Re-edit king Mark E pulls together a hypnotic downtempo mix on this week's RA podcast.
Hypnotic is a word used often when describing dance music, but there's really no other way to describe what Mark E sounds like. It's pretty much his calling card, in fact. Whether it be in his celebrated re-edits of tracks like Womack and Womack's 'Baby I'm Scared of You', Janet Jackson's 'R&B Junkie' or this year's original production 'Slave 1,' E locks into a throbbing groove and doesn't let go.
So when he starts his RA podcast by plying the same beat by STL for nearly four minutes, don't worry about a thing. This is standard operating procedure. Once things get going, it's pretty much slow motion disco down the line, taking in spots of soulfulness from Grace Jones, Marvin Gaye and Amp Fiddler along the way. It's a mix that doesn't do much more than bump, but it's one that doesn't have to. After all, you don't hypnotize someone by shocking them...
Your take on Janet Jackson's 'R&B Junkie' was one of the biggest-selling re-edits of last year. Where did you first hear the original?
In a mate's car on the Damita Jo album. He suggested I listened to it. It was only later I realized that the Idjut Boys had done a version.
Is there a certain defining feature in the songs that you chose to edit?
No, not really. The tracks I've had a go at so far just had elements within them which I thought I could really work that. But also I've never woken up and said to myself, "Today I am going to edit." It's just happened that way. In fact, it's never been a conscious decision of mine to be an editor. I've just been into making music and love playing with samples and beats and clips and stuff.
'Drunkie,' for instance, was never meant for release. It was just a club tool, something different that only I had that makes you stand out a bit. I feel that's what editing should be for—the work of a DJ to make his sets better or different to the rest.
At first, I was kind of oblivious to the edit genre and was cooped up at home making these dark insular Theo-esque beat down swirlers, spending hours in a smoky haze listening to the same loop over and over. It was only when I didn't know how to end one of these loop marathons that I just dropped the original track in at the end, and [Womack and Womack edit] 'Scared' was born.
Now I want to move on from edits, and concentrate on original music, but I'm grateful to the genre because I wouldn't be here doing this interview. It's really helped me get noticed and been a stepping stone to greater things.
Your original productions often sound like edits. Is that a conscious decision or do they just come out that way?
My original productions sound like MY edits I think. That's the difference. It's not a conscious decision, it's just my sound I guess. Plus I use samples. When you use a sample people call it an edit especially with me, but I like to use a sample and distort it to distraction and use it as a backdrop and add new elements along the way and create something new.
Where and how was the mix recorded?
In my loft at home with 2xSL12's, 2xCDJ's, and a laptop.
Can you tell us a little about the idea behind the mix?
I always like to start things off slowly and work things up, and take time in the programming, things need to flow. It's hard to do online mixes sometimes because you know it's going to be scrutinized by all the beards and get listened to a lot, so the selection has to be right and the mixes tight, but it's good also to get some time out and listen to my records. I don't seem to have time for anything lately, so it's good to get mixes down that may work when I'm out DJing in the clubs. But, yeah, basically I just surrounded myself with music I'm liking at the moment and went for it.
What are you up to next?
Well I'm DJing a lot lately, playing at a night called "Tothebone" coming up in London which I'm looking forward to, plus Fabric and Bodytonic in August and various other guest spots around the UK. In between that I'm doing a few remixes and, as for new music, I'm looking to start my own label which may happen later this year.