Basic Apes Productions
By David A. Mitchell
Micah Otano and Mike Barkulis (aka Mike B), collectively known as Basic Apes Productions, are on the verge to being the music industry’s next big songwriting-production team. Based out of their Canyon Country, Calif. studio, the pair is signed through Hot City Music Group, part of Steve Rifkind’s SRC Universal.
Micah and Mike, both in their early twenties, met in 2003 while attending Full Sail Recording Arts College in Orlando, Florida. Micah (from Lacey, Washington), an accomplished jazz and classical pianist, has a musical background that hails from the smooth jazz world, and has worked with artists like Brian Culbertson and Dave Koz. Mike B (Bloomington, Illinois), is proficient at engineering, drum programming and string arrangements, and worked with a number of up and coming R&B/Hip-Hop artists.
Together their chemistry is electric. Their Pop songs consist of big melodies and climactic arrangements, while their smooth jazz tracks, like the ones they’ve done for saxophone Eric Darius, have a funkdafied R&B/Hip-Hop edge, certain to enlist a lot of younger fans. Their overall versatile sound and vibe defies category, allowing Basic Apes to effectively craft good music for any genre.
Currently, the guys are racking up numerous placements, writing and producing with such accomplished melody/lyricists like former Underdogs writers Steve Russell and James Fauntleroy; with Luke of singer-songwriting duo Luke & Q; and Lonnie Breaux (who wrote the recent John Legend/Brandy duet, “Quickly”).
Basic Apes has also been working with SRC-Universal artist Shire’ (with a track by the name of “Rewind,”) veteran rapper Twista, Pop/R&B songstress Shanice, actor Malik Yoba (who has a new album coming), and American Idol powerhouse Fantasia Barino. The guys have also spent a great deal of time circling the globe, accompanying artists such as Twista while playing for our troops in Iraq, and as band-members for singer-songwriter Solange Knowles on her most recent tour.
“It’s been a busy time for us, but what we’re really focused on is building a great catalog of songs,” says Mike B. “We don’t set out to simply make a song specifically for something. We set out to make great songs, period, in hopes that it will be a perfect fit for the right artist.”
His partner Micah agrees saying, “The goal is to continue to get with the best writers that are out there. It’s been great working with guys who’ve written with the Underdogs, a production team who really inspired us. We’d love to get the opportunity to work with writers like Sean Garrett, Makeba Riddick or Adonis. But I believe that this is going to be the year that changes everything forever for us”