Among his many remixing credits, DJ Mike Cruz counts the tracks "Save My Soul" by Kristine W. and "Do You Ever Wonder" by Alison Moyet. Spinning in NYC clubs since the '90s, Cruz has expanded his palette to include clubs across America and across the ocean. Managed by Vincent, Markusic & Associates, Mike Cruz is making his Chicago DJing debut at Hydrate on March 19.
Gregg Shapiro: You have been quoted as saying that, even though you are a turntable master, you "can't mix Latin music to save my life." What makes it so
Mike Cruz: It's difficult because I really am not familiar with Latin music of today. So as far as
spinning it, it's simply not what I know. I'm sure I could figure it out if I took time to specifically listen to Latin records but I'm a dance music/tribal DJ.
GS: Even with your trepidation mixing Latin music, it still finds its way into your work. You can hear it prominently on "Lift Me Up," the track on which you collaborated with Inaya Day, and on "Don't Ever Leave Me" by Coro. Can you say something about its place in dance club music?
MC: Definitely you can hear it in those songs. After all, I am Puerto Rican and Italian and I grew up being awakened every Saturday morning by my mother listening to her Latin music. t's part of me, part of my soul and I sometimes love to add the Latin elements to records I produce or remix. As far as its place in dance music itself,
tribal elements are all through dance music. And tribal elements originated from Latin and African music.
GS: You have remixed singles by Kristine W. and Alison Moyet, two women with remarkable and
distinctive voices. Are there any other women with roof-raising voices that you would like to
MC: Definitely Christina Aguilera. That girl has a set of pipes! I also love India who was a famous free style artist who crossed over to the soulful house market with the help of Masters at Work, ultimately
leading her to success in the Latin market.
GS: How will your DJ set in Chicago, or any other city for that matter, differ from the way you spin in New York?
MC: I play for the crowd. It's all about the feel I get once I start spinning. This will be my first time to Chicago so I will have to wait and see and feel the crowd. New York tends to be a little harder in its sound so when I'm outside of NYC I often find I can play a little more funky and dark.
GS: How much does being gay play into your sensibilities as a DJ?
MC: I think being a gay DJ makes me more diversified as a DJ. Of course I'm in tune with what the gay community wants to hear, but at the same time I love turning out the straight clubs. Ninety-five
percent of the clubs I play are gay clubs since it's the gay clubs [that are] keeping dance music alive. The gay crowd [tends to be] more leaders, as opposed to the straight crowd, which tends to follow. Look at disco music in the '70s and even the whole Metrosexual concept now. More straight men are doing what we gay boys have been doing for years.
GS: If the dance clubs and discos were suddenly emptying out and gay men were flocking to live rock venues, are there any artists or bands in that realm that you would be interested in producing?
MC: Well, I wouldn't need to wait for the dance clubs to start emptying out….I would love the opportunity to work with some rock artists and bands right now. It would be fierce to remix a Led Zepplin, AC/DC or Janis Joplin record. My musical influences and tastes are quite vast. I would absolutely love the chance to work with Annie Lennox, Rolling Stones, Sting or Rod Stewart, just to name a few.