MIKE RELM as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival at the Revival (783 College), Friday (June 22), 10 pm. $12. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
It don't get more cutting-edge than Mike Relm.
The San-Francisco-born turntablist and producer's been a blizzard on the ones and twos since the days when my Aunt Rose was still stocking up on bottled water for the Y2K apocalypse. His championship-winning scratch technique puts him up there with people like A-Trak and DJ Dopey.
What's more amazing about Relm is how he continued to evolve his DJing to the point of being ahead of the curve. His most visible innovation is his use of a DVD turntable in his live sets. He had the hardware in 03, over a year before it came out.
"I first discovered it when I was visiting the Pioneer offices in Japan," he says from his place in SF. "I was getting a tour of their new CDJs. I was really excited about the technology and kept asking them where I could get bootleg films on video CDs.
"So they quickly put two and two together and told me they were working on a DVD turntable. They swore me to secrecy till a few months later, when they sent me the DVJ-X1. I put together a new set in a week and tried it out at an art show in San Francisco."
In concert, the technology brings Relm's precise, rapid-fire cuts to life with imagery and chunks of pop culture. There's a YouTube video of him chopping up a famous line from the movie Office Space, for example. But scratching video is just part of the deal. Relm's got his hands busy with a few things, all futuristic. In February he dropped a hot single he produced called Body Rock featuring Gift of Gab, with whom he toured in 04.
In addition to touring with the Blue Man Group after founder Chris Wink saw a video of his online in December, he's also done lots of music for cartoons, most recently an episode of Shorty McShorts' Shorts on the Disney Channel.
He also knows how to throw down a mix that'll tenderize your party, like his left-field blend of I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight by the Outfield and NWA's Something 2 Dance 2. But ask him about mashups and he sounds wistful.
"I'd like mashups to go away for a minute, because it's getting a bit diluted," he says. "I think if we didn't hear any for a while we might actually miss them."