INTERVIEW WITH DJ NU-MARK
DJ Nu-Mark started spinning as a teenager in Los Angeles. Over the course of the following two decades, he built a collection of over 35,000 records, refining his skills and style to the tune of global recognition in the DJ world. Recognized for his work in Jurassic 5, Nu-Mark is responsible for half of the production of the gold-selling groupís body of work, and his innovative DJ routines and creative on-stage antics have made him a favorite of crowds all over the world.
Nu-Mark is well known for his innovative sonic creativity, such as attaching a rubber band to his turntableís needle and playing it like an upright bass or tapping on the turntable dust cover to simulate a bass drum. Incorporating a wide range of musical styles from soul to funk, hip-hop to samba, Nu-Mark loves to surprise an audience with a forgotten gem, an unknown banger, or a fresh take on a well-known hit.
Akai Professional: Tell us how you got your name.
DJ Nu-mark: I started DJing in a crew called Bum Rush Productions in 1988 and we started doing parties. I figured I needed a name. My name is Mark and my partner Monty and I were at a gig and he said, ďitís probably underneath your noseĒ and there it was: a Numark mixer. Numark mixers were at the forefront of DJ culture and they kept coming out with dope new mixers. I was doing house parties and at every party I went to they always had Numark mixers.
AP: What Akai Pro gear are you using?
AP: Thatís quite a list! Do you use all these piece of gear together?
DN: I use the MPK49 and the MPD32 together for making beats with Ableton Live [music creation software]. They work really well hand in hand because I can tap out any of the drums on the MPD32 and it reminds me of the early days of the MPCs like with the MPC2000 and MPC3000. Anything melody-related I do on the MPK49.
AP: What has led you to use so many pieces of Akai Pro gear?
DN: Itís the standard. Akai Pro has been the industry standard for so many years for tapping out dope beats and getting an idea down quickly. A lot of software is designed to make things easier but there are a lot of things they could borrow and learn from Akaiís world, like getting a wav to a drum pad quickly. With an MPC your sound is always just right there on your pad. With software you have to truncate sometimes and manipulate to get things to happen. I make my beats in software but I use the Akai Pro controllers because I have the functions like 16-Level and I love the way the pads feel.
AP: How does a DJ incorporate the MPC into a gig?
DN: I use my MPC500 to trigger my cue points in Serato [Scratch LIVE DJ software]. If thereís a part I want to jump to, I use my MPC500 to jump from cue point to cue point. I can tap out beats if I put the markers in Serato and I can make beats with the MPC500. Itís the smallest controller out there. Itís a two-for-one deal because I can drop samples in the MPC AND use it as a performance MIDI trigger.
AP: Talk about how you use the MPK49 live.
DN: I use it a lot on stage. I do a show with all kidsí toys where Iíve rewired them. I tap out kicks and snares hats with the MPK49 live, then Iíll jump from that to the most modern kidsí toy out there and play that. Theyíre all audio toys that I use. I then jump from that to an old school toy like the chimp with the cymbals. Then Iíll go to the MPC and play along with the chimp. Itís a lot of fun.
AP: Do you use preset mappings on the MPK49 or create custom mappings?
DN: On the MPK49 I use my own custom mapping. The ones that come with itÖ the Cubase setting is a good start. Then I build on bank B, C, and D because it doesnít correlate with the Drum Rack in Ableton Live. Itís great. I love it.
AP: Do you use MPK49 in conjunction with any unique devices?
DN: The MPCs get used a lot in live applications. I used to use five MPC1000s. With my old band, Jurassic 5, I had my designer retrofit the MPCs inside the desk so the pads were exactly level with the desk so they were concealed in a cut underneath it. This worked great for touring.
AP: Tell us about your upcoming projects
DN: I just did a remix for Pharcyde on 4 Better or 4 Worse. I just did a song with Pharoahe Monch, legendary MC and Hilltop Hoods out of Australia. Iím also working on my album, which is just beginning. Iím also working with Andy Sambergís group Lonely Island from SNL. I worked on two tracks for that and heard one of my beats on a Spring Break commercial on MTV. It was cool. I did something on Revolutionís latest album. Iím doing something for Charlie Tunaís new album. Iíve got a lot of guests on my album too so Iím keeping busy.
AP: Do you have any tips youíd like to share with young producers and DJs out there?
DN: Production you should be well versed in hardware AND software. Software is growing tremendously and in my humble opinion, I donít think software has caught up to the hardware in terms of the feel of making beats on a drum machine but itís damn close. The biggest software problem is that a lot of the software [different programs] doesnít talk to each other so you have to experiment with what you like. Itís not like the Ď80s when you needed to make some beats and you just went and bought a drum machine to make beats. You have to pick your weapons of choice carefully and talk to a lot of people. My weapons of choices are the Akai Pro MPK49 and Ableton Live. Iíve been through Pro Tools, Logic, and countless others. Since my group broke up, Iíve done nothing but gear. I like making music in a computer because I like 24-bit technology. I like that crystal clear starting point. I like starting with high-resolution samples because I donít want to start with a blurry picture then mess with it from there.