Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda talks about his new single, NFTs and the Twitch stream keeping him busy during Covid-19

  • ‘Happy Endings’, featuring rapper Iann Dior and singer Upsahl, expresses the frustration we all had with 2020 and our hopes for the future
  • Will we see a collaboration with Finneas? Maybe one day, when he fixes his phone
Dannie Aildasani |

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Linkin Park co-founder Mike Shinoda said he's appreciated the opportunity to create during the pandemic, without the presure to have a hit. Photo: Frank Maddocks

The music industry is constantly evolving, and Mike Shinoda is here for it.

The Linkin Park co-founder recently became the first major-label artist to launch a single via NFT auction. NFT stands for non-fungible token, and it’s a unique digital item bought with cryptocurrency.

A 75-second clip of the song, Happy Endings, was auctioned off to 10 people, and all proceeds from the sales went to the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, in the US state of California – Shinoda’s alma mater.

When you buy an NFT of a song, it’s a little like getting a digitally autographed MP3, and you don’t always own its copyright.

However, Shinoda did give those 10 people copies of the single’s artwork, signed by him and the artist.

For the track, Shinoda teamed up with rapper Iann Dior and pop singer Upsahl, who was recommended to him by several people, including producer Samantha Ronson.

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“We chatted on Zoom and just had so much chemistry, it was like we’d known each other for years,” he said about Upsahl.

Happy Endings represents Shinoda’s feelings about the pandemic; he, like many others, feels “exhausted from 2020” and he wanted to channel that anxiety and self-doubt into a song.

“I think everyone was excited to start 2021 with a clean slate,” he said via Zoom.

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“A lot of other people are writing downer songs, but I feel pretty good. What’s happening in the world is awful, but we’re all going through it together.

“I don’t have a sense of hopelessness because I know it’s going to end.

“And since it’s not over yet, I can write my own version of the ending in my head.”

Shinoda also wanted the single to represent the writing process, saying he had fun collaborating with Dior and Upsahl over Zoom and wanted that to be reflected in the song.

Shinoda said his Twitch stream has allowed him to find a sense of community during Covid-19. Photo: Frank Maddocks

He was kept busy during the pandemic with his Twitch stream, where he freestyles, creates art, and produces music for other musicians and fans.

So far, he’s produced songs for musicians like Ben Kessler, Wax Wane and Brevin Kim.

“It’s the anchor in my day,” he says, adding he appreciates the community and getting to know so many different artists.

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He also lets fans who watch his Twitch stream regularly choose random styles of music for him to mix together, such as Mariachi music with hip hop.

“This whole last year I’ve been making so much stuff and I’ve been so creative … none of that had to be big singles or anything. There was no pressure, I could just do it and have fun.”

We might also get to see a Mike Shinoda/Finneas (aka Billie Eillish’s brother) collaboration, but maybe not until Finneas fixes a frustrating technical problem with his phone.

“I met Mike Shinoda once and he put his number in my phone but instead of making a new contact for ‘Mike Shinoda’, he somehow managed to change MY OWN name in my phone to Mike Shinoda irrevocably,” he tweeted.

“Absolutely nothing I try fixes it.”

“Now his phone calls him by my name,” Shinoda said, adding it wasn’t meant to be a prank.

“For a long time he kept feeling like he was accidentally calling me whenever he phoned someone.”

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