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DJ Marky Interview

Our most talkative resident looks back at three years of DJ Marky & Friends.

DJ Marky is one of a kind. His night DJ Marky & Friends has secured Marky’s position as one of the great DJs and entertainers, not only in drum & bass, but in dance music in general. Through his dedication to long sets, outside-the-box programming of guest DJs, and a back room regularly featuring drum & bass DJs playing alternative sets, he has shaken up the thinking of drum & bass promoters and DJs across the capital.

In Innerground, Marky has one of drum & bass’ most vibrant and forward thinking labels, which is committed to good music rather than big names. They showcase fantastic fresh talent such as Bungle, Random Movement, Deep Inc. and Alix Perez, alongside more established acts like Marky himself, Total Science, Calibre and Logistics.

With the third birthday of his End residency days away, Marky chatted to Gin Trewhella from The End’s office for an interview about how the night has gone so far, dreams for the future, new music getting him hot under the collar and the joys of Serato.

Endclub.com: Hey Marky, where are you right now?

DJ Marky: I’m in Shanghai at the moment, just arrived from Tokyo.

How was Tokyo?

Absolutely wicked. Tokyo was incredible. I played at Womb with Aki (Womb’s resident DJ), it was Aki’s birthday. The crowd was amazing – Womb and The End – the best clubs in world, so I can’t complain!

So next week is the third birthday of DJ Marky & Friends. I can remember the hype about the launch night – a drum & bass DJ playing four hours was unheard of! Back then did you think three years on you’d be going strong and playing eight hour sets in London?

When I first played a long set people really enjoyed it. The funny thing was that the drum & bass crowd were just waiting for me to go to the toilet or something like that and I never did – I just played records. That was funny. Now though I’m really looking forward to doing another eight hour set, I want to do a proper different thing for the people, I just hope people understand and come down to check it, because it’s going to be great. I don’t want to play pure dubplates, I want to play everything; not just one style of music, I want to mix it up. I think sometimes people want to hear not just exclusive stuff, but good tunes, old, quality tunes; every time I play people are like “fucking hell I remember that, I had a great time when I first heard that tune.” There are so many good tunes to play!

When you first started doing these longer sets, how did the other drum & bass DJs react to you?

To be honest Gin, I don’t really know. I used to play at Lov.E in Brasil every Thursday, and every last party of the month, I used to play a long, long set. And people were always waiting like crazy for me to play these long sets, and the club would be so busy, and I always hoped for the same thing in London. All the DJs here played a maximum of two hours back then and now some of them want to play for four hours or something like that, but I was the first drum & bass DJ who played longer sets and I’m really proud of that. I have to say thanks to Alex Ill Logic because when I had the idea, when Layo invited me to do Marky & Friends, I spoke with Alex, and he was the only person who said “do it, it’s going to be great”, so big up Alex for that.

What are you best memories from the last three years of DJ Marky & Friends?

Soooo many. The first one with Gilles Peterson was so special. Then the second one we had High Contrast playing a disco set in the second room. It was wicked because people don’t expect him to play in the back room, or to play old disco tunes, so he broke a little taboo. Sometimes I prefer playing the back room to the main room! I can play any tunes I like in there and there’s more freedom. Another great memory was when Ben Westbeech played the lounge, he played Rage Against The Machine, The Clash, old funk and soul, he smashed it, people are still talking about that night now! When me and Fabio played that was incredible, just us two DJs both playing in the lounge and the main room, so when he played his last tune we’re running to swap rooms. It was quite funny, but his sets were so clever and interesting too.

One of my big dreams is to do a big party at The End and invite another big DJ like Andy C, and swap record boxes, so I play a set from his record box, and he plays mine. I think it would be completely different and so exciting, I don’t know if he would do it or not, but I just want to do something absolutely crazy and different. Maybe he’ll see the interview and go “yeah let’s do it!” You know what I mean? I’ve always wanted to do something like that, something special for the people, I don’t think about just me and building up my career, I think about building up drum and bass, because that’s the music that I love.

The guest at the birthday is Jazzanova, I know you’ve always wanted them to play at DJ Marky & Friends - are there any particular tracks you hope they’ll play?

I hope they play old Clara Hill stuff, the I:Cube remixes because I think they are great. Jazzanova’s production skills are absolutely incredible.

Have you DJ’ed with them before?

Yeah, I’ve played with Klaus and Jeurgen about twice, I played with them in the Czech Republic the first time, then me and Jeurgen played in Liverpool as well. He’s an incredible guy, and DJ, I’ve got so much respect for all of them.

You were talking about your lounge sets earlier. When you’ve played in The End’s lounge, how have the crowd responded to you playing music other than drum & bass?

The reaction’s been great, and I really, really enjoy it because I want people to see me as a DJ, a proper DJ, not just someone who plays one style, one sound. Not that I’m saying I’m gonna leave drum & bass and play house or something like that, just that I want to show people that I don’t just live drum & bass, I like other styles of music as well. I want to play some Brasilian tunes, tunes from my country you know, because there are great tunes out there that even DJs like Gilles don’t play, that people would love.

Who would be your dream ‘friend’ to play at DJ Marky & Friends?

Definitely Roy Ayers live. DJs? I think Masters At Work and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

When I used to see you play abroad I thought that you played with less inhibition that when you played in London, but I think since the launch of DJ Marky & Friends that’s changed. Was that a conscious change or a natural evolution?

It’s an absolutely natural thing. I’ve got two turntables in my house, and I don’t play records in my house, not because I don’t want to, but because I like to just go down to the club and play. I use Serato now, I’ve got my whole library on there, I look and decide I’m gonna play this now, that now, an old tune now, anything I want. Like last time, mid way through my set in the main room I just dropped a 4x4 tune in there, why not? At the end of the day it’s all about entertaining the crowd, and I’m a different DJ, I don’t think about the best double drop and all that, I’m just about entertaining the crowd.

So you’re on Serato now - you used to cut tons of dubplates, are you still doing that?

I don’t cut dubplates any more. I know people say “ah this DJ doesn’t play vinyl anymore”, but I think every DJ should play on the format that makes them feel comfortable, and I feel comfortable playing Serato. People come to the club because they love the music that I play, and at the end of the day I still play vinyl; Serato is still vinyl. Sometimes people say “you don’t play vinyl and blah blah blah” but I say “I use Serato, what’s the problem?” The most important thing is just to make people happy, and if I make people happy that’s the best thing. I think people saying Serato killed it or whatever is fucking bollocks, at the end of the day, I want to entertain the crowd, and no one has ever come to me and said my set was bad because of Serato, but a lot of people all over the world have come to me and said “thanks for making my night great”, and that’s all I care about.

What about the sound quality though, do you think it sounds as good as a dubplate?

Yeah, it depends on the EQs, and it’s up to you as a DJ to EQ it right, it’s down to your technical skills. I’ve heard loads of DJs playing vinyl and dubplates and still make it sound shit. I always talk to the sound engineer at The End, Gideon, because he is fucking clever! I love talking to him, and at every single Marky & Friends I say to him “I don’t feel comfortable DJing with earplugs” and he says “but Marky you know what, if you use Sennheiser headphones it’s better with the earplugs” and everything that he says is right. I did try the Sennheiser headphones but the cable’s too short, I like the Technics because of the sound, the design everything. But whenever I’m at The End it’s good because Gideon works so well with you. I say “if it’s too loud tell me”, and I always feel really comfortable. He makes you feel really special! He knows I want to do the best for my people, for my crowd, so big up to Gideon! He’s a fucking wicked guy.

For years you worked with XRS in the studio, and now in recent years, you’ve worked with A.I., Total Science, A Sides, Makoto, Bungle and so on. How do you think the change has affected your sound?

It depends. The thing with me and XRS was really incredible at the time, we are the same star sign, he used to read my mind, and I would read his mind, it was insane! The sounds I’ve made with Bungle are really different, because Bungle is a little bit heavy, and I approach things a bit more mellow, so the mix is really good. With A.I., Glenn and Gambit came to Brasil and they were like “come on Marky let’s do a tune in the studio”, and I went and we made the instrumental version of ‘Shame’. I played it at Marky & Friends and it sounded really good. Everyone said to me “I think it needs vocals”, so I immediately thought of Ben Westbeech. Glenn sent it to Ben and he sent it back in two days and he’d smashed it. I was so happy with the tune, it’s a really good collaboration. With Total Science, they are crazy guys, we had a great time working together. Me and Makoto started making tunes in Brasil in my house with my baby, it was crazy, then we made a tune in my hotel in London, then I went to Japan and made more tracks. I love doing different collaborations, because I have all these ideas, but sometimes you need someone else to add theirs. I just love sharing ideas!

You released ‘The Masterplan’ at the end of last year which was wicked, so what’s coming in 2008 on Innerground?

On Innerground there’s a Marky and Makoto EP, which I’m really looking forward to, ‘Hush Hour EP’ by Makoto Chan and Marky Tucker, three twelves by Random Movement, a twelve by Sabre and Krazy, a twelve by A Sides and Drumagick called ‘So Far Away’, a twelve called ‘She’s The One’ by some Australian guys called Vice Versa who have had releases on Good Looking, and an A Sides twelve ‘White Reisling / Milk & Honey’. I also just signed a new tune by Electrosoul System, it’s utterly deep, an incredible tune – it’s gonna be big at Marky & Friends.

What about a new DJ Marky artist album?

My plan is to do a different album, like no drum & bass, a little bit more of a funk, soul, jazz, Brasilian samba kind of thing, start a band and do a little tour. I’m going to start working on that in February and March with some people in Brasil and a couple of musicians from London, I want to invite a couple of guests, like Ben Westbeech and Stamina too. It’ll be really good, completely different.

What did you think were the most exciting new developments in drum & bass last year?

I think a couple of guys were really interesting. Lynx smashed it. Not just with ‘Disco Dodo’ but all his Soul:R stuff too. I’ve known Lynx for ages and ages. The other artist who smashed it last year was Random Movement, he surprised every single person and the reaction on the dancefloor to every one of his tunes is absolutely incredible, he’s so different, the music is just on another level. Also Makoto did really well last year, I loved his album. In Brasil, Bungle and C.A.B.L.E. killed it, his tune ‘New Infection’ totally smashed it, Fabio, Randall, Grooverider, everybody was crazy about this tune.

And what are you looking forward to this year?

This tune by Electrosoul System, is an absolutely incredible, deep tune, it’s going to be big. I’m also looking forward to the new Calibre album, which I think is coming out on Signature in March. I always play his tunes, I love Calibre, he’s the man!

Thanks Marky! See you soon…

Published: 11/01/2008