Interview with DJ MARC SMITH
Scottish Hardcore Legend DJ MARC SMITH started his career way back in 1985 well before the birth of the ravescene. Marc earned his stripes first being the typical bedroom dj playing hip-hop then teaming up with a few local rappers playing the local hip-hop circuit in and around Glasgow. After seriously perfecting his craft, a couple of years later Marc discovered dance music and early acid house by 1987/88 and at the tender age of 17 he had secured a residency at Glasgow club's 'The Warehouse', followed by 'The Hacienda' (or the 'Hac' as he fondly refers to it) and 'Heaven'. A few years later Rave was massive in Scotland and Marc was at the at the forefront of the movement; renowned for his tight mixing and scratching regularly playing at every major Rave in Scotland and beyond including the likes of 'Holocaust', 'Technodrome' and 'Earthquaker' and later on 'Rezerection' and 'Fantazia'. Not just content with being a master on the turntables, Marc learned to Produce his own music. His first track "Breakdown" was released in 1992 on the famous 'Clubscene records' backed with a remix by the legendary band TTF. By 1994 Marc with his business partner at the time Tony Montgomery launched their own record shop and studio 'Notorious Vinyl', the shop specializing in the 'Hardcore' style which was quickly growing in popularity and the studio acting as a production base for their label of the same name. Over the next few years Hardcore and Marc Smith gained in popularity. Marc kept himself busy DJing all over the UK and has since been responsible for producing classic tracks like 'Pump Up The Noize' (1995), 'Boom N Pow' (1996), 'Nothing More' (1998) and 'Identify The Beat' (2001). In 2006 Marc now based down south of the border has re-launched the Notorious label to showcase his updated sound. Scottishhardcore.co.uk took the chance to ask the man some long over-due questions...
1. Hi, Marc how are you today?
Iím all good mate, thanks for asking nothing a fuck off lottery win couldnít make even better thoughí
2. OK - down to some questions, you have been involved in the UK Hardcore scene since its conception, what do you think of the state of things today, and do you think hardcore is back to stay or could go horribly wrong again?
I think the scene is just truly blowing up again and itís at it healthiest it has been for a long, long time right now, and I think hardcore has definitely now proved that it will always be here, itís never going to totally go away, it might, like before every now and then drop in popularity but I honestly donít think it will ever get as bad as it did back in the slump, but even when itís popularity does fade it will always come back I reckon, alwaysÖ too many people have way too much fun in this scene to let it die.
3. You are known for perhaps playing a tougher edge of hardcore than some of the other big names Djís. Some would say a lot of new hardcore seems watered-down and sounds more like commercial trance than hardcore, what are your thoughts?
Well like you say I much prefer the tougher sound than anything else, I always have, but I know exactly what your saying, there is a lot of the sound your talking about around, but in my opinion there is room for all genres of hardcore within the scene, it needs to be varied like that, and it swings and roundabouts, one year it can be one style the next it can be another, I think as the young ravers first get into the scene itís mostly exactly the sound your talking about that has actually brought them into it, the more happy, fun and easily accessible sound, then as they start to progress and grow with the scene they start to also progress and grow musically too and favour other sounds you know. So all the types of hardcore have their place in our scene and help to keep it alive! Having everything we cannot go wrong, no one can get bored.
4. This year you obviously re-launched your own Notorious Vinyl so far with two excellent EPs, what are your plans for the label and WHO can we expect to appear on the label in 2006 and 2007?
Well the plans are just to keep building the label up and continue to release quality music that covers all aspects of the hardcore sound. The 3rd release notv003 is by DJ Kurt ďThe Ruffride E.P.Ēand itís a fucking stormer, I think 2 of the best bits heís written so far, both are seriously phat as fook and are really doing the damage on the dance floors, thatís preliminary out now on new energy with a full release in Jan, Thereís more of my bits to come obviously, also some of the older unreleased bits will be getting a release, and some remixes of some classic bits of mine too, and you can expect appearances from people like Sharkey, Devastate, Dual Core, Arkitect more Gammer, Stormtrooper and a whole host of Big names and others just watch out for them folks.
5. Last year you mixed a CD for the famous 'Bonkers' series back to back with Sharkey, and we hear you have some more albums on the cards. What are you doing next and any idea when?
Yeah doing Bonkers was well good fun, and I finally managed to getting round to mixing one lol . At the moment im in the middle of doing The Hardcore Reunited Album, me and DJ Devastate are doing one of the cdís on that, there is also a possible Rezerection album happening soon and there are another few in the pipeline but I cant say too much about them at the moment ;-).Also me and Jay as our usual Force 9 partnership are also just getting ready to compile and mix a Hard Trance/ Hardstyle Album too so watch out for that, and hey who knowsÖÖthere may be Notorious Mix Album coming soon too ;-)
6. You obviously been in the game for around 18 years, and as mentioned above you had your first release out on Clubscene Records, what made you get into producing tracks and how did you learn?
For me It just seemed like the next natural and logical step to take, I was well happy with were I had managed to get to as a dj, and as a dj was always playing other peoples music so, the only next thing I could do was to start producing, and try to create and stamp out a sound of my own. Initially I went into a few peoples studios to see what and how they were doing it, like Jon Campbellís etc then I bought one of Jons old sampling keyboards of him with only 11.4 seconds of sampling time on it and bought myself an Atari computer locked myself in my room for a few days, morning noon and night until I had cubase sussed out and it all started from there, I continued to learn more about it as I went along and just bought more and more gear too. lol
7. What is your studio set-up like these days? What are your favourite and/or most used bits of kit and software?
Well I used to use shedloads of analogue stuff for years, desk, samplers, keyboards, effects everything, even after everyone had went digital I stuck with my analogue, I never really embraced the digital way of working at all, and although I have now went more and more digital, I still donít really like the sound of it for writing hardcore, for me the digital revolution has changed the sound of hardcore way too much in my opinion , its kinda lost that raw edge that it always used to have and should have in my opinion. Going digital for me has always been under protest and I have only went more digital as it suits my way of working more, im so random always jumping from one track to another, and when I was mostly analogue that meant not ever finishing some of those tracks, nowadays I mostly run a dual core pc, my Roland JP8080, Virus C, I still use my Mackie analogue 48 channel desk although nowadays donít use even close to half the channels lol, TLA compressor, Emu Vintage Keys and I still run some stuff through my Akai S5000, and my desk for that old analogue sound that I love thereís just such a warmer raw sound from my Akai, Mackie desk and the hardware synths, that you just cant get with digital, as well as that various soft synths and plug ins, thatís about it now. The rest of my studio isnít even racked up any more lol.
8. Being a Scotsman whom know lives south of the border where the majority of your DJ work is now, but whom is still a firm favourite regularly playing out north of the border, what do you think the main differences are in the scene and the crowds tastes down South and in Scotland? And why is it many of our best talents up here (Yourself, Scott Brown, Joey Riot, Mike Euphony) keep buggerin off to live down south? :-)
lol Well to be fair the majority of my work has been down south for a long time now haha and as the scene has been building again I really donít think there are that many differences north and south of the border any more, But I do think Scotland has always had a slightly bigger following for the harder side of hardcore, I think its just because were a such a hard race though ;-) lol, but like I said as the scenes building all over the uk again it seems to be a lot more unified I think now. As for people like me and the others buggering off as you put it lol, well for me personally I used to drive down to England every weekend for years then it was flying down every weekend for years spending weekends and sometimes weeks at a time away from home down there, and I did that for as long as I could but, after I donít know 6-7 years all that travelling every weekend does really fucking take it out of you man, so it made sense to move down to make life a little easier for myself, but it is only a little easier lol, and im pretty sure thatís the same for the others as well, for me its best to be based were the majority of my work is to be honest.
9. In its Heyday Rezerection was putting on massive parties every few months and at its peak was bringing in up to 17,500 people. Do you think things could become as strong as that again and what do you think was the main factor in the success of these events/the Scottish scene and Rez??
I would love to think it could get as big as that again I truly would, and hey who knows it might, but ÖÖ.I donít know, what you have to remember though isÖ. the reason it got so big at that point was that it was all new, fresh, exciting, un chartered and relatively un policed to a large degree, because its been around like that already and the police and the government didnít like it theyíve changed how they deal with it now making it extremely hard for promoters nowadays to get lots of thing on that kind of scale to happen without it being a major headache and even worth doing even if they were to get that far In the first place. And I think the Scottish scene was so popular because Scots just fucking love to party and do all sorts of things to excess, whether it be drinking, drugs, dancing, musicÖ anything at allÖ thatís our nature, and what better place to party and do things to excess every weekend than at a fuck off massive rave with thousands of like minded happy people all in the same arena, it doesnít get any better than that really does it
10. On December the 1st you are up in Glasgow at Twisted & Brainfire billed as playing a classic Rez set, what can we expect?
Well you best come along and see then huh lol, there will be a bit of everything but it will be a typical Marc Smith Rez set with a leaning to the more Scottish sound that I used to love playing there, with a few other bits flung in for good measure ;-) although being at Archaos I donít reckon I will be able to go too hard!!
11. Apart from being one of key figures in the UK Hardcore scene, you have made a name for yourself with Jay-M playing and producing Hard-trance & Hardstyle under the "Force9" guise, could we see some other styles like Hardstyle on Notorious or a sub-label? and when is the next Force9 record coming?
Well funny you should ask that, coz me and Jay have been discussing and are now in the middle of getting a Notorious sub label started to do exactly that, were still planning it out at the moment but, there could be another Notorious label its probably gonna be called ďNotorious WhiteĒ to start pumping out the hard trance and hardstyle stuff we do, and from other artists too not just us, so keep your eyes peeled for that. And there are a few Force 9 things were just putting the finishing touches too right now, Jays coming down to the studio in Dec to get them finished off. Its hard with me being in England and Jay in Scotland to get the time to get into the studio together to work on our projects but, were just getting jay hooked up with his own studio right now too, so that will make things a whole load easier for both of us to work on our Force 9 productions. The main one were just about to finish is sounding awesome, weíve been playing an unfinished version of it when weíve been playing out recently and it seems to be getting received exceptionally well, so were looking forward to getting it finished and out there
12. Apart From Hardcore & Hardstyle, which you play, is their any other styles you like to listen to or produce? Also what artists (hardcore of otherwise) are doing it just now in your opinion?
Iím not a musical snob, I listen to absolutely everything and I mean everything and anything, for me itís simply a case of good music is Ö.good music no matter what genre it falls under I like loads I could be here all day naming them lol.
13. In 2006 many labels are struggling to sell the units on vinyl but commercial TV advertised Hardcore albums are springing up left right and centre and music downloads (legal and illegal) are more popular than ever, why do you think this is, and do you think vinyl might (god forbid) be on the way out?
Well spending £10 or £15 on a compilation album with a serious amount of tracks on it seems way more appealing on spending £5 on one piece of vinyl for a start does it not, and unfortunately now in this digital age, vinyl is just not as appealing to people as it used to be, which is sooooooo bad, because it should beÖ.vinyl still rules for me, plus with everything digital its just easier to download something rather than go and stand in a shop listening for hours then buying the vinyl, but thatís half the fun and buzz of buying music man. Plus lots of people are just file sharing all the tracks for free and not even having to buy them thatís why vinyl sale are so bad, not the only reason theyíre bad but itís playing a big part in that. But yeah god fucking forbid indeed that vinyl is not on the way out just yet!!
14. Apart from re-launching Notorious Vinyl on the 12" format, you have made NOTV1 available to purchase from The Nu Energy store on MP3, do you plan to put the future releases and back catalogue out on MP3 or CD?
Everything that gets released and some unreleased stuff will eventually get released on digital format as well, but I always give the vinyl a chance to sell through firstÖ always! Iím still a vinyl lover and weíve all got to try and keep supporting that format so it doesnít fully die out for good. Even though I play off mostly cdís now (not through choice I may add itís simply because I have to), to me vinyl is really what sums up djing to me and always will! I think of a dj and I think of 2 techniques, a mixer and a dude with shitloads of vinyl, thatís that !!
15. You have played every major rave up and down the country, with line-ups often so big and DJs restricted to as little as 45 minutes, what would your ideal set length be?
Well it sure isnít 45 mins lol. I think itís just the way that is nowadays though and a lot of djís now specialise in only one type of hardcore so to keep the variety there for the ravers promoters try and put on such a massively big and varied line up to suit all tastes for the whole night, resulting in less time for each dj. It really has to be an hour at the very least, preferably even 2 or more, I mean when I think back about the residencies I did in Glasgow way back in my early days, in the warehouse it was me and Paul Nije that did the whole night between us, then after moving from there to the Hacienda in Glasgow I used to play there from 10-11 then let one of the Edinburgh boys on for an hour while I nipped out to pick up my then girlfriend, then I would come back and play from 12 - 5am all by myself, but I played right across the board of rave music not just one type like I said above, and I fucking loved every minute of it, so a 45 minute set is a far cry from that huh lol. but ideal set time I would say depends on the party and crowd but 2 hours is cool even more lol.
16. Of all the gigs you have played do any events/crowds spring to mind that you enjoy playing to the most, and have you got any funny stories from while on the decks?
Loads of funny stories from behind the decks lol, the most recent that Springs to mind was I was doing a back to back with Sharkey and we were on kinda late and clearly someone had obviously spiked my water with alcohol because by the time we got on I was slightly drunk, and im a consummate professional I never drink on the job ;-) so I was there doing my usual getting stuck right into the mixer cutting and chopping playing with the fx and eq etc really going for it and on my last flick before I let the track drop the bass disappeared, right at the crucial moment and I turned to Sharks and proper laid into him shouting what the fuck have you done you fucking twat donít you ever touch the mixer when I working it, proper laid into him big style, (Scottish person spiked with alcohol ;-) so rather angry lol) and Sharks who clearly hadnít been spiked with alcohol as he appeared to be sober, just gave me a big grin and leaned over to the mixer and turned the bass knob back up from where I had just left it down, lol oops. Iím still blaming him though Öit wasnít me haha
17. Lastly if there was a blockbuster Hollywood movie made about Hardcore, who do you think should play Marc Smith? Also can you think of any other actors who would be ideal for your colleagues?
HAHA Someone asked me this before, hmmm I reckon I could be played by Robert Carlisle (fellow Scottish nutter), Jay could be played by Ray (whoís ya daddy) Winston lol Scott Brown could be played by Mr Burns from the Simpsonís haha, Hixxy could be played by Adam Sandler lol Sharkey could be played by Pob Gammer could be played by Ardol Ohanlon, Recon by Vinnie Jones, man this is too much fun I could be here all night lol
Questions by Al Twisted
© November 2006 scottishhardcore.co.uk - No un-authorized nicking
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