Remember those tanned, talented and tantalizing fairy-tale princes we dreamed about when we were younger? That description also applies to Mike Munich — a rising star on the club music scene. Having recently released a new single and music video titled “Love at War,” Munich is proving that his abilities as a singer, dancer and performer are impressive as well.
Munich says he feels just as comfortable serving as backup for artists like Christina Aguilera at last year’s American Music Awards ceremony as he did stepping into the spotlight last month as one of the featured acts at the Los Angeles Pride Festival. And a few days later, he opened for Taylor Dayne at Denver’s Pridefest. Sharp-eyed viewers will also recognize Munich from his recurring role on the hit TV show Glee as a member of the rival show choir, Vocal Adrenaline.
“Working on Glee has been incredible,” he says with a smile. “I’ve worked on the show since the pilot, and every time I go back, it’s like a family reunion!” (Munich joined other castmates out on the road as part of the “Glee! Live in Concert” tour.)
Among other milestones Munich experienced last year was being named one of The Advocate magazine’s “Forty Under 40” in its 2012 list of the most influential budding powerhouses in media, sports, politics and science.
Munich is insightful and understandably pleased about being considered part of a new breed of young, out and proud personalities who are at the forefront of entertainment today.
“You can’t live your life afraid of what other people are going to think of you,” he said. “I’m so, so happy that it’s no longer taboo to be gay in the media or in entertainment. Almost every network television show has at least one gay character, and we finally have openly out, mainstream musicians like Adam Lambert and Frank Ocean. I get labeled as a gay recording artist, but the fact is, I am a recording artist who happens to be gay.”
A native of Minneapolis, Munich recalls that he had his first experience with dancing when he was 6 years old.
“My mom started taking adult jazz classes at a nearby studio,” he explained, “and she would take me with her.”
He said he fell in love instantly with this new form of movement, and soon she had signed him up for classes of his own. By the time he was 12, he knew that he wanted to dance professionally. At age 15, Munich signed with a local modeling agency, but even then he knew that if his lofty ambitions were to be realized, he needed to relocate either to New York or to Los Angeles.
“I had traveled to New York when I was 14 and never wanted to leave,” he remembered.
So after graduating, he tried a semester at New York University. He soon realized, though, that if he was ever going to land a spot dancing for a recording superstar like Britney Spears, Los Angeles was the place to be.
“Britney is the reason I do what I do,” he says. “She changed my life.”
Munich has also worked with Kylie Minogue, and he counts her as a similar wellspring of influence. “My sister introduced me to Kylie’s Fever album when I was in high school,” he said, “and again, my life was changed.”
Munich, who specializes in a dance style he calls jazz-funk, has gone on to work with many of those who previously had been merely faces on CD covers to him. He counts dancing for Lady Gaga in videos for her hits “Born This Way” and “Alejandro” among his career highlights. Yet his involvement with both of these productions almost didn’t happen.
“I can only describe it as fate” he said. “I got called on the audition for ‘Alejandro,’ but skipped it because they wanted us to shave our heads.”
Almost immediately, he regretted his choice, but the next day, while out with a buddy at a popular West Hollywood restaurant, he ran into another mutual friend who was working on the video.
“He told me they were still looking for one more dancer and asked me if I could video myself ‘freestyling’ some moves to the song. … The next day I was booked.”
Munich also found his experience with “Born This Way” to be memorable.
“Being a part of that one was so surreal because it was one of the most anticipated songs and records of the moment,” he said. “I practically gagged in rehearsals when I heard the line ‘don’t be a drag, just be a queen’ — and I couldn’t tell anyone about it! What was even crazier was that I was double-booked on the Glee tour at the same time, but somehow the stars aligned and the schedules allowed me to do everything.”
When it comes to the deeper substance of his work, “I have a voice and a message that I want to be heard,” Munich says. “I incorporate some depth to my songs, but it’s hidden. As I’ve progressed though, the songs have become more honest.”
Munich’s solo projects, including his previous releases “If We Do It,” “Beat the Beat,” and “Referee,” each combine catchy, super-charged vocals with high-fashion homoerotic visuals, set to a lively electro-pop beat.
“By becoming an artist,” he said. “I have been able to combine fashion, movement and music on my own terms.”
Now, along with being seen in ads supporting the new Friend Movement anti-bullying campaign (www.friendmovement.com), Munich’s time is taken up promoting his latest song, “Love at War,” whose video was shot by noted videographer Shawn Adeli. He’s just completed a number of high-profile appearances in New York City, a tour that he calls incredible.
“I gave some of my best performances to date — and every show allowed me to give a different type of performance,” he said.
But when all is said and sung, perhaps the reason Munich is so triumphant both in his life and career boils down to his core philosophy, which many in the LGBT community would do well to adopt: “For us, our life doesn’t really begin until we come out,” he said. “I think dance music allows us to forget all that has happened before that time and just have a great time living in the moment!”
“Love at War” and Munich’s other singles are available on iTunes. For more information or to order online, check out mikemunich.com.