Mike Relm has cemented himself at the forefront of the video DJing revolution. He walks the line between performer and director and it’s these two sides of his personality that have shaped him into the unique artist he is. His pathway as a DJ began in a place he is still proud to be from.
“I grew up in they Bay area. Specifically, Daly City. I think that probably had a lot to do with my love of DJing. There were a lot of DJs in Daly City for some reason!
“I was in High School when I first learned what a DJ actually was. Every day after school, I would go to a record store and just look through the same records. I don’t know, there’s just something about listening to new things, taking them home and discovering more you can do with it.”
A true turntablist by trade, Mike has a deep understanding of his instrument – it’s the heart of his performance.
“When people ask me, do you play an instrument? I tell them I play the turntable and they say, well… a real instrument. It’s like, let me show you how this is a real instrument!
“There is something about a live show that you can’t see on TV. You won’t even come close. When you’re on stage, you’re under lights and the pressures on, you just pull things out of your ass. It’s like, wow! How did I? Oh that works. Cool.”
Changes in technology have allowed Mike to truly integrate video with his DJ sets.
“It was 2004 when I first saw the Pioneer DVJ. To me, that was like science fiction because at the time, when I would do a show, I would do a set but have video playing in the background. I had to create loops that would match whatever I was doing because there was no way for me to sync it. Then VSL (Serato Video SL) came out and I thought, okay, this is a new ball game…”
The two facets of Mikes personality inspire him in different ways. He lives to connect what he sees with what he hears and to creatively exploit these moments.
“I wanted to go to film school and be a filmmaker. My directing brain helps my DJing brain because it’s just kind of nice when the visuals of life match up with the music of it. It’s what I’m trying to do on stage. It’s like a movie on steroids.
“It’s the dialogue and the visuals that drive a film when you’re sitting down to watch it. Well people aren’t sitting down when they watch me, so, it’s the music that’s driving it.
“DJ’s listen to music differently. I’m listening for separation in the music. Something that I can use or a sound. It’s like, oh! They left that one open. I could jack that and use it somewhere. I watch movies the same way now so it’s not too far of a stretch for me to be doing what I’m doing.”
Mike’s adoption of new technology has been a driving factor in his success. As well as technology being at the heart of what he does on stage, it’s now a key way he shares himself and his work with the world and has opened new doors.
“Relmvision is a YouTube channel I started. That’s where I put all of my remixes. From movies to TV shows, commercials or viral videos. Just whatever.
“I’ve been doing it for about two years now and some interesting things have happened because of that. One of my first remixes on there was the Ironman 2 trailer. From that [Ironman 2 Director] Jon Favreau hit me up. They ended up hiring me to do a commercial based on that style. I was like, wow! People are actually watching this.”
An artist who truly loves what he does, his collective experience in the DJ world and with visual media has given him a rich palette to work with. What is important to Mike is creating something for the future.
“I would definitely like to create a feature film. I feel like there are things that I have been able to do and experience and learn, that I can apply to one piece that will just kind of, live past me.
“I love the art of film making, I love the art of producing and scratching, and I don’t know, I’m pretty lucky. I just get to do what interests me I guess.”