Making a Buzz

DJ MikeBee keeps electronic connoisseurs on their toes.

I swear sometimes it feels like my head will fall off, what with all these cockamamie subgenres of music. Thankfully, we have DJ MikeBee to help us sort it all out. As a regular on Andrew Jervis and Tomas Palermo's long-running Friday Night Session show on 90.3 KUSF, he can be heard feeding listeners' minds with a heady blend of nu-jazz, dub-disco, and other fresh sounds in an unpretentious and enthusiastic manner. "MikeBee is always on top of the latest music, especially the stuff that slips through the cracks," former XLR8R magazine editor Palermo says. "Right now, Mike is one of the foremost experts on the Nordic cosmic house music genre."

As with all good Renaissance men, Mike (né Battaglia) keeps his hands in a few pots. Alongside the radio show, he's the electronica buyer at Amoeba Music's massive Haight Street store, supplying countless beat junkies with the latest sounds. What is he feeling for '08? New stuff on labels like Warp, DC Recordings, DFA, and Wax On. As far as local bands, the maestro recommends checking out "Windsurf, Sorcerer, Hatchback, and Expanding Head Band — all great local artists doing interesting things with dance music."

In the clubs, the man is similarly no slouch. He is widely regarded for his smooth mixing abilities and flawless selection — "straight butter on the decks," Palermo says. These days, MikeBee is a resident at Anu's new Thursday-night party, High on Hope, where he spins a mix of obscure dance tracks. Since arriving in S.F. from his native Pennsylvania in 1995, he has rocked the decks at a succession of the city's most cutting-edge underground nights, including Ikon Massive, La Belle Epoque, Bottom Heavy, and Eklektic, and he has played with some of the true heavyweights in electronic music, from Japanese innovator Ryuichi Sakamoto to current London stalwarts Bugz in the Attic.

Along the way, MikeBee and partners Gabe Real and DJ Sea started True Intent, America's first record label devoted to atmospheric drum 'n' bass, which they ran from 2000 until 2006. He also wrote for Urb and XLR8R, and was a member of the Future Breaks FM crew, another KUSF show, this one showcasing the harder-edged sounds of jungle and bass-heavy breaks from 1998 until this past January. "MikeBee is a true vanguard in the S.F. music community," Future Breaks founder and DJ Ms. E says. "Whether or not he is on your radar, he's likely influenced you musically in some way over the years.

"What I love about him is that he has never played the 'scarcity' game," she adds. "I mean, this man lives and breathes music and he is all about sharing it, not shrouding it in snobbery. When he finds something new — a fresh sound — he'll let people know about it in every way he can."

A good DJ should be unafraid to step outside the perceived boundaries of any one genre, possessing an endless passion for music. MikeBee fits that bill. "I think I'm ultimately interested in rhythm," he says. "I am really just fascinated by it, and there's always someone doing something interesting and moving with it."

He adds, "Every year there's always people out there who'll go, 'Ah, what a shitty year for music this was!' I find that impossible to relate to. Every year is another great year. There's too much to experience!"

Read more articles in Listen Up 2008

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