Mikey D'Merola, the Brooklyn DJ and creator of the Big Apple Mix, speaks with DiscoMusic.com about the New York Disco scene.
Mikey D'Merola interview written by Bernard F. Lopez of DiscoMusic.com
There have been many DJs throughout the years, but not many that are still actively spinning. Mikey D' Merola is one of those few who continue to spin the best of the old with the best of the new and cutting edge.
Mikey and I first met while hanging out at the studios of WKTU radio. During our talks, one could sense the love he had for music and his very down-to-earth nature about things.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Mikey D'Merola's introduction to music came at an early age. He tells DiscoMusic.com that at around 8 years of age he had learned to play the drums and even studied Jazz. During his teens he played for numerous Rock and wedding bands in and around Brooklyn.
During the span of 1976-1979 he found himself gravitating towards Brooklyn's burgeoning Disco scene. He would frequent such clubs as the Superstar, Penthouse and even saw an early appearance by Madonna at Camelot. Around 1978 at about the age of 20 he got himself a DJ setup and started to experiment with the Disco sounds of the day. He mentions playing The Trammps and Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes . . . He was completely immersed in the sounds he was able to create from his two Technics 1200s and his mixer and called it "true love." He tells me that he still has those two turntables! What's interesting is that he calls his early mixing as "experimenting."
He started mainly as a mobile jock, but that wasn't where it was all at. Besides, Mikey didn't have a van and had to load all his records and equipment into his car. Spinning at a club was his goal and one he soon accomplished.
Things really took off when he met Charlie Allessi and joined his early record pool out of Brooklyn called "Infinity Record Pool." Mikey D' first began DJ'ing at a Disco called "The End Result" which later became "The Plaza Suite." He was the resident DJ three nights a week. Mikey continued to move around and do "spots" as he likes to call them. Mikey was very nomadic and never really stayed in any one place.
Mikey D' was known for going wild on his mixes by pulling all sorts of stunts and tricks. He usually had two or three copies of all his favourite records so he could surprise the crowd with his own special "live" remix using as many as four turntables. He would drop in acapella's, extend the breaks or add loops and drop sound effects which the crowd would just eat up. Some of the records he loved doing this to were Donna Summer's "I Feel Love."
Mikey D'Merola continued perfecting his skills and met up with Tony Martino of Alant Enterprises who was responsible for producing many of the mixes heard on the original Disco 92 WKTU radio in New York City. He heard Mikey's work and offered him an opportunity to create edits and mixes for the programs. Many of you old New York Disco old-timers probably heard his mixes during the lunch break mix sessions KTU would air.
This is what got Mikey really hooked on editing and later remixing. He would grab anywhere from 10-15 of his favourite records and head down to Sunshine Sound studios in New York City and cut his own acetates. The result was a one-of-a-kind single sided 12" montage of spectacular edits. It would take him anywhere from 30-40 hours of laborious mixing and editing. Remember this was a few years before the revolutionary Macintosh computer was introduced in 1984 so to create his special edits, he had to do them all by hand using a razor blade and cutting block to splice the reel to reel tape. He would later play them at his DJ gigs and burn up the dance floors.
Mikey D'Merola: Bits and Pieces and The Big Apple Mix
Many people besides the dancers took notice. Eventually this led him to creating the infamous "Bits and Pieces 1" and "Bits and Pieces 2" DJ mix plates. Shortly thereafter, he cut an acetate with edits of late '70s/early '80s songs for use during his DJ gigs. Well, someone pirated a copy and released it without giving Mikey any credit. This bootleg release was to became the legendary Big Apple Mix. DJs everywhere were playing it on the dance floor. To everyone's surprise it would be so popular that it was even played by radio stations, especially WKTU in New York City.
Being that Mikey was well known, most industry people were aware that he was the original creator of the Big Apple Mix. Unfortunately some had erroneously assumed that he was also the one who released the bootlegs in the first place and didn't want to work with him. What's interesting is that the many record labels of the day refused to release similar mixes even after seeing the huge success of the "Big Apple Mix." In the end, the most important thing to Mikey is that he knows that everyone enjoyed his work and "that's worth more than money or fame."
In 1982 Mikey D'Merola married, and a year later they both had a child. He continued mixing, but says around 1985 or so that the music was getting tired and was just empty. He kept busy with a family business while playing every now and again. About a year or two ago, Mikey met up with some of his old acquaintances from the golden days of Disco. One of them was Joe Causi who was now back on the air on the newly resurrected WKTU radio which was playing Disco and todays dance sounds. That was it, Mikey was reenergized and after a month was back into the music as if nothing had ever happened.
Mikey is extremely open to all styles of dance music and spins at various clubs throughout New York City as well as being a featured mixer on WKTU radio and here at Discomusic.com. He has recently been spinning at such New York clubs as The China Room and The Cheetah Club. In addition, he also runs his own record label called Full Blast Records which has put out a hot new House track called "Amadeus 2000" by Giuseppe D.
Written by Bernard F. Lopez (July 19, 1999)
Interview as featured on https://www.discomusic.com
Copyright © 1999 by Bernard F. Lopez
All rights reserved
Mikey D'Merola Related Links
Listen to The Big Apple Mix