Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Marcus NASTY interview
Blackdown: So when did you start DJing?
Marcus NASTY: It was about 2000, because I was playing garage, 2step garage.
B: Obviously you’re pretty well known as the head of N.A.S.T.Y. Crew, but in those times what were you playing as a DJ personally?
MN: The 4x4 stuff, Sticky, Jameson and then it kinda evolved into grime because Jammer stepped in with his tunes.
B: So when did you start getting interested in house?
MN: Well basically, when the grime scene died there was nothing for no one to do, everyone started playing old school garage and stuff. People were playing house but it was taking ages for everyone to get into it. I thought, ‘hang on, this ain’t us, this aint our music,’ because we came from grime, jungle, garage. So to go to house it was like ‘whoah, this is a bit too, erm, soft.’
MN: So I started asking all the UK producers, ‘have you started to make house?’ and they said, ‘we have but it don’t sound like house.’ So I said ‘just send it to me, let me see what it sounds like and I’ll see where you’re going wrong.’ So they sent me all their stuff and bit by bit I started playing it all and I ain’t looked back since. I just took everyone’s stuff and started playing it on radio and I’m taking from Donae’o, to Crazy Cousins, Naughty: everyone. Even down to that Apple tune “Mr Bean”: originally that was made as a grime tune.
B: Yeah “Mr Bean” and “Seigeliser” were a bit a head of it’s time y’know?
MN: Yeah yeah, definitely and it’s still one of the top tunes right now. There’s a vocal of it about this year, “Are You Gonna Bang Doe” by Funky D.
B: Are you playing that tune at the moment?
MN: I do but that’s because there’s a little hype for it in Napa but to be quite honest I don’t rate it because it’s like, it’s so simple it’s going to encourage other MCs who ain’t got no talent to talk shit on good tunes. Screaming “Oi you/are you gonna bang?” isn’t really saying anything. And I think it’s quite rude as well. But because there’s a hype around it, I will play it.
B: Yeah, I much prefer the original instrumental. So, when you said ‘the grime scene died’ what year did you mean?
MN: Well I wouldn’t say it died but the MCs involved weren’t getting much help from certain DJs. In a grime rave you’ll find the artists arguing on stage. It’s not the ravers. Nine times out of ten they’ll be up on stage warring each other, that’s what killed the grime scene. Added to that it turned from a dance music into a hip hop sound. That is what killed it. So it turned into more about the MCs than the music. You’ll go to a grime rave and there’ll be 20 minutes of jumping about and telling each other to ‘suck their mums’ and that will be it. And then the rest of the rave will be bashment and r&b.
B: Or it will get locked off haha…
MN: And everyone has a part to play from Wiley to Lethal B – all those little wars just fucked everything up. No one wants to see big arsed men arguing on stage. That is what killed it, nothing else. There’s no one else to blame for it. It’s not the industry: it was all our fault.
B: It’s weird because a lot of those artists think that’s exactly what grime should be. And a lot of grime fans think that’s grime at its best.
MN: Yeah but that’s because that’s what they’ve grown into. But what it was before was we could go down raves, hear a couple of lyrics, couple of bars. But then it just changed.
B: How do you see MCs in funky?
MN: Some of the grime MCs can not make the crossover. Like Ghetto does not sit right on funky. But at the same time Skepta, JME and Frisco do. So I dunno, that’s a tricky one. I think the way everyone’s jumped on this electro thing and tried to crossover, that is going to be the nail in the coffin.
B: Funny you say that because I much prefer grime MCs on funky than when they do electro. Most electro with grime vocals, with the exception of Wiley “Wearing My Rolex,” just feels wrong.
MN: It is. I think it is wrong. I think they should stick with it and get on with it. You see like with the bassline scene, all the MCs fucked up the scene, but now they’ve gone backwards, made it more vocal and now it’s coming back up and that’s what grime should have done but they didn’t. They chose to jump ship instead.
Who didn’t help the most, was Cameo. He was classed as one of the top guys in the grime scene and he just jumped ship straight away. Westwood is now the number one grime DJ, imagine that?
B: Not Logan?
MN: No, Logan don’t even come close. Westwood’s doing more for the grime scene than Logan all day long.
B: Haha. Westwood is pretty big but I rate Logan more for grime.
MN: Everyone rates Westwood because he doesn’t jump from scene to scene. He hasn’t done what Cameo’s done, going from scene to scene. Westwood’s tried to help every scene. He’s even tried to help the funky scene. He done a Westwood TV and he made me bring all the funky, grime, dubstep and bassline MCs in one room (part 1).
B: So how do you look back on the early N.A.S.T.Y. Crew era?
MN: I think I made a lot of mistakes. I went away for a little while and then came back. Instead of dealing with things diplomatically and listening to each individual member and their problems, I listened to the original members who were in fact jealous of the new members, who were in fact doing better. I acted on what they said and I shouldn’t have. Me kicking Jammer out of N.A.S.T.Y. Crew was a big mistake, and I will say that happily. Everyone who was in N.A.S.T.Y., I’m now friends with. We’ve all sat down and spoke about it. For the break up of N.A.S.T.Y. I still blame Sharkey because of jealousy. But in any crew you can only have two top merkers who get bookings – and that causes the rest of the crew to have bad feelings.
B: So everyone who was in N.A.S.T.Y. you’re cool with? D Double, Footsie, Ghetto, Kano…
MN: D Double was at my birthday bash but the one I haven’t seen in a couple of years is Kano.
B: But he’s on a different path these days…
MN: I think he tried to be a diva and I think it worked against him because now he’s not really doing much, at all.
B: But it’s cool that you get on with the rest of them…
MN: Yeah I’ve been with them all in Napa, well Jammer’s gone back now, but we can talk to each other and where we went wrong. All the grime lot do work together, apart from the ones who kinda blew up… Wiley, Lethal kinda keep themselves to themselves now. Dizzee.. but Dizzee does come back and try help everyone.
B: That’s good because one of the problems with the grime ‘scene’ is the members often don’t help each other.
MN: Everyone was against each other. “Let’s clash.” And even I went along with that and that is not the way, that is what killed grime. All the ‘let’s go and merk’ shut down the scene. But I always say this: we are to blame. There’s no one else to blame. It’s no one else’s fault: it’s our fault. Entertainers who were doing shit raves: the last big Eskimo dance in SE1 ended in total mahem because we were all fighting on stage. Wiley threw bottles at the bouncers, the bouncers tried to beat up Kano, we were fighting SLK: it was just pandemonium. The crowd got involved, they started throwing bottles at the bouncers, they rushed the bar, they rushed the cloakroom. It was just out-and-out war, I swear there were three different rooms full of fights.*
B: Yeah, Eskimo dance was pretty legendary.
MN: It was the biggest and the last one. That was the end of the grime scene right there.
B: I think it would be unfair to only talk about grime with you as you’ve done a lot in funky recently. So how do you feel about all the attention funky is getting right now?
MN: I think it’s good. Personally I think we need to differentiate between the vocal funky stuff and this new MCing on funky stuff, because that is what is kinda putting people off funky at the minute. The “Migrane Skank,” “Oi You Are You Gonna Bang,” “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” – all that stuff it’s just rubbish. It’s people trying it: there’s no future in what they’re doing. Peope like Versatile and Donae’o, they’re the future in what they’re doing, they’re actually making tunes they’re not just making up nursery rhymes and sticking them on tunes, so I rate them guys.
B: I agree with you on the nursery rhyme thing but also just making UK funky sound like US house is a really hard route to go down as well, because it’s really hard to compete with them boys as they’re already established.
MN: What I think is we need to keep it to ourselves which is a house base but it’s got influences from grime, jungle and garage. All the influences that were there before and that’s what makes our sound, our sound. That’s why it will grow and we’ll be able to play our music in other countries. All those other DJs who think they’re gonna get somewhere playing house or minimal-tech, they’re not going to get no where. They’ll only ever be big in England, because they’ll never book us to play US or German music, they’ll just book their top guys. And that is now even more obvious because me as the first person who just played strictly UK funky – I play all over the world whereas the others don’t and they were the so-called top boys before.
B: Yeah I agree 100%: it would be hard to be bigger in US house than Masters At Work or someone…
MN: Exactly. You’ve got a lot to compete against, and as I said, it’s not our music. I think everyone should stick together and… you see Cameo, he’s a major problem. He’s the guy that will take your tune, play it no matter of the quality, and wont even try to tell you ‘you should do better.’ When that “Oi You…” tune came out, because it had a little hype he jumped straight on it, bringing the geezer in. Fair enough, he’s improved a bit now but that is not the way forward because it encourages people to not bother, so just come up with any random crap. I got a tune in the post the other day called “Lipsing,” about kissing girls and people who deny kissing girls, and it’s quite fun, I think it’s better than “Migrane Skank.”
B: Is that the Scorcher thing?
MN: Is that Scorcher? Ahhaha… that is actually quite funny. People will go mad. But I dunno, all the nursery rhyme stuff needs to stop. All the MCs just talking about themselves and their cars on tunes needs to stop. Just need to make. Proper. Tunes. And then this ting will go on and we’ll have our own worldwide scene. There are people in the US. People send me tunes from Toronto. Spain… all over the place. So people are getting involved with the funky scene. It’s a big movement we just need to keep it constructive.
B: Obviously you were on Déjà Vu before, what made you want to join Rinse?
MN: Basically Deja had looked after me for years but when I started playing UK funky, they weren’t supporting it. Even when they were having raves, I was the number one DJ on their station and they recognised that but they wouldn’t put me on their flyers. They were like ‘oh we don’t do UK funky events.’ I was like ‘have you even heard me in a rave?’ there isn’t any such thing as a UK funky event. Their aint, their aint at the minute. There’s just house events and what happens is people book me as the difference so you have different kinds of DJs playing different kinds of stuff but Deja wouldn’t recognise that. So because of that I left them as I knew Rinse pull push anything new and anything that’s going on and they will help you. So I just thought: Rinse. They were offering a lot more.
B: You’ve done well to walk into Rinse, which is the strongest radio line up, and be one of the top boys as well…
MN: There was always that: people kept saying to me ‘don’t go to Rinse’ there’s loads of top guys on there, you’re just gonna be a little fish in a big sea, and I was like ‘no, I’m gonna do my thing.’ And I done it, I got back to number one on another station within a month or two.
B: So tell me what it’s like to do your Rinse show…
MN: You see Rinse yeah, it’s a big difference. Deja’s London based whereas Rinse is worldwide. So when you get people from all over the world just sending you messages about your show while you’re on there live: it’s big. I love it. Rinse is a big difference. Their station sounds different to other stations. Rinse have had this… sound, for years! It’s like an echo kinda sound. Compared to other stations it sounds different. And they’ve got the best system, ever. I actually love it, I can’t get enough. I try and go on Rinse as much as possible. I ring [management] at 8 a.m. every morning ‘is there a show? Is there a show? Is anyone not turning up?’ I ring them 3 in the morning ‘is there show, can I go on?’ I just love DJing. But Rinse for me, out of all the stations I’ve been on, they’re the best. I’m 100% happy with the move I made. I actually tell myself off for not making it sooner. I love Rinse. I’m 100% Rinse: they’ve done it. They make the difference. Deja is about Deja: Rinse is about the scene. And they’ll support that scene. And they listen to me: I give them advice as to what DJs are good and they’ll go and get those DJs and get them on the station. I can respect that. Deja would let me go on there all the time but they wouldn’t let me have no input. Deja they just want your money: Rinse is a business. Straight up and down business and I like that. Deja they’d let anyone have a rave, it was just so over-familiar, friends and that.
B: So tell me about Napa: describe it for those who haven’t been, because it’s quite important to funky…
MN: I think all the little holiday places are important to funky. The only one that got to Ibiza this year was Crazy Cousinz but I would like to take it there, and Dubai – but people have been calling me from Dubai to go there so I’ll be there soon I think. So I’ve done Gambia, Berlin – got Toronto coming up. I’ve done Northern Cyprus, the Turkish side. I was meant to do Malia but I missed my flight.
B: Gambia’s interesting because people talk about the African or Afrobeat influence in funky…
MN: I went there and they’d never heard UK funky before. I went with As It Is TV and like when I played “African Warrior” they went mental. They actually went real mental, they went crazy: it was a lot. I was quite surprised because they were well into the music, straight away: nothing long.
B: So where do you think funky can go next?
MN: It can go big on an international level and for other DJs to play on an international level. I’ve never tried to just keep this scene to myself. I’ve pushed other DJs and given tunes to other DJs, showed them where they can get tunes and educated bare people. They will tell you I share my stuff. They way I see it is one man can’t make a scene big. The more people involved the bigger the scene gets. I’ve actively encouraged some of the grime DJs to cross over. Shame on me but I did haha…
B: What, Mak 10?
MN: Mak10, even Spyro I got playing funky. Vectra, Maximum: loads of them.
B: All those DJs who play with Pioneer CDJs [which have massive pitch range, up to +100 rather than +8 on vinyl Technics, and pitch correction algorhythms], it’s quite possible to blend the tunes together.
MN: Yeah if you listen to Spyro he plays a full on mixture.
B: Yup, Spyro and Maximum are pretty incredible DJs.
MN: Yeah definitely.
B: So tell me about the mix CD?
MN: Rinse has mixed listeners so I wanted to do what I do on my show, which is just a mix of everything. Just do me. I’ve done a mix CD for someone else, and it’s just all commercialised crap. Whereas the Rinse one is what I like, underground and a mixture of both. It’s more of what I’m into.
· Marcus NASTY plays Beyond at Plastic People on Thursday 3rd September. His show is Wednesday 7pm-9pm on Rinse. Marcus NASTY’s mix CD is forthcoming for Rinse, release date tbc.
* Footnote: While researching Eskidance flyers, I stumbled across this, Woebot's review of Eskidance which correlates exactly with Marcus' account. Respect!