Though he appreciates the offer, Mike Relm is not interested in DJ-ing your wedding, birthday party, bar mitzvah, or kegger—he’s not that kind of DJ. Furthermore, it is doubtful you would ever be able to accommodate his gear. Equipped with turntables, several large screens and projectors, Relm is much more than any wedding DJ.
“When people describe what I do, it’s easy to confuse me with a lot of other things,” explains Relm. “People say ‘can you do my party?’ and I’m like, ‘no, it’s not that kind of thing.’”
Trying to define what exactly
Relm does is certainly no easy task. He uses samples, he makes beats and he does plenty of scratching, but he also weaves videos together in a specific manner to go in time with the music and scratches the images on screen with his fingertips. To people who have never heard of or seen him before, though, it is difficult to understand what exactly this all means. Relm is inclined to say he is a DJ in an extremely specific field of turntabling.
“When you say someone is a doctor, there’s thousands of doctors you can be,” says Relm. “Your pediatrician is a doctor, your pharmacist is a doctor, Bill Cosby is a doctor,
Dr. Phil is a doctor. Thinking of DJ-ing, there’s a thousand ways to do it.”
While Relm may not be a certified “Dr. DJ” just yet, it must be pointed out that he is definately a specialist. His performance is an almost theatrical experience as opposed to a regular musical performance. Due to his unique style, Relm caught the attention of the
Blue Man Group and landed a gig as the opening act for their current tour. One of the members of the group actually stumbled upon a video of Relm performing live on YouTube, and he was invited
to come on tour with them.
“Chris Wink, one of the founding ‘Blue Men,’ saw my video on YouTube and called me up,” says Relm. “I thought I had issues and problems describing what I do, just imagine what they go through—‘okay, so we’re painted blue, and we play these instruments… But they’re pipes.’”
If the Blue Man Group and Mike Relm have one thing in common, it is that they are both hard to categorize. They also collaborate on stage for a song called “Your Attention” on the current tour. Unlike Dr. Tobias FÃ1⁄4nke, however, Relm does not have to blue himself when on stage with the group. The shows themselves, according to Relm, are some of the biggest and most exciting he has ever done.
“These shows are the largest audiences I play for on a regular basis,” says Relm. “It’s like a festival, but every night. Sometimes we’ve had 12,000 people and I’ve had to look up to see all of them.”
The Blue Man Group crowds are bigger than Relm’s usual audiences, and they are also of a very different demographic. Relm has often catered to college crowds and had to slightly revamp his show because of the amount of younger ears present at the new shows. Still, he remains positive and content with the results of his new and altered set.
“The range of age in the audience is a different thing [for me],” admits Relm. “There’s more families that come out. I was able to
go and change things a bit, making a set with kids in mind.”
For an innovator such as Relm, age is only a small obstacle in creating a spectacular performance. His ability to adapt to such situations is what will definitely earn him recognition for what it is he does, no matter how hard it is to define. Mike Relm may not have his doctorate in turntabling, but he is already prescribing beats for all ages—as long as he does not have to play your party.