Friday, March 21, 2008
Q & A: DJ Mike B
Courtesy of The Hundreds
*Interview originally conducted in June 2007*
Passionate about making / playing / sharing good music globally, rocking parties, 80’s and early/mid 90’s films, fresh gear, skateboarding and so much more. Mike B has great tunes you never heard and the knowledge and skills to run the show and to keep the crowd moving but also listening.
Born and raised in The City of Angels (LA), he relocated to The Big Apple (NY) for ten years. A move he says opened his eyes to the world around him and it’s magnitude. In 2004 he moved back to the West Coast.
Regardless of where he’s at he represents. Showing and proving no matter the time, no matter the place, no matter the audience size.
You’ll be hearing a lot more about this DJ / Producer who’s been doing his thing since the 80’s, perfecting his game plan in the 90’s and tearing shit up in the double 00’s.
I sent him a couple of questions on a whole bunch of cool stuff. These are his responses.
O: How has your blog Mike B VS Dickie G helped in spreading your and DJ Trident’s (Knish Hit Squad’s) name and your music?
Mike: People are always asking for the Knish tracks that are in the live mixes I post, so at least I know folks are checking those out. My reader base is also mainly DJ’s, so it’s good to know that when I post a new track or edit that Trident or I made, several hundred dj’s/music lovers will download it in just the first few days. Just a few years ago, we would have had to spend thousands on vinyl and shipping to get it out to even less people.
O: What does LA represent to you? From both the perspective of a DJ and in terms of lifestyle, attitudes and what it has given to popular culture?
Mike: I was born in LA and love it here. But I didn’t live here from 1994-2004. I think that was important in terms of my attitude towards the world and LA itself. I think if you never get out and see it from a different perspective that you can easily get sucked into the vacuum of bullshit that dominates a fair share of LA. But as my brother David once said, ‘You can’t doubt the soul of a town whose regional delicacy is cheeseburgers.’ Word.
O: Your music represents a juxtaposition of all things hip hop, dance music, the art of deejaying, edits, 80’s films all embedded in music made for partying. How would you describe your sound and the effect that all the Knish Hit Squad’s influences has had on the music you make?
Mike: Both Trident and I are huge fans of pop culture from all eras. We grew up in LA together listening to the same music, going to the same parties, etc. I’d say our influences are what make the music. We’re both really into everything from the mid 1980’s thru the mid 1990’s, whether it be hip-hop, house, jungle, rock stuff, punk, good TV shows, shitty one’s. We had always talked about collaborating on music but when Trident emailed me a demo of the Modjo loop with Baltimore drums I just thought “wow, this would be perfect with (Beverly Hills) 90210 dialog over it” and the rest is recent history. We have a video for U4EA coming soon. We’re expecting 8,000,000 views in the first 24 hours.
O: Where did it all start for you?
Mike: 1990, Mike B step’s upon the scene with a lean and pocket full of green. For real though, Chubb Rock’s Treat Em Right was the first 12” rap single I bought myself. But I was also obsessed with JMJ (Jam Master Jay) in the back of the Walk This Way video. What he was doing just looked so damn fun. My man in Beat Street kind of had me open too with his bedroom dj set up and water droplet samples.
O: What memories do you have of what you were doing in the 1980’s and 1990’s?
Mike: I remember all of it. The 1980’s were all about Elementary school. Making pause mixes from radio tracks. I used to dj parties at my friends houses when I was 10 or 11. No joke. I had C&C Music Factory 12’’s and all that shit. I was really into all the late 80’s and early 90’s dance/house stuff they used to play on Power 106 before they went full hip-hop. The 1990’s brought in the rave scene. LA was on the forefront of warehouse raves and all that. We had Doc Martin who was one of the illest DJ’s and also Fresh Jive clothing, which to me, really defines that early 90’s vibe, them and X-Large when the Beastie’s were still running it. Shit was dope back then.
O: What interests took up your time back then?
Mike: Dope gear and music. Skateboarding too, everything from World Industries. I was completely obsessed with Big Brother magazine for the first couple years. I still have the first 20 issues within arms reach at all times!
O: How did you get into skateboarding?
Mike: My older brothers in like 1986 or 1987. They got me Future Primitive, the Powell (Peralta) video. I was so into Tommy Guerrero and Per Welinder.
O: Do you remember the first time you got to pick a set up?
Mike: Yup, for my 6th or 7th birthday, I got to pick it out of Thrasher. It was a Madrid, Greg Smith freestyle deck that had a Skinhead with puppet strings dancing in a circus ring. I just recently bought a mint one off of eBay. I though I’d never find it.
O: Which video parts had an effect on you to do this day? Why?
Mike: Every part from Love Child, Questionable and Video Days was amazing. I know, those are gimmes but it’s true. Jovontae (Turner) was the illest to me. His style was so buttery. Mike Carroll is also the truth. I was a huge fan of all the early New Deal videos as well,
especially when they got real hip-hopish with Da Deal is Dead and Whatever. John Montessi, Julio De La Cruz, Rene Matthyssen… so ill.
O: Which tricks could you never get?
Mike: Most of them., all I had down were pop shuv-its, heelflips and frontside noseslides. Kids at The Courthouse used to clown me for always doing the same run.
O: Do you see any parallels between skateboarding and deejaying?
Mike: I suppose, in that you take your influences and fuse them into your own style to make it fresh and new.
O: What’s the rowdiest gig you ever rocked?
Mike: I did the basement of NY’s infamous Cheetah club from 2000-03 on Fridays. It progressively got more and more hood as time went on. I saw a couple stabbings and some really gnarly brawls in there. The girls used to be the scariest; ripping each other’s weaves out and shit. Always a good time.
O: What are some of the best parties that you’ve played?
Mike: I did what I was told was an after formal for a bunch of kids from Harvard-Westlake school here in LA. My friend Grant, his little brother Bryce hooked it up for me. I had no idea what to expect. They booked the Henry Fonda Theater/Music Box here in LA, which is a huge venue with an amazing concert sound system. These kid’s had a Pimps and Hoes theme, so all these 17 and 18 year old girls are running around looking like next level slut-tastic and the whole place was packed. They were going crazy for everything I played and the kids in charge came up to me halfway through the night and just handed me a huge pile of cash. It was really fun.
But I’ve had more uniquely fun awesome experiences djing than I can even recount.
Just last week, I threw a party in Silver Lake with my friends Blu Jemz, Pube$ and Lloydski. It was an after hours vibe and we kept it real with an underground location, late night liquor and quality dance music, mostly house and classic italo/disco stuff. Diplo and Blaqstarr got on at like 5am. It was really great. Every once in a while, a party comes together just right. That was definitely the case here.
O: What are your memories of the first parties you deejayed at?
Mike: Ojai Juice Factory, January 1999. That was really a good one. We had this party in an orange juice factory. A bunch of kids on E dancing to pounding techno with an unlimited supply of OJ and water, not to mention a walk-in freezer, which was nice to chill in, no pun intended, after an hour or so of dancing.
O: What are some of your favourite 12’s of all time?
Mike: That’s a tough question. Some I love for the artwork, like all the Digital Underground 12”s from Sex Packets. Others are just priceless to me like my collection of Roule 12’s or random old Acid House stuff. There are so many records that just make me smile when I realize that I own them.
O: What releases from the last few years would you list as classics?
Mike: Recently, I’m a fan of everything that Andrew Meecham is doing, but I always have been. And trendy as it may have become, I’m a huge fan of the Ed Banger stuff, particularly Justice and sebastiAn. It’s just awesome on so many levels. High production quality, new interesting sounds and it’s still funky while maintaining a really hard edge. Dave ‘Switch’ Taylor is clearly the man right now. There is always great new music out there, but besides those guys, the other big one’s for me right now are Ratatat, !!! and Kanye West. I think all of them are redefining their respective genres.
O: What are some of the films you can watch over and over again from the 80’s?
Vacation, European Vacation, Cheech And Chong flicks, Fletch, Summer Rental, Raising Arizona, Hollywood Shuffle… There are so many.
O: In your opinion, who were the hottest actresses from the eighties? Why?
Mike: Just like any dude’ll tell ya… Phoebe Cates getting out of the pool in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Definitely one of my earliest boners.
O: In 2007 are there any screen sirens that come close?
Mike: Not in that same way.
O: What are your favourite kicks over the years?
Mike: Jordan’s, Bo Jackson’s, Agassi’s.
O: Have yourself or the Knish Hit Squad got any new vinyl releases DJ’s can hunt for?
Mike: We are putting some stuff together now. We have been talking about releasing a proper KHS 12” in addition to the remix work we did for Greg Nice’s latest project Strange Boy. We’re in the midst of doing a remix for Goose Blackfinger and I believe we will be doing something soon for our French friends, the Naïve New Beaters.
O: What have been some of the best jam sessions outside of club deejaying (practicing, clowning, scratching at mate’s houses that you’ve done?
Mike: When I used to work at Game Recordings in Tribeca, we had turntables in the back and people used to drop by all time and fuck around. DJ’s Spinbad, Mighty Mi, Ev, Lord Sear, Stretch… One time I watched DJ’s AM and Kid Swift go back to back just scratching the shit out of some records. Both of those guys are amazing.
O: What would it take for you to fly out to Australia and DJ?
Mike: Some money and a flight and a hotel room.
O: When you think of Australia what are your first impressions?
Mike: I’ve always wanted to go, it seems cool. You have a great skate scene and a great music scene. My nephew Jamieson lives out in Sydney and is down with the Vicious Grooves posse. He’s always talking about how fun the parties are out there.
O: Are there any groups, DJ’s, producers down here that have caught your ears lately and that you feel people should know about?
Mike: Hell yes. Australia this year is like France in '98, so much amazing stuff. Modular is an incredible label. I’ve been a huge fan of The Avalanches and Cut Copy for some time… but all those guys are great. Van She, Bumblebeez, The Teenagers, The Presets. I like some of what Dirty South has been doing. The Bagraiders are really on point.
O: What’s going on with all these female celebrities in LA completely out of control (crashing cars, going into rehab, going to prison, collapsing), it’s off the wall.
Mike: That’s how we do it. Excessive decdadence… then rehab.
O: You know a few of these people too right?
O: And as a result, do you have a different take on what you see on the television, newspaper, online about them?
O: How would you describe the crowd and atmosphere at one of your regular gigs Banana Split (LAX)?
Mike: I love that party. Rarely over crowded and just a fun bunch of people that are down to dance and party on a Sunday night. It’s free and we give away beer and cup cakes. I know, sounds perfect right? It nearly is.
O: Where else can people stateside catch you deejaying?
Mike: At the finest venues in the world! But seriously check the blog and myspace for updates.
Mike B vs Dickie G
For bookings visit Undisputed Artists