"A great chill-out album filled with world beat sitar sounds and subtle yet effective percussion and electronica, Secret Songs is like an audio travelogue filled with magical, mystical sounds."
-- 20th Century Guitar
"SECRET SONGS continues Mikés' blend of the sitar with Western sounds and genres -- stringlike keyboards and lap steel guitars make appearances -- to build contemplative melodies that retain the mystery and exoticism of Indian music while also dabbling in jazz, blues and trip-hop."
-- Rene Alvarez, Street Magazine
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
S I T A R * W O R L D J A Z Z
Although many Westerners have been fascinated by the sitar, Stephan Mikés is one of the few who have undergone the years of rigorous one-on-one training in classical Indian music necessary to do justice to this ancient instrument. As a primary student of sitar master Roop Verma, Stephan is part of a teaching lineage that goes back over 600 years and includes Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
He combines his knowledge of Eastern music with the influence of Latin, Middle Eastern, Afro-Cuban, and Carribean rhythms to create compositions which are unique and compelling. In addition to the sitar, Mikés is proficient on guitar, zither, mandolin, lap steel guitar and various types of synthesizers.
Since 1986, Stephan has been performing and perfecting his own
distinctive technique on the sitar. He has released three highly-acclaimed CDs of his modern original world jazz compositions on the independent Akasha label; Before You See, The Good, the Bad and the Karmic and Dakini Beach. Putumayo Records included Medium Rara from The Good, the Bad and the Karmic on their 1996 international release, Putumayo Presents: A World Instrumental Collection alongside such major label world music artists as Ali Akbar Khan, Strunz & Farah, Sharon Shannon and David Hewitt.
Mikés was nominated in three categories for the Florida music industry's 1995 "JAMMY" Awards: Specialty Instrumental, World Beat, and Best Independent Release for The Good, the Bad and the Karmic. Miami's New Times annual "Best of Miami" issue named Stephan "Best Solo Musician," and in the XS Magazine annual guide to Broward and Palm Beach Counties, he was voted "Best New Age Artist."
Stephan has been featured on many local TV affiliates in Florida, the midwest and the northeast U.S. He also appeared as a guest on Family Channel International's show Casa Club Magazine, which airs in Europe and South America. A PBS Special about Stephan and his music, entitled "Sitar Under the Stars: An East/West Fusion" aired for the first time in October 1997 and continues to be shown periodically. In 1996 he was commissioned to compose and perform a piece for Momentum Dance Company, and he also composed, arranged and recorded a soundtrack for "Growing Older," a project produced by WLRN-TV. Stephan has done studio session work for several rock and jazz projects, and even an Irish Celtic release.
One of the few world music artists to transcend traditional boundaries, Stephan Mikés performs for a wide variety of events. He performed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in Boston at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts for fundraisers sponsored by Giorgio Armani. In August 1996, Mikés played for former President Clinton's 50th Birthday Celebration, connected via satellite from the Biltmore in Coral Gables. He has been the featured musician at many black tie events sponsored by Ivana Trump, and has played for prestigious gatherings at places such as Kravis Center, Norton Sculpture Gardens and the Hibel Museum in Palm Beach, Vizcaya in Miami, and the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach. Stephan has also performed at most of the major jazz and rock clubs in South Florida, including Tobacco Road, where he plays periodically and opened for the surf-rocking Mermen. Most recently, Stephan has enjoyed enormous success as a featured musician for many top-rated art festivals throughout Florida and the U.S.
A native of Chicago, Stephan Mikés' musical training began at age seven with the accordion, moving on to guitar at age eleven. His family then moved to Pennsylvania where he played with a number of rock bands during the late '60s. He attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, majoring in philosophy and anthropology.
Having been introduced to the sitar through the Beatles back in the sixties, Stephan put away his guitar in the early eighties and found himself in a yoga class where he met his sitar master, Roop Verma, a student of both Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. For the next six years, Stephan studied classical Indian sitar technique.
Upon moving to Miami, he absorbed the influences of the Haitian, African, Caribbean and Latin rhythms which characterize the South Beach area. "My music is kind of a microcosm of the different cultures in Miami rolled into one," Stephan states. "I took all of their rhythmic and melodic influences, combined it with my classical Indian training, and that's how the music came together."
"I've always had a deep belief in the music," he says. "My loftiest ideal, what I would like to do, is to change the way society thinks about music, and what they think music is for. Of all the things my teacher taught me, one of the most important wasn't about music in the technical aspect. He taught me one of the most basic tenets: What is your intention when you create your music? Whatever the intention is behind your music, that's what
people are going to get, no matter what kind of music it is. It's the intent behind the music that gives it the force to do whatever it does to people. Very few people understand that. The sitar lends a spiritual depth to the music which can take the listener as deep as he or she wants to go."
MORE QUOTES . . .
"The sitar is back. And one of its new, contemporary masters is Stephan Mikés. . . . (He) has created a compelling East-meets-West musical fusion using the sitar and other Eastern instruments along with pedal steel guitar and synthesizers. The sounds may be foreign but the compositional structures are familiar and include pop-like melodic hooks you can hang your head
and heart on."
-- Scott Benarde, Critics' Choice, The Palm Beach Post
"By playing an instrument that developed well outside the melodic boundaries of Western music, Mikés may be the ultimate crossover artist. For proof, look no further than his third and most recent release, The Good, the Bad and the Karmic, on which Mikés successfully fuses the sitar's
distinctive sound and winding Eastern melodies with a wide range of musical styles."
-- Jim Murphy, New Times
"With a slew of Eastern-style instruments, Mikés combines the best of all worlds and creates a masterpiece -- highlighted, of course, by the sitar. Soothing, spiritual and somewhat transcendental, The Good, the Bad and the Karmic was created to take you away and it will."
-- DJ Justice, JAM Magazine
"If you picture a film in which Tom Cruise molds the use of Eastern powers for romantic purposes -- "Zen and the Art of Finding a Chick,' if you will -- this could be the soundtrack."
-- Bob Karlovits, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review