Thursday, December 29, 2005
Mike Relm better think fast.
As he stands on stage playing the kind of music that belongs as much in an art gallery as in a club, people are going to start labeling.
As he tours the country doing something few people have seen before, Relm knows that someone else could think of a name for it before he does, a name he doesn't like, and it could stick.
"I'm scared I'm not going to think of a name for it in time," Relm said. "Every day I think about it."
DJ Relm scratches and spins and pulls out all the beat-juggling tricks he's learned in 12 years at the turntables. That part of his performance is easy to define. We've seen it a thousand times before by less talented deejays.
It's the visual element of his act -- the addition of a DVJ player that allows him to scratch images along with the music -- that has the hip-hop world buzzing.
The Pioneer DVJ-X1 came out a couple of years ago. It looks like and works just like a turntable, only it spins DVDs.
Relm works it on stage like a multimedia Vishnu, all the while playing two turntables and a pair of mixers.
"I'm having fun with this, but I'm also trying to step up the game for deejays," Relm said. "Deejays are back to party mode -- playlist mode.
"There are so many things we can do with mixing and scratching, and I'm trying to give people who haven't seen something like this that same kind of feeling I had when I first saw a deejay -- that same 'How does he do that?' feeling."
Almost since he bought his first turntable, Relm has been recognized for his music. In 1999, Relm won the International Turntablist Federation's USA competition and placed second in the world finals.
That same year, he was featured in URB Magazine's "Next 100" issue, which featured the top 100 up-and-coming electronic musicians and entertainers of the year.
In 2001, he was featured in Doug Pray's documentary "Scratch," alongside the likes of DJ Qbert and DJ Shadow.
But a less sung part of his biography dates to 1989, when his elementary school trumpet teacher told him to listen to the score of "Batman: The Movie." He watched the movie 11 times just to listen to the music in the opening credits by composer Danny Elfman.
"That moment was absolutely meaningful," he said. "That music gets pretty intense. I was so young, but I was thinking, 'What kind of music is this?'
"And I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life --rite scores for films. I guess I did kind of get into scoring."
¤ DJ Mike Relm
¤ 10 p.m. today
¤ Levelz in Ski Time Square
¤ $5 before 10 p.m.
¤ DJ Vadim, "Oneself"
¤ Slug and Murs, "Felt, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Lisa Bonet"
¤ The Lovemakers
¤ Metric, "Live it Out"