Potvin's luck

C440r’s DJ breaks out; DJ On&On strikes gold
By DAVID DAY  |  June 8, 2006

Michael Potvin
DJ MICHAEL POTVIN is many things to many people. The multi-talented Vermonster is the mixtape guru for the Somerville art lab Compound 440r, but he also produces tracks, plays with Rumble winners Campaign for Real Time, and is half of the synthcore duo (We Are) Cassette. Today we’re talking about his uncanny ability to swerve in and out of nostalgia and discovery in his DJ mixes, many of which are available at C440r’s extensive Web site. “I inherited a huge new-wave collection from my uncle,” he says, gesturing outside the Middlesex Lounge on a boggy Thursday. “One year he gave me 100 records and the next year he gave me 200 records. Then my mom gave me 500 classic-rock records in 11th grade, when I started buying new shit.”

From there, Potvin moved to Boston, went to school, and quickly became the busybody he is today. As a DJ, though, the guy has focus. “I think ’80s is fun — I need to get more ’80s. I break it out for parties. My first real DJ tape was all ’80s, all beat-matched.” Potvin got most of his inspiration from WEQX, a small independent station in Manchester, Vermont. “They’d always play ’80s and new wave and the Chemical Brothers,” he winces. “I still hold a place in my heart for their stuff.” He raided the station with his high-school friends, something quite unheard of in today’s corporate-radio structure. “We would go down there and see if they had any promos. Then we’d try to get some stickers and tapes and CDs, whatever they had lying around.”

A Vermonter through and through, Potvin grew up “not near any highway” and still goes back to decompress as often as possible. (“I love it there.”) In his small town, he and his current roommate, whom he persuaded to move to the Hub recently, would drive around blasting UK house music. “I used to like mixing classic-rock tracks with the four house singles I had at the time. I would mix ‘Eight Miles High’ by the Byrds with the Basement Jaxx’s ‘Bingo Bango’ and [imitates air drums] ‘Oh yeah! This is the shit!’ And everyone there was like ‘What the?’ We were those kids.”

Potvin’s plate is full with production work, touring Europe with Campaign for Real Time, and Cassette shows, but expect to find him DJing around town at Big Digits shows and Enormous Room, where he’s pursuing a residency. “In Vermont there were no dance nights, no dance shows. We used to go and see ska shows! We would come down to Boston, come down to Newbury Comics and try to find this music, though. I love it.”

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