At a summer soiree hosted at the home of C.R.E.M CEO Curtis Reynolds, I got the opportunity to meet Mike McCluney, affectionately known as Big Mike. Mike, along with dear friend Tanganyika Watts-Davis my wife Renee and I chatted on the lush green lawn, sipping on lemonade and trying as he put it “relaxing from this heat!”
Fast forward months later, as Big Mike and I carved out some well-deserved time to breathe, connect and catch up. I thought I was always on the go, Big Mike takes it to the next level, which fits his motto which is under his brand logo so aptly: “Do It Big Or Not At All.” So of course, I had to go big with the Q&A, simply because Mike’s is a talent that deserves to be heard, a must I should say in today’s myriad musical industry. While many remember his time with Day26, the hoops that Sean Puffy Combs had the members jump through to reach and grasp that gold ring called fame, Big Mike seemed reserved at times. Almost akin to his watching, studying, learning and taking in all he could to grow and become even more powerful as an artist, mentor and established part of this industry.
This interview surely reflects that belief.
CW: Big Mike! Hello brother!
BM: Hey how you doing man! It’s hot out here! Finished wrapping up a meeting and on to the next one, no rest!
CW: I can understand that. Definitely appreciate you giving us the opportunity to share what been going on with that brother that’s doing it BIG, BIG MIKE! BM: Hey, I appreciate Urban Tymes as well!
CW: Well let us get to the meat of the matter so to speak Mike, and get our readers and your fans ready for what happening with Big Mike!
CW: Mike, you’re known to be the well versatile, well rounded performer fluent in many gifts, how important is that? To be able to do all that you do?
BM: Well, I think the biggest thing that helps, is when it comes to reinventing yourself. To give your fans something to watch and to truly be entertained by, To not only be able to go on stage and sing, but you have to be able to keep them entertained, mainly by being able to portray what you are actually singing about. There’s really nothing that I can’t do on stage, so that’s really the biggest key that I take from it, it’s kinda like you have to be a “jack of all trades” in today’s industry, because everyone has seen everything, so you have to do it in order to be able to get to the next level or to be able to go from one thing to the next.
CW: Well many of your fans know you as that soulful balladeer from the group Day 26, but how has that transition from you being a member of a group that was out there in the public’s eye to your now amazing solo career?
BM: Well the transition has been a little rough, only because how I wanted to build my brand Big Mike and because how I went about doing it. But as far has me going out and getting things done, to breaking off singing from the group, it was primarily easy because I’ve always been able to do this. Like I’ve always been making music and performing. I was performing by myself before I became a member of the group Day 26, so I could do it after the group, while we are taking this break. So that transition was easy, but I must say at first it was weird, because I was used to having four other members on stage with me, right beside me signing, but its fine. But for the most part the transition has been cool, because I’ve always been this kind of artist….. now me being me, do whatever I have to do now to give good music.
CW: Ok so let’s reflect 2010 single dubbed Sextape, was well received….how has your music grown from then until now?
BM: My music has grown tremendously. I’ve been through a lot more from that time until now. I’ve had a lot of heartache, a lot more happier movements, a lot more pain…just different situations in my life, I’ve lived a lot more since then and that’s what makes great music! Things that you go through on a daily basis, is what makes life possible, is what makes music so great. Being able to make sure you relate to the people. In 2010 I didn’t go through the things that I’ve gone through in 2015, and it’s made me a better person. I now have much more to say and much more to give to my fans to helps someone through something or to give someone guidance through a situation.
CW: Very good bro! Wow, so let’s keep talking about that music, your music. Got a chance to listen to your new single “How Do I Go On” definitely a banger, hands down!
BM: Man, thank you!
CW: I mean really, this single show a definitive style and range of “pure R&B ” and of course, we’ve heard of other singles that you’ve done that followed that caliber, such as “Time Machine” and “Cold Mutha” so what’s been the concept or motivation behind the songs that you are making?
BM: Well, basically the motivation behind it has been I want to get back to real music. I want people to be able to relate to it, I want people to feel good when they hear it. I grew up in a time to where when you heard a song; it made you feel some kind of way. I mean a song that make you feel the same way for years and years to come, it wasn’t like a cheap thrill like just for that time span or time period, you felt some kind of way then but years later, then you can’t listen to it any more. You reflect, and it doesn’t make sense or connect to you anymore. So now, I like to give music that is really emotional, things that people actually go through and can relate to, no matter when or what time they listen to it. To sing about how you turn someone cold from a relationship, or question how you can be separated from the person you truly love, all those different scenarios. For me, it’s about capturing those moments and being real. That’s the kind of music that I want to do now.
CW: So what we expect about your upcoming album? If you could tell you fans what they are in for?
BM: Off the EP that I’m about to put out, you can expect great music, a lot of real music! Everything that I write, everything I put out, it has a personal message to it, and it is real. I don’t put out anything that I don’t feel, that’s the biggest part. I know a lot of people that buy music and they don’t have any way to relate to it or the music doesn’t make sense to them, but it’s just me out here, and how it happened to me, that’s what I’m giving to the people. Not really any type of genre, I just want people to have open ears, and hear me, no matter what.
CW: Ok, so shifting gears, you’re riding around, windows down in the vehicle, beautiful day, what does Big Mike have on deck to listen to? What’s your playlist?
BM: Oh man, that question always gets me (laughing) Well when I put on the radio station wherever I’m at, I listen to all kinds to music, Even when I was a kid, I listened to Gospel, Jazz, Rock, pop, R&B, I’ve always listen to everything, I truly like all kinds, all genres of music. So I guess it depends on whatever mood I’m in. If I’m playing something off my iPod, R&B, I love Tyrese new album “Black Rose” that’s a nice album. Umm…Sam Smith, I like Sara Bareilles. It’s a lot, I have a lot of different artists, its eclectic, and I’ll tell you that!
CW: I must say it’s great to see that even with your busy schedule; you have within you the desire to help young talent. With their vocals, at step events, tell us how important is it to you to mold and guide the talent of the future?
BM: Well it’s very important to me! To give the youth of today their opportunity to live out their dreams and do the things that they imagine because they are the tomorrow.
They are who we are leaving everything to. I didn’t have that kind of stepping stone as a kid, so I want to be able to give that to someone else, so they will not have to do the same things that I did just to get here. I’m just trying to make things easier for the next generation or for the next kid in line to get to this point a little earlier than I did. I hear a lot of people talk about wanting to fulfill their dreams but they don’t understand the work behind it. So to be able to educate everyone about this industry and how things go, because they see all the glitz and glamour, but they don’t realize that’s a small percentage of this business. There’s a lot of hard work and thing you don’t see that they don’t show you, unless you are in the industry or a part of it. I want to prepare people for this, and ask “do you really want to be in this?” and if they do, let me give you advice to prepare you.
CW: So here’s a good question, what method or role could we see Big Mike in? Would it be the serious dramatic actor, or playing the hero, or light comedic role? Where do you see yourself on the screen or T.V.?
BM: Well, I can see myself as a serious dramatic role, or a fun goofy role, because that’s a part of me, that’s who I am. The dramatic and serious, I just auditioned for a role not too long ago, where I did a dialogue from the movie “John Q” I read Denzel Washington’s part, it was really good. I have to do a play, it’s a real serious character, and I actually like doing it, because it’s a whole other side of me and I get to be a different person. I would take the serious character, or the goofy, silly one. Yin and Yang, either or!
CW: So you’ve done all these things….. music, choreography, acting, fashion, mentoring, so what the next amazing adventure for Mike?
BM: Well right now, I’m focused on my music, and I’m doing a college tour of all the HBCUs in North Carolina. Getting out performing and doing meet and greets, and just hitting the road, getting back out to the people and showing them what my whole brand is about. Giving them a show, that’s my biggest focus, to pour into people this new music that is coming out. And I’m also a BET Music Matters Artist, in which I’m visiting the schools, I’m at the awards shows, and whatever BET has in store for me, I’m a part of!
CW: Man, congratulations on that! That’s truly big, and says a lot about your hard work and your involvement in this industry! That’s major right there!
BM: Thank you, thank you!
CW: Well folk, get ready for what Big Mike is about to do some major things. Things are about to escalate!
BM: Get ready, get ready, get ready!!! And people can Follow me on my social media via Facebook: I AM BIG MIKE and Michael McCluney . My Twitter: @Mike_day26 . Instagram: 86_bigmike. Youtube: I AM BIG MIKE and visit my website: www.iambigmike.com. I truly appreciate yall!