A Canyon Conversation

Michael and Anthony
Photos courtesy of the Gatto family

Junior Reporter Daniel Gatto, a fifth-grader at Canyon Charter Elementary School, recently interviewed Michael Gatto, in seventh grade at Paul Revere Charter Middle School, about all things music—including launching an Open Mic Night series at the Academy of Technology, Art and Music (ATAM) here in The Village.

Daniel: So, tell me about yourself.

Michael: My name is Michael Gatto. I’m 12 years old and I live in Brentwood.

Daniel: What is your favorite band?

Michael: My faviorite band, I’d say … Black Sabbath, Rage Against the Machine and probably anything Chris Cornell was in.

Daniel: Are you currently in any bands?

Michael: Right now I’m in two bands: Orpheus, a classic rock and punk band, and Phoenix the Cat, where we are concentrating on originals. I’m also a solo artist and there is always room for a third band if you know any 11-year-old bass players.

Daniel: What made you want to start an open mic night for kids?

Michael: Well, when I went to school and told my friends about playing concerts, they said that was really cool and that they wished they could do that because they all play in the orchestra and they don’t have anywhere to play except for organized recitals. So I created an open mic night so other kids would have the opportunity to play in public.

Daniel: What instruments do you play?

Michael: I play guitar, I play drums. I play electric bass and standup base.  Occasionally I play the tambourine, and I can really rock the egg shaker.

Daniel: When did you start playing music?

Michael: Well, I started playing guitar when I was 7 and now I’m 12 so it’s around five years.

Daniel: Who are your influences?

Michael: The guitarists that I love: Tom Morello, Tony Iomi and Chris Cornell. And also my friends in Venice Beach who mentor me all the time: Michael Jost, Haley Damien and Barry Connelly.

Daniel: What kind of guitar do you play?

Michael: I have a couple of guitars but this one is a Epiphone SG that my dad and I set on fire because I felt like its soul was trapped underneath many layers of Chinese lacquer and we had to set it free.

Daniel: What’s your favorite place to play?

Michael: I enjoy playing everywhere but my favorite place to play is at a preschool in Inglewood where I played for fifteen 5 year olds and even let them join in.

Daniel: Do you write your own music?

Michael: Well I mostly do covers but lately I have been writing original music with my friend Liam. Some of the songs are “Fire and Rain,” “Little School Girl” and “Sunset.”

Daniel: What do you do at ATAM?

Michael: At ATAM? Well at ATAM—I went today—they teach me how to record at my home studio using Logic and Garage Band, and they’re helping me become a sound engineer. The best thing about ATAM is that it’s unlimited, they have everything there and Anthony and his team know everything.

Daniel: what was your favorite concert you’ve been to?

Michael: Probably my favorite three were the Black Sabbath at The Forum, Motley Crue’s final show on New Year’s Eve and I can still hear the cannons ringing through my head from AC/DC at Dodgers stadium.

Daniel: When is your next gig going to be?

Michael: My next gig, I don’t know right now, maybe on RadioVenice.TV or Time Warp Records in Mar Vista, but you can catch me busking at Venice Beach on any Sunday afternoon.

Besides the open Mic For Kids on Sept. 16 that ATAM has been kind enough to host.


For more information about ATAM or the upcoming Open Mic Night, visit atampalisades.com.