18.02.2017 | Words by: Jack Dolan.
As a DJ without a physical release it’s very difficult to make an impact. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Without your own music which defines your style, bookers don’t know what they’re in for. The only way you stand a chance is if you have a history behind you but how do you get there if you can’t get a good booking in the first place?
One person who has steadily built a rep off the back of ‘just’ DJing is Mike Servito. Nowadays his resume does the work for him and without those early productions he’s not beholden to any specific style. Of course his strong connections with Detroit and his tendencies towards anything with a 303 bassline running through it is understood but we still know that Servito could change the conversation at any moment. That is precisely why we love him so much, Servito has garnered huge success and respect whilst completely dodging designation.
Are there certain musical points in time that are particularly important to you?
This is a subject that I could go on and on about. I could get too in depth. I gravitated towards house music and techno early on so there are so many points. I think having a Detroit upbringing and being surrounded by so many facets of it all was important. One of the first dance records I ever purchased as a teenager was a Detroit acid track. This was in a time before acid was considered a throwback. The New Dance Show on Detroit t.v. was insanely influential. There are moments in the mid 90's that were really defining in music, like when Ectomorph and Dopplereffekt had releases come out. It was like this change of the guard, like a reset button was hit. Perlon, Playhouse and Klang in the early 2000's for me was exciting. So many musical points that I still reference in the mix today. So many defining moments. I really could go on about all of it all day!
What makes a particular record jump out at you?
How nice the hats are. How catchy the bass line is. How it makes me feel. Those are the essentials for me.
How would you describe the kind of records you’re playing at the moment?
I've been tapping back into my Detroit roots a little bit. Falling in love with Shake tracks all over again. I've been playing some edits I've gotten from friends. I don't venture off too far from what I truly love. I really love the new Massimiliano Pagliara record on Ostgut Ton for example. But I've been playing old Lil Louis and 808 State tracks lately too. I'm always inclined to play some acid too, of course.
Do you think not having released any of your own productions gives you more freedom to jump around genres?
Well, I do have one remix that seemed to get some love in 2016, but I think freedom as a DJ is personal and expressing what you want through music is a powerful medium. I think playing what you want to dance to is important. I don't mind playing house and then jumping into italo or going from techno into an electro track. I'm not one to follow rules that don't exist. I think some people get stuck in this idea that you can only play certain kinds of music together, and only in a certain way and that's just boring to me. I like the challenge of trying to make all the tracks I love work, regardless of its genre. I think it's important to try and connect the dots.
You seem to have a very open mind when it comes to doing back to back sessions with many different DJs. What’s your criteria for collaboration?
I think having a good understanding and respect for the other DJ goes a long way. There really is no criteria or rule when I do B2B sets. It's generally easy because I always choose to do these sets with close friends or people I admire deeply.
Obviously your DJ style is quite versatile. Do you think that's important? Do you find yourself choosing records to suit the other person or do you not care so much about that?
I think having a bit of range is important, and having an idea of what sound and mood you are going for. There should be some sort of cohesiveness, so working with each other and listening, understanding, and having a mutual respect is key.
Does the crowd you’re playing to make a big difference?
Sometimes, I'm never really sure how I am going to play until I actually start playing. The crowd is one of the biggest factors and how the DJ is playing before me.
What’s your favourite kind of booking to play?
I like the more intimate settings where I can play for a good length of time and have a nice journey. Sometimes we get these bookings for 1.5 hours and it seems silly. You want to have time to connect and leave an impression.