Although many Westerners have been fascinated by the sitar, Stephan Mikes 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 for over 25 years, 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.
P E R F O R M A N C E S
For over 20 years, Stephan Mikés has been delighing audiences and listeners around the world with his performances and compositions. In addition to being featured on international radio and tv programs, incuding a 30-minute PBS special entitled “Sitar Under the Stars: An East/West Fusion,” Stephan has performed at hundreds of music and arts festivals across the United States to millions of listeners.
Mikés’ performances are also a sought-after commodity in the world of celebrity fundraisers and other special events. He has performed at events hosted or attended by such luminaries as Ivana, Ivanka and Donald Trump, Tommy Lee Jones,Lauren Hutton, Arlo Guthrie, the BeeGees, Dennis Hopper, George Hamilton, President Bill Clinton, to name a few -- in venues including the San Francisco Museum of Art, Wang Center for the Performing Arts in Boston, the Hibel Museum and Kravis Center in Palm Beach, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Tampa, and the Colony Theatre, the Biltmore, Vizcaya, and the Versace mansion in Miami. Music from his album The Good, The Bad and The Karmic was used on the soundtrack of a 30-minute commercial feature for Clientele Cosmetics hosted by soap star Hunter Tylo and the legendary vocalist and TV and movie star Shirley Jones, who honored Stephan with the comment: "He's a genius."
Other Musical and Media stars who have enjoyed Stephan's music at various events and venues across the country include Will Smith, Melanie, Dan Ackroyd, Marty Balin, Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In addition to his performances of original world jazz compositions, Stephan Mikés also presents concerts and workshops for healing and meditation at yoga studios and spiritual centers -- the result of 30 years of study and practice in the ancient healing arts of Raja Yoga, Gyan Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kirtan Yoga, and Nada Yoga, the yoga of sound, a tradition dating back to the 3rd century B.C. In addition to 25 years of studies with his primary teacher Acharya Roop Verma, Stephan has trained in techniques of Surat Shabd Yoga with Sant Darshan Singh,and additional years of training and practice with his own spiritual Guru in Raja Yoga.
M E D I A
Media in his adopted hometown of Miami have named Stephan “Best Solo Musician,” “Best Acoustic Performer,” and “Best New Age Artist.” He has shared the stage in a supporting role with such icons as Ravi and Anoushka Shankar and the late bansuri flute master Sachdev. In the world of rock and modern music, Stephan has performed with such greats as Cheap Trick, Donovan, the Mermen, Hot Buttered Rum, Tea Leaf Green, Ekoostic Hookah, and others. Stephan has done a wide range of studio session work for a number of rock and jazz projects (including several produced by Emilio Estefan), and an Irish Celtic release.
D I S C O G R A P H Y
Stephan released his first album of original compositions for the sitar and flute, Before You See, in 1994 to much critical acclaim, followed by The Good the Bad and the Karmic in 1995, which also brought kudos from the critics and earned three Jammy nominations. Putumayo Records selected “Medim Rara” from this recording for inclusion on their hit international release, Putumayo presents: A World Instrumental Collection along with stellar artists such as Strunz & Farah and his own late paramguru, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
Dakini Beach, Stephan’s album of tunes influenced by South Florida’s laid back tropical vibe was released in 1999 folowed by the blues, jazz and triphop flavored Secret Songs of the Sitar Player in 2001, and the followup Secret Songs Volume 2 in 2006. Currently, Mikés is working on a new set of compositions influenced by his two years performing on Ocean Drive in South Beach -- dance beats with a rock flavor and a touch of Bollywood spice.
Stephan also has produced two CDs of traditional Indian music, Twilight: Evening Ragas and Serenity: Afternoon Ragas; Jewel of the Lotus: Sitar Meditations; and Sitar Christmas.
H I S T O R Y
Born in Chicago, Stephan Mikés’ musical training began at age 7 under the tutelage of Maestro Carmelo, virtuoso of the accordian from Italy. He began his guitar training at age 11 and by age 15 he was working as a teacher in the local music store of his new hometown of Somerset, Pennsylvania where his family had moved in the mid 60’s. Throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s, during high school and college, Stephan played in rock bands persuing his love of music while studying cultural anthropology, philosophy and journalism.
In the later 70’s, Stephan moved to South Florida to persue a full time career in music, spending several years exploring the musical influences of the various cultures and traditions represented such as Afro-Cuban, Latin, Reggae, Haitian Rara, Bahamian Goombay and South Beach trancedance.
“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.”
Stephan Mikes / Akasha Productions 5595 SW 80th Street, #C / Miami, FL 33143 USA / (305) 665-4104
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Before You See, the first album from Stephan Mikes received a good deal of critical acclaim, including . . . "For fans of psychedelic world music, this one's a must . . ." -- Dennis Walkling, JAM Magazine, 5-star (highest) rating "The sitar is back. And one of its new, contemporary masters is Stephan Mikes . . . (He) has created a compelling East-meets-West musical fusion using the sitar and other Eastern instrments 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 ". . . The result is a collection of accessible originals, featuring simple, appealing melodies and rhythms, which at turns produce meditative or uplifting feelings."
-- Laura Wilansky, Cafe Society, XS Magazine, on The Good, the Bad and the Karmic: "By playing an instrument that developed well outside the melodic boundaries of Western music, Mikes 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 Mikes 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, Mikes 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
Also, about Dakini Beach : "A master at blending cool Indian inspired ragas with upbeat instrumental world jazz, Mikes is at his best on Dakini Beach, his latest album . . ." -- Robert Silverstein, 20th Century Guitar
And most recently: " 'Secret Songs' continues Mikes 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
"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