DJ Marky talks influences and Marcus Intalex
Having just arrived in the U.K. following dates in Japan, Singapore and China and just prior to heading back to his home in Brazil for more gigs, it’s little surprise that a bleary eyed, freshly woken DJ Marky greets us at 11 AM for the start of an interview to talk about his new compilation. Maybe he’s tired or maybe he’s not a morning person? Some DJs aren’t. But anyone who’s met him will tell you that DJ Marky aka Marco Antonio Silva is most definitely a people person and it’s not long before his infectious, warm smile arrives, as he begins to enthuse about music and memories in a conversation that strays from the parameters of discussing the compilation.
“It’s a proper, old school mix,” he smiles to start. “I’m not trying to edit or loop the tunes, I’m just putting the needle on the record and mixing. You can hear where I’ve speeded up or slowed down the records. It’s a real mix using two turntables. It’s not a computer mix.” Marky is best known for both these DJing skills and his production skills in the world of drum n’ bass, a genre he has championed for over two decades. Spotted by Bryan Gee while playing in a club in Marky’s home town of São Paulo, he was invited by Gee to spin in London, released his first music on Gee’s labels including V Recordings and went on to establish lifelong friendships and collaborative production efforts with several UK drum n’ bass artists. But it wasn’t strictly Marky’s expertise in drum n’ bass that made him stand out to Bryan Gee. In Marky he heard an experienced DJ who had been active since his early teens, well versed in disco thanks to his first residency at a roller skate rink and similarly educated in hip hop. It was techniques from the latter, which Marky brought into his drum n’ bass sets, that were among the elements that made him stand out to Bryan Gee. And, within his earliest productions for Gee, Marky would go on to display a love for Brazilian folk and dance music, picked up via his parents record collection, when he released “So Tinha Que Ser Com Voce” and the smash hit “LK,” Brazilian drum n’ bass became one of the genre’s biggest buzzes of the millennium’s start.
The status DJ Marky had attained within drum n’ bass was marked by BBE in 2010 when they paired him with the mighty 4 Hero on The Kings of Drum n’ Bass compilation. But Marky’s relationship with the label had begun over two years previously when they requested an Influences compilation from him, in full knowledge that Marky’s record collection stretched much further than the genre with which he was most associated. What he delivered was a masterclass of cross genre DJing that took in disco, jazz, electro, soul, house, and more, mixed on CD by his own deft hands. This second compilation offers up more of the same far ranging finery.
“The Maryann Farra record, I was lucky because my parents had this record,” laughs Marky when the soul and disco content of the compilation are brought up. “Don’t ask me why! But my dad had that record on Brunswick so my parents would play it. I liked it, but it wasn’t something I would play regularly when I was young. I started listening to it again when I got much older, 10 or 12 years ago, after my son was born. It was only then I realised it was a rare record and that other DJs were talking about it.” Produced in 1976 by Tony Valor and mixed by Tom Moulton, Farra’s only full length solo is a wonderful if slightly under-acknowledged album that bridges soul and early disco. Although Marky’s choice of ‘You Got to Be the One” is just one of its many stand out tracks, it’s nevertheless quite remarkable that Marky tells a tale of its presence in his childhood home. But then, Marky has a tale to tell about almost every track on the album.
“When I was a teenager I recorded a DJ mix from the radio and that tune was on it!” he says of another impossibly early exposure to a cult classic, Clyde Alexander and Sanction’s “Got to Get Your Love.” “So I had it on this favorite mix, but then I never heard it again, not for another 20 years. When I started my career in London I tried to go to every different night. I went to Gilles Peterson’s night, I went to this night at Bar Rhumba on Tuesdays where they played Latin. Anyway, I hear the tune again at a disco house party in London – I can’t remember if it was Joey Negro that was DJing—but I was like, ‘What is this tune?’ Then when Kenny Dope released his Disco Heat compilation, that’s when I found the name of the track. That’s when I found out it was Peter Brown, who was running all those labels with Patrick Adams like Queen Constance, Heavenly Star, P+P, cos I had loads of P+P back in the day like Cloud One.”
Marky’s second Influences compilation exists, like the first, in mixed and also unmixed formats, with several tracks appearing exclusively on each separate version. Galaxy 2 Galaxy’s “Timeline” from the Underground Resistance stable, for example, appears within the mix but was unable to be licensed for vinyl, whereas proto-house masterpiece Cultural Vibe “Ma Foom Bey” and the classic break of Esther William “Last Night Changed It All” do not. Also heavily featured within the actual mix are more of Marky’s Brazilian choices. “The Pasito Allstars’ ‘Cosa Nostra’ is a reinterpretation of a Jorge Ben track,” he says, tipping the hat to Brazilian music’s foremost modern master. “It’s been recorded by so many people. This version is also quite like the one recorded by Erlon Chaves.”
“The original of ‘Futebol De Bar’ is by César Camargo Mariano but, although it’s beautiful, it’s only two minutes long and almost a minute of that, the first minute, is solo piano. It’s a crazy tune,” he says of another that has been transferred from his parents record collection. “The Manuel Azevedo Quartet version is twice as long and it starts immediately with the drums, but it’s so similar. It’s just that I can play this version.” These Brazilian tracks offer a real insight into some of Marky’s earliest inspirations, ones which may be unfamiliar to his fanbase in Europe and North America, but perhaps known by many of his fellow nationals in Brazil where he has long been celebrated as a tastemaker operating across a multitude of genres. But, after introducing his varied home library on the first volume of Influences, on this second edition he obviously feels more relaxed about appealing to his longstanding audience. “The main difference is that on that first compilation there was only one drum n’ bass track,” says Marky, when comparing the two titles. “So, on this one there’s one jungle track and two drum-and-bass tracks.”
“The Watching Windows DJ Die mix is from when I started my career in London. The Bristol sound was so massive and so important to me. I remember when Die did this remix I was desperate to get it as a dubplate and couldn’t until Bryan spoke to Roni. I remember playing it at my night, The Vibe, in Brazil, which I had for 10 years and when I used to play it, oh my God, it was crazy. The Origin Unknown track too, I love that remix. I was mad in love with the original but the remix is so funky, so groovy. I still play it now.” With a twenty year plus career anchored within the sphere of drum n’ bass, although Influences Vol. 2 displays more selections than its predecessor, it still must have been difficult to whittle down a lifetime of selections from the genre to the few here. “My first choice was to put Marcus Intalex and ST Files ‘How You Make Me Feel’ on there because Marcus is one of my best friends and that’s one of my favorites by him,” he says when questioned about that difficult selection process and, in doing so, he broaches the subject of the sadly and recently departed Marcus Intalex. “But he told me he couldn’t license it to me. He was going to have the rights to the tune back really soon, but the date wasn’t going to match with the release of the compilation. So I decided to license ‘Skanna,’ because that was something I used to play a lot. I was very into ragga jungle, but the first time I heard LTJ Bukem it changed my mind. It was the musicality of it. I was like ‘Oh, my God’. Goldie used to play that ‘Skanna’ track too.”
Also being a resident of Manchester for most of my life, my path first crossed with drum n’ bass don Marcus Intalex almost two decades ago. We hung out at countless afterparties and in record stores. Initially I remember being astounded, as perhaps only a naïve young man could be, by how much my own tastes crossed over into the record collection of a then rising drum n’ bass icon like Marcus. But Marcus, like Marky, was so clued up when it came to other genres like house, broken beat and techno, as would be revealed in his career when he adopted the Trevino and Da Intalex aliases. Not being the biggest drum n’ bass fan in the world, every time I scored a job to interview a drum n’ bass star like Calibre, Fabio or Marky, I would text Marcus and ask for suggestions for topics of discussion. He never once failed to reply. But that was the kind of guy he was. The last time I interviewed Marky, just over a year ago, again Marcus primed me with questions, this time for his friend and, upon revealing my intimate source, Marky’s face lit up like a firework display in genuine affection and delighted surprise. At that time Marky told me “I tell you, Marcus is a huge influence to me. He’s the best drum n’ bass producer so far. It’s hard for me to fully explain, because he’s a friend of mine… I know he goes through phases sometimes. Sometimes he likes drum n’ bass, sometimes he doesn’t, sometimes he likes more techno. I think it’s because he’s so clever, sometimes he’s a bit out of everything, out of the world, restless. But in my point of view he’s one of the most talented producers in drum n’ bass and now he’s blowing up on the techno scene. Trevino is killing it.” An interview regarding his Influences Vol. 2 compilation might not seem like the most appropriate place for Marky to talk about some of his feelings and the respect he had for his friend, who had passed just the Sunday prior, but given the mutual friendship we shared with Marcus and the history we had talking about him, the interview just naturally drifted into that direction.
“I had to play on Sunday, the day he passed away, and I found out about midday,” says Marky. “My agent phoned me and asked if I had 10 minutes because they needed to talk to me. I thought it was going to be about something else. When they told me about Marcus I was absolutely shocked. I started crying and I been like that for two days. It’s been a mix of feelings. Sometimes I’ve been too sad. Anyway, I decided to play because I knew that if I stayed at home and didn’t work I’d just be worse. So, I played ‘Back to Love.’ That’s the track we made together, me, him and ST Files and XRS. It’s strange, but for the past two years the track hasn’t left my set is ‘Guillotine.’ I played ‘Temperance,’ I played ‘How You Make Me Feel,’ which, I don’t know if it’s my number one, it’s between that and ‘The Universe’ because he made them at the same time and I love them both. ‘Time to Fly’ I’ve been playing too. I’ve been playing a lot of his tracks. But that’s nothing new. Normally I’d be playing three or four of his tracks within my set. Really, it’s normal. Because he’s a genius, you know? I’m not the kind of DJ who thinks he has to play dubplates. I like to play good music, doesn’t matter if it’s new, doesn’t matter if it’s old. So, if people don’t know Marcus’s music then I play it, because they need to know. Even ‘LK’, my big tune, I never play my mix of it. I always play his remix.”
“But when I played on Sunday I was in tears,” he continues. “Literally. Some people were looking at me, some others were dancing and then, even though I was in tears, some people were coming up asking for a photo with me. And I was thinking, man, you have no idea what’s going on. But, okay, you can have a photo. It’s hard. I used to hang out with him all the time. Those days in Manchester when we spent all that time together. He was one of the nicest people in the whole scene, one of the first who gave me tunes to cut. And I had the privilege to play at the first Soul:ution night. And at their tenth birthday. You know Nu:Tone and Logistics? Now they’re known as successful artists. I remember listening to their tracks with Marcus and we were deciding which of them he was going to release. It was such a wonderful time. The time with Jenna, DRS, Calibre, High Contrast, Futurecut, Sonic & Silver, it was magical, man. I am very blessed to have had him in my life.”
Marcus’s knowledge of music, like Marky’s, crossed so many boundaries because in each of them you could find an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the form. But unlike Marky, who nevertheless has produced some house music, in recent years Marcus seemed to shift his focus entirely to his techno-producing Trevino alias. “When we made tunes together some of them would be beautiful, melodic,” recalls Marky. “But others would be… not heavy, but you could feel an acid house or techno vibe in them. I asked him so many times about The Hacienda, how it was, the scene back in the day. I used to play some of those tunes, but back then, in Brazil, it was so hard for me to get the records. So I was always wanting to know how it was. He would tell me. He told me about Graeme Park and Mike Pickering and I was like “Mike Pickering? The guy from M People? No!” But he was shocked that I knew so many of the tunes. So, it always felt to me that his music had techno influences. Even my friends back in Brazil who play house and techno, they’re not feeling drum n’ bass, but they’re feeling Marcus’s music.”
“When he sent me ‘Backtracking’ (Trevino) it took me back to the days when I first heard that kind of acid house. I was like ‘What the fuck?’ When I played that track in Brazil at my non drum n’ bass gigs people would come up and ask what it was and when I said ‘Marcus Intalex’ they’d be like ‘No!’ So, a lot of people were checking out the Trevino project. He’s got a massive fanbase in Brazil. You couldn’t have a clue about just how many people there are devastated by the news. He played for me about five or six times there and people just love him. He used to come and just treat everyone so nice. He would reply to messages from everyone. Everyone.”
Even though we are still suffering from the blow Marcus’s loss, some comfort can no doubt be found in the huge contribution Marcus made to the world with his distinct music over various genres. Marky agrees. “I’m happy to be able to promote his music on both the drum n’ bass and the techno side,” he says. “His legacy will never die.” Though we may sadly not hear any more new releases from Marcus Intalex, Marky is right in that he will live on through the music he has gifted to us and future generations. And his love for, and championing of, music from across the spectrum will continue to inspire us when mirrored by similarly forward thinking, open minded and passionate DJs such as Marky.
Influences Vol. 2 is out now on BBE Recordings.
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