Interviews \

Mike Shinoda Talks Making an Album on Twitch and Life After Quarantine

"I’m playing with a bunch of ideas, and when something feels ready for the world, I’ll make it known"

Despite being in quarantine for the past four-plus months, Mike Shinoda hasn’t only found time to stay busy, he’s managed to be productive. The Linkin Park/Fort Minor singer has used his time at home to hang out with his kids, jam on new tunes by Run the Jewels, Thundercat, Trash Talk, and of course, to make new music.

But what’s garnered the most attention lately have been Shinoda’s Twitch streams. During these sessions, Shinoda, with the input of his fans, has managed to create new music, and sometimes, he might just drop a nugget (like this one about Linkin Park). The way the streaming schedule played out, four days were dedicated to making music, while one was spent working on visual art. And thus, an album was born.

Shinoda is releasing that new solo album, Dropped Frames, Vol. 1, this Friday (July 10). SPIN caught up with Shinoda via email who explained how Twitch became a part of his daily routine, his tips for parents to stay sane during the quarantine and if any of his “other” projects will be releasing new music any time soon.

SPIN: How did Twitch become a daily part of your life? Were you doing anything with it before the lockdown?
Mike Shinoda: I just fell into it. I streamed a few studio sessions on other platforms, and the fans said Twitch had the best quality. There aren’t a ton of people making music on Twitch at this point, people mostly use it to perform, not create. I’ve always felt there was a way to use it that other musicians didn’t — or couldn’t — do. Now that I’ve built a community there, I can say there’s something special about the culture, at least on my channel. It’s more positive than any other social media channel I’m on.

What’s been your daily routine while in quarantine?
Funny you should say that because one of the things that attracted me to streaming this way was the routine of it. I wake up around 7:30, eat breakfast with my kids around 8 am, prep for my stream starting around 9 am, start at 10, and end the stream around 1 pm. After that, it’s a little more loose. But I like having a more rigid routine at the start of the day.

How did you get into Animal Crossing?
I don’t even consider myself an Animal Crossing streamer, to be honest. I might stream an AC game once every two weeks —I like streaming that game because it’s slow-paced and I can still read the chat and talk to the fans.

Has gaming helped you with parenting during quarantine?
Besides having a routine, I think it helps to create some kind of structure in your life. Set expectations, set goals. Set times to chill and unwind. Have meals together. And one of the most important things we do at my house is a daily reminder of gratitude. As part of our bedtime routine, I ask my kids each day, “What are you grateful for?” My son had a crappy day last week, and he had a hard time answering that question — but those are the times when a reflection about gratitude is even more important.

Besides the obvious, how did the collaborative process change for you on this record?
I’ve been letting a current of chance and curiosity guide me for the past few years. Those things were important to me forever, but even more so right now. And that plays into the interconnectedness of creating things on the fly. For example, on my channel, I let fans submit song style suggestions into a bowl, and I’ll pick a few of them to mash up together. Often times, they’ll submit things I don’t know anything about or things I actually don’t like. On the stream, I’ve mashed up Kpop, melodic metal, horrorcore rap, video game music, country, and “a song in the style of the Pokemon Mew.” Keeping an open mind to the styles and finding a way to make them sound cool to my ear is often a challenge, but it’s almost always entertaining. And I learn a lot.

Did you find this to be a stopgap measure that could be a way to do things in the future or is it literally a stopgap measure?
I think, if a vaccine was released tomorrow and everything went back to the way it was, I’d still be streaming. I definitely enjoy it and I think there’s a way for it to evolve into future creative projects.

Will there be a second volume of Dropped Frames? How do you envision it happening?
I’m already working on Vol. 3, actually! I make so much music on the channel, there’s a lot of material to get out there. I feel like, when I get bored of doing it this way, it’ll force me to adapt.

Are you working any new material
Yep. The first question is always, “Linkin Park?” The answer to that is, no. I’m playing with a bunch of ideas, and when something feels ready for the world, I’ll make it known.

What about Fort Minor? 
You never know! We’ll see if the wind blows in that direction.