BUMP 'N HUSTLE featuring MIKE TULL and PAUL E. LOPES at Tangerine (647 King West), Saturday (February 14). $10. 416-361-9111. DJ culture has been evolving over the past few years away from the genre- specific superstar DJ model and back to a more utilitarian and open style. Anything goes as long as the dance floor is willing to follow. That's a problem for those who've made their living touring the world playing a sub-genre of a sub-genre to faithful worshippers, but for local DJ Mike Tull, nothing could make him happier.
"I just love all kinds of music, and one day I want my set to completely convey that.
"I'm called a rare groove DJ by some people. Others think I'm a house DJ. I know kids who still think I'm pure hiphop. In some ways I've spread myself really thin, but that's probably why I've been able to keep on doing this when so many of my contemporaries don't do it any more."
In addition to being the resident of funk and soul party Bump 'N Hustle, which has been going for more than seven years now, he does Fascination with Andrew Allsgood, which focuses more on electro, new wave, booty, rock and post-punk.
Tull also plays mainstream hiphop and R&B every Saturday night at Lava Lounge. It's an odd mix of identities, but the lines between them are starting to blur.
"Right now I think I'm in the best time for me, because I've finally found a way to put it all together. Bump 'N Hustle has changed over the years - we're playing all kinds of stuff we never would have before. I don't think Paul could have played Kiss before, but he did this time. We've got this packed room and we can try all kinds of things because they're not going anywhere."
Being so flexible, he's had his share of weird gigs. Tull once ended up DJing for a bunch of seniors after someone heard him playing Latin jazz at Harbourfront. They didn't dance much, but at least it wasn't as eerie as the wake he once played.
"I got there and set up the speakers while people were sitting around, and I thought it was just a house party. I went to get a drink and found a coffin in the next room. It was actually a pretty rocking party - I couldn't believe it. I just would have liked to have known first, but who knows if I would have taken the gig if I had."
Tull is the opposite of the self-indulgent diva DJ. He wants to rock the crowd, and he'll do what it takes. If he's playing mainstream pop hits, it's because he likes them and he knows the dance floor wants it, and if he's playing underground obscurities it's because that's what will work at that particular party.
His mixing comes out of the hiphop tradition - slam in the track at the right moment and get those hands in the air, because nobody on the dance floor really cares if you're mixing two unreleased white labels for three minutes.