He was born in Agoura, California, to a Japanese father and a Russian or a Russian-Hungarian mother. Recently, he moved to Los Angeles, where the band is based. He attended Agoura high school along with several of the members of Incubus and Hoobastank.
Later, he graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California with a major in illustration. He also studied graphic design quite heavily, resulting in him getting a job as a graphic designer straight out of college. According to him, the most poignant moment in his life so far has been getting his diploma. On a side note, Mike had to do his term eight final exams the same weekend that then-unsigned Linkin Park had to do a showcase for six major record labels. With his experience as a graphic artist, he ended up designing the street soldier figure on the Hybrid Theory album cover. As well, he designed the artwork/logo for Styles of Beyond's debut album, 2000 Fold.
Mike is half-Japanese, and is a distant relative of famed Russian composer Tchaikovsky. He was raised in a "really, really, liberally Protestant church," (according to Shinoda himself) but it is unknown whether or not he still practices his religion. He wears contacts, and loves Japanese food. His musical tastes vary widely, from Tool to Dido.
After his first concert experience, Mike was inspired to become a musician. The concert was a Killer B's show which included Anthrax and Public Enemy. He took piano lessons for ten years, beginning with classical, but later moving to jazz and then hip-hop. From there began his love of emceeing. In 7th grade, Mike met Brad Delson, the future guitarist for Linkin Park, at Lindero Canyon Middle School. Sometime near the end of high school, inspiration hit and they joined with Rob Bourdon and started a band called Xero, whose style was rather different from the Linkin Park we know today. He met Linkin Park's Mr. Hahn while in art school. He also has solo collaborations with songs of other artists, such as "It's Goin' Down" by the X-Ecutioners along with Mr. Hahn, which went top 10 in the UK singles chart in 2002.
More recently, Shinoda has increased his guitar presence in Linkin Park, most notably in the Meteora songs Somewhere I Belong and Breaking The Habit. One of his guitars, a camo colored seven-string, is hand-painted by Shinoda himself. It is a favorite among Linkin Park fans.
Along with playing the most important role in the popular band, Shinoda shows his ability to master a variety of musical instruments. For example, in the song Numb he plays the piano in a very smooth way. And his ability to bring more to the band is one explanation for why the group is creating increasingly-popular records.
For a while it was rumored that Mike Shinoda was going to release a solo album, which was confirmed in March of 2005. It features several other well-known artists, including Kenna, Common, ?uestlove, Black Thought, and possibly Ice Cube. He has said that rappers and emcees appearing on the album only include his friends, and that he would not just choose the hottest underground emcees. The record will be released under the artist name Fort Minor, and is titled The Rising Tied.
Shinoda has been married to Anna Lovejoy since May 10th, 2003