Mix Master Mike is undoubtedly one of the greatest DJs of all time, but also one of the most talented turntablists of this era. A beat conductor who plays the turntable, a DJ to inspire and challenge the best of the best.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mike was an avid music fan, listening to rock, jazz and blues records, but it wasn't until he caught a Herbie Hancock performance with DJ Grandmixer DST that he became inspired to forge his own unique musical path.
"There's drums, there's violins, there's guitars. I mean there's all kinds of instruments, but he was playing the turntable as an instrument. I was like wow, I'm gonna do the same thing but I'm gonna take it even further".
Mike's first foray into music production was a homemade improvised affair, but he laid the foundations to a style and technique that would forever influence his approach to making music and live performance.
"When I first started making music it was on two tape decks. I had all these cassettes full of all this music. I would make these drum loops. Drum loop 4 bars, 4 bars, until I had 64 bars. From there I would add sound effects and whatnot. It took a lot of time, a lot of patience, and it took a good tape deck with a great pause button. As I got turntables it was like "wow, now I can actually touch the music".
A pioneer of many of the most famous scratching tricks and techniques, Mike's inventive nature was always at the forefront, planning was not.
"My mom was banging on the door in my early days of DJing and telling me to turn it down, so I got up and tripped over the cord of the turntable. The record kind of cancelled out and it was like "rrrrrrrr" and I was like "wow that sounded cool". So that's how the tweak scratch was invented and born.
"Mistakes can become gems at times 'cause, you know they kinda catch you off guard. Your thought process changes when you make a mistake so you're thinking about automatic recovery and going onto the next. Through mistakes, through improvisation you learn to kinda go "ok, what's next?"."
Whilst Mike was cutting his teeth in competitive turntablism (and winning everything he entered) he was finding inspiration in the music of New York hip hop trio, The Beastie Boys and a chance meeting in 1994 between Adam Yauch (aka MCA) fulfilled a dream for Mike and changed his life forever.
"I was a huge Beastie Boy fan. They were like the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, the Led Zeppelin of hip hop. I wanted to be a part of that.
"Late night I used to leave these messages on his answering machine, "yo Adam check this out man, this is called the Reverse Octopus Scratch", put the phone down next to the speaker and cut it up. Then you know, following week "yo Adam what's up? This is Mix Master Mike, uhh I got this tweak scratch I wanna show you, check it out". Persistence. That's how it all started".
Heading into the studio, Mike recorded the multi-platinum album "Hello Nasty" with the Beastie Boys and became the group's resident DJ touring the globe together they formed lifelong friendships.
"To walk up onstage and perform in front of 200,000 people well it's just like, you can't explain that, it's like an ocean of people out there. It was just an amazing experience. I learned a lot being with the guys."
Family is a crucial ingredient to Mike's success and his relationship with those close to him pushes him to be better everyday.
"My family consists of me, my beautiful lovely wife Dianne, who is also my manager, she makes the wheels turn. We do everything together. And I have a daughter named Sadie Rose. She's 4 years old and she's an old soul, she comes from another place in our lives, and we're sharing this life together, which is awesome. They're my inspiration.
"In the past two years I lost some vital people in my life. My grandmother who raised me, my father-in-law, and just recently two months ago I lost my best friend. My best friend was like my sidekick, my co-pilot, he understood. You have these people all your life and now they're gone into the next dimension, and you still feel their presence. And I still feel my friend telling me "go get 'em Mike, go get 'em", and that's, that's what he used to tell me."
At the essence of Mike's approach to performance and music is the desire to move people to feel and communicate through the universal language of music.
"When you're up there and you got like 100,000 people jumping up and down, that's what the frequencies are capable of doing. If you could take somebody away with music, that's a gift man. It's kinda like an audio abduction. I wanna pick the audience up, and then drop 'em back off.
"It's honest expression, that's what it is. It comes straight from the heart. And for me, honestly expressing myself musically is just a gift. I'm glad to do that, that's my purpose here on earth, is to express myself through my music".