Music News

DJ Mike Relm brings turntablism to the unhip masses

Mike Relm is single-handedly introducing turntablism to parts of middle America on his second stint with Blue Man Group, opening its current production, How to Be a Megastar Tour 2.1. With between 7,000 and 12,000 people at each show, it's the San Franciscan's biggest gig. He's already a YouTube celebrity of sorts, known for his "video scratching," in which he manipulates images from movies like Zoolander and Peanuts cartoons with a Pioneer DVD turntable. We caught up with Relm recently and talked about the blue men, scratching, and Arrested Development.

New Times: What is How to Be a Megastar all about?

Mike Relm: They're having fun with the whole rock 'n' roll persona. They find an infomercial on how to be a megastar — sunglasses, suits, how to treat your fans, all the cliché rock things that go on. I perform on this song called "Your Attention," which brings out this character called Floppie the Banjo Clown.

NT: How have audiences responded to you?

Relm: I don't think I've had a bad response yet. My set is different [from what I normally play], because the audience is different — a lot of kids, a lot of families. So I made a set that would appeal to them — a little more fun stuff, a little less college humor. I throw in Led Zeppelin, and the adults lose it. Every time I drop AC/DC's "Back in Black," they go bananas. I [video-scratch] a Peanuts video, with the regular theme song and a drumbeat I made so you can dance to it. A lot of people don't know who I am; when I get introduced, I get the "polite clap." But by the end, it's all good.

NT: Were you worried about spinning before podunk crowds?

Relm: That was definitely a concern. You get to a college town to do a show, and they've seen a DJ; they get it. But I've had people come up to me here, and they totally get it. They say, "I never liked DJs before, but I like what you do."

NT: How have the blue men been?

Relm: Blue Man has really inspired me, just watching how they do things, how they approach the show, how they rehearse, how they prepare, how they create, how they play the instruments they create. They play pipes — it's like, who does that? But they make it cool.

NT: Are you constantly reminded of David Cross on Arrested Development?

Relm: Oh, yeah. Dude, that is the funniest show that was ever on TV. My friends are like, "You've got to scratch that show," but I don't want to steal the thunder by showing a blue man before they come on stage.

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Ben Westhoff
Contact: Ben Westhoff