Interview: Mix Master Mike

Mix Master Mike put on an epic show in Quebec City on Friday and again in Toronto last night. We chatted with him about his tour with Metallica and his new Virtual Reality work.

- Jul 17, 2017

Legendary DJ Mix Master Mike put on one of the hottest (both literally and figuratively) shows of Festival D’ete de Quebec on Friday night. A lineup outside of L’ANTI Bar and Spectacles reached down the street as fans waited in hopes to catch his brilliance on the turntables. Once inside, the cozy bar was packed from wall to wall with sweaty bodies, spellbound by every beat he played. The mix was vast stretching from 1950s soul to 90s metal and anything in between (including the Tetris theme song).  The show was epic and any Beastie Boys song thrown in the mix would drive the crowd wild.

Quebec City! @barlanti #festivaldetedequebec #mixmastermike #mixfam

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We caught up with Mix Master Mike before his show in Quebec City to talk about his tour with Metallica and his VR projects.

How is the tour going?

The tour has been going really well, the energy I get from the stadium tour is amazing. I’ve also been playing smaller club shows after the Metallica shows in different cities which have been great.

How do you keep the energy up being on tour for so long?

It gets to be a lot; sometimes you forget what city you’re in. But I have been doing this for two decades and I’ve learned how to manage my time and how to stay healthy.

How did the tour with Metallica come about?

Metallica actually reached out to my management. Lars specifically actually talked to my management. I knew about the tour about 5 months before it started and I didn’t tell anyone until the end of April just because I wanted to be sure it was real.

What’s it like playing to such a different audience? Metallica fans are very much metal fans and you have such a big background in hip hop.

I like to bridge the gap for Metallica fans. I want to show them something they didn’t even know they needed. I do one power set right before Metallica comes on and its pretty amazing. I like to give them a kind of Metal assault brigade that I can end the show with and hype them up for the band. But I mix everything into my music I have Metal, I have soul and I have hip hop.

Do you prefer stadium shows over club shows?

I don’t really have a preference they are really different. My favorite thing as an artist is to take people away emotionally; it’s almost like therapy for me. Stadium shows tend to be harder to connect with people but that just means my performance has to be dialed in and I have to be able to transmit the energy to an ocean of people. In a live performance there is no room for error.  DJ-ing is almost like performance art so you have to be in a zen space to be able to perform and to focus but in attack mode to create that energy.

What are your biggest influences when you’re coming up with new music?

I like to draw inspiration from within myself and make something from nothing. My mind is almost like a library of ideas that I can tap into, and take nothing and turn it into something. I am very much a vibe person and I just absorb everything around me and file away for later.

How has your art changed since Hello Nasty?

I’ve learned so much since Hello Nasty. Actually Adam Yacht has taught me a lot especially how to be a better business person. But I think over the years I’ve learnt that no matter what we go through our ups and downs and either way you have to be true to yourself and to your art. You can’t compromise your passion or your integrity.

What is some advice you have for artists today?

I think the biggest mistake of some artists today is they look for what’s ‘in’ or what’s popular rather than paving their own way.  When the phase dies you lose. You should be doing this for your art and for your exploration.

Who did you grow up listening to?

I listened to a bit of everything. I had a Jimmy Hendrix VHS which I would watch all the time. Zeppelin live in concert, I remember watching the John Bonham solo over and over. Other people that were part of that foundation I had were Stevie Ray Vaughn, Neil Pert, Miles Davis. As I went on to create my own music I wanted to take all of that theory and knowledge and apply it to what I was doing.

What are you listening to now?

On the road I listen to the Delphonics, Isaac Hayes, Thelonious Monk. I like to listen to music that takes me away. Not that I don’t listen to newer music too; like Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, Future etc.,

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a lot of different projects. I’m really into this VR project that I just made entitled Magma Chamber.

I’m trying to use the music and this medium to provoke thought. It's a different way for me to get people thinking. Magma Chamber was recently just featured at Cannes film festival and is getting a lot of recognition. So I'm excited to focus a little more on my VR work after the tour. We have plans for another one which will be like a 20 minute opus that will show what it would be like if there was an alien invasion on the moon.

Mix Master Mike continues his tour with Metallica and will be making his next stop in Montreal on Wednesday and then west coast dates in August.

Post by: Sabrina Spence

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