Producer, turntablist and veteran member of the legendary hip hop group Jurassic 5, DJ Nu-Mark is considered one of the most creative on the scene constantly raising the bar of mundane DJ sets. From deploying children’s toys, to rocking the largest turntable to ever exist, being original in the cookie cutter world of DJs has never been an issue. From working with legends like Charles Bradley, Aloe Blacc and Method Man, starting his own label, Hot Plate Records, scoring films, creating a viral internet series and landing a spot on prime time TV, he is on his way to becoming a household name and there’s no slowing in sight.
We got a chance to sit down with DJ Nu-Mark to chat about his work, and tips for DJs and producers!
How did you get into turntablism and producing?
I started producing first actually. In middle school I use to sneak a Roland 606 into my band class. I was the drummer for the school Jazz band and would put headphones on and mimic Hip Hop rhythms I heard on the radio while the band teacher was working on the horn section. In that same class my best friend Chris Cooke showed me how his uncle DJ’d and I was hooked after that. I had to get a pair of belt drive technics and take a stab at DJ’n. I was a bedroom DJ through my 3 years of Junior High and my first year of High School. I broke out of my shell and started to do LA house parties in 88.
We are loving the TRDMRK album that just came out, how did that come up? What’s your favorite story behind the album?
TRDMRK is the sequel to the first album called Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark on Delicious Vinyl. Tre and I kept writing with a very talented an prolific MC named Austin Antoine. By the time we got to the end of the album we realized that Austin was on more than half of the project and we decided to recruit him into the group and rebrand the faction as TRDMRK. I think my favorite story working on this EP was when we listened back to “Hands Up” our first single after I mixed it…..the reaction on Tre and Austin’s faces were priceless. They started jumping up and down reciting the lyrics in my studio ….almost like they were already on stage. Was a good feeling because we spent a lot of time re-writing and editing parts over and over to refine the new sound!
You have worked with Method Man, Nas, Damian Marley, J-Live, Aloe Blacc, Charles Bradley, Large Professor, Bumpy Knuckles, and so many others, what’s your favorite thing about collaborating?
Learning is my favorite part about music in both the studio and on stage. 90% of the reason why I collaborate is to pick up techniques from artists from different walks of life. I obviously couldn’t begin to mimic what they do and so bringing in someone like Method Man on Zodiac Killah made perfect sense and stood in true Wu-Tang tradition. Very few Mc’s could pull off stringing every Zodiac sign in a cohesive rhyme the way he did. As a producer it’s important to know when to ask for help from vocalist, writers and other producers! I plan on collaborating a lot more in 2019 and 2020.
Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
Mix Master Ice from U.T.F.O. was my main source of inspiration into the DJ world. Today I am influenced by Dilla, Kaytranada, 20syl, Timbaland, Kenny Dope, Austin Millz….too many to name really. All of these producers create a sound that doesn’t sound like the next musician. I like hearing a producer’s identity in their music, it’s not easy to pull off and the world is so comparison driven. It’s nice to hear music that has a clear cohesive path of direction!
Jurassic 5’s Quality Control had a big impact on the scene, how did you all form and how did that album come about?
We created two records before that album. J5 is two groups formed as one plus me. We all came together on Unified Rebelution which was our first indie single that got picked up by Blunt TVT. Later we decided to go fully independent and create the J5 EP which sparked sales in the UK and interest in labels and fans here in the states. After the majors recognized that we could sell 200,000 units independently they started to knock on our door. At that time we started to create Quality Control for Interscope Records.
Do you have any tips for upcoming DJ / producers ?
Practice and separate yourself from the pack. Don’t try to fit into the industry mold of the DJ. Find out what you want to express and chase it down until it makes sense to your soul. After that practice, practice and then practice. Make sure when you’re not practicing that you network with promoters, djs, producers and key players in the game to let them know you’re alive.
What are your 5 most used plugins or current favorite plugins?
Ozone 8, Transient Enhanser, TAL bassline, Glass Viper, L3 Limiter and RBass
What’s your fav song that you mixed, written and/or produced?
Very tough to say. My most current release Zodiac Killah feat. Method Man was a very special release. I also really dig “Hands Up” from the TRDMRK EP. What’s Golden with Jurassic 5 really stood the test of time!
How do you stay focused and productive?
I enjoy what I do. I still have a lot to express and I’m hungry. There’s so much improvement I can make at my craft so that really drives me. I love learning and trying new techniques. I have bucket list projects I have to get to before i leave earth as well!
Where do you get inspiration?
Hearing music in ubers, watching other DJ’s, hearing an expression from somebody telling a story, the radio, my close producer friends, complaints I hear from people, street musicians and entertainers….it’s endless really. Life in general really?
What are you listening to right now?
Turkish music from the 60’s and 70’s, Austin Millz, OriJanus and random edits where a producer makes a classic song sound modern!
How do you feel about the current state of music?
Producers are really able to push the sonic boundaries through all the advancements in plug ins and technology in general. It’s really nice to get inspiration from these up and coming producers. I’m not really inspired by what I’m hearing in urban rap lyrics but I hear the appeal. I understand why kids enjoy the lyrics based around having fun and getting lit. It’s just hard to go from Kool G Rap to hearing a one syllable word repeated 8 times over a hook. I do enjoy a good bulk of it….I’m just spoiled from the middle school spitters I guess….no shade thrown.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working on music?
I like wine tasting, swimming, hiking and spending time with my dog. I also have a pretty heavy garden that I manage and prune on a regular basis.
What’s a crazy experience you’ve had in the industry or a writing session?
I think the Method Man session would be the most memorable. I was DJ’n on the set of Drop The Mic. Method Man is the host. I told him that I was doing this astrological mix series called Zodiac Tracks and I needed an exclusive song that represented the entire concept. I was pretty nervous playing him the beat because I knew if he hated it that I couldn’t front….it’s Meth…he’s pretty credible lol. After 2 seconds of hearing the beat, he was like “Oh yeah Nu, I’m fuckin with this”. I saw him the following week and was about to tell him that we could record in a month where we had a few days off from tapping the show and before I could get the words out of my mouth he was like yo can I come to your studio tonight? He came over, went right to best set of headphones, put them on and said lets record. It was almost like he’d been in my lab before….was buggin me out! He knocked it out in one take. Mind blown! The rest of the session I just played him my beats and we bugged out. I’ll never forget that day!
Is there any artist you want to work with that you haven’t had an opportunity to yet?
Eprom, Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, Jay Z and De La Soul.
You could get DJ Nu-Mark’s latest releases: Zodiac Tracks USB with 25 Astrological mixes, Zodiac Killah feat. Method Man 7″ limited edition red vinyl, TRDMRK EP & 7″S all at www.djnu-mark.bandcamp.com