Uncovering Nik Mystery: Mike Dawes Discusses His New Band with Jukka Backlund and Periphery's Spencer Sotelo

[from left] Jukka Backlund, Spencer Sotelo and Mike Dawes (Image credit: Frankie Jazz)

Mike Dawes is known primarily for his incredible acoustic guitar compositions, in which he utilizes all manner of extended techniques — including fretboard tapping and percussive hits on the guitar’s body — to craft three-dimensional arrangements that cover bass, harmony, melody and rhythm in stunningly executed one-man-band instrumentals. So it’s safe to say his newest project, Nik Mystery, on which Dawes trades in his acoustic for an electric to play in a trio alongside Finnish producer and multi-instrumentalist Jukka Backlund and Periphery singer Spencer Sotelo, is something of a left turn for the British guitarist. As for what the music on Nik Mystery’s debut five-song EP, When, sounds like?

Dawes says you could call it “alternative synth-laden pop-rock,” but, he admits, that “doesn’t really have a ring to it. So we call it ‘Popwave.’ It’s sort of sun-tinged retro pop music from the Eighties. Synthwave in part, but pop in essence.”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.