DJ MixMaster Mike

 

Mixmaster Mike, like many turntablists was inspired by “Grandmixer DST”, the DJ behind Herbie Hancock’s 80’s hit “Rokit”. He was fascinated by the sound of the scratch and how the turntables were being used as an instrument to create a melodic tune. “I was so hypnotised by the art that I just wanted to take things into my own hands.” That’s exactly what he did and the rest was history.
He entered his first DJ battle at the New Music Seminar’s “Battle for World Supremacy” in 92 when he went up against DJ Honda in the famous head to head battle. This win didn’t stop Mike as the same year he formed the Rock Steady DJ’s and went on to win the DMC World Finals. “Initially it was me and apollo that hooked up as a team and started the tag teaming on the turntable and then we hooked up with Q bert and brought Q into the team to take on the DMC”. In 1992 DMC was at a stage where they felt that every possible trick had been done with 2 turntables and they had to introduce new rules to keep the competition entertaining. So they got rid of the strict 2 turntables and 1 mixer set up and announced that multiple turntables and any extra musical equipment could be used. They also allowed a maximum of 3 DJ’s to enter back to back in the battle as an option.
This opened up the competition for the DJ’s to be more experimental with their routines. Seizing the opportunity, Mike, Apollo and Q Bert practiced as a DJ team not knowing how much of an impact this routine would make in turntable music history. “I don't know, we were just so out of our mind and thinking of the next shit. And we just had aspirations of playing like a band on the turntables instead of guitars and drums and stuff. We wanted to actually play all those instruments on the turntables together. A lot of it came like really sporadic like parts of the routine came up like in one time period and another part came in another period and we just kinda like collided each routine together and smashed it into like a one piece of just non-stop mayhem.” This Mayhem routine and concept won them the World Title for 2 years consecutively.

The rules later changed when it became apparent that you could not judge a team against solos. So in 1996 Alex Aquino who was managing Q Bert at the time formed a new DJ Battle ‘the ITF DJ Championships’, which separated the battle and the artform to different categories. However Mike’s favorite category was always going to be the one he first won the World Finals with. “I think the head to head battling is the best way. It's like one guys goes for like 2 minutes and the other goes for 2 minutes, it just goes back and forth and keeps the battle interesting and flowing more.”
After 2 years winning as a team (Rock Steady DJs and Dream Team), Mike formed other crews with Q Bert (Invisible Skratch Picklz) and while they prepared to separate to focus on solo projects, Mike found himself doing something he never really thought he would be doing, being the DJ for ‘The Beastie Boys’. “I don't think I'd do it for any other band besides the Beasties because I've been a long time fan of the Beasties Boys, and when that opportunity came it was like a blessing.” For Mike the breakthrough came when he met MC A ‘Adam Yauch’ at the Rock steady anniversary show in NY. “When he wasn’t home I would leave scratch messages on his answering machine which started the whole shit.” And it was definitely a perfect match with them both having mutual respect for each other.

Coming from the old school the beasties would constantly highlight the DJ in all their shows and Mike would always perform a mind blowing solo set. “Big respect to those guys you know, they really appreciate the workings of what's going on and they provided me a great platform to do what I do and kinda preach the art and show the kids that don't know what the turntable is capable of doing.”
Even though Mike has retired from Battling, he continually contributes a great deal to the progression of the turntablist scene and gives respect to all that plays a role in it from the past to the present. “In order to know where you're at you have to know where it started. Peace to Kool Herc, Grand wizard Theodore, and Flash. Man if it wasn't for Herc, we wouldn't be here. Look how far we’ve come. Props to people like DJ Radar putting down notations on the scratch and all. Personally my method is like knowing when it's too much, It's a method of release. It's all therapy for me man it's all therapy.. Haha..” On the future of turntablism he adds, “I Love DJ's that kinda set themselves apart and take the initiative on building upon their own style. I love that and you know DJ's like that myself and Q, we're only gonna make the art go that much further you know. If there's enough of us doing things like that then we will be taking steps forward. You know just study the lessons and have an open mind to a lot of different music instead of just Hip Hop. For me I've learned to set myself apart from just being a scratch DJ. I turned myself into more of a musician now where I’m actually putting out records with scratch music. I mean that's the future for me. I mean if somebody can transcend themselves from being a battle DJ into being a fulltime musician too. Then that's the ticket, you'll be able to take it much further making music and putting out albums.”
 

Mike’s new album “Bangzilla” has all his unique elements and he describes it as turntable theme music. “Basically it was like 2 years in the making, it was like a start and stop process. I would like make all these songs and put them away. Everybody that knows my style, it's just very sporadic. I didn’t want something like you just get that audio pleasure, I wanted to give the listeners something visually, like using their imagination cuz for me it's just like theme music. The total turntable theme music, monster music !” So can we expect more releases from this Beastie DJ in the near future? “I mean I’m just touching the surface on this stuff, this stuff can go on for days and days. I originally made 25 tracks for the album and I only picked like 14. I didn't want to over do it.”
Keep your eye out for this incredible CD and weather you’re a fan of Mix Master Mike or not, the turntable monster music is something you just have to experience. Out through Stomp, however look out for the bootlegs from the Ruptilian race. “You can't always see them cause they're in some 4 dimensional status, they're like shape shifters, and they owe me money. My last CD they bootlegged so I got a Vendetta on the race.”



Catch Mixmaster Mike performing with the Beastie Boys on Friday 28th January at The Hordern Pavilion.

 

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