Las Vegas Sun

March 26, 2017

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Mix Master Mike cranks up the heavy artillery

Keyed-up turntablist would love key to city - or even to Wayne Newton’s estate

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Mix Master Mike

“I’m really skillful with my hands,” Mix Master Mike boasts. “I’m the hardcore b-boy, hip-hop extraordinaire … When people come to see me they know I’m not just standing there.”

The busy-handed DJ played a MAGIC party at Rain last night and will make a second appearance at Blush on Sunday.

While he’s quick to tell you about his DJ dexterity, he’s just as fast to tell you he hates a lot of what he plays during his club gigs.

“When you go to clubs people want to hear top 40 (expletive),” he explains, “and you got to play top 40 stuff, but then not play it at the same time.”

When the DJ, whose real name is Michael Schwartz, is asked to share his thoughts about top 40 music, his response is verbal nails.

“I don’t even know what the (expletive) top 40 is now, I don’t even know,” he says. “I love the new Jay-Z (expletive), like ‘Run This Town’ and there’s some stuff by T.I. that’s dope …. (and) there’s this one by Wale and Lady GaGa that’s alright, it’s called ‘Chillin,’ but that’s as far as I’d go.”

The rest of it, he says, is “whack.”

“I hate all of them,” he says. “It’s awful.”

When it comes to big name techno DJs like Tiesto, David Guetta, or Rain’s Saturday night resident, Paul Oakenfold, the mixmaster is more diplomatic.

“I think they do what they do well,” he says. “I know that they make a lot of money doing what they do and they make a lot of people of happy … so you can’t knock it.”

Still, that doesn’t mean he’s a fan.

“That’s not my thing,” he says. “I just don’t get that music and I bet they could say the same thing for our music.”

Yet he concedes to the masses and incorporates many of the popular dance tracks that make him cringe into his club set – albeit with a distinct, Mix Master Mike twist.

”I take songs that people know and remix them live and try to make them harder-edged and more aggressive than they really are,” he says.

The club tracks Mix Master Mike will force himself to play in Las Vegas this week are a far cry from the hip-hop beats he is known for. And he knows the crowd at Blush won’t look anything like the audiences that he’s used to playing for alongside the Beastie Boys.

“For me, it’s a job,“ he says of his club performances. “I do what I do, and I leave.”

Still, the 39-year-old turntable pioneer appreciates the challenge presented by the new audience.

Instead of just a show, it becomes a mission.

“It’s kind of like the art of war, you know, knowing where and which angle to attack from,” he says.

“At Blush, people want to go there to dance and have a good time,” he says. “You don’t want to hit ‘em too hard. People are there not to die, they’re there to have a good time.”

The challenge, he says, is “as a DJ you want to keep your integrity.”

“I try to keep it interesting, keep it fun,” he says -- but he knows many of the clubgoers at Blush on Sunday won’t expect what will be coming from the booth.

“It’s an aggressive sound assault,” he says. “I’d refer my music to, like, a bazooka launcher, SIG Sauer P226, a Gatling gun, or a firing cannon.”

He says his sound has become more violent over time.

“It definitely got more aggressive, I’ll tell you that,” he says, noting, “It’s more bass-heavy.”

The DJ doesn’t seem like a violent guy, judging from his casual demeanor and the playful banter exchanged over the phone while he speaks from his Hollywood home. But for a nonviolent guy, he sure likes the word “aggressive.”

He uses is a lot: when he describes his music, his live show, and his soon-to-be-released album, too.

“I have a new record coming out, it’s called “Plasma Rifle,’ and it’s aggressive,” he says, dropping his favorite adjective one again. “It’s hip-hop, dubstep, break-bass, instrumental.”

While the sound has intensified, he says the tracks remain true to form.

“I’m just making original compositions and getting back to my roots,” he says. “It’s Mix Master Mike music; crazy, insane.”

“It’s really dope,” he assures. “I’m really proud of it.”

Next month is going to be a big one for the superstar DJ: In addition to the new record, he will also launch a new Web site; a signature set of headphones (thanks to a partnership with Skull Candy); and an iPhone application, too. What’s more, a sequel of his video game, “Scratch Ultimate DJ” is in the works, as well.

As if that wasn’t enough, he plans on reuniting with the three hip-hoppers that made him a mainstream star later this year.

He says he hopes to hit the road with the Beastie Boys as early as December.

“It just depends on my man’s recovery,” he says, referring to B-Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch, who underwent surgery for throat cancer last month.

Yauch is expected to make a full recovery, but the scare forced the group to cancel their tour, including headlining gigs at All Points West in New York on July 31 and at San Francisco’s Outside Lands this past weekend.

Mix Master Mike recently talked to his partner in hip-hop, post-op. “Adam’s doing good, he’s doing real good,” the DJ assures. “We’ll be on the road in no time.”

While the three MC's and one DJ don’t have any dates to re-schedule in Las Vegas since they weren’t planning on coming here in the first place, Mix Master Mike says a Sin City show isn’t out of the question.

“Anything can happen … during tour planning so hopefully we’ll be out there,” he says, noting a little incentive could help speed the process.

“If we could get the key to the city…” his voice trails off, suggestively, before it breaks into a laugh.

When told that a key to the Playboy Club would be a more reasonable demand, the DJ recomposes himself and doesn’t bite.

“The Playboy Club is just the Playboy Club. We want the key to the city. We want access to … Wayne Newton’s (estate),” he demands, laughing once again.

Key or no key, he hopes his next gig in Vegas will be alongside Yauch and fellow Beasties Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz.

“I wouldn’t mind going out there with the boys,” he says. “It’d be dope.”

Melissa Arseniuk writes about Las Vegas entertainment and celebrity events. She can be reached at 702-948-7823 or by e-mail at [email protected].