Multi talented, Myke Chilian is breaking out into the spotlight, balancing his roles as a storyboard artist at Cartoon Network and musician for electro-punk band, The Manx. Despite growing up in California, Myke’s roots are of Armenian origin, where most of his musical influence came from. After saving up from a summer job as a kid, Myke began playing his first bass guitar which landed him in a band throughout high school. As he became more musically experienced, Myke picked up the accordion, believing it to be a more expressive instrument and landing him better chances of being in bands, as the accordion is less common than other sounds.
The Manx creates a unique sound, consisting of banjo, accordion, mandolin, upright bass, and drums. Their style is a blend between Oingo Boingo meets DEVO meets The Locust, with a bunch of surf rock and death metal peppered within. Their current album, “Voyage in Bad Taste” was recorded with good friend and producer, Toshi Kasai. The album’s vibe is a combination of bandmates’ individual ideas, with sporadic, experimental sounds. The use of unconventional instruments were really captured, scratching every itch they ever had by incorporating brass and violin elements on certain tracks. Even Buzz from the Melvins was a vocalist guest on one track. The album name came from a lyric the band had written for a song on the album called “Plasma Rib Tanks.” “It’s hard to describe, but one might say because we have a lot of different styles going on in the album, that to listen to the whole thing is like taking a journey through a sea of bad taste. And we mean that in a very lighthearted way.”
“Transmediterranean Slander Fucks” is Myke’s favorite track on the album because of the ecstatic reaction it receives from the crowd when The Manx play it live. It has a lot of Middle Eastern sounds with a fast paced, kickin’ vibe.
Not only was Myke influenced by bands like Frank Zappa, Primus, and They Might Be Giants, but also found himself highly influenced by film directors, comic book artists, and cartoonists. This lead to his other career, working for Cartoon Network as a writer and storyboard artist on Uncle Grandpa and Rick & Morty. The creator of Uncle Grandpa, Pete Browndgardt allowed for Myke and other board artists to draw and write anything they found exciting, making this a fun and rewarding job for him. Some of the other members of The Manx worked on the show as well. Tommy Meehan, The Manx’s banjo player, was the music composer for the show; Zach Zdzeibko, their mandolinist, was an animatic editor; and Max Winston, their drummer, is a stop-motion animator and did some talented stop-motion sequences in a few of the episodes. As for Rick & Morty, Myke worked with creator Justin Roiland on the pilot episode as lead designer, designing the whole family and helped create the look of Rick & Morty themselves. As an artist and cartoonist by hobby, Cartoon Network serves as a place where Myke feels the most home.
Balancing part of both, a music and cartoon career can be challenging. Myke works fulltime as a storyboard artist at Cartoon while writing and recording music, rehearsing and touring with the Manx. Both are extremely time consuming, but enjoyable, resulting in a rewarding every-day experience. Myke feels a connection between the two industries. “I tend to compare the music industry to the animation TV industry a lot…I do like the camaraderie in the music scene… It’s very refreshing when other bands help us out in different cities while on the road. And with music, it’s so much easier to get your pure vision out there and into people’s ears than it is with TV, where there are rules and restrictions on what you’re allowed to create are astronomical in comparison.”
Currently, The Manx is touring the east coast, making their way from New York down to Florida. When they’re not on the road, they’re working on new album with Toshi, which they hope to release in early 2018. They also have some music videos slated to be released pretty soon, so keep an eye out for those. “Voyage in Bad Taste” has been a huge achievement in Myke’s life. “We’ve spilled so much blood, sweat and tears into it and feel like it’s only now paying off. And although I’m really looking forward to our next album, it’s nice to take a moment to reflect on [this one].”
By Rachel Siegel