Mike LaJoie has been with Allovus since 2010, and he knows a thing or two about design, icons, and all things visual/technical. But I bet you didn’t know that Mike has a hidden talent.
To discover what it is, we’re going to take you back in time. A little trip back to the late 1980s—back when electronic music was cool and bands with weird haircuts ruled. You see, Mike LaJoie’s secret talent is music… and not just any music, friends. Mike LaJoie has a Depeche Mode cover band.
Allovus: When did you first get into music?
Mike: I played the trumpet in band from 7th through 10th grade. I was always better at learning by ear than reading music. After 10th grade I switched from trumpet to percussion: drum line, xylophone and vibes. I picked up rhythm and chords from that. I never took piano lessons. That part is all self-taught. I was as much interested in the composition of sounds as I was with the actual performing.
Mike: All through high school, my buddies and I were very much into Depeche Mode. In 11th grade, we said “Let’s try playing some of their songs.” We had a drummer, but we didn’t have much computer stuff. I would learn all the parts on the keyboard by ear, memorize it, and teach the others to play them. I also sing backup harmonies.
Allovus: What did you like about Depeche Mode?
Mike: Depeche Mode is known for creating new sounds, not just on the keyboard. I loved the idea of making something new. I wanted to recreate the sound.
Allovus: Is your band still together? We heard rumors…
Mike: Sort of! In the summer of 2013, we got the Depeche Mode cover band back together for our 25th high school reunion in Orange County, California. It was the first time since 1989 that we all played together. I created all the backing music on the computer this time around. I sent the band members MP3s and they used those tracks to practice until I came down to join them. We only had a couple rehearsals together before the reunion. We also played the next night at a new wave bar coincidentally owned by someone I went to high school with. That was a lot of fun!
Allovus: Do you play music outside of your Depeche Mode cover band?
Mike: I do. Today, I write original stuff.
Allovus: Do you think playing in a band helped prepare you for your current career in design?
Mike: Absolutely! There are a lot of similarities in composing digital music and composing designs. Creative problem solving is important in both. Learning synthesizers and how to program them to make the sound I was hearing in my head is very much like audible graphic design. Sequencing a song is much like animation. You have a timeline and points where notes play different instruments. Playing music definitely has made me a better designer.
To listen to some of Mike’s work, checkout his SoundCloud page!
Also check out the video of the band playing at his high school classmate’s new wave bar, the day after the reunion.