July 12, 2010

Artist of the Day: Mike Boo

Mike Boo is a San Francisco instrumental beat maker, electronic producer and sound designer. With roots in traditional hip hop and scratch music, Mike spent his lifetime on beat production and a library of millions of sounds. Mike started out traditionally scratching with a turntable and has evolved to also include ableton and a moog.

Born in Oakland, California and raised in Fremont, Mike Boo was heavily influenced by the mobile DJ and turntablist scenes that flourished in the San Francisco Bay area during his childhood years. Back in the ’80s, his older cousin was a heavy metal head who allowed Mike to raid his record collection. At the tender age of 9, Mike would grab stacks of Iron Maiden and Dio records and spend hours playing them backwards on his Uncle’s stereo, listening for secret messages. This was one of Mike’s earliest experiences with vinyl experimentation. His childhood infatuation with records evolved into DJing with friends at high school dances and house parties. This was happening at the tail end of the Bay Area’s mobile DJ explosion. “I always wanted to get into making beats but never had enough money for samplers or beat machines,” explains Mike. “Then in 1990, I heard FM2.0 (Q-Bert, Mix Master Mike, Apollo) doing their turntable band thing on the radio. It was something like I never heard. Soon after, I saw them perform on a Bay Area TV show called ‘Home Turf’ and saw that it was all composed with turntables and scratching, and I was like ‘Damn, I wanna do that.’ Didn’t need any samplers, synths or big mixing boards. So one day I went out and bought a 4-track and started making tracks with turntables and have been doing it ever since.”

Representing the new wave of turntable music, Ned Hoddings was formed in 2002 after a cool vibe scratch session at D-Styles’ house. Uniting cross-continental members Toadstyle (Chicago), Excess (New York), and Ricci Rucker (San Jose) with Mike, Ned Hoddings’ first live performance was at the record release party for D-Styles’ Phantazmagorea, documented on the A Night at the Knitting Factory DVD. “The combination was obvious… it was like the Bermuda triangle of scratch music,” says Mike. Shortly thereafter, the members of Ned Hoddings accompanied D-Styles on the now-legendary Bastard Language Tour, which was also released as a DVD of the same name. After the tour, Mike conspired with D-Styles and Ricci Rucker, along with live drummer Ace, to form Gunkhole. “The science behind Gunkhole is no rulesŠ a ‘don’t give a fuck’ style of playing music, with turntables as the main element. We dive into funk, noise, ambient, free jazz and hardcore scratching” explains Mike. Gunkhole has toured extensively worldwide, including a month-long European tour in 2004, where an improvised set was performed each night in a different city.

Mike’s first foray into serious recording was Scetchbook: An Introduction To Scratch Music, released to worldwide acclaim in 2003. Produced with Ricci Rucker, Scetchbook was composed with nothing more than a turntable, a mixer, a multi-track recording program and an abundance of records. The album was fully composed by scratching individual instruments: kick drums, snares, percussion sounds, leads, bass lines, solos, etc. “We were just trying to prove a point: that other themes can be made with scratching by jumping from theme-to-theme.”

One year prior to the release of Scetchbook, Mike began work on Dunhill Drone Committee, still untitled, yet destined to become his solo debut opus. The third truly all-scratch album so far (after Phantazmagorea and Scetchbook), Dunhill Drone Committee is another landmark in the history of scratch composition. Half of the songs were recorded in an artist loft shared with Excess in Brooklyn, New York and the other half were completed at his parent’s house in Fremont. For Mike, the process was painstaking. At times, he would spend months browsing through hundreds of records to find the right sample for a track. He considers the tracks to be audio landscapes that document different times of his life. Mike explains, “I’m just concentrating on light and dark moods, and being able to hear these songs and have them trigger moments in my life within these past two years.” For example, track 7, “Here Are the Faxes You Requested” is about “how it sucks having to depend on music for your income, but at the same time refusing to return to the 9-to-5 lifestyle” while track 10, “Vibrations Transcend Space and Time” is “something to bump while I walk my dog.”

Dunhill Drone Committee invites the listener deep into the psyche of Mike Boo, and delivers ethereal compositional arrangements with virtuoso turntable musicianship. “A lot of people wonder why I don’t just play a sample. Well, if I just played it out, it would be hard to match the same grit of taking something from vinyl… I embrace the grit" (Last.fm, 2010). 

You can listen to Mike Boo's music at:

Released Albums:
Mike Boo - Food Around The Corner
Mike Boo - Scetchbook with Ricci Rucker
Mike Boo - Soul Canvas
Mike Boo - Dunhill Drone Commitee
Mike Boo - Other Sounds

(2010). Mike Boo. Last.fm. Retrieved from http://www.last.fm/music/Mike+Boo

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