Michael Remson, known around the Bay Area drum ’n bass scene as R3M, has been making incredible waves since 2000. Known for his infamous bi-monthly with Primitive Science co-founder, Zykes Chilly – Dystopia – and more recently, Foundation at BRIX 581, a collaborative effort featuring other local crews, this Bay Area native has played for some of the biggest events and production companies Northern California has hosted – including Love Fest a.k.a. LovEvolution, Stamina Sundays, Opel Productions, Shelter, Outlet and many more.
Mike, you got your start in music via hip-hop and electro funk in the 80s. This included breakdancing, graffiti and rapping. How did that influence your life at the time?
I grew up in a home where music was an integral piece of my upbringing. My parents always had turntables in our house. I can’t remember what kind of turntables, but they were always in my life. My brother and I would listen to my parent’s records when we were very young. They had a huge collection spanning from the 50’s all the way on up to the 80’s. I remember my parents playing their jazz records and being captivated with vinyl and album artwork. I enjoyed looking at the producer and writing credits.
When hip-hop/rap music came to the forefront of the American music scene in the 80’s, I was enthralled with the lyricists (MC’s) as well as the DJ’s mainly because of my exposure to turntables from my parents. Moreover, I was inspired by how DJ’s at that time would manipulate turntables through scratching and beat juggling.
Hip-Hop culture quickly became a HUGE part of my life along with all of its elements. My friends and I listened to hip-hop on records, wore Adidas with fat laces, breakdanced at our elementary school during recess, and wrote raps at lunchtime. We would watch “Yo MTV Raps” on MTV each Friday night. Rap at that time was still relatively underground, but it quickly became a way of life for me and most of my friends.
In 1994, you experienced your first Home Base event. How did this night impact your life? What effect did it have on your previous experiences in hip hop culture?
I can’t believe that it has been so long…But seriously, Home Base events and/or “Oakland’s International Rave Center” was one of the greatest rave venues in California and quite possibly one of the best stateside. My first Home Base event was around 1994 (Could’ve been 1995). My friend “MC Apparently The Obvious One” (Anthoney Hines) and I had never attended a ‘rave’ before. We ended up sneaking into the massive warehouse which use to be a Home Depot. Our minds were instantly blown and transformed…3 areas of music including House/Techno, Jungle and Breakbeats. There were amazing visuals, phenomenal sound systems, partygoers dancing/breakdancing and all around positive vibes. It didn’t matter what nationality you were, how old you were, where you came from, how you were dressed, what your sexual preference is, etc. Everyone was there to have a great time and everyone was very friendly and sociable. I’m pretty sure my first rave was a Funky Tekno Tribe event and I was instantly hooked.
I kind of correlated the rave scene at that time and hip-hop as being “underground culture.” It was a counterculture that went against the mainstream but brought people together for the love of the music.
Two years later, you mingled with your love, Drum & Bass. What was it about Drum & Bass that got you hooked?
I was actually first exposed to Drum & Bass (Jungle) music when I attended my first rave but I didn’t actually really “listen” to the genre until later. The first album I was exposed to was Goldie’s “Timeless” album. A college friend of mine brought Jungle records from London back to Berkeley and shared the music with me. I liked the fact that jazz, reggae and industrial/hardcore elements that I had been exposed to when I was younger along with breakbeats sped up co-existed in this genre. Pair that up with vocal samples a la hip-hop and I appreciated everything that this genre had to offer. The sound was new, rich in texture and vibrant with possibilities to expand. I started researching artists, record labels and exploring Jungle music on my own. It quickly became an obsession to me.
Influential tunes for me are:
LTJ Bukem’s – Demon’s Theme
Two Bad Mice – Bombscare
Urban Shakedown – Some Justice
Alex Reece – Pulp Fiction
Deep Blue – Helicopter Tune
Rufige Cru – Terminator
Renegade – Terrorist
Nasty Habits – Shadow Boxing
Adam F – Metropolis
Origin Unknown – Valley of The Shadows
To name a few…If I had to list my top 3 influential Drum & Bass albums, I’d say Goldie’s “Timeless”, Reprazent “New Forms” and Ed Rush & Optical “Wormhole.”
In 1998, you began DJing and took up Turntablism. How did that play into you beginning to play out with Inneractive Entertainment in 2000? What was Inneractive Entertainment to the scene at the time?
I officially became a part of Inneractive Entertainment in 2000 with my brother Brandon Remson (Lonestar), Anthoney Hines aka Apparently The Obvious One and Joe Bird aka UrbanTiger. We threw our first show at a small bar in Alameda, CA called “The Drift Wood.” Our nights would be mixed genre featuring House, Breaks, Drum & Bass and Hip-Hop. We just went ALL-IN on the promotion tip. I remember throwing events in A-Town and having the “Happy Kids” (Later known as ‘Skills DJ Workshop’) come through and give us props on what we were doing. It was all about fun back then and contributing to the late night music community in the Bay Area. We had no idea that Inneractive Entertainment would later evolve into a Mobile DJ Business.
In 2004, you linked up with Zykes Chilly and the Primitive Science Crew, who is now a staple in the San Francisco Drum & Bass scene. What does Primitive Science mean to you?
t has always been a huge milestone to be a part of the Primitive Science crew in my DJ career. Primitive Science was THE premiere Drum & Bass crew in the East Bay. Before Primitive Science, there was never really a crew holding down Drum & Bass on the east side of the Bay Bridge. Drum & Bass events were always occurring in San Francisco with most raves locally featuring San Francisco DNB DJ’s/Producers. Primitive Science was a game changer. We were the first crew that started throwing raves, undergrounds, and renegades featuring Drum & Bass. We made DNB a MAIN STAGE phenomenon at all of our events. I mean, Primitive Science started as a small radio show in Hayward at Chabot College on KCRH by Chris the Junglist and Zykes Chilly and later blew up into a full-fledged event production crew with a solid DJ roster. Primitive Science is known for hosting radio shows on DNBRadio, Jungletrain and AtomicVibes. We promoted AnothaLevel clothing at all of our events. Additionally, we threw major events like Duffman, I Hella UG’s, Moe’s Tavern, Bluntman & Chronic as well as Transit. Moreover, Primitive Science created the word “Bonetone” and presented the infamous campout “Bonetone Massif” before summers were saturated with campouts and festivals. To me, Primitive Science is a family that transcended ‘parties.’ Every resident is a close friend of mine and I am extremely thankful to have been a part of the magic that Pri-Sci represented.
You also played on the Bay Area Drum & Bass float at Love Fest 2009 alongside some of the top names in Drum & Bass. Tell us about that experience.
LoveFest 2009 and/or “LovEvolution” as it was called by its promoters was another milestone in my DJ career. It was truly incredible and frankly, there are no words that can describe the feeling wrapped into playing Drum & Bass music to a crowd of 100,000+ people on a float that featured 40,000+, watts of sound (The Fsound sound system), 8 tops, and 16 subs. The vibe was nothing short of electric. That event was by far the most epic DJ experiences of my life. It quite possibly was the most phenomenal event featuring electronic dance music that the Bay Area has even witnessed. The Bay Area needs to bring back the LoveFest in a major way.
2011 saw the launch of your famed bi-monthly, Dystopia Fridays, which had just had its 5 year anniversary. How do you feel Dystopia has progressed over the last five years? What is your vision for the future?
Dystopia has been an astounding experience for Zykes Chilly and I and I feel very grateful that I have been able to dedicate my extra time to delivering Drum & Bass to the city of Oakland which is my hometown. Dystopia has featured a lot of the major players of stateside Drum & Bass including Gridlok, Bachelors Of Science, Random Movement, Stunna, Submorphics, Method One, Jamal, Flaco, Machete, Sinistarr, Calculon, Dave Owen, Aphonic, Scott Allen, Place42, Dave Shichman, The Cenobites, HammerZz of Kryteria, Audio1, Zere, Tyler Straub, Ricky Switch + Joe Mousepad, Akaida, PVK, Rocker-T, Joey Mojo, Miss Haze, Double Dragon, Ray Uptown, Indiddjinous, Matos + Lovelace, Homemade Weapons, Koda, Anodyne Industries, Satin, The Standard, Amadeus and Janaka Selekta to name a few. We also featured acts from Australia; Centaspike, Token and Schwarr. Acts from Ireland; Sage and Ricky Force. And an act from Portugal; Bassment.
We would like to start booking more acts from the U.K. however; we always prided ourselves in booking stateside DNB talent. There are many shining stars in the United States that we’d like to feature like Planet of The Drums, Quadrant and Iris, Jaybee, Kasper and Phnatom 45.
You also began another monthly, Foundation a few months back, featuring collaborations with other crews. What’s the 411 on that?
Foundation started on July 10th, 2015 at BRIX 581 in Oakland, CA. BRIX is a new venue that features two areas of sound including an upstairs and outdoor patio. The owners of Lounge 3411, Adam Afuvai and Stephanie Sullivan are co-owners of BRIX 581. We have maintained a great business relationship with Adam and Stephanie at Lounge 3411, so when the opportunity arose to start an event at their new venue, we jumped on it. BRIX is also a phenomenal restaurant with a Sunday brunch that won’t disappoint. Initially, the night was Drum & Bass and Breaks. We were co-hosting the event with Faultline Breaks lead by Eric Riggsbee, Justin Johnson and Marco Mirenzi. Faultline decided to go in a different direction after our December 2015 show. Dystopia DNB then decided to allow other crews to cohost the second area. We’ve featured House, Psytrance and Bass Music. We have a collaboration scheduled with Baby Donkey Productions on July 8th, 2016 lead by Yosutebito (Formally Bicolas of Skills DJ Workshop). We are approaching 1-Year in August 2016 and we plan on keeping it going. BRIX is a bigger venue than Lounge 3411 so it has a lot more possibilities than our initial venture. Right now, the sky’s the limit with Foundation and locals seem to really enjoy our nights there. Plus they love the fact that we serve tapas from 9p – 12a.
What tunes do you feel changed your life as you journeyed deeper into drum & bass?
I think I answered that in an above question. See’ Influential Tunes.’
What’s coming up for R3M? Anything else to add?
I am currently trying to collaborate a mini tour of the Pacific west coast with a well-known stateside producer and his girlfriend. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag however; it’s going to be awesome and all the way live. I’m also planning in collaborating on some Drum & Bass tunes with a local producer named Nick Dagger. I have been in this industry for way too long not to produce music of my own. It is truly time to get that work!
If you could do a mix for us, that would be AWESOME 🙂 Let me know. Big up R3M!
I can certainly produce a mix for you and I’ll forward it in the next few weeks. Standby and massive respect to you for giving me the opportunity to share some of my history. Big up and respect.
Check out R3M‘s music at the following links –