A couple of years ago, West Coast turntablist Mike Relm made it fairly easy to have some people into your living room and turn a low-key social outing into a depraved, beer-ridden music trivia match. Anyone who procured Relm's Radio Fryer mix tape could have accomplished this, and if you didn't, well, you're just too sober, and indefensibly lazy.
With 50 tracks in all, Radio Fryer is a refined model of music aggregating, whereby Relm frenetically pillaged his record collection with such mastery that pop, hip-hop, jazz, orchestral and post-punk genres senselessly crash into one another, over and over again. Punctuating this sordid trip through Cypress Hill, John Coltrane, Joy Division and Danny Elfman is Mike Relm's boyhood fantasy: film.
"I always wanted to be a director," says Relm, as if mimicking an overrated, pill-addled actress. Only Relm means it. The smattering of High Fidelity samples on Radio Fryer characterizes the mix just as much as the records do. As busy as he remains within his musician role — most recently Relm provided all the cuts on Mr. Lif's recent Mo' Mega LP — he's involved in film projects large and small. The forthcoming animated series Turntable Timmy, which is based on a children's book about a battle-tested kid DJ, features Relm's scratch-heavy soundtrack. Following the weather disaster and the felonious federal missteps that yielded the destruction of New Orleans, Relm strung together a compelling video montage of Katrina news clips with looped "Eleanor Rigby" strings in order to encourage relief donations from his fans.
"I didn't think about DJ'ing, really, too much growing up, until I actually started to mess with turntables," says the bespectacled artist. "I always wanted to make films. To me, films are the ultimate form of entertainment. You can go through so many emotions in one film. That's powerful. The big screen; it's larger than life."
A visual component will accompany Mike Relm's debut full-length of original work, slated for late 2007 release. He's silent on who's putting it out, and on pretty much everything else having to do with the album. But Relm's tendency to surprise (such as blending the Pharcyde and Falco) only augments the adept musician's resourcefulness, as his hectic touring schedule relegates recording sessions to hotel rooms and cramped backstage areas. As of late, he's offering an exclusive pre-album track called "Body Rock" via the web. Relm doesn't much subscribe to file-sharer witch hunts — he supports people actually hearing his work. "Body Rock" charges with ass-shaking beats, chopped-and-looped guitar licks, and manic clipped vocals from Gift of Gab. Projects like these can be finished with enough hotel-room space and ProTools, but Relm's visual stuff is difficult to construct on the road. "It's a little tougher to set up shoots while you're on a bus," he says, "unless, you're, you know, shooting bus stuff."
When the Blue Man Group called Mike Relm to open for them on the "How to Be a Megastar 2.0" tour, it had everything to do with his steadily maturing balance of weird beat-swapping and his set's alternating video experiments.
"They have fun onstage, which is what I do, too," Relm says of Blue Man Group. "I like to hit people from different angles as far as music, film and just anything visually I can get across. I think they appreciate that."
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