Mikael lives in Harlem, NYC. He moved to New York from Sweden in 2000 and graduated Summa Cum Laude with departmental honors with a Masters Degree in classical composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music in 2005. He studied with composers Bruce Saylor and Edward Smaldone.
Mr. Karlsson’s music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art, as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall, at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, The Oslo Opera House, the Royal Swedish Opera House, The Ingmar Bergman Center at Fårö, The Joyce Theater, BAM, and at new music festivals and opera houses across the world. His commissions for dance include works for The Norwegian Opera and Ballet (A Swan Lake, Resin – Ekman), NDT 2 (Left Right, Left Right – Ekman), Ailey II, the Royal Swedish Opera and Ballet (Tyll, Midsumer Night’s Dream – Ekman), and many works for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (among others Tuplet – Ekman). He composed the soundtrack to the EA/DICE video games Battlefield Bad Company I and II with Tobias Wagner and Roman Vinuesa.
He has composed for the International Contemporary Ensemble, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, Black Sun Productions, Lydia Lunch, Claire Chase, Joshua Rubin, Patricia Schuman, Mivos Quartet, Sirius Quartet, Abby Fischer and pop singers Lykke Li, Anna Von Hausswolff and Mariam Wallentin.
He is currently developing three operas – The Diana Vreeland Opera (working title) with librettist Royce Vavrek, developed by Paola Prestini’s Vision Into Art, The Echo Drift with co-librettist Elle Kunnos De Voss, developed by HERE Arts Center, Beth Morrison Productions and American Opera Projects; and Decoration, with co-librettist David Flodén.
Mr. Karlsson has released over a dozen albums with chamber works and soundtracks ranging from pop and film music to sound collages, dance scores and avant-garde concert music.
In 2007, Karlsson was included in Out Magazine’s Out 100 list of influential people (other people that year were Annie Lennox, Marc Jacobs, Antony Hegarty and Beth Ditto). The score to his piece Nasty Fucker was published in Butt Magazine. In 2012, NYC Public Radio’s listeners voted him as one of their 100 favorite classical composers under 40. In May 2014 he received the Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond award “for an exceptional mid-career composer” from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Mr. Karlsson enjoys an ongoing working relationship with celebrated choreographer and director Alexander Ekman. Since they first started working together, in 2012, the two have presented 7 stage works – among them “Tyll” (Royal Swedish Ballet, 2012; US premiere in 2015 by the Joffrey Ballet), “A Swan Lake” (Norwegian National Ballet, 2014) and “Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Royal Swedish Ballet). They are currently working on a full evening work for the Semperoper in Dresden to be premiered in March 2016.
Karlsson composed an electronic version of the “Flocking” section from Alexander Ekman’s A Swan Lake for envelope-pushing fashion designer Henrik Vibskov’s SS15 at Paris Fashion Week and at Copenhagen Fashion Week.
In 2014 Mr. Karlsson founded his own production company, Rough State Sound.