Meet Mick Batyske, The Guy Who Spins for Lebron & FLOTUS
When you think of lucrative professions, DJing probably doesn’t immediately come to mind. And yet, there are a select few who have been able not only to make a real, successful career out of DJing, but have managed to do so while maintaining a relatively non-Vampiric lifestyle as well.
Take Mick Batyske—or MICK, as he’s known in the industry. Raised in Ohio, he moved to New York City on a whim after getting married, and has been steadily killing it ever since. He started out as most DJs do—playing countless sets at two in the morning—but soon traded in that lifestyle for a much more comfortable (and posh) one. To call him a celebrity DJ would be selling him short; the guy has played at private dinners for LeBron and Jay Z, and was even recently summoned by Michelle Obama.
Earlier this week, Batyske swung by Milk Studios for a little chat. Read on to find out which two albums he’ll always be grateful for, FLOTUS’ song requests, and what it’s like spinning for the bigwigs—and then stay tuned for Batyske’s playlist, which we’ll be publishing later this week exclusively on Milk.
How did you get your start as a DJ?
I was a music nerd in high school. Drums, piano, marching band. However, privately, I was in my bedroom at home, teaching myself how to DJ. When I moved to college, I realized being the kid in the dorm room with turntables and records was really cool. That changed my life and I just never stopped.
LeBron and Jay Z used to do these 2 Kings Dinners during All-Star weekend with a who’s who of power players in sports, entertainment, tech, and politics. It taught me a lot about how I want to structure my career as an entrepreneurial smart guy-slash-DJ. When I realized the type of people I like being around, it was the people in that room versus some rich trust fund kid who doesn’t have a care in the world.
Totally. Which isn’t Michelle Obama.
What was she like?
The nicest person I’ve ever met. I did an event for her for a really great organization called FNV—Fruits and Veggies—and it’s all about getting youth to eat healthy. I got to meet her, and it was just great because I have a 15-month-old son, and one of my main passions is to make sure he eats really healthy, because I didn’t eat really healthy growing up. It’s probably my number one career highlight; I don’t really see what could top that.
Was it at the White House?
It was in Virginia. But because of that, I actually got to take my son to the White House for the Easter Egg Roll. I casually mentioned it to her and she was like, “Sure you can come.” A couple months later, [and] we were at the White House on the lawn for Easter.
Did Michelle Obama have any song requests?
She was just into positive, empowering, female-centric anthems. And obviously, NWA. Kidding.
Are you into fashion at all?
Yes, absolutely. I’m a pretty classic guy, I stick to the darker colors and accessorize with cool sneakers or a cool watch. I’m not going to be the guy coming out in, like, kilts and shit. Or wearing a curtain. That’s not really my thing.
My son is way more fashionable than me, though—he needs his own interview. Anytime I do a photo shoot at my house, the minute Myles comes out, the photographer is like, “Alright, we’re done with you,” and takes all these photos of him.
“‘Check Your Head’ and ‘Ill Communication’ probably put me on the trajectory that I ended up in.”
What are some of your favorite brands?
Right now, I’m in love with Saint Laurent jeans. I’m also rocking Our Legacy, Stone Island, Coach—I just did a social campaign for them—Acne, and pretty much anything curated on Mr. Porter. My favorite coats are Prada. I’m addicted to Nike Tech Fleece sweats. For non-sneakers, I’m checking for George Brown BILT. He comes from the sneaker world and designs his shoes and boots with real comfort. For sneakers, pretty much anything at Kith.
Were there any particular artists that inspired you to start DJing?
One of [my] biggest inspirations were probably the mid-‘90s era Beastie Boys. They played classic funk, but they were also playing punk songs. They had DJs on the songs, but then they’d have weird Tibetan monk interludes. This was all on one album! And they dressed super dope, like ‘90s, grungy streetwear. It was life changing for me. It happened right at the moment where I was still playing instruments, still getting into DJing, still kind of finding myself, and that showed me that you can have all of that and put it all in one pot. Check Your Head and Ill Communication probably put me on the trajectory that I ended up in.
What’s one type of music or artist that you would never let your son listen to?
When I was growing up, if my parents were like, “You can’t listen to NWA,” I might not be the person I am now. I don’t ever want to censor him from anything. I have a feeling that, by allowing him to gravitate towards what he likes, he’ll want to reciprocate and explore the things I like. I want us to learn from each other—that’s the goal.
What city or town do you think is doing the coolest stuff in music right now?
The obvious answer is Brooklyn because I live here and it’s amazing. Outside of that, I would say Detroit. So much great stuff that comes out of Detroit—whether it’s Motown or Dilla or Danny Brown.
What’s something that you think people would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m super grateful to God for my life and my career. I’ve never had a rock star manager or a famous uncle. It’s kind of just been me, from the dorm room to today sitting here on this couch with you. I just wake up every day and try to figure all this shit out.
So you do all your press yourself?
Yes—I’m a relationships guy and the joy of what I do is meeting people and being a connector. I love it. That said, I’m now at the point where I’m taking meetings to offload some of that (if you’re a really good publicist, holla at me!) because I have so many other things I’m working on outside of DJing in different business verticals and want to refocus my time.
Do you have any advice for anyone who’s trying to break into the industry or become a DJ?
Do it for the right reasons. Do it because you love music, because you love creating a better day for somebody. Scratching is great and all that, but it’s mostly about song selection, the flow and the vibe. Also: don’t be a dick.
Stay tuned to Milk for more from our favorite DJs.