Virginia-bred artist Mike E got his start in the music industry working with heavyweights like Teddy Riley and The Neptunes. In recent years Mike has moved away from secular and headed more towards Gospel. Mike took some out to chop it up with Reviews & Dunn.
Reviews & Dunn: You grew up in Virginia. When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Michael Etheridge: It was when Pharrell, Chad and I made it into Teddy Riley’s studio after weeks of knocking on the door and being turned away by security LOL. We got in and performed for him. I think It was then I knew this was a part of my destiny
Reviews & Dunn: You were one of the original members of The Neptunes. How did you meet Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo?
Michael Etheridge: I met Pharrell in the band. He and I were in the drum line together. He introduced me to Chad and we started going to Chad’s house like every day after school to work on music.
Reviews & Dunn: What was your experience like as Teddy Riley’s protégé?
Michael Etheridge: It was nothing short of amazing. Listening to him, create and mix records for superstars like Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and even so many more, it literally trained my ears. Especially when it comes to vocal production. This was the kind of learning experience money can’t buy.
Reviews & Dunn: “Master Plan” was a fire slow jam back in 2000. Why didn’t you ever drop a full album?
Michael Etheridge: The full album was done, and Capitol records picked it up when Teddy’s label was dropped from Interscope. I wanted to change directions when I got with Capitol. I wanted to do music that included God. Similar to what I do now, but less refined. They said no way! So that was the end of that. I stood on my faith. That is why that album never came out.
Reviews & Dunn: You worked with No Malice, formerly of The Clipse, on “Still Got Love” Before collaborating, had your paths ever crossed?
Michael Etheridge: Oh yes, No Malice and I have always been cool. Before the music. I used to go to a weed spot he and another guy had. LOL Then when I got saved everyone knew. So when he got saved I kind of became someone he could talk to, who could relate to his new walk with Christ. We had been cool for years prior that though.
Reviews & Dunn: This past summer you linked up with Slater Joel for the song “Breakthrough” How did he come to your attention?
Michael Etheridge: Slater came to my attention when he was singing praise and worship at the Mount Baptist Church in Chesapeake. I first heard him sing at a men’s conference, and I was like OMG who is this guy? I wasn’t just his voice, but the anointing that I felt when he sang. I knew then, I have to work with this guy.
Reviews & Dunn: You get a phone call from Tyler Perry, who wants you to compose the music for a Christian Hip Hop themed musical where you can pick any story from the bible. What story would you choose and why?
Michael Etheridge: That’s funny, I am currently in negotiations for a film developmental deal with my company. We have expanded into GnextLife Films. So that question is confirmation! But I would choose the woman caught in adultery. I think that would make for an edgy story line. My films will be faith based, but will dig into some areas we don’t normally see in Christian film. Drugs, Sex and Murder. Yet, the message will ALWAYS BE redemptive!
Reviews & Dunn: Who is your bucket list of artists you would like to work with?
Michael Etheridge: My bucket list artist would be Leandria Johnson. She is my favorite singer. I know I would write something CRAZY for her!
Reviews & Dunn: What advice can you offer to anyone looking to pursue a music career?
Michael Etheridge: DON’T…HAHA J/K. My advice would be for anyone who is an artist to diversify! Think about yourself as a brand verse solely and artist. Must is devalued. It costs less to consume more! SO you have to have other streams of income.
Reviews & Dunn: You named your label GnextLife. What was the inspiration behind the title?
Michael Etheridge: The Label name is twofold, The G stands for GOD, as well as Gangster. I have experienced the church and the streets. So there is the duality and it defines who I serve as well as who I can relate to. NextLIfe is about just that. Eternal life. There is always a next. Even when you leave this earth. So you must prepare your spirit for your next LIFE! As well as receive what is next for you while here on earth. Which form me includes spreading the word.
Reviews & Dunn: What was the motivation behind your single Faith that dropped recently?
Michael Etheridge: Faith was inspired by a mission to bring clarity to the perception of our Faith. Today many people have no idea why they believe what they do. So do you really believe? I want to bring the Kingdom to the culture. Not put culture over the Kingdom. Faith is like the appetizer lol. So people always associate what is that we do, with our faith. No matter how innovative and daring it may be.
Reviews & Dunn: Where can fans find you on social media, and is there anything you would like to add?
Michael Etheridge: Always Keep GOD first! Fans can find me on social media at MichaelEtheridge757, _mikeetheridge or gnextlife on IG …….Michael Etheridge or Mike E. on Facebook