So tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Mike Cruz. Born and Raised in Queens, NY and I’m the owner of Buck Down Records.
How would you describe your work?
Well to be honest, Buck Down is just a label for me in the least narcissistic way possible. Buck Down is still very well in its infancy stage. I still don’t have a concrete idea of what I want it to be. What I’d like it to be is just a label embracing the more harder genres of electronic music. Specifically Jungle, Hardcore, Drum’ n Bass’ hell even a little bit of gabber. However, I would also like to have releases that aren’t just electronic either. There are so many ideas I’d like to work on but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’d like to take this one step at a time.
What is your personal philosophy in regards to making music?
I think it's a powerful thing. I wish I had better vocabulary to vocalize how I feel through words. However, I’ve never released anything that I’ve made nor have I shown anyone. Its too personal. But I have immense respect for people who can put themselves out there and just make what they wanna make. Even if it doesn’t sound good. Music is so powerful yet so subjective. Which is why I hate the politics that comes with it. At the end of the day, if a certain track makes you happy fuck anyone else who has an opinion about it. Somewhere down the line you’ll find someone
who enjoys it as much as you do. I remember talking to someone about how impactful music can be. I was talking about how much Jungle/Techno/House has affected me in the past couple of years in the best way possible. I remember specifically saying that for some reason the kicks, snare, breaks etc. sound so much better to me rather than Hip-hop. Which is funny cause Hip-hop was the first genre I really dove into and half of my record collection is just straight hip-hop.
What projects are you working on/looking forward to doing in the future?
As of right now, I’m still going through the process of putting out Buck Down’s first release. Which is a Jungle EP from the Homie MoMa_Ready. It will be pressed on 10” Vinyl, Should be headed your way in the middle of this year. With that said, I try not to think about the future too much. I’m just trying to be myself and figure myself out through all this. However, much like Djing I’m hopeful. I’d like to get a few more releases for the label and see where it goes from there.
Where do your influences come from?
As corny as this may sound, a lot of it is just my love for music. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that says music has saved them in some shape or form. Growing up, my father was a DJ. Nothing too big but he’d play some parties here and there for some extra cash. I remember the first electronic tracks I ever fell in love with. It was ‘Yazoo - Don’t go/Situation’ My father would play it from time to time at family parties and my family would always tell me how excited I would get. I honestly think it was the synth on both tracks because it was too fire not to like it ( Shout out to Vince clarke for that). I grew up in a Spanish household, so a lot of house music and freestyle would play. Artist like Masters At Work, Todd Terry, Cajmere, TKA, Lil Suzy, Stevie B etc. As I grew up I dabbled on DJing myself making reggaeton mixes for my cousins on virtual DJ. It wasn’t up until recently I tried to start doing something with music. When I discovered DJ Rashad (Rest In Peace) is when it really took off. A majority of the tracks he sampled were tracks that I heard when I was a kid and It gave me a new appreciation for it. Plus how fast Juke/Footwork is, kinda made me want to just learn and discover more. Not only that but tracks like “I’m Too Hi” is where I discovered the Amen break and I was hooked ever since. Through that I started going out to shows more, also various other things like traveling to London and Turin, Italy and seeing what the scene was like over there. Which was nothing but amazing. To meet a handful of people who are just as passionate about music and are so welcoming about it meant a lot to me. Which is something I’d like to emulate with Buck Down. It's also important to me to pay respect to the pioneers of the genres I love. It’s pretty sad that the creators aren't the face of it anymore. Of course, times change but I think the change of where electronic music is at now, specifically house and techno, is something you really can’t ignore. It’s certainly missing something.
How do you integrate this in regards to your work?
Well, to reiterate I’m not good at vocalizing things through words. I really depend on my mixes in order for people to understand how I feel. Even down to the vocals of every track that I use, it emulates a certain part of what i’m feeling at the time. Florain Kupfer’s ‘Post Present’ is a great example to understand what I mean. It's such a simple track with a great vocal sample. Then when that snare comes in at 2:40 god bless. When you speed it up a little it sounds even better. I’m very focused on what would get people moving without having to compromise what I want to play. Living in New York City, there isn’t much dancing. A lot of it is just chin-scratchers, and when I play I wanna see people move. As well as bring a chaotic feel to it. Artist like Arca, Aphex Twin, Shyboi, Jlin, and Juliana Huxtable do it very well. Like one minute they can hit you with a classic acid track then out of nowhere hit you with a crazy jungle track and its like FUCK YEAH and you just dance your ass off. It's interesting though lately i’ve been trying to throw in a latin feel to my mixes. I love my hispanic culture and the music that gets made from it. Genres like perico ripiao, Cumbia, Salsa etc. It really makes you appreciate instrumentation a lot more and as for me it really made me enjoy percussion. Which is pretty much why I like Jungle so much. At then end of it all I just wanna see people dance. Dancing is such a pure thing to do. Even if you don’t dance, its innate within you to move when you hear something good. Its crazy when you think about it, it's such a energy-based thing that you almost feel like you ain't even in your own body anymore. In many ways you gain a connection with anyone whose moving even if they’re a stranger to you. It's so euphoric. It's like a drug. Keeps you chasing that high.