be honest, I probably bought a Nintendo game.
I know I drew characters that would fit inside the games that I loved playing, Mega Man for example. The format of that game, for people who have never seen it, is really simple. You’re this little blue character with a gun arm and every level that you go to - the level has a theme like Fire Man or Leaf Man, and if you beat Leaf Man - his weapon is a leaf and he fights you with it - and then when you beat him you get to have it, so you can select between your regular gun and leaf gun. So that happens for each level so that’s a great, that’s an easy concept. I started making my own something-men. I don’t remember what they were, I don’t know, Trash Man that throws trash… [smiles] I don’t know, I’m making that up but that’s the idea, I remember doing that.
First album you bought with your own money?
First album I bought with my money was Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill on vinyl. I don’t even know if cassettes were then... Cassettes may have been out, CDs weren’t out but I know I got it on vinyl because we had a record player at the house and that’s super old. I still have it though, it’s not warped or anything. I took good care of my record.
First instrument you bought?
The first instrument… We had a piano, an upright piano in the house and then at some point I asked for a keyboard. I was super obsessed with Dr. Dre, I didn’t even realize it till later that I had literally bought everything that he produced up to a certain point. So yeah, I wanted to get a keyboard so I can try and make sounds like he was making.
I think the first job I ever had was working at my uncle’s produce farm. He had this warehouse in central California where they would grow and box up oranges and grapes, mostly fruit. I think there’s probably 15 or 20 people working there and I went out there for the summer and boxed fruit. Mostly people didn’t speak English, they all spoke Japanese or Spanish. I didn’t have any friends, just everybody was older. [laughs] I was a teenager and these people are like 20. They looked like 30 or 40 years old so I just worked 10-hour days and then went home with as much money as I could save.