Luke Rangel: home, hip-hop and the AMA

November 16, 2012

LUDINGTON — Luke Rangel has several split personalities, at least musically speaking. The Mason County native was recently back here from California visiting family and we got a chance to sit down together.

The 35-year-old 1995 Mason County Central High School graduate makes his living, based in Southern California, working in the music industry. He is a renowned sound technician and in the last year has been building a career as a hip-hop artist, creating the group Insane Sage, which is developing loyal fans around the globe.

Locally he is best known for his work with Scottville native Edgar Struble and the American Music Awards, which will air live this Sunday — more on that later.

Insane Sage is many years in the making. It takes all his experiences of life growing up in California and Michigan as a Latino, working on farms, working on different levels of the music industry — from selling guitars to mixing music for some of the industry’s biggest artists — and his values in family. It is also a lifetime of listening to various music from Tex/Mex, Rock, South to top 40.

It is also made up of several personas Luke has created. In his recordings, Luke takes on different characters such as MISTER_Gunnz, who is the voice/MC/poet; BadVibes Ph.D is a little smoother/melodic and then there’s D.J. Luke, “that me, the person who constructs the music,” he says.

“Right now I’m in the building stage of Insane Sage,” he says. “I released the album last year and it’s getting a following all over the world. I am building up a loyalty and hoping to start touring in the next couple of years.”

Luke says he has a large following in the former Soviet block countries like Russia and Romania and also in Mexico.

“Things have really blossomed through Facebook. It’s really amazing that the six degrees of separation theory is so true. I have friends from really diverse backgrounds and locations. Those friends have friends and the word just spread from there. The next thing you know, I’m in a different country. These are people who just react to the vibe and that really inspires me.

“I think the fans I have now are pretty diehard. It’s an exciting prospect.”

Though he and his wife, Amy, live in California, home is still in Michigan. More specifically, home is where his family is, he says. Amy is also an MCC graduate and is the daughter of retired MCC band director John Petersen. She teaches high school band/orchestra in southern California.

“I love being back in Michigan,” he says. “The air is so crisp. I find this place to be inspiring. In my experience, Michigan is a place of hard workers. I learned my work ethic here, growing up and working out in the orchards and fields. I learned the value of a dollar and what hard work means to a family. I think that’s what one person gets from Michigan.

“It’s interesting. I always looked at Michigan and Mason County as a diverse place, though when we moved here we were one of the only Hispanic families around. But, people were accepting and never treated us different.”
Luke also finds the geography of Michigan inspiring.

“I love where I’m at. Burbank is a great community with green trees. I can go for walks and feel safe. But, there is something about being here in Michigan that recharges me. I really think it’s a quiet space that allows your mind to open up. It’s all around you, the topography of the hills, the lake, the forests, the orchards.

This Sunday will mark the accumulation of 10 years working with Edgar Struble and eight years of the two working together on the American Music Awards show. Edgar is the music director. He is responsible for all aspects of the show musically, including writing out-take music and coordinating logistics with live performers.

Luke co-writes music and is the sound technician. Scottville native Brian Burwell also works in the show’s pre-production as the studio drummer.
“We put together music packages for the show,” he says. “We listen to what’s out there and then write our music based on those styles. My job is to make sure everything is very cohesive sounding. I am Edgar’s ears.

“In the past 10 years Edgar has really perfected a style that really works. I think that’s why Dick Clark productions keeps asking us back. It’s something I’m very proud of and something I look forward to working on every year.”

Luke says the level of professionalism is very high from the set band, which includes Burwell, to the boss, Edgar.

“When one of my songs comes on during the AMAs and millions of people are hearing it, it’s definitely an amazing feeling.”

For more on Insane Sage, go to or

Story and photo by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

Area Churches