In case you haven’t heard, Mike Rizzo is returning to the dancefloor. After taking some personal time off, the popular DJ is now more than ready to launch back into dance scene, onto the mixing board, and on top of the charts once more.
His return kicked off nicely with a remix of Justin Timberlake and Beyonce‘s duet on “Until The End Of Time,” and has since steadily gone upward with his smash hit mixes of Danity Kane‘s “Damaged” and Britney‘s “Break The Ice,” all of which have performed quite well on the Billboard dance charts.
Last week, I had the pleasure to talk to Mike over the phone. He’s a really funny guy with great work ethic, and it was a pleasure to speak to him and learn more about his life, his work, and his goals for the future. Go ahead and read on to check out what he has in store for 2008 including remix plans for Lindsay Lohan, Usher, live radio shows, and more!
Hey Mike, thank you for calling!
So, let’s get started. I see that you grew up in New York City and that it was in the early 90’s that you got your start?
Actually, I grew up in New Jersey. I’m still a New Jersey native; I just work out of New York.
Ooh. The Internet lies.
Yeah, grew up in Lyndhurst NJ, now residing in Clifton, NJ.
I see, okay.
Once I’m done working for the night, I need to retreat back to the tiny, quiet neighborhood [laughs]. It gets too busy to be in New York.
[Laughs] I completely understand.
Yeah, I gotta just go and relax.
Well, DJ-wise or production wise?
I’m talking about DJing.
Well DJing, I just followed a couple people years ago at weddings and proms and stuff and I was just always intrigued by how they would take the crowd and just move them. Take them in the palms of their hands; take them on a musical journey. That’s what got me startedâ€¦I was a very young guy.
So you slowly moved up into the clubs and started mixing there?
Yeah actually, I got a break. Frequented teen club back in New Jersey, Trendsetters, way back 20 years ago without giving my age away [laughs]. I would just hang out there in the DJ booth and watch this guy spin. I had his number and we could correspond back and forth. One day he said he couldn’t make it, he got sick, and I did a two hour set and it went over very, very well. They asked me back to do my own night, so I kind of got started back in the teen clubs. When I became 18 or 19, I started doing the adult clubs and then moved onto New York and bigger and better things from there.
So now that you’re well established and you’ve been all over the world, do you have any particular favorite place you like to spin?
Oh, I’d say Ibiza. I compare that to Yankee Stadium. Your dream as a ballplayer–I compare a lot of things to sports–is to play at Yankee Stadium. I believe that was by far my greatest, most amazing experience, playing Pascha in Spain.
As far as your mixes, do you consider your style to be a certain signature sound or do you think that it’s a combination?
Remixing is really making the labels happy, making the artist happy, and catering to radio. Our target is to get radio to play these records.
As far as my club mixes, I try to put a progressive, harder edge to that and make it a little more electronica-sounding and add a little bit of edge to the mixes. My main priority is definitely to get radio play. If you stay too underground, you’ll be capped at a certain point. I think you need to broaden your horizons a little bit, stay very open minded, and wear a lot of hats.
Now, is there a favorite artist you like to mix?
One of my favorites that I always wanted to work with was Usher. He just constitutes raw talent. He and Justin Timberlake, who I had the opportunity to remix also this year with Beyonce. I just got done with remixes on Usher and working on this Lindsay Lohan project called “Bossy.”
Yeah, it’s gonna be through Universal Music. They kind of co-hired me to remix this and get the best people on board to make this record happen in the club and radio.
I’ve heard the record, I really like it.
It grows on you, doesn’t it? It’s got that hook!
They’re not fully set on the single, but that’s definitely something we’re breaking in Rhythm Radio.
Yes, very exciting. We need some good publicity for Lindsay. She’s a great person, let’s have some positivity for her.
Yeah! I’ve always supported her music career. I really like what she puts out. [Laughs] No shame.[Laughs] Very catchy hooks, most importantly.
Definitely. So, I don’t know if you heard but the Freemasons got in a bit of heat for turning down Madonna’s “Give It 2 Me,” they said they were too busy to take on the single at the momentâ€¦
I didn’t know that. I admire their work. Wow, that’s news to me!
I was wondering if that ever happened to you, if you’ve ever turned down something and later on wish you hadn’t?
Oh, I’ve had that happen on more than one occasion. I remember off-hand now a Jessica Simpson project when I was just getting started on remixing. Certain things don’t time stretch properly, they’re not in the right element of BPM in its original form. You don’t want to make it sound like Mickey or Minnie Mouse with the vocal spinner. They’re plenty of projects where I didn’t like the original song itself! You gotta remember, your name is getting stamped on that mix along with the song and label. There’s certain songs that didn’t make sense to remix to me.
You’ve also got a mix show going on BPM81.
I’m fortunate this year to have about seven mix shows. We’ve got Pulse 87.7 in New York City, I’m on board every Friday Night. Area 51 from Midnight to 2 AM. BPM 81 on XM Radio, the first Sunday of every month, I’m playing there at 10 PM. WBZC (88.9FM) in Pemberton, New Jersey, iPartyRadio.com, the original Hot 97.com, MusicChoice, and I hope I didn’t leave anybody out. I think I got them all covered.
That’s quite some coverage [laughs]
It’s been a busy schedule, but I don’t complain when I’m busyâ€¦only when I’m not!
That’s right. Now, I heard you actually took some time off last year because you just had a baby?
Well, my son’s about to turn 3. When he was born, my wife and I decided that we’re going to take time away and devote and spend time with our son. I didn’t want those first three years to go by and say, “Wow, how did he grow up so fast?” I definitely took some time just to spend with family and concentrate on reinventing my sound.
You feel fulfilled? You feel like you had a pretty steady break?
Oh, very fulfilled. As they say, you can only keep the player off the field for so long. I’m chomping at the bit to get out there.
I’ve also seen you’ve done some exciting mixes for Danity Kane, Justin Timberlake, Beyonceâ€¦
Yeah, again I was fortunate enough to come back this year and remix these great marquee artists like Danity Kane through Johnny D in Atlantic. He’s working closely with Puffy’s label, Bad Boy, so they asked me to do the mix, I did it, I turned it in and it’s taking off right now!
Yeah, that’s a great mix right now.
Yeah, the group is doing well, the single’s doing well. I actually did that mix with Robert Larow from Orange Factory, a little collaboration together on that mix. Also, just finished Usher’s “Moving Mountains”, and there’s the Lindsay Lohan project with “Bossy.”
And of course I saw some work with my personal favorite, Britney.
Oh yeah, “Break The Ice” did very, very well. I did a speck on “Piece of Me” too. I see that some people incorporated it into a video, I looked it up on Google. [laughs] She’s reinventing her sound, I love her album. I was very fortunate to work with Britney.
I was really excited to see you had some mixes on there! [laughs]
It’s been a very exciting time this year, it’s really been great.
Right now, do you think you’re going to tour, or primarily do some mixing?
We’re taking baby steps getting back in as far as DJing. Putting a tour together is so time consuming, but July 26th I’ll be playing at Sound Bar in Chicago. September 18th in New York City, we have Big Bash on Broadway with Amber, Deborah Cox, Chris Willis, Christian George, and a whole host of people. Mark that on your calendars!
Sounds exciting! Any other current projects?
We also started our own label, NY2LONDON Entertainment, where we have Sallie Toussaint, a former Miss Connecticut model, we’re putting her out next with a single called “Uncomplicated,” so we’re putting a lot of time into branding the label.
How about producing wise, is that what you’ve been working on with Sally Toussaint?
Yeah, as a matter of fact I co-wrote the song. Still doing a lot of co-writing. As far as music composition, I do my music; send it out to a lot of talented writers here and internationally. They do their writing, and we just try to put them with the most talented singers, whether it’s pop artists, mainstream artists, or some of our own here on the label!
Sounds great, sounds like you’re really busy right now [laughs]
Well, I’m trying! I’m refreshed, I’m through with that little hiatus and I’ve got a lot of energy brewing now.
Well, I’m excited to see what you have next. I think that’s all I got for today, but I just wanted to say thank you so much for talking to me here at MuuMuse.
Oh, it’s my pleasure, I had a great time chatting with you!
Me too, and I wish you the best in the future!
Thank you very much, Brad!