Linkin Park and Fort Minor vocalist and musician
Shinoda was born and raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Agoura Hills. His father is Japanese American. He also has a younger brother, Jason. Shinoda attended Parkman Elementary and Lindero Canyon Middle School.
As per his mother’s wishes, Shinoda began his classical piano training with lessons around the age of six, his enthusiasm eventually growing. At the age of thirteen, he expressed the desire to move toward playing jazz, blues, and even hip-hop. During his middle school and high school years, he added the guitar and, eventually, rap-style vocals to his repertoire.
After his teens, Mike Shinoda’s rap interests found a source of encouragement in Brad Delson, with whom he started to write and record songs in a makeshift studio set up in his bedroom. Shinoda attended Agoura High School with Linkin Park bandmates Brad Delson and Rob Bourdon as well as with members of the band Hoobastank. By the end of high school, Bourdon had become involved in their musical ventures. The trio formed the band Xero, and began to make a more serious attempt to pursue a career in the music industry.
After high school, Shinoda enrolled in the Art Center College of Design to study graphic design and illustration. It was here that he made the acquaintance of DJ and turntablist Joseph Hahn, who, along with Delson’s college-mate Dave “Phoenix” Farrell, was soon added to Xero’s line-up. It was also here that he experienced a form of identity crisis. Years later, in an interview he said:
“I think it was probably in college that I realized that there was a difference between Japanese and Japanese-American. That’s important to realize. It’s not the same thing and then eventually with Linkin Park, I toured in Japan. I’ve been there now I think four times. I remember the first time I went, how familiar it seemed, just getting out of the plane, it smelled like my aunt’s house, in the airport, it smelled like Japan. I don’t know if anybody else even noticed it but I walked out of the plane and thought this is definitely familiar to me, didn’t even see anything yet. And then going to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, you just recognize things about the way people act, the small things that people do such as how you’ll grab a piece of paper. There are things that are more obvious like taking somebody’s business card with two hands. You don’t do that in the States. When I saw somebody do that I went, “Oh yeah, my uncle always does that,” you know. There are little things that culturally come from Japan but they also exist in Japanese American culture and it made me feel like the connection was there and I kind of hadn’t realized how much of it was there.”
Shinoda managed to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree in illustration a year in advance, securing himself a job as a graphic designer instantly. With his background as a graphic artist, Shinoda has taken it upon himself in designing all of Linkin Park’s artwork with Hahn, and has even designed the album cover for Styles of Beyond’s debut album, 2000 Fold. In later years he would go on to showcase his art skills; he had his debut art showcase (Diamonds Spades Hearts & Clubs) at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles in the time leading up to Linkin Park’s album Minutes to Midnight.