There is a good chance you have heard of Mike Gans. And if you have, there is a good chance he and his art have confused you at some point, or still do. Even after talking to him about his art, primarily music, for this column, I can unabashedly say that I am still trying to figure him out too, and am nowhere close to. But that is where the intrigue lies—the ambiguity and overload—if you are brave enough to jump into his impressively diverse agglomeration of songs, paintings, photography and more. In short, his world.
The most important thing to grasp about Gans is that his art relies, for him and the audience, on objectively perceiving his various personas. Mike’s current projects include “MiKe” and
“tasty peaches”. The release from Mike are SoundCloud raps, dripping with feelings, predominantly sadness and a nostalgia for the emo music that he and many others in our generation grew up with. tasty peaches is his newest project/persona. The debut EP, “peaches,” of this name was released this past September. While much of the emotional and lyrical essence is a logical progression from his releases under the Mike and MiKe monikers, tasty peaches differs greatly sonically, pulling from emo much more as well as grunge. He trades in his electronic production and beats for live-tracked instruments, returning to guitar, the instrument he avoided during his previous projects due to carpal tunnel. With tasty peaches, Gans has also begun working with others and playing live shows, something he did not do often earlier in college. Their shows are sludgy, loud and intense. At times during their Sinfonia Halloween show, they felt out of place, but I wanted them to do anything but leave or stop playing. Gans’ art is a darkness that can envelope its audience, yet can be oddly comforting. After following him on various social media and hearing snippets of his music, I have felt this, but it was not until hearing tasty peaches live that it made the most sense.
All that said, Gans and his art are still hard to crack and talking to him just made more questions arise. He blurs the lines between his life and his art expertly and I am left wondering what is part of the act or if there is no act at all. I have yet to meet anyone else at Lawrence like that.
While I cannot say I am a fan of the emo SoundCloud rap scene, I appreciate Gans’ songs and the depth he brings to them. I gained this appreciation through interacting with him and immersing myself in his other work, and I urge you to do the same. He means for it all—his social media, his music, his visual art—to be connected, and the level of which he crafts all of this is pretty incredible. He is embracing the power of creating an online presence and total creative control over a variety of mediums in distinct ways that can be hard to even discuss, and must be experienced. In pieces, there is a disheartening quality to Gans’ art. For a while I was just Facebook friends with him, later following him on Instagram and was, to put it lightly, a bit put off. After hearing his music and seeing his visual art, I was even more unsettled, but by taking it in as art, my interest was piqued. Discussing his creative process with him only solidified the strange feeling I have towards his art that is distinct to this and very little else. Surreal and insightful, but mostly surreal is how I would describe it, and if you talk to him, I have a feeling it will be a similar experience.
My interview with Gans was chock full of bizarre quotes and ideas, a favorite being: “I have no visual artists that I admire whatsoever.” Another involved a long-winded allegory about creating art being like digging a hole in your family’s backyard overnight and turning it into an “ornate pool.” It seemed so real that I had to ask if he actually did this, but he claims to not have. Regardless, conversing with him was a unique experience that really shaped how I take in his work and I look forward to continue doing so—not necessarily in an effort to better understand art, because that should not always be the main goal, but to feel his art and let it move in unexpected ways .
For visual art, sneak peeks at music, personal posts and more, follow Gans on Instagram @mikeis2much. Download the tasty peaches EP and future releases from that project at tastypeachesband.bandcamp.com. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a tasty peaches tour during winter break as well as more shows back on campus.