I’ve always loved a good “create your own destiny” story. The guy that bought airtime for his first radio show and now running a nationally syndicated show. The guy that began writing code for a new website and in spite of everyone telling him he was crazy, turned Facebook into reality and himself in a billionaire. The Maverick of Music Row who took the distribution of his unique style of music in his own hands. He began selling albums out of the back of his van and just surpassed the 500000 mark making him the first artist in history to reach Gold in this unconventional way.
Mikel Knight began writing music when he was 11 years old and signed an independent record deal when he was 17. He grew up listening to some of the classics such as Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, and Lynyrd Skynard but when it was his time to make music he found himself straying from this classic style. He calls it “urban country” and says what they all have in common is they rebelled against their parents country. The music transformed into this. His style is unique, his energy is relentless and his story has many chapters left to write. Got Country Online had a chance to talk to Mikel Knight about life, his music and what’s next for him.
GCO: You describe your music as “urban country”? Was this always your style or did you merge into it?
MK: I call it urban country, some call it hick hop. It’s not my own genre by any means but I was one of the pioneers of it. All the artists in the genre seem to have something in common. We all rebelled against our parent’s music. Hip Hop was so big in the 90s and that’s what I gravitated toward. Thank God my music taste got better and I definitely did transform my sound.
GCO: Is there a lot of competition in this style?
MK: Colt Ford is dominating at the moment but right now there are 8-10 artists performing this style of music. We have a friendly rivalry going on. There are millions of dollars to be made in hick hop and everyone wants a piece. Everyone is really friendly but no one works together too much unless they are under the Average Joe’s umbrella. Everyone wants to be the one to take this mainstream, to capitalize on this subculture that we created. Seven years ago there was nothing like this around. Big & Rich were touching on it but hadn’t developed fully.
GCO: You started selling out of the back of a van?
MK: I’m a workhorse and keep moving all the time. Its kind of a “lets not talk about it, lets go sell some records” so that when we finally start talking about it we have a number worth talking about. That’s kind of where we are at this juncture. It took me probably 15 months to get my formula together and in that time we sold maybe 150000. Since January we have moved the most, about 350000 CDs. Today we are sitting at about 510000 albums and 60000 shirts. My clothing line got a nice boost. We are projected to be at a million albums by January 2015. We are very confident that we are going to reach that.
GCO: Where do you draw inspiration? Where did you get this creativity and work ethic?
MK: I think its sort of reverse inspiration. I think I’m part of the new American way of life which is being abandoned by your family and having to struggle on your own. Dealing with loss of family and this economy I probably had a lack of inspiration and mentorship. I chose to be the opposite. From an early age I wanted to be something and change that course for my children, so to speak. Also, I’m a big history buff. I’m more inspired by real life people. I’m more inspired by the kid that beat cancer and wrote a book. People like that really inspire me but most comes from a lack thereof.
GCO: What can we expect next from you?
MK: I’m launching my own clothing line. I have my own headphones line. I have several albums under my label that we will be putting out. We are working toward a TV show based around my life as well. Finally, are going to sell a million records by January.
GCO: What is something unique about you that not everyone knows?
MK: I have 2 murderers thumbs. Look it up. Only 2% of the population has 1 and I have 2 of them.
GCO: What motivates you to keep going?
MK: I don’t make music or sell music for myself. I sell music for others. My label is Christian based and we are about helping people. I employ 65 second chance country boys from all over the nation. It’s our pleasure to give back. We represent Safe Haven Family Shelter out of Nashville and we donate tens of thousands of dollars annually to them. This year we have a huge pledge for them. We are going to try to double our goal and give them $100000. We help a lot of families out there. We donate back to music city and are proud to do so.
Mikel Knight has the #1 and #2 Top Line Dance Hits in the country bars around the world, has been featured in MTV‘s “Buck Wild”, has helped pave the way for a new sub genre of country and has had unprecedented album sales. However, it’s his character that shines the brightest. Focusing on others while working relentlessly he has quite literally done the impossible.
His new album “Urban Cowboy” is currently available HERE on his website.