Aesthetically Speaking

Groovin’ with Mickey Breeze; teen DJ prodigy

By Harry Colbert, Jr.
Managing Editor

McKinley Maxwell West (aka DJ Mickey Breeze)

McKinley Maxwell West (aka DJ Mickey Breeze)

DJ Mickey Breeze isn’t your average DJ.

For starters, McKinley Maxwell West (aka Mickey Breeze) is also a producer. And sure, a lot of DJs are producers (though probably few produced their first song at age 8), but how many can say they play five instruments? And if they can say they play five instruments; while piano, drums and trumpet (which Breeze plays) may be in the conversation, certainly the cello and violin wouldn’t be in their repertoire. But they’re in Breeze’s. And not many DJs are rooted in the old school music of Marvin Gaye and Bootsy Collins but have a passion for spinning hip-hop and EDM (electronic dance music, or “festival trap”). And how many DJs can say they were area spelling bee champions? And how many can say they are all this and just entering their sophomore year in high school?

Mickey Breeze can lay claim to all of the above … and he’s just 15-years-old.

While not even old enough to be in many of the venues where he performs, Breeze is earning a reputation as one of the hottest young DJs in the Twin Cities. His skills and ear for music have earned him a radio slot on 104.7 FM, WEQY and DJ gigs at Pride Festival, Bedlam Lowertown, on the set of “Candy Fresh;” and when Ebony Fashion Fair came to St. Paul to celebrate its 50th year, Mickey Breeze was the one in the DJ booth. Not bad for a person who got into DJing because of a video game.

“I’m that weird kid that never liked video games, but my older brother brought me this game, ‘DJ Hero’ when I was 8-years-old and I learned about technique and DJ culture and started liking it a lot,” said Breeze.

He’s been spinning ever since.

An area children’s talent show proved to be Breeze’s first “big break.” Breeze did a three-minute set dedicated to his late godfather, Thomas Spiegel (known as DJ Man-X) that earned the attention of one of the judges.

“I did the set and I didn’t place (in the competition), but Richard Moody was one of the judges and he was impressed and he booked me to DJ a boutique opening in Uptown and ever since then I’ve been getting more recognized,” said Breeze.

The talented DJ’s second big break came during the 2014 White Out Affair. While New York’s Cipha Sounds was the marquee name (former “Chappelle’s Show” and MTV DJ), it was then 13-year-old Breeze who wowed the crowd. Since then he’s incorporated keyboard playing and live beat making with his MPD 226 drum machine into his routine.

Breeze may have acquired his musical talents naturally, as he is the grandson to Grant West, Sr., co-founder of the Walker West Music Academy in St. Paul, but in a bit of irony, the multitalented DJ doesn’t read music.

“I have what they call perfect pitch, so I can just hear something and play it,” said the kid DJ with grown man skills.

That “perfect pitch” is what Breeze used when he produced “Block Chronicles” for Chadwick “Niles” Phillips and Lewiee Blaze. The song’s production was the result of some old records lying around in a house. Breeze uses samples from the vinyl records that were recently discovered in a home being rehabbed by his grandfather, West, Sr.

Surprisingly the young DJ/producer, who DJs festivals and “festival trap” isn’t much into attending festivals.

“I’m not a festival type kid,” explained Breeze. “If I’m going to be at a festival I wanna be onstage.”

One of the things that makes Breeze’s talents even more amazing is that fact that he also suffers from the painful blood disease, sickle cell anemia. Breeze said at times the disease causes him severe fatigue and hand cramping, sometimes making it difficult to perform.

“But I have never missed a show and I have never been late to a show,” proudly said Breeze.

To hear more from DJ Mickey Breeze, visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DjMickeyBreeze.

August 11, 2016

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