The Origin

Totem is Phoenix Clay Michael, born and raised in Texas and currently based out of Boulder, Colorado. Phoenix's journey into the realms of Intelligent Sound Design began early in life, with great influence from his mother, who sang Lead Soprano in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  She exposed Clay to the intricacies of harmony, thus encouraging a range of vocal development that has stayed with him through the years.  When in high school, Phoenix began teaching himself guitar, displaying a natural ability to compose as well as a strong grasp on rhythm and confidence as a performer.  

While in college on a baseball scholarship, Phoenix studied sound engineering and his interest in digital sound design began to expand.  As the years progressed, it became clear to him that the musical route would prove to be more fulfilling and engaging than the proposed baseball career, and he shifted gears to make more space to elaborate on his expression in these ways.  

During this time, Phoenix began playing eastern-style instrumentation (tabla, doumbek, darbuki, didgeridoo, ric, native flute etc), along with diving deeper into keyboards, guitar, and vocal technique.

Phoenix explores the digital domain with rich melodies, psychedelic synths, and exotic instrumentation.  Totem culminates his musical passions into a modern interpretation of ancient instruments. His sampling style is deep and visceral, as he blends thick bass and instrumentation with live production.  His influences range from native-world inspired rhythms to the sweeping emotive vocal presence of Chris Cornell and Maynard James Keenan.

With Totem's all-original soundscapes, the listener is invited upon a journey of dance, prayer, and melodic intrigue. Phoenix is skilled in a number of instruments including guitar, native flute, hand percussion, and keyboard. All of these things combine with digital audio manipulation, resulting in highly engaging set that is sure to captivate both the dancing spirit and the theoretical intellect of music - all combined together with deep intentional prayer and presence.