Last Friday, DJ Nu-Mark was in town for the Red Bull Thre3style Showcase at Butter Factory Kuala Lumpur. His visit was in conjunction with the annual global quest created by Red Bull Blue & Silver (Europe), to seek out the world’s best party rocker. And by that, we don’t mean “best person on the dance floor in the club”. We mean a music maestro who has capabilities like the man, DJ Nu-Mark himself.
Prior to his “toy set”, we took him aside for a little chat about the two things he knows best – DJing and hip hop.
Here’s what went down:
You started at a very young age, before the time of or maybe at the beginning of the time of CDJs, DVJs, and Ableton Launchpads. How do you think technology has benefited music, particularly what you do?
“I think it’s benefited me in terms of convenience and travel. I used to carry five to 10 crates of records to parties, and my own speakers, and amplifiers, and turntables, everything. All my equipment used to come with me and it’d be a lot of things to carry. Plus I could never do that on an airplane because it would just cost too much. Now, you can just have a laptop in your backpack and you’re good to go. You can just show up! Everything’s portable, you know? The downside of having this kind of technology now though is that there are too many options. It’s almost like there’s so many options that it’s hard to make a choice. Back in day, you didn’t have as many things to pick from so in a strange way, it would make you a little bit more creative at times. It’s strange. You’d think that with all this technology and with all these options, that you’d make the most amazing music or DJ in the most amazing ways but sometimes it doesn’t work like that.”
What’s your gear like? Like, probably the top five things that you would usually take with you when you travel for work.
“Toys excluding, a Rane 57 mixer, of course my laptop, my needles, my headphones, and my records and slip mats. I guess that’s six things but, yeah.”
In term of music, you’ve never been afraid to push boundaries and to keep trying new things. What are some of the things that you would really love to try someday?
“I’m developing a new idea but it’s not solid in my head yet so I don’t know yet. I wanna work towards something more visual for the crowd where my performance is almost in front of my face. Like, so my equipment is in front of me but people will still be able to see me. Like a window but all controlled my midi controllers and stuff. I wanna put the toy idea on ice for a minute and let it sit, but it’s something I’d come back to later to say, do a toy reunion tour or something.”
Who are your hip hop inspirations and while we’re on that topic, if you could pick an era of hip hop to live in, which one would it be and why?
“Hip hop inspirations..there are so many. From the old school, Melle Mel. From the middle school, Naz, Pete Rock. From the new school, people like Kendrick Lamar. As for the era of hip hop, I’ve already lived in it – it would be the middle school, the 90s. The reason why I enjoyed it is because the old school sound kinda matured into something new and the idea of sampling jazz and being musical was very accepted. The old school was cool and fun but it was very tough. I started in that era but I really honed in on my skill during the early 90s.”
In your opinion, what’s the most common misconception about being a DJ. Similarly what’s the most common misconception about hip hop?
“That’s a good question. Most common misconception about DJs is that they have to be top 40 DJs. Like they have to be good and popular to be considered good. It’s terrible! There are so many great DJs that do really innovative things but I think that the mainstream masses sometimes don’t wanna think too much. They just want real simple like beans and rice. Then you give them a steak and they’re like..what’s that steak? They get nervous. People don’t like to change and if there’s a DJ that’s doing something innovative, breaking rules, and changing the way music is perceived, it scares the audience sometimes. That’s a little upsetting. As for the biggest misconception about hip hop, is that it’s all violence. That’s one that has been around for a long time although now hip hop isn’t even all about that. Now, hip hop is all about swag, pimpin’, night clubs, drinks, and girls. It’s funny because the whole violence thing just slowly crept out through the back door and you didn’t even realize that it went away.”
What’s the future like for DJ Nu-Mark? What kind of collaborations or projects can we expect from you?
“I just finished by debut album called, ‘Broken Sunlight’. It’s out on my website. After that I’m gonna be collaborating with Slim Kid Tre from The Pharcyde on an album, and while we’re doing that, Jurrasic 5 will be going on a reunion tour so..there’s a lot going on! And then, after that, I’d like to do a multi-track project where I get the original recordings from the 60s and the 70s, and reedit the master reel. I’d actually have just the bass line, just the vocal line, and just the guitar part, and rearrange it. Kinda like, new and familiar at the same time – to rearrange that something that people already know, but in a different way.”
Looking forward to it, DJ Nu-Mark! Thank you so much for speaking to us. Also, special thanks to Red Bull Malaysia for making this interview happen.
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