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Be Brave – Be A One Man Band

Mike Tompkins tells us to embrace our imperfections and get ourselves out in the world.

Besides being a bonafide YouTube superstar with 300 million views, Mike Tompkins has toured the world with Jonas Brothers, produced music for Jennifer Hudson and Timberland, starred on the Ellen Degeneres Show, and collaborated with the Muppets!

His unique souped-up one-man show is changing the face of Acapella music one pop remix at a time.

What drew you into the world of YouTube?
Coming from a frustrating place of constantly creating music and it never seeing the light of day, YouTube gave me the option of consistently creating music and building an audience that would anticipate those creations.

Rihanna - Only Girl - A Capella Cover - Just Voice and Mouth - Mike Tompkins FEAT. SHAD - beatbox

How have you got your music out to the masses?
Covers have been a great way to build audience. From the beginning that was my strategy and it has helped make my original music successful as well.

Do you do live performances as well?
I’m so thankful I’ve got to travel the world because of the worldwide audience that watches my videos. My live show is like live looping on crack! It’s a mixture of live looping and pre-recorded ‘acapella sounds’ and visuals.

First gig you ever did?
My first performance was on the Ellen show. I didn’t know what I was doing – I had sung in the studio but never live. I was nervous, and I think that came through. However, I am still grateful for that opportunity.

A performance FAIL?
I was on tour opening up for the Jonas Brothers. We were in Dallas in the middle of the hot summer. My live show requires a computer and as I started performing my computer literally melted – It was so hot! I couldn’t perform and had to buy a new computer.

You just never know what is going to catch on. If you don’t put yourself out there you’ll never find out

What obstacles have you had to overcome to succeed?
In the beginning I was constantly tearing myself down which would keep me from releasing music. Now I’m ok with the fact that whatever I create might not be perfect. It’s been the projects that I thought were terrible that have been the most successful. You just never know what is going to catch on. If you don’t put yourself out there you’ll never find out.

Give us a tip on performing in front of the camera?
I always envision my audience behind the lens. There are thousands of people behind the lens which gives me adrenaline.

Your videos look great – what equipment do you use?
Right now I’m using the BMPCC. A simple camera that gives a beautiful cinematic look. I love creating with Premiere and After Effects.

A few ingredients of a memorable vocal performance?
When I’m writing music the most important thing is capturing feeling as I am writing. I make sure I am recording the final vocal as I am writing the song. Too many times I’ve gone back to re-sing parts and haven’t been able to capture the same emotion as I did when I was writing the song.

When I’m writing music the most important thing is capturing feeling as I am writing

Favorite vocal gear?
My vocal chain is pretty important, but find something that works for you. My chain might not sound the best for you and vice-versa. I’m using Neumann U87 and LA610 pre-amp.

Have you ever been star struck?
Yes. When I met Miss Piggy. When I got to work with the muppets it was a dream come true. I wanted to be a muppet puppeteer when I was a kid, so when the moment came I didn’t know what to do with myself.


Mike Tompkins is a producer, director and artist who cut his teeth on YouTube. With around 300 million views, he approaches his artistry with raw instinct, technical savvy and a mix of storytelling. He redefines Acapella music by crafting youthful and inspiring pop remixes. He has produced music for Timbaland & Jennifer Hudson, and has toured with The Jonas Brothers and Lindsey Stirling.

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