Mark Seven Talks
Last month a certain Mark Seven dropped by to furnish us with his Parkway Mastermix Vol 3… you may have heard it. It was great.
If you have not you must rectify this forthwith whilst you read on.
Producing and running labels since the early 90's, the now Stockholm based Mark Seven has been releasing some rather fine records on his Parkway imprint of late. Parkway is a label inspired by the sounds Mark first fell in love with that emerged from the explosion of creativity that occurred post-Disco, when electronics became more affordable and when the music moved back underground, with names like Paul Simpson, Winston Jones and Boyd Jarvis, Emergency, Streetwise and Easy Street. Records with Herb "The Pump" Powers and exclusive edits and remixes of rare Black music releases of the 1980's. Unsung tracks that fed into a sound that became House. A history that, without people like Mark, would have already been forgotten.
We caught up with him for a chat about Balearic Berkshire, records and more records, Dave Angel and Stockholm vs London… read on.
Where are you from, where are you now?
My family's from Bracknell, in the Balearic borough of Berkshire (ha!) Right now, sunny Stockholm
When did you decide to start DJing and why?
It would have been something like '86, when music was getting serious for me. I can't answer the "why" actually, it wasn't a conscious decision but it was a natural progression from collecting and dancing. I always felt I was a dj!
What was the music of your teenage rebellion?
Anything to escape by. I'd listen to Apollo by Eno every night on cassette and drift off. Mostly it was US soul and rap. I've always been obsessed with America
You still buy and sell records. How has this changed in the world of the discogs-era. Are there less records to buy and sell or do you still unearth beauties?
It's changed dramatically. Crazy to think that you'd go to clubs and hear records week in, week out and not know what they were for ages. Then after you found out it took even longer to track down a copy. Dealers & stores were the source of all knowledge. Now, when you can listen to a mix, shazam it and buy it before you leave the dancefloor you've lost the thrill to a certain extent – It's hard to explain why to people who never experienced any other way. These days I don't get to dig as much as I used to because of the production work and dj'ing but I'm itching for it still. There's nothing like it, the internet doesn't come close to the real deal.
Of course, there are less old gems to be discovered but the type of music people consider as gems goes in cycles. So there's always stuff to dig up. I'm constantly hearing amazing old music for the first time.
Is discogs the crystallisation of the now? By that I mean the whole instant gratification that it affords us. Hear it, buy it!
That's it. And of course, i use it too, but what the spirit needs is not instant gratification. You need to discover for yourself, discogs can't take that journey for you!
Has this upset the mystique of record buying to an extent? How have you seen it evolving owning a record shop.
More information, less mystique so that's a matter of taste. But one of the strange side effects of all this information is more conformity. Because of the wide spread of information about music people all over tend to be looking for the same things. Trends are global, but trends all the same.
Why are records still great?
Because they're a physical medium and we're physical beings. I value the objects that I've collected and the people & places I've been to and collected them from. That gives me a whole other set of emotional attachments and cues than someone who bought digital files. It's purely personal. I still get a kick from seeing someone physically play records that i just don't get from a laptop dj. It means something to me that the person that's playing the music has taken the effort to track down records. It means they've put in time. Fuck sound quality, all that other stuff you can argue about.. that someone has put time into what they present, that alone makes it worth a listen.
Have you ever used shazam?
Sure, course I have! Sometime to check if tracks in my mixes come up! Sometimes just to say "this is so familiar, what is it?" and sometimes, just because…
I didn’t realise you’d made record with Dave Angel as Point Zero. How did this come about?
I lived round the corner from Dave for years and met him through a friend at a label. Sometimes he'd ask me about some studio gear or to copy a piano chord or something, and it led to doing a record for him.
Do you still go out and dance?
Whenever I can, otherwise i stay in and dance.
Why is The Big Sleep your favourite book?
Did I say that?! It's probably the book I've read most times is what it is. Like I say, I've been obsessed with America since I was a kid so that seedy LA setting and the incredible language just get me.
Any plans to update the Jus Wax website or are you happy with it’s minimal exterior bringing people in? Personally I love it just the way it is.
Well, I need to get back on the road to find more records but the way the store is, broken and run-down… that can't be fixed!
First and last record bought.
First might have been something on TwoTone or possibly a Police single. Last one as of writing? Picked up a copy of Eric Gale Ginseng Woman yesterday
You’re playing in London this weekend. Do you get back there much and how do you think the scene has changed there since you moved to
Yeah a bit. I'm back four, five times a year. I think things have got much better since I left actually. The era of the superclubs is over, there's loads of great underground parties and loads of folks in their 20's listening to house and disco, it's a great time in London.
Why is the Serotonin edit of Sermon one of the greatest records to dance outdoors to? It is in my eyes… and ears.
Ah, glad you think so. Somehow, the years of chemical abuse I put myself though distilled to some effect!
How is the scene in Stockholm at the moment and how does it differ from London?
I'll be honest, I don't have much connection to the scene here. It does differ, yeah. There's fewer small, underground events. More large-scale, sponsored, who's-hot-shit-right-now type things. There's some good nights, but generally the drug of choice is alcohol, and the sound system is often the last consideration.
When I last came to Stockholm I could barely afford to drink. I’d imagine a drink isn’t far off the price it is in London these days. I.e. London is ridiculously priced.
London's catching up for sure. But it's crazy here, some places it's 7 quid for a small beer. I was in Berlin last week and it felt like everything was on 70% sale
Favourite digging spots in Stockholm?
They're done, you're too late! Come to my place instead.
And in Europe?
It's been too long since I travelled round Europe to dig, but not many countries have the quantity they have in Germany
Whats your favourite track on your Claremont Originals comp?
Mmm…maybe, the Loui$
What artist, musical or otherwise are you currently in love with?
Well, Kai Alcé barely misses a step, i wouldn't say i'm in love with the fella but hey, it's possible
When did you last stick your head in a bass bin?
It's been a while
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
Depends on the day.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
I need a week on a beach, some old style flip flops and more jazz-funk records
What's your answer to everything?
I'll think about it.
What’s your favourite place on earth?
Phew… New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Malibu, Costa Rica, Palma, Tokyo, Cinque Terre, Cornwall etc.
Finally, big question: Zapp or Zappa?
You have to ask? Zapp all day
Mark Plays Excursions this weekend at The Waiting Room. Full details here.