A god among VJs, Mike Relm returns to the Independent on Friday for a fierce mashup set the likes of which have earned Relm more than
13 million YouTube views and counting.
Using two turntables, a MacBook, Serato Scratch and a sampling machine, Relm layers snippets of movies, television shows, music and video games into pounding, frenetic, pop culture bangers — and he does it all live.
“I have new stuff I want to show people,” says the former San Francisco resident, sitting in the lobby of the Clift Hotel. “A lot’s changed.”
For one, the 34-year-old’s 2013 “Ghetto Blaster” show confronts the rise of dubstep and its arms race of bass. “You’re going to feel the show on a different level,” he says.
“And I don’t just play songs,” adds Relm, who won the International Turntablist Federation’s USA competition in 1999. “I think that’s cheating. I come from hip-hop and battling, where you have to showcase your skills nonstop. If I’m onstage, I’d feel guilty if I was like, ‘Well, there’s that song, let’s dance together.’”
Instead, Relm chops up terabytes of audio-video clips — from “The Dark Knight” to “Mass Effect 3” to the Comedy Central show “Key & Peele” and Outkast’s “Aquemini” — live and remixes them.
In 2007, Blue Man Group tapped Relm to open for them, exposing the DJ to a massive, mainstream audience, but the introduction was just a prelude. In 2010, Relm played the Winter Olympics, and his “Iron Man 2” trailer remix garnered the attention of the film’s producers, who made it an official “Iron Man 2” TV commercial.
“That, to me, started the whole YouTube thing,” Relm says. The viral video producer’s YouTube channel has partially eclipsed his live career. So much so that Relm moved to Culver City in 2012 to be closer to the film and television world. Google and YouTube began paying him well to create internal and commercial remixes.
The DJ also caught a bit of the directing bug, doing music videos in 2008, 2011 and 2012, as well as the 2012 short film “Beast.”
This year, he wants to do more one-off live nights, alongside more directing and YouTube hits.
He says, “If I can add directing to what I’m doing, I’d be the happiest guy in the world.”