Mike Callander is one of Australia’s most dynamic DJs, resident of Melbourne’s infamous Revolver, and co-founder of Haul Music and School of Synthesis. Recently he has formed two significant musical collaborations: “Zero Percent” alongside Kim Moyes of The Presets, and “Broken Acid Experiment” alongside Melbourne veterans T-Rek and Honeysmack.
As a solo producer Mike’s 2012 debut album “Antarctica” saw its first single signed to Dave Seaman’s Renaissance mix, while the subsequent release of his 2013 remix album resulted in another signing, this time to Phil K’s Darkbeat CD. Since then Mike has been touring a live show (after performing for a number of years alongside fellow Haul Music founder, Craig McWhinney) and establishing the School of Synthesis, a music production learning facility co-founded with veteran producer Davide Carbone.
In 2015 Mike’s focus returned to the studio for releases with Power Station and Motorik, and in 2016 for the exciting Zero Percent collaboration. Kim and Mike’s first official work is a remix of Triple J favourites The Jezabels “Pleasure Drive” and their first originals are imminent.
On the stage Mike also now joins T-Rek and Honeysmack to form “Broken Acid Experiment”, an entirely improvised live electronic-meets-rock band show, with an album forthcoming.
As a DJ Mike continues to enjoy a loyal following and a hectic schedule. His long-term residencies at coveted institutions such as Revolver and formerly at Honkytonks, for which he also released a mix CD “The Last Dance”, are the stuff of legend. At the same time he regularly visits important international destinations such as Rex Club in Paris and Berlin’s Watergate.
At home Mike’s DJing in support of touring international artists at countless clubs and festivals continues to earn accolades, with many labeling him one of Australia’s finest – most notably Get Physical’s DJ T., who invited Mike to Berlin to play at his 20 years of DJing anniversary event.
Mike is also one of only a select few Australian artists to have been named on the In The Mix honour role, cementing his status as a legend of the Australian underground music scene.
What’s the weirdest set you’ve ever played?
In 16 years of DJing I can tell you there have been many, many weird moments! One that springs to mind is the time I soundtracked the private strip show for a club owner’s friend on his birthday in Prague. I was touring Europe doing Ableton Live electronic stuff with a band in 2010, and we had been playing shows every night in different cities, sometimes with a 10-hour drive in between. We were all exhausted and hadn’t been receiving the greatest hospitality. When we arrived in Prague and did the sound check it seemed like any other show, except hardly anybody came to see it. In the middle of the band’s set the owner asked to take the microphone and announced a special surprise for his friend, and then a very theatrical and acrobatic lady entered and “stole the show”. The band’s music was incredibly heart-felt and totally inappropriate for the setting, so I took to the decks instead. The owner was so happy with the DJing that he convinced (or pretty much forced) me to stay all night and keep the party rocking.
You have a lot of projects going on; teaching at School Of Synthesis and University of Melbourne, DJing every weekend, producing music, being mix engineer for other bands and much more. How do you keep up with everything? What’s the secret?
I couldn’t be happier with the work that I do, so it’s an absolute pleasure to have these opportunities, and I attack them with everything I’ve got. I think the variety is what makes it work and what keeps it interesting. To work with a legendary band like The Avalanches, and then teach a total beginner how to make music, and then play a long set at a club like Revolver is really everything I wanted… and that’s just one day out of seven. Sometimes I work all day, every day, but I love it. Plus I spend any money I make on instruments and travel, so I’ve gotta keep working to pay for it!
It’s been said that you are the Kevin Bacon of the Melbourne underground dance scene. If you could make a mixtape for one of his films, which movie and what genre would the mix be done in?
I have absolutely no idea what that means! Is it because I’ve been around forever and I’m still working, but nobody can name anything I’ve done? I will assume it’s a compliment.
So if I’m soundtracking Kevin Bacon I think I’ll go for Sleepers (1996). I had forgotten it until I checked IMDB for a reminder on what he’d done, and he plays one fucked up character. I might have erased it from my memory so I can sleep at night. For a mixtape I’d be looking for really challenging, dissonant music, maybe with some industrial or experimental elements, and I guess I’d try to make it have even more of a dark impact. A great reference would be the darker moments from Thomas Bangalter’s soundtrack to Irreversible (2002).
As soon as you press play on this mini-mix, you know it comes from one of the absolute best techno and house DJs in Australia. This is an absolute pleasure for the ears where Mike manages to blend techno, house, electro and acid perfectly in just half an hour. Please let us present Mini-Mix #6.4 by Mike Callander!
KONTRAST is a collective of creative spirits who loves to combine raw sounds, dark, thumping beats and intense, edgy musical experiences with extraordinary visual elements in an experimental and innovative way. We want to build something new, colourful and unforgettable and to explore how sounds, shapes and visual imprints together can create something bigger than ourselves, and a different state of mind. The sixth series of the KONTRAST mini-mix series will run from November 9th to 30th, and there will be an exclusive podcast from each artist with a short interview to get to know them better.
Mini-Mix Series #6: