TF Archives

Mixmaster Mike

Author: Alias
Sunday, January 1, 1995
"I'm actually doing a little project with Tommy Lee from Motley Crue,"
explains Serial Wax Killer Mixmaster Mike, perhaps the most imitated and
most modelled after turntablist to ever the grace the Technics, with
thorough enthusiasm. "He called me up, and he has been a fan of mine for
a while and I was like 'wow!'. So he flew me out and I stayed at his
house for the entire weekend and we just made some beserk music. It was
good, very good. A really good experience. It'll be coming out later
this year."

Such a collaboration seems rather odd. The former big hair metal rocker,
recent jailbird, and occasional amateur video star, trading sounds with
one of the most inventive and thrilling DJ's of recent times. However,
it shouldn't sound surprising at all, Mixmaster Mike (aka Michael
Shwartz) has been rather busy of late. Last year saw the release of his
debut album, Anti Theft Device, on Asphodel Records; he appeared
alongside Q-Bert on the electronic music documentary Modulations; and he
also made musical contributions to two video games, the college
basketball emulating March Madness, and the cool racing car simulation
Hot Wheels. However his profile really blew up when he contributed
scratching to the Beastie Boys album of last year, Hello Nasty. Now Mike
is the acts official DJ, the selector who warms the stage before they
begin their hip hop attack, and the one who keeps the vibes cooking
throughout with absolutely wicked cut and paste interpretations of their
classic tunes during the hip hop festivities. Hey, he even lived out
every white boy hip hoppers dream, scoring his very own track on Hello
Nasty, the scratch heavy 3 MC's and 1 DJ, in which MCA, Ad-Rock, and
Mike D all trade flows detailing their respect for Mixmaster Mike's
incredible skills.

And to think it all started in his uncles storage room. Mixmaster Mike
was so inspired by the hip hop movement and its four arms - djing,
breaking, emceeing, graffiti - that he really wanted to become involved.
He grabbed two disused tape decks from his uncle and hooked them up to
some speakers. "That went on for like two years," he says with a laugh,
"I would use two different tapes and mix them using the tape decks. To
adjust the pitch I would use the pause button to speed up or slow down
the tempo's in order to keep them in time."

Now Mixmaster Mike is part of the mighty turntablist crew, The Invisbl
Skratch Piklz, acknowledged by most as the foremost exponents of scratch
composition in the world. The five piklz - Shortkut, Q-Bert, D-Styles,
Yogafrog, and Mike - all began Djing during the eighties, a time where
there were no instructional videos, no do-it-yourself DJ booklets, no
internet, and little if any recorded turntable based works. "We started
from the bottom, and worked our way to the top," explains MixMaster
Mike. "It has taken us thirteen years to get where we are, it just
didn't happen overnight."

They say practice makes perfect, and it was constant practice and an ear
for the original and unique that has allowed the Skratch Piklz to sit
atop the turntable thrown for the last ten years. "You practice in your
head, you practice in your sleep," says Mike, "you are just constantly
practicing. So even when you don't have turntables you are still
thinking about compositions. You have to keep your mind at a steady pace
and take care of yourself and just keep going."

Such practice and innovation allowed the Invisbl Skratch Piklz to
dominate scratch competitions throughout the early and mid nineties.
Mixmaster Mike was triumphant in the 1992 New Music Seminar Battle For
World Supremacy, and the very same year Mike, Q-Bert, and former Skratch
Piklz member DJ Apollo were victorious in the DMC wo